Gear

Sony Announces HX80 – A Missed Chance to Woo the Compact Market?

If you like what you see in the RX100 IV or HX90V but simply feel that those two models are overpriced for compact cameras, consider Sony’s new Cyber-shot DSC-HX80, which was released just earlier today.

It features an impressive 30x optical Carl Zeiss-branded zoom lens, an 18.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 5-axis image stablisation, 1080p video capability, a 3-inch LCD screen, and even a retractable OLED electronic viewfinder.

You’ll find all of these (and just a little more) in both the RX100 IV and HX90V, but the HX80 will only set you back US$350 compared to US$950 and US$430 respectively.

For $600 more the RX100 IV gives photographers a slightly bigger resolution and sensor with a 20.1-MP 1″-type stacked CMOS sensor and more importantly 4K video and a faster lens.

But the new HX80 also offers some tantalising advantages, such as the 35mm focal length equivalent of a 24-720mm reach.

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Confusingly, the HX80 is not an upgrade to last year’s HX90V, and neither is it a pared down, more basic model.

The two cameras feature near identical specifications and design characteristics, and it appears the only two differences are that the HX80 doesn’t have GPS, and that the HX90V has a control ring around the lens. One might even ask why Sony bothered to make a new model instead of simply slashing the prices on the HX90V to clear out remaining stock, since it seems to be a marginally superior camera.

Arguably there’s nothing wrong with this new model and it remains a great choice for travellers, but it’s certainly a little odd to have such an unsubstantial upgrade from a company that has proved to be so innovative lately.

While perhaps it is too much to ask for the HX80 to have better ergonomics, 4K, and RAW when Sony clearly want to reserve those features for the RX100 IV, it is reasonable to expect at least something distinctive.

We asked Sony Hong Kong for a comment on why they issued out this new model, and they mentioned that it was to provide more variety to new consumers:

“With these modifications, we can offer one more option for a compact high-zoom camera at more affordable pricing.”

The spokesperson also mentioned that the HX80 won’t be available in the Asia Pacific and Hong Kong market, but will be on sale in Europe and US in April 2016 for $350.

At this price, it’s a simple choice for new consumers in the market for a compact, since the HX90V and RX100 IV cost so much more.

But cheekily we might point people towards the excellent Ricoh GR II, especially if like us, you see little reason for so much reach in such a small sensor.

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Sony HX-80 Sony HX-90V
Dimensions 102 x 58 x 36 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.42″) 102 x 58 x 36 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.42″)
Max resolution 4896 x 3672 4896 x 3672
Megapixels 18.2 18.2
Sensor size 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm) 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Image Processor BIONZ X BIONZ X
ISO 80-12800 80-12800
Focal length 24–720 mm 24–720 mm
EVF 638k-Dot Pop-Up OLED Tru-Finder EVF 638k-Dot Pop-Up OLED Tru-Finder EVF
LCD 3.0″ 921k-Dot Tilting LCD 3.0″ 921k-Dot Tilting LCD
Image stablisation 5-axis Optical SteadyShot 5-axis Optical SteadyShot
Video Full HD 1080/60p AVCHD/XAVC S Full HD 1080/60p AVCHD/XAVC S
Wi-Fi
GPS
X
Price $350 $430