Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10

While it's got plenty of issues, the TX10 is the best rugged camera yet from the 2011 crop.


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User Rating

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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.


Design and features

The Sony TX10 is to rugged cameras what Scarlett Johansson is to moviemaking — it's all about the looks. Normally, anyone who is remotely interested in aesthetics will steer well clear of tough cameras as they're all as hideous as can be. The TX10, however, turns this preconception on its head with its stylish exterior.

Like the camera that this supersedes, the TX5, the TX10 couples a slide-down front panel with a 3-inch touchscreen at the back. There are only a few (tiny) physical buttons to be found, including the shutter and power button combination at the top, offset by the miniature zoom rocker on the side. A playback button and video record button can be found just beneath these main controls. The front sliding panel is a bit petulant, only wanting to move down when it's pushed from a certain angle. Behind it is a 4x optical zoom Carl Zeiss-branded lens, with a maximum aperture range of f/3.5-4.6, as well as a stereo microphone for 1080i HD video recording.

The touchscreen has plenty of the features that one would expect, including touch-to-focus and a double tap in playback mode to zoom-in on an image. Featuring Sony's Exmor R sensor, this backlit CMOS is the same variety as found on many other Cyber-shot cameras, allowing for quick continuous shooting and good low-light performance. The TX10 can shoot in 4:3 (full 16.2-megapixel resolution) or 16:9 (12-megapixel resolution).

Its rugged credentials are pretty good, though not class-winning when compared with other offerings from Panasonic and Olympus. See our comparison table below for more. Shooting options are plentiful, though accessing them can be a little like trying to find a needle in a haystack given the tiny font size on the screen. Photographers can choose from intelligent automatic, superior automatic, panorama (including both iSweep and underwater modes), program automatic, background defocus, scene modes, movie mode and 3D-shooting for stills, panoramas or multi-angle shots.

TX10

The shooting options available on the TX10. (Credit: CBSi)

The TX10 is plagued by an interesting Catch 22: while we praise it for being a sexy and stylish rugged camera, it just doesn't look like it will withstand the wear and tear of a tough lifestyle. Certainly, after a week or so of living in one of the toughest environments we know of (a woman's handbag), it emerged with a few small scratches on the touchscreen. Funnily enough, when dropped onto concrete (from about one metre above the ground) it emerged unscathed. An intriguing dichotomy if ever we saw one.

As with all rugged cameras, there are strict instructions that you need to follow to maintain the waterproof credentials. These can be found in the camera menus and in the manual. Connectivity is provided via mini-HDMI and a proprietary connector for battery charging and interfacing with a computer.

Compared to

Compared to

TG-810 vs. FT3

Olympus Tough TG-810 Panasonic Lumix FT3 Sony Cyber-shot TX10
14-megapixel CCD 12.1-megapixel CCD 16.2-megapixel Exmor R
3-inch LCD (920,000-dot) 2.7-inch LCD (230,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (921,000-dot)
Waterproof 10m, shockproof 2m Waterproof 12m, shockproof 2m Waterproof 5m, shockproof 1.5m
5x optical zoom 4.6x optical zoom 4x optical zoom
28mm wide-angle 28mm wide-angle 25mm wide-angle
GPS tagging GPS tagging No GPS tagging
HD video (720p) HD video (1080i) HD video (1080i)
AU$599 AU$599 AU$499

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Sony Cyber-shot TX101.31.60.4
  • Olympus Tough TG-8101.520.7

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Sony Cyber-shot TX1010
  • Olympus Tough TG-8100.6

Note that the TX10 takes 10 frames per second at a reduced VGA resolution (not the 16.2-megapixel resolution stated on the documentation). Sony rates the battery for the TX10 at 250 shots.

Image quality

The TX10 produces images that look great straight out of the camera, especially when reviewed on the screen. Like all the other 16-megapixel compacts that we've seen this year, though, at full magnification, pictures do look slightly over-processed. At the wide-end of the lens (25mm) there is quite a lot of barrel distortion, too.

