Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V

15th Aug 2012 | 11:30

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V

Which premium compact camera is right for you?

Topping the best-seller charts, the RX100 is being heralded as one of the best compact cameras ever made. One of its major selling points is that it has a one-inch CMOS sensor, which is larger than the sensors found in the majority of cameras of its type.

This sensor size enables it to deliver fantastic image quality, while having the double benefit of being able to sit snugly in a jeans pocket. But, as you might imagine, quality comes at a price – the Sony RX100 is currently retailing for over £500/$650.

Considering you can get a DSLR and kit lens for that kind of cash, it won't find favour with everybody. However, Sony also manufactures other compact cameras which offer a lot of advanced features. One such offering is the Sony HX20V. Here we take a look at how the RX100 stacks up against its much cheaper sibling.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: sensor size

The big draw of the Sony RX100 is its large sensor size. At one inch, it dwarves many of its rivals, and is exactly the same size as the device found on the Nikon 1 series of compact system cameras.

This should mean that the camera is capable of delivering better low light results, and also enables you to be more creative when shooting at the widest apertures.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V

By contrast, the Sony HX20V has a standard 1/2.3-inch type sensor. While they're both Exmor R devices, the Sony RX100 has a greater number of pixels, with 20.2 million, compared with the Sony HX20V's 18.2 million.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: lens

The lens on board the Sony RX100 is also pretty special. At its widest point it boasts an f/1.8 maximum aperture, making it the second largest available on the market (behind the Panasonic LX7 and the Samsung EX2, both of which feature an f/1.4 maximum aperture).

It's worth noting, however, that this maximum aperture shrinks to f/4.9 when shooting at the telephoto end of the Sony RX100's modest 3.6x optical zoom ratio.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V

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If you're frequently shooting from a distance, the Sony HX20V offers much more flexibility, with a 20x optical zoom lens. Its aperture offering isn't so good though, starting at f/3.2 at its widest point.

The equivalent focal length of the RX100 is 28-100mm, while the HX20V starts from a wider angle, at 25mm, and reaches up to an impressive 500mm at the telephoto end.

Both cameras make use of Sony's own Clear Zoom technology, which effectively doubles the zoom reach of the lens. It works in the same manner as digital zooms, but Sony claims that its By Pixel Resolution technology is able to produce images of a much higher standard. By using this, the Sony RX100's reach is extended to 7.2x, while the Sony HX20V can reach a whopping 40x.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: processor

Both the Sony RX100 and the Sony HX20V use the latest generation of Bionz processor, which enables Full HD video recording at 50p and 50i, and produces low image-noise pictures. In this respect, the cameras are pretty much tied.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: raw format

One area the Sony RX100 has the Sony HX20V most definitely pipped is its ability to shoot in raw format. This gives enthusiast photographers greater flexibility when working with images post-capture. It seems a shame that the Sony HX20V can't also offer this function, given that it has the same processor as the Sony RX100.

It's worth bearing in mind, however, that many of the functions of the Sony RX100, such as its digital art filters and Clear Zoom technology, are not available when shooting in raw format.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: sensitivity

Housing a larger sensor than the Sony HX20V, along with a wider aperture lens, should mean that sensitivity doesn't necessarily need to be pushed too high. However, the Sony RX100 is capable of ISO 100-6400 in Auto mode, expandable all the way up to ISO 25,600.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V

By contrast, the Sony HX20V is capable of reaching ISO 100-3200 in Auto mode, or 12800 in extended mode. This should be more than enough to cover most situations, though.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: screen

Both these cameras feature a 3-inch Tru Black LCD screen, however only the Sony RX100 features White Magic technology, which is designed to make for better viewing in bright conditions.

Unfortunately, neither of the cameras feature a touchscreen device, although the Sony RX100 beats the Sony HX20V with its resolution, featuring 1.228 million dots, compared with 921k dots.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: macro mode

Like some other large sensor cameras, the Sony RX100 struggles with macro focusing, especially when compared with the Sony HX20V.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V

The Sony RX100 can only focus to a minimum distance of 5cm/0.16 inch, which is quite a distance compared to the 1cm/0.03 inch that the Sony HX20V is capable of. If you're a fan of taking extreme close-ups, the Sony RX100 may not be the camera for you.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HS20V: dimensions and battery life

There's hardly anything in it, size-wise, between these two compact cameras, since both have very similar dimensions. You'll be able to slip either into a jeans pocket or a bag with ease. This is particularly impressive when considering that the Sony RX100 contains a large sensor, while the Sony HX20V features a very large zoom.

Both are also very similarly weighted, coming in at less than 220g a piece.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V

In terms of battery life, both cameras are again very similar, with 320 shots for the Sony HX20V, and 330 for the Sony RX100. These are both fairly impressive numbers, considering that the rear screen will be constantly in use, and the extra processing power that the Sony RX100 uses.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: price

Ah, the crucial sticking point for many will be the price. The Sony RX100 certainly isn't a cheap proposition, currently retailing for over £500 in the UK or $650 in the US.

Meanwhile, the Sony HX20V can be picked up for around £270/$350. However, it's worth pointing out that the RRP of the Sony HX20V is £349/$399.99. While the Sony RX100 is new, and getting rave reviews, it's likely the price will continue to be high, but give it a few months and it may also drop significantly.

Sony RX100 vs Sony HX20V: verdict

Choosing between these two cameras will ultimately depend on what you want from a compact device.

If you're looking for a good quality travel compact, with a high zoom and reasonable price, then the Sony HX20V is the more obvious choice. It's also suitable for enthusiasts who want to be more creative, but aren't bothered about shooting in raw format or additional art filters.

On the other hand, if you're after a very high quality compact camera to act as a second camera to your DSLR, to accompany you in everyday situations, then you may find more to enjoy on the Sony RX100.

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