Sony DSC HX20V Review

Mid Zoom Digital Cameras

18 Megapixels    20x Zoom

Dimensions: 106.6 x 61.9 x 34.6mm    Weight: 254g

Good Points: Picture quality, range of features, GPS, HD Movies with stereo sound, 1cm macro mode

Bad Points: Aperture priority and shutter priority modes

Sony DSC HX20V Shutter Lag Rating par Ease of Use par Camera Name Rating


The Sony Cybershot DSC HX20V is a powerful camera with plenty of features packed into a compact body. These include 20x zoom, High Definition Movies with stereo sound and Manual Exposure Controls. You also have access to GPS tagging, 18 megapixels and a fast, 10 frames per second burst mode.

Compared with other cameras offering a similar amount of zoom power the Cybershot DSC HX20V has a full set of features with very little missing.

This camera is likely to appeal to you if you a looking for that bit of extra quality from your digital camera. You will probably see photography as a hobby or at least use a camera on a regular basis. This type of digital camera is also likely to appeal to you if you are looking for a camera to take on holiday. This is because of the flexibility you get with this length of lens, the wide range of features, plus the fact that Sony have packed everything into a compact body size.

It will fit into a large sized pocket, but is too big to fit into the pocket of a pair of jeans.

Compared with other pocket digital cameras at this price point the Cybershot DSC HX20V has the following:

Plus Points

  • 20x Zoom
  • 3D Stills and Panoramas
  • Full HD Movies with Stereo Sound
  • Shoot Still Image While Recording a Movie
  • GPS
  • Burst Mode at 10 Frames Per Second
  • 1cm Macro Focus
  • Manual Exposure Mode
  • Background Defocus

Negative Points

  • No aperture priority or shutter priority mode

Why Buy the Sony DSC HX20V

The Cybershot DSC HX20V gives you a lot of power for a camera with such a small body size. It has very few weaknesses and takes excellent pictures.


Megapixels and Zoom

You have a lot of power available with 18 megapixels and a 20x zoom lens. The lens has a focal length equivalent to 25 - 500mm in 35mm format. This gives you the flexibility to shoot more or less any typical photo opportunity.

Movie Mode

The movie mode is very advanced. You can shoot Full High Definition Movies with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Stereo sound can be recorded. Additional features allow you to take a still photo while shooting a movie and to grab a still shot form a movie clip.

Manual Exposure

Manual exposure lets you choose the aperture size and shutter speed for your photos. Unlike the majority of digital cameras with a manual exposure mode Sony have not equipped the Cybershot DSC HX20V with aperture priority and shutter priority modes.

LCD Screen

The LCD screen is 3 inches in size and is made up of around 921,000 pixels.

Shooting Modes

The preset shooting modes available are: Soft Snap, Soft Skin, Anti Motion Blur, Backlight Correction HDR, Night Portrait, Night Scene, High Sensitivity, Handheld Twilight, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Gourmet, Pet Mode and Landscape.

Macro Mode

For close up shots you can focus from 1cm away from your subject.

Sweep Panorama

Sony are probably the most innovative brand when it comes to producing panoramic shots. These are very easy to create. All you need to do is press down the shutter button and sweep the camera round in an arc.

3D Photography

3D photography is available too. This works for both standard shots and panoramas.


This feature helps you to log exactly where you are in the world when you take picture.

Defocused Backgrounds

Digital SLR cameras can produce shots that throw backgrounds out of focus to make your subject stand out from the background. Sony have equipped the Cybershot DSC HX20V with a feature that allows you to do this. This effect is often used in portrait photography.

High Speed Burst Mode

For when you want to capture any fast moving action there is a burst mode that can take photos at a rate of 10 shots per second. This compares very well against all other compact digital cameras.

Self Portrait Timer

If you would like to appear in the picture yourself there is an additional self timer mode. When you use this, the camera waits until it detects a face in the scene before taking the photo.

Easy Shooting Mode

Although the Cybershot DSC HX20V has a wide range of features not everyone wants to use them all. So if you are impressed by the amount of zoom on offer and some of the other features, but you would like a simple digital camera you can switch the camera to Easy Shooting Mode and let the camera take care of all the difficult stuff.

Memory Cards

You can use memory stick duo cards for storing images as well as the more common SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.


A lithium ion battery is required for power. Sony supplies the battery and all equipment needed to charge the battery when you buy.

Image Quality

Picture Quality Summary

This type of digital camera tends to offer very good picture quality. That is true of the Cybershot DSC HX20V. In fact based on the test shots it is one of the best digital cameras of its type.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 1

One of the first points to notice is the overall impression of a pin sharp picture. The boats in particular show a sharpness that few digital cameras manage to match. The camera also shows more detail in the lightest areas of the boats than most cameras manage, despite the sun shining directly on to them.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 2

In many ways this is the stand out test shot. Part of the reason for this is how the shot compares against other digital cameras. When the lens is zoomed right out many cameras find great difficulty in retaining sharpness away from the centre of the shot. The Cybershot DSC HX20V manages to achieve this as well as any compact digital camera.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 3

Zooming in makes little difference to the quality of the shot. This is another sharply focused picture. In places there is a touch of purple fringing showing. This is where a purple line is added to the edge of an object where it is caught by the light. The level this shows at is minimal. This is a common problem with lenses of this length, but it is highly unlikely you will notice this unless you are viewing photos at full size on a computer screen.