In line with the Exmor R sensor's previous performance on other Sony compacts, low-light photos are great — certainly the best from any rugged compact camera we've seen. Pinks and blues in particular are very punchy, perhaps a bit too oversaturated for some people's liking, but we found them really pleasing.

Automatic white balance under artificial fluorescent lighting is a little blue, not something out of the ordinary on a compact camera, though, as it makes underwater scenes "pop". The flash illuminates the scene a little unevenly, with the most intense spread of light in the centre of the frame, and some drop-off towards the edges. Lens sharpness also has the same issue, dropping off quite dramatically from the centre.

Sony has gone on record to state that there will be no underwater video camera released in 2011, so the TX10 is going to have to do it all. Video is recorded in AVCHD format at 1080i. Quality is decent, with good sound from the stereo microphone. There is a degree of fringing visible on contrasty areas on the video image, though colours are good.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/30, f/3.5, ISO 800

Exposure: 1/25, f/3.5, ISO 800, flash fired

Exposure: 1/400, f/5, ISO 125

Exposure: 1/500, f/4.5, ISO 125

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

While it's got plenty of issues, the TX10 is the best rugged camera yet from the 2011 crop. Provided that you don't need extreme waterproofing and can cope with the small buttons, this go-most-places camera should be up to the task.

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JayrajK Facebook
4
Rating
 

"Check for hairline cracks on the outer casing"

JayrajK posted a review   

The Good:Really good pictures

The Bad:Cracks... Cracks......Cracks

Bought the TX 10 not long ago and took great pictures. Then I noticed three cracks on the outer shell on each corner of the screen and the battery lid. I can confirm that I have never dropped the camera and I have always stored it in a safe place.
Luckily was still under warranty and got it repaired.After I got the camera I used it only on 2 occasions and stored it away. Until recently when I took it out I again noticed 2 cracks exactly at the same spots as before. I have sent it away for repairs as it was still under warranty and still waiting to get it back. Could not believe that got the same defects twice in less than a year.
Must be a poor design or bad materials used in manufacturing. Though it is considered as rugged and shockproof.
Will think twice before buying any sony camera.

Mustang
2
Rating
 

"Not waterproof to 2 ft, much less 15 ft."

Mustang posted a review   

The Good:Good still pictures as long as it is dry.

The Bad:Not waterproof as advertised.

The wife gave me the camera for Chirstmas for our upcoming trip to Jamaica.
Worked great. Took good pictures and video.
Then comes Jamaica. Great pictures till we went snorkling, 1 picture is all the camera lasted for in the water.
Then it DIED!

JayaB Facebook
1
Rating
 

"DO NOT BUY"

JayaB posted a review   

DO NOT BUY SONY DSC-TX10 I HAD MY CAMERA FOR ONE WEEK AND SALT WATER GOT INTO THE CAMERA IT IS NOT TRUELY WATERPROOF.

ZahavaR Facebook
10
Rating
 

"sleek on the outside, tough on the inside"

ZahavaR posted a review   

The Good:perfect for travel and everyday use

The Bad:can't select functions underwater- I can't stay down their long enough to change my settings without a breath anyways.

amazing camera :)

nikkifiles
1
Rating
 

"A real let down, clearly no quality control during production"

nikkifiles posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Carl Zeis lens captures a crisp vivid image

The Bad:Completely unreliable, can't withstand the outdoors

I purchased the Sony TX 10 after having the previous cyber shot without water proof and rugged features. However off to a shaky start the paint peeled off when used under water, after repairs occurred for a second time, the third time the camera overheated itself and the battery got so hot it almost started a fire in my bag.

The camera was replaced and for the fourth time the camera simply stopped working and would not power. I found the new model to be unreliable to say the least, and not able to withstand outdoor conditions. As soon as any sand or grit gets in behind the front shutter it scratches the front of the camera as it can't be removed, the screen and the body of the camera are very easily chipped and scratched, don't expect those savvy looks to last more than one outing! (despite living in a protective case most of the time).

