A very familiar shape, the DSC-P9 doesn't stray too far from the original design of the DSC-P1, yet in that time it's progressed to be smaller, lighter and "cleaner" in design. At the front we get a new finger 'hook' style grip, the rest of the front of the camera is plain, but stylish. On the battery compartment side we find that Sony have switched from an horizontally opening door to this vertical opening type (hinge at the top). Around the back some of the buttons have been 'nudged' upwards and the connectors cover is now finished in a matching metallic plastic.
Overall the small touches have further improved an already successful body design. The long thin shape of the P9 makes it perfect to hold in your hand (or slip in a pocket) when not in use, the automatic lens cover ensures no damage will come to the front lens element during carriage.
Side by side
As you can see side-by-side the DSC-P9 is the smallest, followed by the F100 and then the S40. But to be honest they are all much of a muchness, all three cameras are small enough to be carried in the palm of your hand or slipped into a jacket pocket. All three cameras have lens covers of one type or another, all three cameras have three times optical zoom lenses and all three cameras have a four megapixel sensor. The major differences come in the feature sets, the S40 and F100 both have full manual controls (aperture priority, shutter priority) the P9 doesn't. Oh, and each takes a different storage medium (left to right: Memory Stick, Compact Flash Type I/II, Secure Digital/MMC).
|Left to right: Sony DSC-P9, Canon PowerShot S40, Minolta DiMAGE F100|
In your hand
In your hand the P9 feels solid and cool to the touch (metal body). The new front finger grip works surprisingly well, making it easy to hold and shoot with just one hand. Although the camera feels solid and metallic it's also surprisingly light (lighter even than the P5) and when powered off it becomes a very small, slim and pocketable unit.
The P9 has the same excellent 1.5" 123,000 pixel LCD monitor we saw on the DSC-P1 and DSC-P5. The monitor is very bright and sharp with a thick protective cover which has a special anti-reflective coating. Among digital camera LCD monitors this is one of the best, and Sony obviously know that having now used it in three successions of this model.
No surprises here, same old optical tunnel style viewfinder with a no center of frame cross or brackets, there are also no parallax error lines (to help correct misalignment at close subject distances). There's also no dioptre adjustment.
The lights beside the viewfinder indicate:
|Red Steady||Writing to Memory Stick / Self-Timer|
|Green Steady||Good AF Lock|
|Green Blinking Quickly||Focusing|
|Green Blinking Slowly||Can not focus|
|Yellow Blinking Slowly||Flash charging|
|Yellow Solid||Battery charging (connected to DC supply)|