The coolest camera features of 2010

Sometimes, choosing a camera demands considerations other than image quality and battery life. These cameras have innovative extras that may win you over as soon as you try them.

Sony's Handheld Twilight Mode and Advanced Scene Recognition

Good for: Crisp low-light photos without a flash

Shooting in dark conditions without a DSLR normally involves an image-quality compromise. If you use the camera's flash, you blow out foreground subjects while making the background pitch black. But if you boost the ISO on a small-sensored point-and-shoot camera to create an evenly lit photo, you usually generate a noisy, sometimes unusable image.

A couple of useful features in Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-WX1, DSC-TX1, DSC-HX5V, and DSC-TX5 cameras offer solid alternatives for shooting in low light. Handheld Twilight mode takes up to six photos at different exposure settings in rapid-fire fashion, and then overlays them to generate a smooth, noise-free low-light image. Advanced Scene Recognition mode allows you to take two shots in quick succession--one with the flash on, and one using low-light-optimized settings with the flash turned off--and lets you view the two shots side by side.

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