Outdoor Building

Just like in the first and second test shots the most striking feature of this shot is the clarity and sharp focus that is retained up to the edges of the shot. Perhaps a little more detail could show in the roof tiles, but this is being quite harsh.

Outdoor Portrait

All three of the portrait test shots are top quality. Working in closer than for the more scenic shots, poses no real issues. Outdoors the camera has plenty of light to work with. Focusing is sharp and skin colours have a touch of warmth.

Indoor Portrait With Flash

The pop up flash unit is capable of providing you with lots of light. The good news is that the camera is able to work out the right amount of light to use without overpowering your subject. In this case there is enough brightness to light the shot evenly and to reach out towards the corners of the photo.

Indoor Portrait Without Flash

Even when flash is turned off the camera performs well. It manages to maximise any brightness that is available. As with any digital camera you will need to have sensible expectations for just how much light you need to be available before it becomes advisable to use flash.


A good quality macro shot suggests a good quality lens. Close up photography is another area where this camera matches up well against its main rivals. Quality is very good and you can get in extremely close to your subject.


This camera gives you plenty of options when it comes to white balance and you can use these to fine tune the colours so that they are more or less exactly how you would like them to be. If you do not want to get involved in fine tuning to that level you should still be able to produce bright, colourful pictures.


Noise levels are kept to a minimum. Sure if you are used to a top of the range, Digital SLR you will notice a difference in lowlight, but on the whole noise should not be an issue that troubles you.

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Rating 86/100

For a camera that is small enough to take anywhere the Nikon Coolpix S9300 has a lot of features packed into it. If you are planning to take a holiday GPS tracking will tell you where you were when a picture was taken. The length of the zoom lens also gives you plenty of scope when it comes to picture opportunities. Although there is plenty of completion in this category the picture quality on offer here combined with the features makes this camera very attractive indeed. Recommended.

Read Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Rating 86/100

The Canon Powershot SX260 HS is one of the very best digital cameras in this category. In fact if you are happy to miss out on features such as 3D photography and 360 degree panoramas it is very hard to beat. It has a great set of features packed into its relatively compact body size and picture quality helps to make it stand out from the competition. Although it is one of the more expensive cameras in this field it still offers good value for money.

Read Review: Canon Powershot SX260 HS Review

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Rating 84/100

If you are looking for a simple, pocket camera that gives you some extra zoom and takes high quality snapshots the Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ1 is a very good choice. Compared to other cameras with similar features available at around the same price this camera has the edge when it comes to picture quality. It takes sharp, colourful photos and offers excellent value for money. Recommended.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC SZ1 Review

Related Pages

Sony DSC HX20V Specification

Sony DSC HX20V Sample Images

Digital Camera Reviews

Sony Digital Cameras

Review Date

Review Date: July 2012


There is a lot to like about the Sony Cybershot DSC HX20V. As well as being crammed with features it is a very reliable when it comes to taking pictures. It can handle most photo opportunities without breaking sweat. The amount of zoom power and other features available gives you a great deal of flexibility. Competition between similar cameras is very tough, but this model performs very well when put up against its main rivals. I would happily own this camera.


Ease of Use:
Movie Mode:
Build Quality:


Photo Quality:
Value for Money:




Main Features

LCD Screen:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Memory Cards:

3 inches
106.6 x 61.9 x 34.6mm
Lithium-ion Rechargeable
Memory Stickā„¢ Duo SD / SDHC / SDXC plus some micro formats

Shutter Lag Times

Single Shot:
Five Shots:
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:

0.3 seconds
8.88 seconds
0.35 seconds
12.71 seconds
2.5 seconds

Shutter Lag Table


General Handling

The fact the Cybershot DSC HX20V is a larger size than a pocket camera makes it easier to get a good grip. Sony have added a rubberised grip on the front of the camera. They have also found room on the back for a textured area for your thumb. Both of these features make it that bit easier to hold the camera steady.

Flash Positioning

The flash unit pops up on the top of the camera. This helps to reduce the impact of red eye in portrait shots. It does make the camera slightly harder to hold when flash is being used, but it is a minor inconvenience rather than anything more serious.

LCD Screen Quality

With a much higher resolution than most LCD screens you should find the screen easy to view.

Turn on Time and Shutter Delay

Times to turn the camera on and take pictures are about standard. You should see good performance even when flash is being used.

Design and Build Quality

The camera has a good weight to it. It does not feel lightweight like some pocket cameras do. It feels like there is a bit of substance there. The design is quite standard for this type of camera. Sony have rounded off the edges to reduce the typical rectangular look.

Camera Controls

On the top of the camera is the on / off button, a ring for zooming and the shutter button. There is also a control dial. This gives you access to the main features such as the still shooting modes, movie modes, 3D photography and scene modes.

On the back of the camera you will find buttons for shooting a movie, reviewing your images, accessing the menu and getting some help. The help button doubles up so that when the camera is in review mode you use it to delete unwanted images.

There is also a circular control section. This gives you access to changing the information displayed on the LCD screen, setting flash, using creative photography options (i.e. adjusting brightness and saturation), turning on the self timer and using the burst mode. In the centre of this section is a button for confirming a setting. It also has a wheel that speeds up the selection of settings.

Product Shots

Front View

Sony DSC HX20V Front View

Back View

Sony DSC HX20V Back View

Top View

Sony DSC HX20V Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

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