The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 is an affordable super-zoom camera, offering a 63x, 24.5-1550mm zoom lens, 20.1 megapixel Super HAD CCD sensor, 720p HD video recording with stereo sound, and Sweep Panoramas. Other key features of the Sony H400 include a 3 inch LCD screen, electronic viewfinder, ISO range of 80-6400, Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode which cuts camera-shake while you’re shooting handheld HD video, Intelligent Auto, Program and full Manual shooting modes, a range of Picture Effects, support for both Memory Stick PRO Duo and Secure Digital cards, and a lithium-ion battery.
Sony’s new Cyber-shot DSC-H400 is styled very much like an entry-level DSLR camera, complete with a viewfinder and mock-pentaprism housing on top.
It’s definitely a camera to be worn around the neck, slung over a shoulder – with a strap provided for both purposes – or tucked away in a suitable bag. The generous rubberized handgrip is large enough to squeeze three fingers comfortably around and usefully has indentations for your top two fingertips, and when loaded with the supplied lithium-ion battery and an SD or Memory Stick Pro Duo card, it weighs 655g, which although on the heavy side for a modern bridge camera helps to provide a steadier hold when shooting towards the telephoto end of the zoom.
Sony DSC-H400 (Specs)
- 20MP – 1/2.3″ CCD Sensor
- ISO 80 – 3200
- 25-1550 mm F3.4-6.5 Zoom Lens
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 3″ Fixed Type Screen
- 201k dot Electronic viewfinder
- 1 fps continuous shooting
- HD – 1280 X 720 video
- 628g. 130 x 95 x 122 mm
- Focus Mode: Multi-Point AF, centre-weighted AF, SpotAF, Tracking Focus, Face Tracking Focus
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Sony DSC-H400: Features
The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H400 features a 20.1 megapixel CCD sensor, and a 63x optical zoom lens equivalent to 24.5 – 1550mm in 35mm terms. Optical SteadyShot is designed to keep shots steady.
Digital SLR styling helps you hold the camera steady, with a large rubberised hand grip. The built in electronic viewfinder (EVF) gives another point of contact to help you contain the camera steady when using the optical zoom. There is a 3inch screen on the back with a 460k dot resolution.
The camera features an intelligent Auto shooting mode, as well as full manual controls, sweep panoramic, video recording at 720p, a number of scene modes, and also digital filters. The camera uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which should give 300 shots.
Sony DSC-H400: Build and Handling
The camera feels well built with a solid plastic body. The handgrip has a slightly rubberised feel to it helping grip with an indentation for your fingers. The rear of the camera has a small textured areas for the thumb, however this is not rubberised. The buttons and controls are all neatly placed so that you can reach them with your right hand, and on the left of the camera is simply the button to release the pop-up flash.
There is a button on top to switch between the electronic viewfinder and the rear screen. The viewfinder is quite small, but does feature dioptre correction if needed. The view is reasonable, but you can tell that it is a budget digital camera due to the small size of the viewfinder. Using the electronic viewfinder will help get steadier shots when using the optical zoom, however you may find it uncomfortable to use for extended periods if you wear glasses.
The options are settings are quite easy and quick to access, either using the buttons on the 4-way controller, or utilizing the Menu button. Pressing the menu button brings up a number of options that can be changed on the trunk screen without having to go into the full menus. To go in to the complete menus you scroll to the bottom of this list and select ‘Setup’ where you will find more advanced settings. The screen is quite clear when used outdoors, having an anti-reflective coating.
Sony DSC-H400: Performance
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 takes just over one second to power up, the lens extending a little beyond its protective housing to arrive at maximum 24.5mm wide-angle setting while the image on the rear LCD pops into life. While just a little slower than an actual DSLR, that’s very respectable for this class of bridge camera.
The DSC-H400 is commendably swift to determine focus and exposure at the wider focal lengths, with the AF point/s highlighted in green on screen almost the instant your finger presses down on the shutter release button and finds the half-way point. It’s a different story at full telephoto, however, where it takes at least a few seconds for the digital camera to lock focus, so don’t expect to be able to track fast-moving animals or the like. Press down fully to take the shot and a full resolution 20 megapixel JPEG is committed to removable media card in just over three seconds.
Keep a forefinger on the zoom lever that encircles the shutter release button and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 powers through its 63x optical zoom range from wide angle to telephoto in about eight seconds. Continue holding down the lever and it will continue zooming digitally to a 126x equivalent setting (if Digital Zoom is enabled and set to Precision in the menu). If this option is taken the camera deploys the fantastically named Pixel Super Resolution technology that automatically enhances imagery to avoid the usual blocky appearance of conventional digital zooms.
Next to the power button is a raised, ridged-edged shooting mode switch with an action that is isn’t quite stiff enough to prevent the user accidentally slipping from one setting to the next in the thick of it. There are 8 options on this dial. We get the creative options of program, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual mode settings, plus Sony’s now ubiquitous Sweep Panorama function, whereby an individual pans through an arc as directed by the on-screen arrows – the resulting elongated shot instantly stitched together in digital camera. It’s both really effective and very easy to use.
Also on the dial is really a dedicated High Definition video mode for up to 720p 1280×720 pixel clips at 30fps (Fine or Standard quality), but no 1080p/i mode. There’s a dedicated video record key on the trunk of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400, or you can choose the Video setting on the shooting mode dial and then press the shutter button to begin recording. A push of menus when in movie setting summons up a variety of options for adjusting the video resolution and frame rate, and also switch from intelligent auto movie recording to applying picture effects, as we more usually can with stills photography. There’s also the ability to set exposure compensation and white balance. Another bonus is that complete use of the optical zoom will be provided in movie mode, as is automatic focus adjustment if you alter framing or swap subjects mid-sequence.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 is a rather unexciting super-zoom camera with one stand-out feature, at least in marketing terms – its mammoth 63x, 24.5-1550mm lens. Whilst this sounds incredible on paper and is sure to gain the DSC-H400 more attention than it perhaps deserves, the reality of trying to take a sharp photo at such extreme focal lengths is a frustrating one, thanks to the DSC-H400’s glacially slow autofocus, terrible electronic viewfinder and noisy images at ISO 400 and above. We can’t help feeling that many would-be buyers of the otherwise beginner-friendly Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 will ultimately be disappointed by the camera’s image quality, especially when they naturally take advantage of that huge zoom.