Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1

Sony's DSC-TX1 is an exciting step forward for compact cameras, pushing for better image quality rather than more megapixels — and it pulls it off in style.


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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Party goers and nightclubbers haven't been forgotten in the 2009 crop of compact cameras. Sony's TX1 adds a curious feature to the mix with the inclusion of its Party Dock, which also works with the WX1.

We've seen cameras like Samsung's ST550 come with a range of "social lubricants" as standard. The other drawcard this year has been tweaks to internal specifications. In Sony's case, it's the Exmor R CMOS sensor — claiming increased sensitivity, clearer night-time shots and better noise performance.

Design and features

Sharing a similar look and feel to other touchscreen cameras in Sony's Cyber-shot range like the T90, the TX1 has a brushed metal exterior with a sliding cover that moves down from the top of the camera to the bottom to reveal the lens. It's an incredibly svelte body, with just 1.65cm in depth, the only noticeable protrusions being the wrist strap holder on the side. It weighs just 119g without battery or memory card.

At just 16.5mm deep, the TX1 is a svelte fashionista. (Credit: CNET Asia)

Common controls are within easy reach, such as the zoom rocker at the top right-hand side — small but nicely positioned — and the shutter button and power switch alongside each other at the top. At the bottom, a Memory Stick Pro Duo and the Lithium-ion battery slot in neatly next to one another, and there's a proprietary dock connector on the base as well.

Seeing as the compact camera market is getting so crowded with manufacturers touting the latest and greatest technologies, the TX1 has to have something interesting enough to grab a consumer's attention, and in this case it's what's on the inside that counts. It has a 10.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor, using the same technology that's trickled down from the HX1, which claims to have improved low-light capabilities, improved noise control and is supposed to be twice as sensitive as a traditional CMOS sensor.

Another technology that's made the journey from the HX1 superzoom is sweep panorama that allows you to pan the camera either along a horizontal or vertical axis and it will automatically stitch together a vista of the scene in-camera.

The lens performs all the zooming operations within the camera so there's no protrusion as it extends and retracts to its 4x optical zoom reach. It's a disappointingly small aperture (f/3.5) at the wide end — which is incidentally only 35mm, no wide-angle optics here. HD video is provided at 720p like it was on the T90.

All common shooting functions and menu options are relegated to the touchscreen interface, which hasn't really changed from previous iterations that have appeared on cameras such as the Cyber-shot DSC-T90. The touchscreen is relatively straightforward to use, but the 3-inch unit doesn't provide that much space to position the options around the screen without a little squashiness. In terms of functionality, the TX1 lets you touch the screen to select a point of focus if you'd rather take control.

Let's get ready to party!

(Credit: CBSi)

Like any good addition to a soiree, the TX1 brings a pleasant guest to the proceedings — an optional party dock (AU$229). Put the camera in this thing, turn it on, and like one of those vacuum cleaners that scoots around the room autonomously, the TX1 will pivot back and forth, up and down looking for its next victims — or should that be smiling faces — to photograph. It can be tethered to mains power or via two AA batteries.

When it finds an appropriate target the camera will snap an image automatically. In the intervening time, the lights underneath the dock flash and glow and the unit rotates constantly in the never-ending search for incriminating situations. We put it to the test in our podcast and found that the camera accurately snapped those smiling, happy faces for posterity.

Performance

Like the T90, the TX1 isn't the quickest camera off the mark — shutter lag measures 0.3 second, and in the high-speed burst mode the TX1 captures 10 frames in rapid succession, at an interval of approximately 0.1 second between each shot. It takes a fair while for the camera to process the shots in one go afterwards though, during which time the camera is inactive for other shooting.

Sony rates the battery for the TX1 at 250 shots which is about average for a camera of this class with a touchscreen.

Image quality

Images at full magnification appeared a little soft, though colours were very natural and weren't over-saturated. In abundant light, such as outdoor situations, the camera was able to achieve some very pleasing results, and white balance on automatic settings was accurate. Under studio lighting and fluorescents, the TX1 was also very good with its white balance. The flash produced a bit of an oversaturated effect on colours.

As for low-light performance the TX1 performs very well in its native "Twilight" setting without a tripod, and we were able to get down to a shutter speed as low as 1/10 second at ISO 1600 without discernible handshake at full magnification (see image below).

The TX1 proves it's ideal for tourists, then. (Credit: CBSi)

The TX1 certainly coped better than most other compact cameras in these low-light situations, achieving true blacks and retaining quite a bit of detail. That said, noise control at regular ISO levels wasn't as good as we expected from the sensor, though observing a crop of an image at full magnification reveals this could be as much a fault of the camera over-processing the JPEG as actual noise.

(Credit: CBSi)

Funnily enough, when we pitted the touchscreen Sony T90 against its Canon touchscreen counterpart, the IXUS 200 IS, the Canon delivered the better exposure to our eyes. For the TX1's comparison test, we pulled out another Canon, this time the 110 IS, and the TX1 won this round with a more even exposure, better colours and a more accurate representation of the scene. Check out the comparison below — the TX1's image is at the top and the 110's image is at the bottom.

Sony DSC-TX1 (top) and Canon IXUS 200 IS (bottom) (Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

Sony's DSC-TX1 is an exciting step forward in the compact camera space, pushing for better low-light performance and image quality rather than more megapixels. There's still some way to go in terms of image processing and improving the optics (like including a wide-angle lens), but this is a stellar attempt in one of the sleekest, most unobtrusive camera bodies we've seen in a while.

