When you first look at Sony's DSC-HX9V you think of it is little more than another of the point-and-shoot wrist-strap cameras that are great to take on trips where you want to take photos of the family at the Grand Canyon.
Looks can be deceiving though as the DSC-HX9V is much more than just a standard point-and-shoot camera. The first giveaway is the lens. Sony has chosen to use its upscale G-series zoom lens as the standard for this camera, combining the lens and a 16X zoom with an autogyro internal stabilization package that means you can take some fine hand-held shots at full zoom with no blur. The gyro keeps things stead for you.
At the same time, the DSC-HX9V is fully capable of delivering native mode 1080p high-definition video so that you can not only shoot stills but when you want to take make some real videography - and you have a 32 GB memory card installed - you have the ability to do so.
That Sony can do this and still deliver a wide range of fine color as well as deep blacks and good contrast is a function of the advanced Exmor R image processor that Sony places in the right spot for full video functionality. The real giveaway though, that the DSC-HX9V, aside from its 16.2 MP capability, is the fact that the engine which drives this point-and-shoot camera is the advanced BIONZ processor that Sony uses in its advanced video systems.
The BIONZ engine, when used with the Exmor, handles tough backlighting situations easily and, if there is a situation where a little more light is needed in a standard sunlit series, you will find that the built-in flash will provide just the right amount of fill flash so that skin tones are natural.
The number of built-in automatic scene modes that will be automatically chosen for you, depending on lighting, shadows, cloud, backlighting and other factors is 44 for still and 33 for videos.
One thing we liked - and like better the more we use - is the 921,000 pixel resolution three-inch framing display in the rear. With this, you can quickly frame the exact still or video you want and shoot away.
This camera also features a built-in smile function that actually delivers multiple images to the processor that give you the one where your subject smiles and if are worried about blinking, this camera uses a soft-snap where it takes two images without the subject realizing the second image has occurred - that's usually the one without the blink.
Sony has certainly done its homework on this camera and this is one that can be used by pros, who don't want to carry all of that hardware with them - unless they are shooting specialized sporting events like tennis or auto racing where you need long lenses and digital single lens reflex camera - but who want to be able to capture panoramic stills (several shots pasted together into one) or a special angle in a bike race or road race where blur may be an issue. With this camera, the blur is dialed out, so you don't have to drag all of that heavy gear with you.
The one thing we'd like to ask is why these are really still called "point-and-shoot?" Usually, you are using a three-inch framing display in the rear to get the shot you want so, in a sense, this might be a dSLR without all of the extra stuff. It's really not a "point-and-shoot" is it, anymore? You can really call it a "frame and shoot" because that's a much more accurate description.