Befitting its status as an advanced compact the HX9V offers fully manual shooting modes alongside a semi-automatic Program mode. Both offer a good degree of control, with Manual mode allowing you to select your own ISO, aperture and shutter settings using the D-pad wheel. For some reason both Aperture-priority and Shutter-priority options have been left out on the HX9V though, which is a shame as they’re both extremely useful.
If you’d prefer to let the camera do everything for you then the HX9V offers Sony’s Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto shooting modes, both of which provide easy-to-use point-and-shoot options. In addition, there are also 17 individual Scene modes that can be called upon.
Looking at the camera’s more advanced (and Sony-exclusive) shooting modes, the HX9V offers the excellent Sweep Panorama mode that allows you to make extreme wideangle images by simply panning the camera in a predetermined direction with the shutter button pressed. There’s even an option to record these panoramas in high resolution should you want to make physical prints for your wall at a later date.
Another shooting mode of note that’s also exclusive to Sony cameras is Background Defocus mode. This lends itself especially well to portraits as it enables you to throw the background out of focus, as if using a large aperture. The technology works by taking two pictures in quick succession and then blending them together. While it doesn’t always work, the results when it does are surprisingly good.
On top of its panoramic and depth-of-field abilities, the HX9V also has the ability to record 3D still images and panoramas, although you’ll need a compatible screen to view the results as the HX9V’s otherwise excellent 3-inch, 921k-dot rear LCD is strictly two-dimensional.
While the HX9V offers a good range of features, image capture is limited to JPEG with no option to record lossless Raw files, which is a bit of a shame. Movies, however, can be recorded up to a maximum quality of 1920 x 1080 Full HD at 50p, with options to record at lower HD and non-HD resolutions too.
Focus is maintained automatically while recording movies and it remains possible to use the zoom too. In addition, you can also take still images. Audio is recorded in stereo via two microphones on top of the camera. Depending on the level of movie quality selected movie files are either stored in the space-efficient AVCHD format or as less space-friendly MP4 files.
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