Sony HX99 High ISO Sample Images

Here’s a collection of photos I’ve taken with the Sony HX99 focusing specifically on its highest ISO range of 1600 to 6400.

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I’ve previously posted a detailed review of the Sony HX99 compact camera as well as a more general (and larger) selection of images taken with the HX99.

While the HX99 is not necessarily the first camera that comes to mind if you’re getting one for low-light shooting and isn’t likely to be the driving reason for choosing this particular camera, I nevertheless thought it worth posting a selection of sample images focusing specifically on the HX99’s image quality at high ISOs.

The HX99 has a native ISO range from 80 to 3200 and an extended option (ie. software enhanced) up to 6400. All of the images here were taken with ISOs of 1600 and above. 1

The HX99 is a very small compact camera and has a tiny sensor to match. So its performance is never going to match some of the low-light leaders like Sony’s Alpha series cameras or larger full-frame DSLRs or even mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors–it would be unrealistic to expect that, and if that’s what you’re aiming for, you’re frankly likely to be disappointed.

In shooting with the HX99, I can’t help but wish that its low-light performance was better. When I’m pulling out a camera on my travels, I want something that’s not just going to work well in bright, sunny conditions outside but also one that’s going to work well in a smoky and poorly lit morning market, inside a beautifully decorated mosque, or with a street scene at night.

Sony HX99 Compact Camera
  • ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 24-720mm High Magnification Zoom and High Image Quality Lens
  • Stunning 4K video with full pixel readout and no pixel binning

On the one hand, the HX99 has built-in optical image stabilization. That helps. On the other hand, it has a relatively slow maximum lens aperture of ƒ/3.5-6.4 (the lens’s party trick–the massive zoom–is, after all, a key selling point and the natural priority). As a potential alternative to something like Sony’s own RX100 series or the Ricoh GR III–both of which are admittedly at least double the price–the HX99 doesn’t really compete.

Yet it still performs better than other cameras I’ve used of this type and remotely at this price point. There is certainly image noise, and sharpness suffers. But you also don’t get some of the other negative effects to the same extent that you see on some other cameras. The dynamic range and color fidelity do suffer, but they don’t drop off a cliff. And, overall, if shared in relatively small sizes, such as on social media, the images still look very good.

Here are some practical examples that hopefully will help you make your own judgment.

Most of these were shot in RAW, but a few were shot originally in JPG. For several reasons, I generally shoot in RAW when it’s available. In this specific case, I don’t really like the in-camera processing that’s done to JPGs shot in high ISOs. In trying to improve the effects of the high ISO, it gives it a murky, waxy look that, for me at least, looks like a step in the wrong direction. I prefer the RAW versions with their grainier but sharper look. These have been processed in Lightroom, but I’ve not applied any extra noise corrections beyond the Lightroom defaults (Luminance: 0; Color: 25; Detail: 50; Smoothness: 50).

Sony HX99 High ISO Examples

Each image has the ISO it was taken at in its caption. And you can click on each image to open a full-resolution version.

Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 3200
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 2000
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 2000
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 2000
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 3200
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 3200
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 2500
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 3200
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 6400
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 2000
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 6400
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 2000
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 6400
Sony HX99 Sample Image
ISO 1600. This isn’t an ideal image to test high ISO in large part because of the texture on the field. It’s synthetic grass, and it was taken in the early evening when it had just started to snow lightly. So the white “noise” on the green is actually a small amount of snow. But I’ll leave it included even if it’s less than ideal for this purpose.
Sony HX99 High ISO Examples
Photo taken with a Sony HX99 compact camera at ISO 3200

Price & Availability of the Sony HX99

Check the current price and availability at:

Sony DSC-HX99 Compact Digital 18.2 MP Camera with 24-720 mm Zoom, 4K and...
  • ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 24-720mm High Magnification Zoom and High Image Quality Lens
  • Stunning 4K video with full pixel readout and no pixel binning
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX99 4K Wi-Fi Digital Camera with 32GB Card + Battery +...
  • KIT INCLUDES 11 PRODUCTS -- All BRAND NEW Items with all Manufacturer-supplied Accessories + Full USA...
  • [1] Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX99 4K Wi-Fi Digital Camera + [2] Transcend 32GB MicroSD Card +

Fixing Image Quality Problems in Editing

And the general rule of thumb in photography is that it’s better to get the shot right at the time of capture rather than trying to fix it after. That’s a great aspiration, but it’s not always possible to do if you’re shooting in especially challenging conditions or bumping up against limitations or flaws in gear, conditions, or technique.

But it’s worth mentioning that there are some excellent tools available to help address common image quality issues with digital images. And they’re getting better and better all the time as the power of AI ramps up. They can deal remarkably well with anything from sensor issues like high-ISO image noise to lens issues like distortion, softness, vignetting, and chromatic aberration. (Note: I’m focusing here on corrections related to image quality, not image enhancement tools–that’s a different kettle of fish.)

All-round image processing apps like Lightroom Classic and Capture One have solid tools built in that are very good places to start. But it’s also possible to take it much further with more specialized tools. If you shoot in challenging conditions regularly and find room for improvement in the image quality coming out of the camera, these might well be worth a look (and they have free trials). Some are stand-alone apps; some integrate into image editing suites such as Lightroom Classic.

UPDATE: In April 2023, Adobe released an update to Lightroom Classic that added new AI-powered noise reduction for RAW files. It’s a powerful tool that rivals some of the dedicated apps below. If you’re already using Lightroom Classic for your image editing and organization, it’s well worth trying out.

Fixing Image Noise & High ISO Artifacts

Fixing Lens-Related Optical Issues

  • DxO PureRAW (again offers an impressive suite of automatic fixes that are applied before you start editing the images)
  • DxO ViewPoint (correcting for lens distortion and geometry skews)
  • Topaz Labs Sharpen AI (in addition to standard unsharp tools, includes focus correction and shake reduction)
  1. There’s also an Auto ISO option where you can set the minimum and maximum ISOs. With Auto ISO, the maximum ISO available is 3200.[]

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2023-05-30 at 16:51. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »