It might be easier to list what the Sony DSC-HX7 doesn’t have, rather than the things that it does. Sony has crammed pretty much everything but the kitchen sink into this sturdy little snapper: it produces huge panoramic shots in single sweep, can take several shots in a second, geotags photos with location data, captures full HD movies and even takes 3D photos.

So it’s versatile, but it’s also well made and well-equipped. The screen is dagger-sharp and viewable even on a sunny day, and inside, as on most of Sony’s latest cameras, you’ll find a highly sensitive back-illuminated Exmor R sensor.

This light-sucking 16.2MP CMOS means the HX7 produces the goods time and time again when it comes to photo quality. Photos are packed with sharp edge-to-edge detail, and remain relatively free of grainy noise even in poor lighting conditions. Those giant Sweep Panorama shots (captured simply by moving the camera in a wide arc – the HX7 does the stitching itself) look the business – you might notice the odd join here and there, but they’re largely flawless.

Video quality is beautifully crisp, and helpfully Sony gives you the option of shooting in AVCHD or MP4 – the former’s better for playback on a TV, the latter for computers.

Perhaps the only thing the HX7 lacks is the sort of enthusiast-friendly features boasting by rivals like the Canon PowerShot S95 or Panasonic LX5. There’s no option to shoot in RAW here, the aperture doesn’t go quite as large and the button and dial setup doesn’t cater to settings tweakers as successfully.

So if you’re a seasoned shutterbug looking for the perfect premium compact to back up your bulky DSLR, perhaps the Sony HX7 isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking for a versatile point-and-shoot that will document your holiday/party perfectly and delivers great shots straight out of the camera, this should be top of your list: point it and anything and nine times out of ten it delivers the goods.

Stuff says... 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX7V review

A tiny camera with massive versatility and a huge dollop of user friendliness