The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 is one of the new hybrid digital still cameras that can be used to shoot good quality video.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 shoots videos at the Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 using the MPEG-4 (AVC/H.264-compliant) codec, and footage looks clear and vibrant at this resolution. However, fast motion exposes some tearing and blurring, much like what we saw with the Nikon D5000.

It's better suited to tripod usage for interviews or shots in which the camera doesn't have to be panned. You're better off not using the zoom function; partly because you can't focus after a certain point, and partly because the zoom is very slow and makes a lot of noise that will be picked up in the video. There aren't any external microphone jacks, so this noise is unavoidable.

To make the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 as user-friendly as possible, Sony has included various face detection modes (which can be set to focus automatically on any face, or prioritise children or adults), as well as a smile shutter. The smile shutter is supposed to takes a photo automatically when a smile is detected, but it failed to react to any smiles in our tests. However, face recognition worked like a charm.

Our overall impression of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 is that it's a little underdone. It has plenty of useful features - the long zoom, the panorama mode, the ability to record HD video, the excellent viewfinder, the manual controls - but its pictures lack definition when viewed at their full size, and its design needs to be improved.

However, if you want an advanced compact with a big zoom, and if don't plan on making big prints of your photos, then the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 is worth considering. You will have to get used to its odd physical characteristics (such as the poor shutter button, narrow body and non-rotating LCD screen).

OUR VERDICT

If you want an advanced compact with a big zoom and if don't plan on making big prints of your photos then the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 is worth considering. However, you will have to get used to its odd physical characteristics (such as the poor shutter button, narrow width and non-rotating LCD screen).