Sony's $450 HX99 camera packs 30X zoom into an ultra-compact

It's built for your next vacation.

How do you make a point-and-shoot camera appealing when the smartphone in your pocket can already take great photos? By stuffing a ton of features into a design that's almost as easy to carry as that phone, apparently. That's the principal behind Sony's Cyber-shot HX99 going on sale in November 2018 in the US. It crams a 24-720mm equivalent (30X) f/3.5-6.4 zoom lens, a retractable OLED viewfinder and a flip-up touchscreen into a small 4-by-2.5-inch body you'd associate with standard-zoom cameras.

It's the "world's smallest" camera of its kind, if you believe Sony, although the company jumped through some hoops to reach that claim (it's comparing against other fixed-lens cameras with viewfinders and 700mm-plus zoom lenses).

It still appears to be a solid camera if you can cut through the hype. The 18.2-megapixel shooter can capture 4K video without having to rely on pixel binning tricks, and it combines fast autofocus (as quick as 0.09 seconds) with the Eye AF technology borrowed from the Alpha line. The HX99 won't be a low light champion with a maximum ISO 6,400 sensitivity, but you can shoot in RAW if you're exacting about your images.

Sony ships the new Cyber-shot in early November for $450. That's a lot to stomach for a camera that promises neither interchangeable lenses nor exceptional image quality, but the versatility is the key. At least on a spec sheet, this is a camera that could handle most any photo opportunity on a vacation without consuming much space in your bag.