Sony Cybershot H55: Big 10x Zoom, Small(ish) CameraS

Sony's other new camera is the H55, which goes for the "stuffing a fat zoom lens into a tiny body" party trick (like Nikon's S8000). It's a 10x zoom, starting at a 25mm wide-angle. (I'm curious to see what kind of lens distortion we might get here, if any.)

It shoots 14MP photos and 720p video, plus it has the Sweep Panorama found in some of Sony's other point-and-shoots that lets you shoot a panorama with one sweeping motion. It's $250.

Sony also is introducing the H55 model, which offers high zoom in a compact design. The H55 camera's 10x optical zoom Sony G lens with 25mm wide-angle (equivalent) takes better shots from greater distances and of wider landscapes. With a 14.1 megapixel CCD sensor, this camera lets you take panoramic shots in one sweeping motion with Sweep Panorama™ mode. You can also frame and view photos on its three-inch (measured diagonally) Clear Photo™ LCD screen (230,400 pixels).

Featuring 720p movie recording, the H55 model offers Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization to help reduce blur in photos without compromising image quality. It also adds Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with Active Mode, which lets you shoot smoother movie clips even if you are walking while shooting. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with Active Mode allows a moveable lens element inside the camera to shift with greater range of motion-10 times the range of the Optical SteadyShot feature at wide end in standard mode-to compensate for camera shake.

The TX5 and H55 cameras share intelligent features including HD movie recording (1280 x 720 at 30p). Additionally, these cameras have a Self portrait timer that automatically takes the shot two seconds after one or two faces are detected, making hand held self-portraits easy. They also offer Smile Shutter™ technology to automatically capture smiles and iAUTO and Easy modes, which make it easy to get the best shot in nearly any lighting situation.

To give customers greater choice and enhance the overall customer experience, the TX5 and H55 cameras feature a memory card slot compatible with both Memory Stick® (PRO Duo™) and class-four and above SD/SDHC formats.

Pricing and Availability
The TX5 camera will be available in silver, black, pink, green, and red this April for about $350, and the H55 camera will be available in black and silver this April for about $250. Pre-sales begin in February.