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sketchgal
9
Rating
 

sketchgal posted a review   

The Good:sleek and slim design, panoramic swipe and HD video

The Bad:over expose white objects on bright daylight shots

Love this camera and i got the hot pink one. I have this on my hand bag most of time and its very handy for times when i dont have my dslr with me. Its small and lightweight can even just have it in my pocket when were travelling for quick snaps. Panoramic swipe feature is my fave and HD video is awesome. Yeah, this is good for low light situation but one thing i just hate about it is it over expose white objects under bright daylight and will create a soft white bleed around the object.

Jayant. Y
10
Rating
 

Jayant. Y posted a review   

The Good:awesome camera in almost everyway

The Bad:no control on shutter speed!!!! seriously!

perfect body.... perfect package.... but 1 cons: no control over shutter speed over any mode..... xcellent pics in dark!!

puyetDako
10
Rating
 

puyetDako posted a review   

The Good:super excellent, perfect

The Bad:none

now is the time for sony to shine. i have a lot of camera from all kinds of brand. I'm an conscientious photographer and like shooting pictures. This camera gives me an "WOW' factor. beautiful design and build quality. excellent pictures and lot of features which some competitors don't have. Buy it and you'll love it.lol.--- ambot kan fedil!!!hala parayaw kay mayda ka bag-o nga camera!!!

bert from the Philippines
9
Rating
 

bert from the Philippines posted a review   

The Good:excellent

The Bad:none

so far the best camera i had. a ot of exciting features which other competotors dont have. Buy it and you'll not regret. you will love this camera!!!!!

Jas
10
Rating
 

Jas posted a review   

The Good:excellent picture quality, great images in low light

The Bad:nothing wrong with the camera

ppl say that you cannot take black n white pics common guys you dont need to take black n white pics the picture quality is so nice that you just want it to come the natural way if at all you need a black n white photo you can always edit it on the pc...... i m really impressed with this model.....

Made in Japan
9
Rating
 

Made in Japan posted a review   

The Good:Well Designed / Aluminium Body / Made in Japan / Carl Zeiss Lens

The Bad:Screen on 230K and Smaller than the Sony T-200.

This are an amazing camera, slim but solid and packed full of features. Its amazing how much they can put in a frame with is only 1.6cm thick. Picked it up for around $420 from JB HiFi, plus the Exmor R Sensor and 10.2MP capacity, plus the German-made Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar lens, and Made in Japan and no plastic body - all aluminium.

Naturally these Digital Still Cameras (Hence the DSC moniker) are designed primarily for anyone - point and shoot market, so they wont have the same manual overrides like their D-SLR equivalents, but the auto functionality / scene modes work extremely well and the picture quality is amazing.

But most features are plentiful for the majority of users, and there are still plenty of options to fine tune and use. I also have a Sony DSC-T200 (8.1MP), which has a larger 3.2" screen, but both still have 230,000 pixel LCD's standard.

The next model up - Sony DSC-TX7 has the larger 3.5" screen with a whopping 921,000 pixel LCD plus AVCHD recording, but this costs over $200 more.

The DSC-TX1 is solid / high quality and combins the best of Japanese / German technolgy into a svelte design, plus Made in Japan, which is challenging to find these days.

Peanut
9
Rating
 

Peanut posted a review   

The Good:Awesome all round point and shoot camera. Perfect for the happy snapper on holidays. This camera loves low light situations.

The Bad:No wide angle option

I love this camera.
Never used the flash once the whole trip. This camera is amazing in low light situations.
You also have Handheld Twilight Mode where the camera will take a few shots and merge it into 1 picture for even more amazing detail.
Panarama Shot works well. There is a knack to getting good results though. Once you start your sweep the camera can't compenste for differences in light as you sweep. So you can't do a panarama shot from a dark to bright place for example. To comepensate you can pre set the setting in the middle of the scene by half holding down the shutter button before you sweep to get the best average.
HD Video is also awesome. You can zoom whilst filming too.
Touch Screen makes operation easy. Only in really bright sunlight will you have issues in reading it.
Fully charged the battery easily lasted all day, most of the time still on full.
My only negative is lack of wide angle, but it is no big deal if you have to step back a bit to get a shot in in most cases.
All in all a great camera. The more I use it the better I get with it.

 

ears posted a comment   

The Good:panroma is fun to play with,

The Bad:why are all my photos coming out as very poor quality, not nice and crystal clear like everybody elses?

I started off wrapt with camera, but am wondering if the settings I am using are affecting quality, and if they are, which settings will get better quality, ie, portraits of kids inside with white background, in day time, came out very soft.

SystemJammer
10
Rating
 

SystemJammer posted a review   

The Good:Sleek design, sweep panorama, user-friendly interface, touchscreen

The Bad:Too impressed to notice anything bad just yet ...

Just bought this camera last night ... feels like I'm holding a modern relic. I believe you get what you pay for ... and I paid dearly for this.

 

Ezs Kol posted a comment   

The Good:The photos are amazing!

The Bad:Slight expensive, but most cameras are nowadays. No HDMI? A tatter slow, but still good

I highly recommend this camera to anyone who's looking for excellent photos, especially during night time!


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1

  • sketchgal

    sketchgal

    Rating9

    "Love this camera and i got the hot pink one. I have this on my hand bag most of time and its very handy for times when i dont have my dslr with me. Its small and lightweight can even just have it i..."

  • Jayant. Y

    Jayant. Y

    Rating10

    "perfect body.... perfect package.... but 1 cons: no control over shutter speed over any mode..... xcellent pics in dark!!"

  • puyetDako

    puyetDako

    Rating10

    "now is the time for sony to shine. i have a lot of camera from all kinds of brand. I'm an conscientious photographer and like shooting pictures. This camera gives me an "WOW' factor. beautiful desi..."

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