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Sony Cyber-shot HX99: Review

Compared with its predecessor HX60, this little powerhouse features a new sensor, a Zeiss lens, and 4K video recording capability. What does it mean in practice? Let’s see!

Build quality

Surprisingly, it is exceptionally well-made. It’s a clear step up from the HX60, built with a higher quality materials: alloy and better plastics. Moreover, despite this and offering more features, the HX99 is even more compact than the HX60, being slightly smaller and lighter, weighing a mere 240 grams.

The ergonomics are good. Although the grip is somewhat shallow, as expected from a camera of this size. The button layout is well thought out – all the controls, dials, and shutter button work well.

Furthermore, the camera boasts an electronic viewfinder and a tilting screen. Don’t misunderstand me – the LCD panel is of high quality. However, its time manufacturers should adopt OLED panels. This move would enhance visibility even in direct sunlight, potentially rendering the pop-up viewfinder unnecessary. Frankly, I’m not a fan of it – the view is limited, and it’s not the most comfortable to use.

Picture quality

Regarding the most pivotal aspect – image quality, it generally aligns with what you’d expect from a good 1/2.3” sensor camera. Daylight colors tend to be slightly saturated, but they remain fairly accurate and appealing. The dynamic range is satisfactory.

The level of detail is decent. However, it’s important to keep expectations in check; you won’t achieve the same depth and sharpness as with a 1” sensor, for instance. After all, this is designed to be a small camera with maximum possible zoom capabilities.

That being said, considering the presence of Zeiss signature, I anticipated a tad more sharpness from the lens at longer focal lengths. Nevertheless, I believe it performs slightly better in comparison to the Sony G optics in the HX60. A direct side-by-side comparison would be needed for conclusive confirmation, though.

… while we can certainly find points to critique, it’s undeniable that no smartphone today can match the 30x optical zoom prowess of the HX99 – and that’s exactly why people adore these compact cameras.

Regrettably, I find myself repeating this sentiment year after year – manufacturers are seemingly overlooking this and failing to integrate the new technologies introduced in smartphones… and while we might discuss the slightly artificial appearance of Auto HDR shots that not everyone might prefer, at the very least, offer us the option to achieve this. For instance, as a second Auto Mode on the dial.

More importantly, the camera’s performance in low light and nighttime photography is noticeably inferior to that of a smartphone… then they wonder why people are choosing smartphones instead of compact camera?

Sony even has a dedicated branch for Xperia smartphones; for some reason, they seem hesitant to connect all the dots. In any case, it all boils down to the software, and this discussion is essentially about the entire compact camera market – the HX99 is just one example. With that said, the hardware itself is solid, and you can observe that the level of detail is on par with smartphones.

One potential area for improvement is stabilization; it’s not particularly impressive. When utilizing the zoom, be prepared to use both hands. However, the autofocus is fast and snappy.

Video quality

Turning to video quality, thankfully, we have 4K capability. Sony has opted for a natural look that I appreciate; colors are understated and quite accurate, without excessive processing. This little camera can produce really nice footage. It captures pure details from the sensor with a very subtle level of sharpness, especially when comparing with a smartphone. If I were to be a touch greedy, I might desire a bit more detail and sharpness. Nevertheless, I’m content with the camera’s ability to record videos that are natural, soft, and detailed. Unfortunately, the major drawback is the ineffective stabilization. Even more so than when taking stills. Consequently, capturing handheld footage is quite challenging, particularly when zooming.


All in all, the Sony HX99 appears to offer slightly improved image quality, specifically a sharper lens compared to its predecessor, the HX60. I was also pleased with its enhanced compactness and better build quality. For those interested in recording videos, the option for 4K recording is a blessing. However, using a gimbal or tripod is recommended due to the not that effective stabilization.

In any case, the HX99 undoubtedly represents an upgrade over the HX60 in every aspect. As for whether you should purchase it, that depends on the price. The new HX99 is priced at $500, which is substantial. Hence, it might be worth exploring the secondary market. For instance, the HX60 can be found for as little as $100.

I had real fun with this camera. Ultimately, I hope that manufacturers will wake up sooner rather than later and resurrect the former glory of compact cameras before it’s too late.


Since 2015 I try to deliver honest, to the point reviews. First on YouTube, then here! Currently, I mainly focus on cameras and Hi-Fi!


Since 2015 I try to deliver honest, to the point reviews. First on YouTube, then here! Currently, I mainly focus on cameras and Hi-Fi!