The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX400V is a great bridge camera with lots of useful features like NFC & WiFi connectivity, smart camera apps, a 50x optical zoom Zeiss lens and surprisingly also a built-in GPS receiver. I am now the proud owner of one and in this blog post I’ll be reviewing this camera in-depth. 

After I’ve done some vacation work at Tracks4Africa during the summer vacation of 2016 [also read my post Vacation work at Tracks4Africa], I’ve decided to treat myself with something I’ve always wanted – a decent camera.

Getting hold of one

At this point I have to admit that I’m quite a Sony fan as they really make quality products and are known as a reliable brand. Unfortunately Sony closed their consumer audio/visual business unit in South Africa early in 2015. This means that there is absolutely no shop in SA where you’ll find a Sony camera. I searched far and wide until I found one on Fruugo, which had stock located in Austria according to their website. When I checked with them to make sure they really have stock they told me their supplier is out of stock without an ETA on new stock. I was back where I started again. After a search and some comparisons I discovered a great audio/visual superstore in New York. B&H Foto & Electronics Corp. is a NY-based store, but they sell worldwide.

Ordering & Shipping

At the time I ordered from B&H, the camera costed 448 US$. It was cheaper than a quote I got from a business in Botswana – they wanted more than R10 000. At the time of writing the price of the HX400V was 50 Dollars less than when I ordered. The shipping amounted to $84.97, which isn’t really cheap. Luckily FedEx International Priority shipping was used, so I knew I’d get my camera, because I’ve seen FedEx operating in my hometown before. I ordered on the 19th of December and after the camera travelled quite far (from New York to Memphis to Paris to Dubai to Johannesburg to Upington), I finally received it on 29 December.

While $448 isn’t that much for a bridge camera, you’ll definitely find cheaper cameras in the same class, but probably without all the added features.

Unboxing

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The box in which the camera came

Now moving on to the favourite part of any new purchase – unboxing it. The box itself isn’t particularly huge (see below). Inside I found the following:

  • The DSC-HX400V camera
  • Micro USB cable with AC adapter (US pins)
  • Rechargeable battery pack
  • Shoulder strap
  • Lens cap
  • Manuals (not really needed as the camera is pretty much self-explanatory)

The multi interface shoe at the top is covered by default. If you add an accessory like a flash there, you may remove it.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400VThe HX400V [Image: © Digital Photography Review]

Before you can use the camera you first need to insert the battery and an SD card. Once you turn the camera on for the first time it will ask for your time zone and the time and date. Once that is set you’re good to go.

The user interface & hardware layout

The interface is easy to understand and everything is highly customizable – there is even a custom button on the camera which you can assign a function to. What I really like most about the camera in terms of usability is the help button. If you’re in a shooting mode the help functionality will assist you to take better pictures or achieve certain effects. When you press the help button when in the menu you’ll see a description of what the menu item is used for. I also like the dedicated movie button, meaning you’ll be able to start a video recording from any mode. There’s also a very convenient button for sharing media to a smart device via WiFi Direct. Apart from these buttons the rest is all standard and very similar to other bridge and DSLR cameras. There’s really a lot of settings, so you can customize a lot.

I found something interesting about capturing images with the flash compared to images captured without using the flash. Here’s the difference:

flash_comparison

Photo without flash (left) and with flash (right)

Images captured with the flash seem to have brighter colours.

Sharing media

Thanks to WiFi and NFC capabilities you can download the PlayMemories Mobile app to your phone or tablet and transfer photos and videos at lighting fast speeds via WiFi Direct. After installing the app you can simply tap your NFC-enabled device against the side of the camera to connect. You can choose the items you would like to transfer either on your phone or on the camera.

Apps

The HX400V differs from the HX400 in terms of smart functionality. The latter model doesn’t have features like GPS, WiFi and NFC built in. In the menu there’s a section for managing apps. You can choose to install apps from the PlayMemories Camera Apps store to further add functionality to the camera. One app I particularly like is Smart Remote Control. It allows you to use your phone or tablet as a remote control for your camera, allowing you to take great photos without having to be behind the camera. Another cool app is Direct Upload, which allows you to directly upload photos from the camera to Facebook or Flickr. I’m also using Touchless Shutter which does exactly what it says – it enables you to take photos by moving your hand in front of the eyepiece sensor. This reduces shaking.

This is where I had the first and only hiccup with the camera. PlayMemories Camera Apps doesn’t work in South Africa, so I had to create a United States account to download the apps to my camera. At the moment I still can’t purchase apps, as I don’t have a US credit card. At least I can use the free apps for now. I’m still looking for a workaround to overcome this limitation. Purchasing a prepaid US PlayStation Network voucher might be the only solution. I will update the post when I’ve tried that.

Some Photos

Here’s a gallery with a few photos I took so far:

[vls_gf_album id=”35″]

Specs

Sensor Resolution 20.4 Megapixels, Full HD Video
Focal Length (i.t.o. 35mm) 24-1200mm
Lens ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar® T 50x optical zoom
Flash type Manual pop-up
Battery Life Up to 380 shots/190 minutes
Connectivity WiFi, NFC, GPS, USB 2.0, HDMI
Dimensions 130 x 93 x 103 mm
Weight 660g (including battery & SD card)
Warranty 1 Year Limited

I really like the fact that the lens has a focal length of 24-1200mm in 35mm camera terms. That means you have one lens for any photo – near and far. Battery life is excellent and while I haven’t tested Sony’s figures given, the HX400V has more than enough battery life for what I use it for.

sony_cybershot_hx400v_side_1200x900

The lens zoomed at 1200mm (in terms of 35mm cameras)

Conclusion

Pros Cons
  • Great value for money
  • High quality images
  • Advanced features
  • Instantly transfer photos to phone
  • Take pictures at 1200mm without blurring
  • Region Restrictions

Here’s my final verdict:

[wp-review]

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© 2020 Jano Barnard