Sony Cyber-shot H55 2011

Sony likes electronics, so the Cyber-Shot H55 was never going to be short of clever features. This camera doesn’t disappoint on either this or practicality, featuring a quality, bright Sony G lens (sadly not the Carl Zeiss lens featured on earlier Cyber-Shots) in a pleasing not-to-big, not-too-small package.

Technical stuff
Phil: Pipped to the title of having the widest focal length by the Casio Exilim EX-H15, the Sony Cyber-Shot H55 still features an impressive wide-angle of 25mm, running to a solid 250mm. Along with eight scene modes, there’s also manual control, allowing you to set both the aperture and shutter speed. The H55 also features Sony’s Sweep Panorama: a simple way to achieve impressive panoramic images. Moving the camera across the vista from left to right (or up and down) stitches a series of images together to create one shot. It’s great for landscapes, but the images are relatively low-resolution, so don’t expect to be able to produce large prints, though they’re fine for displaying on-screen.

On the hill
Simon: I was most excited to try the Sony Cyber-shot H55’s Sweep Panorama function. It’s a potentially awesome feature and it’s easy to use but, as Phil warned me, the image quality was disappointing: had the resolution been higher, for summit views it would be fantastic. The manual exposure mode was also potentially excellent, with a superb shutter speed range (up to 30 seconds) – but sadly it has only two aperture settings. The rest of the gadgetry is impressive, as expected from Sony: there is an Intelligent Auto mode, which automatically selects the most suitable shooting mode for the picture you’re taking; the image stabilisation mode is superb; and you can play back the images while the lens is retracted – a handy battery saver. Gripes in usability are that the function selection wheel – a good feature for cold fingers – has very little resistance on it, meaning it is easy to accidentally knock into another mode. Our test images were bright and crisp, though the Sony Cyber-shot H55 struggled ever so slightly to balance exposure between the sky and rocks, and so lost a little cloud detail to over-exposure.

Resolution 14.1 megapixels
Lens 10x optical 25-250mm
Image stabiliser yes
Modes Auto, Manual, 8 scene modes, Intelligent Auto, Sweep Panorama
Weight 200g
Dimensions 103x58x29mm
Storage media SD/SDHC/Sony Memory-Stick
Movie mode HD 720p, 30fps
Monitor 3 inches, 230k dots
Connectivity USB

A fine camera with some seductive features, the Sony Cyber-shot H55 is well up to the job – but others may beat it on practicality and price.  It won ‘Best Value’ in our test.

Review by Phil Hall of Digital Photo magazine and Simon Ingram of Trail magazine
First published in Trail magazine February 2011