Sony Cyber-shot HX9V
16.2 megapixels; EXMOR R CMOS sensor; 16x optical zoom; 24mm wide-angle Sony G lens; Optical image stabilization; 3-inch LCD, 921k dots; 1080p HD video, AVCHD format; 10fps burst mode; 3D image capture, 3D panorama; High-res sweep panorama (42.9 megapixels); ISO up to 3200; Full manual control; Integrated GPS for geo-tagging; HDMI output; Captures to SD/SDHC/Memory Stick media cards; Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
The HX9V is Sony's top-of-the-line compact zoom for 2011, featuring a little bit "more" of all the features found on the mid-range HX7V
-- almost too many to list.
This camera is built around the same EXMOR R backlit CMOS sensor that's used in many 2011 Cyber-shots, which basically means that it's fast and performs pretty well in low light. Early image quality tests show a pervasive softness in photos taken with the HX9V; that won't be a deal-breaker for most folks, since at regular viewing distances, the pictures look great, but it's certainly not the right camera for pixel peepers. It's one more option for casual (and maybe some enthusiast) users who want a fun, feature-packed, easy-to-use camera with an incredibly versatile lens. It isn't our favorite of the flagship compact zooms this year, but it has a lot of redeeming qualities and certainly has many fans out there.
The 24mm, 16x zoom Sony G lens looks quite versatile, and the high-res sweep panorama feature has the potential to be awesome. It's capable of taking enormous 42.9 megapixel panoramas, which should preserve a lot more detail than the relatively small images that lesser sweep-panorama features found on other Sony cameras churn out. The press materials also refer to "dSLR-class high-speed autofocus," which could be some sort of phase-detection autofocus -- impressive and uncommon in a compact camera, but without an internal mirror, we're not really sure how this would actually work.
We're hoping to have a full-length review of this camera in the near future. That's dependent upon Sony sending us the camera, so voice your enthusiasm for our review in the comments below.