Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V

You'd be hard-pressed to find a camera that offers more features than the ($350 as of June 1, 2011). Two years ago, its 16X-optical-zoom lens would have been enough to turn heads. In today's world of ever-shrinking cameras with ever-expanding zoom ranges, that zoom lens is simply one of this camera's many distinguishing factors.

For example, the HX9V offers three ways to , excellent 1080p video capture at a category-leading 60 frames per second, and a digital compass for geotagging images, a searchable in-camera help guide, a 10-fps burst mode at full 16-megapixel resolution, manual controls, and one of the best implementations of a low-light shooting mode of any camera.

Despite that stellar résumé, the HX9V has a few omissions and shortcomings that may peeve experienced photographers: The camera has no RAW shooting mode, it offers no aperture- or shutter-priority modes to go along with its manual shooting option, it has a small sensor crammed with 16 megapixels, and its aperture maxes out at F3.3 at the wide-angle end of the zoom.

However, the HX9V makes up for most of those deficiencies with heaping helpings of creativity and versatility. This may ultimately appeal more to gadget hounds. Its video capabilities are unmatched in its class, and it's a great entry point into 3D still-image capture, as it's an excellent camera beyond its 3D modes.

The Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V is Sony's latest camera to feature a low-light-optimized, backside-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, and this one clocks in at 16 megapixels. The camera's ultrawide-angle 16X-optical-zoom lens (24mm to 384mm in 35mm film equivalent) has a maximum aperture setting of F3.3 at wide-angle to F5.9 at full telephoto. You have full manual control over the camera's aperture and shutter settings independently, but aperture- or shutter-priority modes aren't in the mix.