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Sony unveils Cyber-shot HX1 ultrazoom with CMOS sensor
by Allison Johnson -  3/1/2009

At a pre-PMA press conference today, Sony announced another player on its roster of high zoom, compact cameras. This time, they've introduced a CMOS sensor to the lineup in the Cyber-shot DSC-HX1.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

With high-speed burst shooting of 10 fps and a 20x Sony G zoom lens, Sony hopes to make this a fast camera with a big zoom range – going head to head with Canon's recently launched PowerShot SX1 IS.

Building a faster camera
Starting with a new sensor, Sony has aimed to put a faster camera in the hands of its customers with the HX1. They boast that the Exmor CMOS sensor will read information ten times faster than their traditional CCD sensor.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

The new imager has got a 9.0 megapixel resolution, just shy of the recently announced H20's 10.1 megapixels. With this sensor, Sony believes that the HX1 will be capable of producing better images in low-light settings without use of flash through better noise control – accomplished in part through a new technology that combines data from multiple successive image captures to reduce noise. High ISO performance has been a trouble spot for Sony's small-sensor cameras in the past, so it will be interesting to see how the new technology improves this Sony model.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

The HX1 will also feature a continuous high-speed burst shooting mode of 10 fps, putting the HX1 on par with the fastest DSLRs in terms of continuous shooting speed. The HX1 also retains the normal burst mode of other Sony models with the ability to capture up to 100 images at 2 fps. Like other H-series Cyber-shots, the HX1 will feature a Bionz image processor.

Where is Carl Zeiss?
The HX1 is missing the Carl Zeiss brand lens that Sony has traditionally relied on.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

Instead, it sports a proprietary 28mm wide-angle Sony G lens with 20x optical zoom range, covering the equivalent of 28-560mm at f/2.8-5.2.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

According to Sony, the lens is constructed of 13 elements in 10 groups, and it has been designed to reduce chromatic aberration. Coupled with a new sensor, the HX1 has the potential to offer a very different shooting experience from other Sony cameras.

HD movies and advanced still shooting
Like many other cameras making their debut this year, the Cyber-shot HX1 incorporates HD movie recording capability. However, the HX1's CMOS sensor affords a higher 1080p resolution, while several other Sony cameras record 720p HD video. A stereo microphone and HDMI output capability round out the HD package.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

The HX1 will feature many of Sony's auto functions including scene recognition, face detection, and intelligent auto mode. Look for a wide panorama mode as well on this model.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

The HX1's 3.0 inch LCD shares the multi-angle tilt technology from other Sony H-series ultrazooms, allowing users to adjust the screen for maximum visibility. A high-res electronic viewfinder is also provided. The HX1's proprietary lithium-ion battery is rated for nearly 400 shots, providing impressive power depth for this powerful camera.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

Shooting modes include the standard P/A/S/M manual exposure modes typical to enthusiast-level cameras, and the HX1's iris-equipped lens provides wide-ranging aperture control on this model.

Pricing and availability
According to Sony's specs sheet, expect an April release date for the HX1. The new camera will debut with a retail price of $499.