Review: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX5V

The days of forgetting where you took a photo are over. The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX5V, and several other cameras we tested recently, has built-in GPS receivers to geo-tag your shots so you can show jealous friends your globetrotting exploits and never lose track of what side of an international border you were on.

Though it works exceptionally well, the Sony HX5V doesn’t exactly flaunt its GPS chops. In fact, if it weren’t for the picture of a satellite on the side of the camera, you might not even know this slick little pocket shooter had a GPS receiver inside its black metallic body. The camera’s GPS feature itself is similarly stealth: You have to dig through menus just to turn it on and it can take up to a minute to lock in on a signal. This is kind of annoying.

Once we switched on sat-tracking, though, the 10.2-megapixel HX5V geotagged our shots with sniper-like accuracy during a five-borough photo tour in New York City. Reception is charted in bars on the camera’s large 3-inch LCD screen so it’s easy to tell how strong the GPS signal is. Unfortunately, New York’s skyscrapers (and even the comparatively squat Madison Square Garden) knocked out the reception, so our photos of the Empire State Building were left untagged. (Not a biggie though. Most people know it’s in NYC.)

Along with GPS, the HX5V has a few more tech tricks up its sleeve. When we got lost in Brooklyn during our photo tour, the camera’s digital compass on the LCD led us north toward our final stop in Queens. Image quality was also near the best of four other GPS-enabled cameras we tried, thanks to several helpful features like the multishot high dynamic range (HDR) mode, which combined highlight and shadow detail of two late-afternoon shots of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into one evenly balanced photo.

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