I am planning to buy a compact super zoom camera and am not able to decide between Sony DSC HX9V and Nikon Coolpix S9100. Both have comparable specs and I am not proficient enough to tell which one is better.

Ease of use is as important for me as image quality. Although I would be mostly using the camera in auto mode for now, I would like to learn and dive deeper into manual/program mode.


Do you need such a high zoom? I was almost decided to buy the Sony HX-5 (needed smaller camera as a second one for occasions where I cannot have my DSLR). Then I saw some photos and talked with a guy who upgraded from HX5 to Nikon P300 and I decided to buy the Nikon.

HX-9 has unluckily bigger resolution than HX-5 and the guy complained about blurred images (because of the noise reduction) and the inability to adjust the exposition - no Av/Tv modes etc. Unlike the Nikon, Sony also has GPS and compass, but depends, if this is useful for you.

I think you should have a look no the P300, if you do not need ultrazoom and if you appreciate better lens and "DSLR-like" exposure modes.


I would like to learn and dive deeper into manual/program mode.

Look at the mode dials on the top of the two cameras. IMO, it makes the Sony DSC HX9V the clear winner over the Nikon Coolpix S9100, because the dial on the HX9V clearly shows the PSAM (Programmable auto, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, and full Manual) modes, while the dial on the S9100 only shows scene and automated modes. If you want to take control over the exposure with a camera, the PSAM modes give you the greatest freedom to do so.

However, if you're really serious about photography, to me the three features you want in any digital camera (superzoom or otherwise) that you should look for, in order of importance are: 1) full Manual mode (to take control of the exposure explicitly through aperture or shutter speed settings), 2) RAW capability (for the most latitude for post-processing edits), and 3) a flash hotshoe (so you can do off-camera lighting if you so desire).

Neither of those cameras has RAW or a flash hotshoe, so personally, I wouldn't contemplate getting either one (although I suppose a flash hotshoe could be optional for a lot of folks). If you look at a camera's specs, they'll tell you if the camera can do RAW, and looking at the top plate of the camera will show you whether or not there's a flash hotshoe.

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