Features & Controls

The HX20V boasts a Sony G lens, which offers 20x magnification, with an equivalent zoom range of 25-500mm when shooting using the 18-megapixel, 4:3 aspect mode. The approx zoom range does change when you change the aspect ratio of still images, or shoot 16:9 HD video. When powered on, the lens extends about 1 and 1/8 of an inch from the lens bezel. When powered down, the lens retracts into the body, with a built-in lens cover protecting the glass.

The approx focal ranges are:
  • Still 16:9: 27.5-550mm
  • Still 4:3: 25-500mm
  • Movie 16:9: 27.5-550mm (SteadyShot Standard), 28-784mm(SteadyShot Active)
  • Movie 4:3: 34-680mm (SteadyShot Standard), 35-980mm(SteadyShot Active)

This lens is comprised of 12 elements in 9 groups; with 4 aspheric elements, and a maximum aperture range of f/3.2-5.8. The lens is mated to a 1/2.3-inch 18.2-megapixel Sony Exmor R CMOS image sensor. Combined, they help you capture high-quality images and full HD video. There are no filter threads.

The camera also utilizes their patented Optical SteadyShot, 3-way Active Mode image stabilization system, which significantly increases your chances at capturing high-quality handheld photos when using the lens' long telephoto reach, or shooting in low-light. We still recommend using some form of camera support when using a long zoom camera, however SteadyShot will help you capture more "keepers" if you don't have one.

When the lens is fully extended, it protrudes about 2 inches from the lens bezel.

Autofocus is handled by a 9-point contrast detection system, which has modes for: Multi Point AF, Center Weighted AF, Flexible Spot AF, Manual, Semi Manual, Tracking Focus, and Face Tracking Focus . The camera also boasts robust Face detection options, along with Smile Detection and Smile Shutter. When shooting in low light, the AF system is aided by an AF illuminator.

Sony lists the following AF ranges:
  • iAuto:AF W: Approx.1cm(0.03') to Infinity, T: Approx.170cm(5.58') to Infinity
  • Program Auto: W:Approx.1cm(0.03') to Infinity, T:Approx.170cm(5.58') to Infinity

The HX20 has a small built-in flash unit, which hides inside the camera's body when not in use. This unit automatically pops up when it's needed, or when you change the flash mode to Flash On; depending on the exposure mode being used. It offers modes for Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, and Slow Synchro.

Flash Range (ISO Auto):
  • 0.35-Approx. 7.1m (1.15' - 23.3') (W) / 1.0 - 2.9m (3.28' - 9.51') (T)
  • ISO3200: up to 10.1m (33.1') (W) / 4.0m (13.1') (T)

Controls on the top include the On/Off power button and the shutter release with the zoom controls mounted around it (which also control the Index and Magnify options in playback). The Mode dial has positions for Superior Auto, iAuto, Program, Manual, Memory Recall, iSweep Panorama, Movie, 3D, Scene Selection, and background defocus. Next is the Custom button, which can control various settings, depending on what you want; you can choose Exposure compensation, ISO, White Balance, etc. Lastly you can also see the stereo microphones in the center.

The majority of the real estate found on the back of the HX20 is occupied by a high-quality 3.0-inch Xtra Fine LCD, which features Sony's TruBlack technology and a resolution of 921,000 dots. This is the only viewfinder on the camera, and it's used for framing your still images and video, reviewing your captured shots, and navigating the menu system. This display is visible in more all lighting, thanks to 5 brightness options. This also offers the option to choose the resolution (High or Standard), as well as the Display Color (Black, White, or Pink).


Here we have a close-up of the controls located on the back of the camera. At the top we have the dedicated Movie record button, which allows you to shoot video no matter what exposure mode is being used. Next is the play button and the 4-way controller. The 4-way controller is not only used for navigating the menus or playback, it also gives you shortcut type access to options for the LCD's Display, Flash mode, Photo Creativity (not available in all modes), and Drive mode (Self-timer, Burst, etc.). The 4-way is also a rear control dial, which allows you to quickly navigate the menus, adjusts exposure value (depending on mode used), etc. This is a very handy feature, especially with the camera's Manual mode.

Lastly we have the Menu and In-Camera Guide/Delete buttons.

On the bottom of the camera, next to it's metal tripod socket, is the mini-USB multi-IO port. This port handles several functions, including USB connectivity, Charging the battery, and standard AV output; only a USB cable and AC adapter are included. This port is very similar to that used on many modern smart phones.

On the right hand side of the camera, up towards the Mode Dial, you will find a mini-HDMI port. When used with an optional HDMI cable, this port allows you to display high-quality HD video to your HDTV; which is great for sharing photos and videos with friends and family.

We were very pleased to see that the HX20 still offers Sony's dual card slot, which accepts either a Memory Stick Pro Duo media card, or a SD/SDHC/SDXC card. You can only use one at a time, it does not hold both cards at once. The camera is also Eye-Fi compliant, and can be seen where with an Eye-Fi Connect X2, 4GR (Class 6) SDHC memory card.

Power is supplied to the camera by a 3.6V, 910mAh, Sony NP-BG1 Li-ion rechargeable battery pack. According to Sony, this battery provides enough power to capture approx. 320 images on a single charge. This claimed battery life does not include use of the camera's built-in GPS, which will dramatically reduce battery life while in use; so watch your battery meter closely when using GPS. The HX20 charges the pack in-camera, with the included AC adapter (or your PC/Mac's USB port) and USB cable. While convenient for charging on the fly with the option of using a powered USB port or the AC adapter, it limits you to only charging or using one battery at a time. Charging batteries in-camera makes it difficult to charge a spare pack.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.