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The design development behind the Sony Cyber-shot™ HX50

Press release   •   Nov 04, 2013 15:30 GMT

From round-the-world expeditions to family walks on a Sunday afternoon, the new Sony Cyber-shot™ HX50 camera gives every scene the colour, detail and clarity it deserves – even at high zoom. Boasting a 20.4MP sensor and built-in image stabilisation, the HX50 delivers beautifully vibrant photos and Full HD videos, even when you’re far from your subject. What’s more, it’s the world’s smallest, lightest1 digital still camera that packs a powerful 30x optical zoom range

The impressive camera was created and designed by Design Centre Europe based at Sony Europe Headquarters in Weybridge, Surrey. Senior Designer, Mirko Goetzen relives the design development from concept to production.

Challenging the compact camera market

Initial discussions with the digital imaging business group led to the design team being tasked with leveraging design to differentiate the HX50 from the competition in the competitive compact-camera marketplace.

The brief, therefore, was to create a premium quality camera that could offer more than the point and shoot compacts. It had to go one step ahead of its predecessor the HX20 – to maintain its appeal visually, but also offer a number of key professional features.

Compact products, complex construction

The challenge for both designer and engineer when designing a product which is both portable and compact in size, is to find the best composition to achieve minimal bulk yet to maintain usability, aesthetics and function.

With such a compact product each design tweak can potentially have a significant effect on both the engineering and other design elements. Mirko explains, “When designing Sony products such as wireless speakers or televisions a 2mm amendment to the design is a relatively small difference that incurs minimal repercussions, however, with camera design, repositioning a dial by 1/10 of a mm could potentially provoke a complete rethink of the whole composition.”

The essence of camera-ness

With a determination to elicit an essence of camera-ness, the initial sketch of the HX50 focused on evoking a more professional, high-end look and feel that was sympathetic to the features of the HX20, while also being conscious of projecting a contemporary flavour. Four key design elements served to deliver in the pursuit for camera-ness:

1. The archetypical step
With a gentle nod to traditional camera design, and moving away from the curved design of its predecessor, we engineered a precise machined aesthetic to create a pronounced augmentation to the upper surface, giving the camera a natural elevation.

2. Positioning the dial and shoe
A compact camera requires many dials and buttons; all with accompanying iconography, to be positioned on a minimal surface area, yet still allow for good usability, readability, and maintain design sensibility. In positioning the dial and shoe on the upper surface we acquired improved usability and the ability to offer more premium features.

3. Material selection
Formed anodised metal on the camera body offers durability and a cool sense of touch that exudes a more premium feel. Combined with the grip’s new pattern and texture, the HX50 provides an enhanced, professional user experience.

4. Precisional appearance
When you hold the HX50 you can feel the solidness of the product and the quality of its build. This was achieved by not only eliminating any unnecessary decoration, but by reducing the gaps between all the different parts, keeping tolerances as low as possible and minimising the radii to deliver as sharp and precise appearance as possible.

Once we had reached the optimum component volume, the art of visual reduction began. Through digital mathematical surfacing we evaluated the highlights and shadows of gradients and implemented the most subtle of changes, to ultimately refine the overall appearance.

It was vital for the design team to work closely with the engineers during this 2D sketch phase to ensure that the design options were feasible and fit with the technical specifications.

Once the sketches had been signed off we generated a number of rapid prototypes to check proportions, evaluate minute changes to confirm that the product looks as good as the spec shouts and ultimately evaluated if the concept fulfils the business groups objectives in 3D. Once we were happy with the proportions, a full appearance mock-up of the final design was issued for the purpose of critiquing the design in its final shape and with its chosen materials and finish.

With the camera body’s part metal construction combined with the touch of the grip and thumb pad in hand - the HX50 more than delivers on the ‘look and feel’ of a professional, quality camera.

About the Sony European Design Centre

The Design Centre Europe was established in 1980 in Stuttgart; it was the first of its kind to be created by a consumer electronics brand in Europe. Today the Design Centre Europe is located at Sony’s European headquarters in Weybridge. It acts as an antenna for European design trends and works to create products specific to local markets. It also contributes to global design concepts in collaboration with the Tokyo and worldwide design centres.

Some recent products that were designed at the Design Centre Europe include the Tap 20 VAIO, MDR-1 headphones, BTX-300 speaker system and SRS-BTS50 wireless speaker.

In addition, the Design Centre Europe manages communication design for in-store retail, content for our products in-store e.g. such as video content for our BRAVIA televisions plus looks at the wider messaging of trade show activities such as IFA.

About Senior Designer Mirko Goetzen

Mirko Goetzen designed the Sony Cyber-shot HX50, the German born designer joined Sony in 2008. A graduate of the University of Essen, he spent six months on exchange at the University of Singapore. Upon graduation he continued to gain a wealth of global experience working in San Diego, Germany and Finland for Ziba California, Miele and Nokia respectively. Mirko brings a German precision with a global sensibility to his designs, recent projects include; the origami inspired digital photo frame in collaboration with Softbank (only available in Japan), the X series wireless speakers and VAIO and VAIO accessories.

More about the Sony Cyber-shot™ HX50

Powered by a 20.4-megapixel2 Exmor R CMOS sensor and BIONZ processor, the HX50 produces high-resolution, high quality images with exceptional low-light performance. What’s more, integrated Wi-Fi lets you share those special memories quickly and easily with friends and family.

For more advanced photographers who like to fine-tune the details of a shot, there’s a dial to adjust exposure compensation plus a mode dial for other manual shooting settings such as P/A/S/M modes. There’s also a Multi Interface Shoe for attaching a compatible electronic viewfinder, flash or microphone for better video sound quality – the perfect match for the high quality video shooting of Full HD (50p) recording capability. Adding to the package is a Multi Terminal for using a remote controller, very useful for close-ups and movies.

Battery stamina is crucial when you’re travelling and don’t know where the next plug point will be found. The X-type lithium-ion battery in the Cyber-shot™ HX50 is smaller than any of its predecessors3, yet delivers 400 photos4 from a single charge.

Ready to get a little more creative? The HX50 offers nine different picture effects5 to experiment with, giving those shots of the children an entirely new perspective. There are also three picture effects available in Intelligent Sweep Panorama mode6, plus four different movie effects7.

The HX50 is available on

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