Sony excels at sleek, slim, feature-packed ultracompacts, so the WX9 should deserves a look. It's built around Sony's latest 16.2-megapixel EXMOR R CMOS sensor, which enables speedy performance, solid low-light shooting, 1080i high-def video, 10 frames-per-second burst mode, and a range of effects that mimic advanced features like background de-focusing (for that aesthetically pleasing blur).
The WX9’s 5x lens is impressive: it has a bright f/2.6 aperture and an effective optical image stabilization system. The lens has a nice wide 25mm angle, but if that’s not enough for your group portraits, the sweep panorama modes are sure to fit the crowd. The sweep panorama mode simply requires one push of a button and a pan of the wrist; the camera uses its high-speed burst to capture and stitch all the images automatically. There is an interesting sweep multi-angle mode that takes 15 pictures across a panned scene and combines them into one file that can be viewed on the camera’s high-resolution 3-inch LCD screen in a “3D-like view” -- maybe a bit of a gimmick, but you can always ignore that mode.
Rounding out the spec sheet are a 3-inch, 920k-pixel LCD and manual controls. For $220, this is a stylish, feature-rich, and hopefully functional package.