Sony Announces Cyber-Shot HX50V With 30X Optical Zoom

Sony just announced a new Cyber-Shot digital camera that they’re describing as the world’s “smallest and lightest camera with 30X optical zoom.” The Cyber-shot HX50V camera has a 20.4 megapixel CMOS image sensor, and it’s body is only 4.4″ x 2.6″ x 1.2″.

If you’re a parent wanting to get up close photos of your kid playing sports or performing in a school play, this camera is worth a look.

Today’s smartphones do a pretty good job with digital zoom, but even in great light smartphones can’t give you the same crisp shot of a real lens with real zoom.

The difference between a digital and optical zoom is that digital zooming is artificial. Digital zoom is just software that gets you closer to the action. Optical zooming is done with a physical lens and moving glass. When you zoom in digitally the image degrades the more you zoom. That doesn’t happen with an optical zoom.

Sony says the image stabilization technology they’ve built into the Cyber-shot HX50V is twice as effective as last year’s technology. Autofocus is twice as fast.

One of the neatest things about the new Cyber-shot is that it has Wi-Fi and can wirelessly transfer photos and videos to a connected smartphone or tablet where they can immediately be shared with friends and family online. Built-in Wi-Fi also makes it possible to use a smartphone as a remote control if you install Sony’s free PlayMemories app for iOS and Android.

In addition to photos, the Cyber-shot HX50V shoots HD video with SteadyShot image stabilization.

For most users the automatic settings will be all you need. If you’re more serious about controlling how your photos look, you can go manual with the dedicated exposure compensation dail and the P/A/S/M dial.

As someone who shoots video professionally, one of the weaknesses of pocket cameras is that very few provide a way to attach an external mic. The HX50V has a Multi Interface Shoe that not only lets you attach an external mic, but also an electronic viewfinder and a flash.

Sony’s new camera will go on sale in May for around $450.