Sony announced a new pair of compact cameras last week with some incredible zoom capabilities, going from as wide as 24mm to as zoomed in as 720mm. This isn’t the first of Sony’s compact cameras to have that exact zoom range, but this year’s models add 4K shooting and, in one instance, a touchscreen. That should turn them into far more capable cameras that get closer to rivaling Sony’s much loved RX100 series.
The new models, HX99 and HX95, are about the size of an iPod (if you can remember the last time you held one of those), just thicker, and weigh around half a pound. That’s about the same as Sony’s RX100 cameras, but there’s one critical difference: the RX100 line uses a larger one-inch image sensor, whereas these cameras have a 1/2.3-inch sensor, which is somewhat smaller. That’s going to mean reduced image quality, but it also allows for this camera’s immense zoom range.
Sony’s made a number of prior versions of this camera that share a lot of similarities, including a pop-up viewfinder and a 3-inch screen on the back that can rotate up 180 degrees for selfies. But this year’s models both add 4K recording, and the HX99 adds touch capabilities as well, so that you can touch to focus and take a shot. It’s the kind of change that could make the camera a lot easier for use, especially for people used to smartphone photography.
It also means that if you’re looking for a compact camera, but don’t want to spend in the $1,000 range for the recent RX100 series cameras, Sony’s HX-line is looking better as an alternative. Both cameras are supposed to start shipping in Europe this October, with the HX95 going for €500, or about $580USD, and the HX99 for €520, or about $604USD.
Here’s a sample video from Sony that demonstrates the cameras’ image quality. It clearly seems to struggle with dynamic range and capturing highlights, but if you buy this camera over another, it should be for the zoom, not the image quality.