The charger uses the whole camera unit to charge, rather than just removing the battery which can be cumbersome. All in all a real let down :(

JacobM1 Facebook
8
Rating
 

"Good Camera, hesitate to test the ruggedness or waterproofing"

JacobM1 posted a review   

The Good:Fast burst speed, small size, close ,macro

The Bad:not as rugged as my previous panasonic, touch screen can be unresponsive at times

overall pretty good picture quality but the sky tends to be overexposed and noise reduction can make detail a little soft up closer.

This is a back up camera for my DSLR so the small size and lens cover was what made me move to the sony after my Lumix died. if you want a more rugged camera with geotagging go the lumix, if you want a smaller camrea that will easily slide into you pocket go the sony. The tx-10 has the edge on my FT-2 as far as picture quality goes.

 

MatthewC4 posted a comment   
Australia

Can you please do an updated review of the Panasonic FT3 compared to the TX10? Even the performance comparisons on this page doesn't have the comparisons to the FT3.

Thank you.

Nana578
4
Rating
 

Nana578 posted a review   

Hi, We got the camera to go on a trip overseas. It took great videos and pictures and everything was really nice, we loved it!!.... until we went underwater. The screen did not responded and then dies...we made sure the seals were closed properly as it says in the manual but we still do not know what happened adding to that Sony does not have worldwide warranty.. so we had to get a new camera in the middle of the trip.. it was really disappointed, we got the money back but they did not tell us what happened!! I would like to get a nice waterproof camera

 

mrpercible posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Nana,

I am in the same situation, just started my trip and the camera died first go in the water. Frustrating!

What did you have to do to get the money back? Did you have to take it back to the country of purchase? And they were ok to refund rather than replace? I don't really want a replacement as I've heard this happens a lot!

Thanks, Pete

 

Mayzu posted a comment   

I am wondering whether I should get the TX10 or TX100... What would the difference mainly be?

BruceL1 Facebook
9
Rating
 

"nice cam"

BruceL1 posted a review   

The Good:its a tough lil guy

The Bad:PIXEL SIZE is ridiculously small compared to newer cams

The tx-10 is much better in terms of its shockproof, and water/dust proof design, it does NOT have the gorgeous 3.5 OLED touchscreen. I will wait for the TX100v, I dont drop my equipment, I don't get any of it wet, I do however use the screen in particular when there is NO viewfinder, this is more important when it is only way to "frame" your shot. The "100" also has GPS embedded, has organic LED, and its almost 20% bigger screen, with more dots per inch then the "10"
SO, because you have to use the touchscreen in everything you do on this camera as its the only input device (almost), and because I dont have kids and/or I dont't ruin my electronics and plan on using the geotagging on occasion, i will say the TX100v will be more "enjoyable" to use, to review your pics, and in the "taking" of them also, the OLED will be more accurate, bigger WOW factor, and actually look nicer

 

jo posted a comment   

Are you have this camera?
And if so, can you show some pictures please
Regards,
Jo


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10

  • JayrajK

    JayrajK

    Rating4

    "Bought the TX 10 not long ago and took great pictures. Then I noticed three cracks on the outer shell on each corner of the screen and the battery lid. I can confirm that I have never dropped the c..."

  • Mustang

    Mustang

    Rating2

    "The wife gave me the camera for Chirstmas for our upcoming trip to Jamaica.
    Worked great. Took good pictures and video.
    Then comes Jamaica. Great pictures till we went snorkling, 1 pic..."

  • JayaB

    JayaB

    Rating1

    "DO NOT BUY SONY DSC-TX10 I HAD MY CAMERA FOR ONE WEEK AND SALT WATER GOT INTO THE CAMERA IT IS NOT TRUELY WATERPROOF."

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