Shoot the Moon: Sony’s travel friendly ultra-zoom HX50V goes long

If you’re planning on hitting the road this year for a holiday, you’ve probably considered a camera designed for travel with one of those spiffy long zooms. Sony is chiming in with a new compact heading to stores in June that boasts a 30x optical that can let you visit the Moon.

Designed for the individual that needs to get close to things from far distances, Sony’s HX50V looks to be one impressive shooter.

We’ve been playing with it for a few days, and while we’re not ready to write a full review, what we can say is that we’re impressed.

Built from a similar mould as cameras in the RX series, the HX50V is a handheld compact boasting an immense zoom range in a body that is much lighter and smaller than what we see comparatively.

First of all, there’s that long lens, which at 30x optical, effectively translates to 24mm to 720mm in the 35mm format.

From level 47 at Australia Square, we can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge with no problems. The top photo shows the view at 24mm (full wide) while the photo immediately above is at 720mm.

At its farthest, 720mm is a lot longer than most cameras and lenses can pull, and essentially means that from a tall building, you can get up close and personal with people on the ground.

Sony’s new compact also uses a 20.4 megapixel sensor with ISO support ranging from 80 to 12800, with some bonus features like smile shutter, face detection, shake reduction through SteadyShot, and of course support for Full HD 1080p movies.

A flash is included for when 12800 isn’t enough, and there’s a 3 inch LCD on the back to help you compose, though no viewfinder is included, with an optional one available for around $500.

You can use the HX50V on full auto if you so choose, with two “intelligent” auto modes to choose from, but you’ll also find a few manual modes to use, including priority modes for aperture, shutter, manual, and program.

If you switch into one of these, an extra dial on the top of this compact will let dial in degrees of exposure compensation quickly, in case settings are too far out.

There’s also some future proofing here, with WiFi built in for the sending of files to devices, as well as being able to control the camera remotely using an Android or iOS device, and then a GPS, so you can tag those locations you were in when you were shooting things way off in the distance.

We should mention that two types of digital zoom are provided – in case 720mm isn’t close enough – which brings the effective range to 1440mm, even though the pixels are effectively being blown up.

The Moon may as well be a dot at 24mm, but at 720mm, it's spectacular.

We’ve provided a few samples of what we’ve been getting in the gallery below, as well as product shots, but you’ll be able to find the Sony HX50V in stores from June 1 for $499.

A variety of accessories will also be made available, including a carry case (which we’ve included in our photos) for $59 and the aforementioned electronic viewfinder that plugs into the camera’s hot shoe mount for $499.