Today you can take your pick of two mid-priced high-performance Cyber-shot cameras from Sony, the 9-megapixel H50 with the 15X zoom lens for $400 and the W300, a 13.6-megapixel pocket point-and-shoot for $350.
If the ladies don't mind you lugging around something big and beefy, the H50 has a lot to offer: the zoom lens is made from low-dispersion glass and is assisted by Super SteadyShot optical image stabiization to make sure the pictures come out as crisp as possible. The 3" LCD tilts out and around, so you can do that hold-up-and-shoot thing with your camera without just guessing at where to point the lens. In "advanced sports" mode it shoots at 1/4000 of a second while using continuous auto-focus, and the long-distance flash can illuminate stuff up to 55 feet away. Best of all, the fully manual H50 will have the option of screw-on wide angle and telephoto lenses and other accessories.
The H50 is more of a DSLR replacement (or wannabe); the W300 is everything you want in a camera you don't want people to see too often. In addition to the monster 13.6-megapixel CCD and the expected 3X optical zoom and 2.7" LCD, the W300 has talents like high-speed shooting—3-megapixel shots at five frames per second—plus Super SteadyShot and "high sensitivity" ISO up to 6400 for nice shots in bad light. It's got Smile Shutter, already seen in other models, and smart scene detection. [Sony]