Smartphone cameras are getting better all the time, so surely there's no longer a need to carry a separate pocket compact around with you, right? Sony believes there is, and has announced the Cyber-shot HX99 Travel Zoom to prove it – which is billed as the world's smallest travel high-zoom snapper.

First up, the two main attention-grabbers – the optics and the proportions. The Cyber-shot HX99 sports a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24 - 720 mm F3.5 - 6.4 zoom lens made up of 11 elements in 10 groups (including five aspheric elements) and comes with optical image stabilization to negate the effects of camera shake. And the camera measures 4.01 x 2.28 x 1.39 in (102 x 58.1 x 35.5 mm) and tips the scales at 8.6 oz (242 g), including battery and memory card.

Inside that pocket-friendly body is a 1/2.3-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor that tops out at 18.2 megapixels. Working with the Bionz X image processing engine, this pairing gives the HX99 the ability to acquire focus in 0.09 seconds, rock 10 frames per second (fps) continuous shooting for bursts of 155 stills and have light sensitivity of up to ISO6,400, though that can be extended to 12,800.

The camera comes with an assist mode that allows the photographer to quickly and temporarily zoom out to show more of the scene in front of the lens, which can be useful if you're at the telephoto end and lose track of a fast-moving subject.

Eye AF has been brought over from the company's Alpha cameras, which locks focus on a subject's eye, and the HX99 can record 4K/30p video with full pixel readout and no pixel binning. Lowering the resolution to Full HD caters for slow-mo action-grabbing at 120 fps.

Framing up a shot can be undertaken using the touch-enabled, tilting 2.95-inch, 921,600-dot TFT display around back – which supports Touch Focus and Touch Shutter – or through the camera's pop-up OLED Tru-Finder. Users can also customize the functions available on the Control Ring to make shooting easier.

And finally, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 have been cooked in, for wireless image transfer and sharing, and to facilitate the collection of location data from a paired mobile device.

Cyber-shot HX99 is due for release in early November for US$449.99, but does it tick enough boxes to convince you to give your smartphone's camera a break and take a dedicated snapper along on your travels?

Product page: DSC-HX99 Travel Zoom

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