New Cameras Galore: Complete PMA 2009 Coverage

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Sony Unveils Promising New Megazoom

Amid a slew of new announcements that also included connected HDTVs and Blu-ray players, Sony today took the wraps off of its new Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 digital camera, a 20x optical zoom camera that has the ability to stitch together up to 100 images in one second in its "Sweep Panorama" mode.

The Sweep Panorama feature was showcased during a demo at the Photography Marketing Association (PMA) show in Las Vegas last night, and appeared to work seamlessly in creating a wide panoramic image of the press conference audience. What's more, the shutter button only needs to be pressed once to create panoramic images with the HX1; simply panning the camera across the area wanted in the shot both captures and stitches together the resulting image.

Also new in the Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 is Sony's Exmor R CMOS sensor, which Sony is touting as a noise-free, low-light performer that contributes to the HX1's ability to shoot up to ten 9-megapixel images per second in its high-speed burst mode. The HX1 also features a mechanical shutter, which the company claims eliminates distortion during high-speed burst shots.

The lens and image processor in the HX1 are new to the Cyber-shot line. The HX1 uses the higher-quality, six-blade aperture G lens found in its DSLR cameras. Also under the hood is the revamped Bionz image processor, which Sony says is the key to the high-speed processing work needed for the Sweep Panorama feature.

The basic specs look good for a megazoom camera, as well: the 20x optical zoom ranges from 28mm to 560mm and is bolstered by optical image stabilization, it records 1080p HD video as MPEG-4 (H.264 codec) files and has stereo microphones, it offers both full manual controls and Sony's Intelligent Auto functions, and it has an adjustable 3-inch LCD in addition to an electronic viewfinder. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 will be available in April for $500.

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