Three-dimensional imaging capabilities have also found their way into two Sony cameras released earlier this year. A free firmware update for Sony's interchangeable-lens Alpha NEX-3 and Alpha NEX-5 cameras enables both models to shoot 3D panoramic images using the same sweep technique. According to Sony, the Alpha NEX firmware update also enhances the cameras' normal Sweep Panorama modes, speeds up start-up times, and improves battery life.

The 12-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-WX5 offers a 5X optical zoom lens (24mm to 120mm in 35mm film equivalent), and it offers a few interesting modes beyond its 3D-shooting capabilities and Intelligent Sweep Panorama mode.

Two brand-new modes are in the mix. Sony is touting the new camera's Superior Auto mode, which acts similarly to the company's Handheld Twilight mode. In Superior Auto mode, the camera overlays multiple images taken in rapid succession at different exposure settings to create a noise-free photo with greater dynamic range.

Another new mode is called Sweep Multi Angle, which creates a multiple-angle image by panning the camera across a scene. After shooting is complete, you can change the viewing perspective of the photo during playback by tilting the camera from side to side. Despite lacking manual controls, the WX5 offers more-granular image controls than a typical point-and-shoot, thanks to a stable of excellent shooting modes. For example, Background Defocus mode lets you create shallow depth-of-field effects without manual aperture settings, and the included Handheld Twilight and Backlight Correction HDR modes are designed for tricky lighting situations. The DSC-WX5 also captures 1080i/60fps AVCHD video at 17Mbps.

The slim, touchscreen-operated Cyber-shot DSC-TX9 offers a 4X optical-zoom lens (25mm to 100mm), a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, a 3.5-inch-diagonal touchscreen, and the ability to capture 1080i AVCHD video.

Like the WX5, it offers Superior Auto, 3D Sweep Panorama, Background Defocus, Sweep Multi Angle, Intelligent Sweep Panorama, Handheld Twilight, and Backlight Correction HDR modes. The TX9 is also due to appear in September.

At the lower end of the features spectrum is the similar-style Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T99, which offers a 14-megapixel CCD sensor and a 4X optical zoom lens (25mm to 100mm).

It doesn't possess the feature-heavy firepower of the WX5 or the TX9, but the T99 does offer a Sweep Panorama mode and 720p high-definition video recording as MPEG-4 files. The T99 will be available in September.