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The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 is Sony’s first water- and dust-proof, ‘drop-tough’ and freeze-proof camera.
Olympus and Canon have done well with their ‘go anywhere’ digicams, so Sony naturally saw a market opportunity with theTX5, able to descend to three metres underwater, dust-proof, ‘droppable’ from a height of 1.5 metres and capable of withstanding a temp of -10 degrees Celsius.
As the company says, it is “tougher than it looks” with a stylish gloss and satin duo finish available in silver, black, pink or red.
It is unusual in that it uses a back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor Sony says it lowers image noise by half. We’ll see!
At first glance, the package is impressive: the camera is thin, only 17.7mm; the sliding door arrangement is terrific, easily slid open to kick on the power — just what you need when underwater or crashing through the jungle. Zooming is achieved by waggling a small but prominent lever right next to the shutter button. Menu choices can be made by tapping on the 7.6cm screen and, even with gloved fingers, the system still works.
Maximum image size is 3648×2736 pixels, sufficient to make a 31x23cm print. Movies? Up to 1280×720 pixels at 30fps, which is sort of OK but wouldn’t it have been great if Sony had given this little whizzer the ability to shoot the Full HD res of 1920×1080 pixels? Wouldn’t it?
As it is, the TX5 possesses the same panoramic genius that the earlier DSC-HX5V camera does, namely, the iSweep function that lets you shoot enormous panoramas with the camera held vertically or horizontally. And … a 10 fps burst speed at full resolution! Imagine: 243 degree, stitched in-camera panos and continuous shooting underwater!
The lens is a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 4x optic, but … my caveat against all the current underwater digicams is that the widest focal length (25mm 35 SLR equivalent above ground), when submerged, becomes a 35mm lens, due to refraction. The point of this is that, underwater, the closer you are to the subject the better able you can avoid picture degrading water turbidity.
HDR: I’m not sure whether this feature would be useful when underwater (unless the camera is tethered to a fixed point) but, above ground, it is a handy thing to be able to shoot a pair of images with differing exposures and processed as a single High Dynamic Range picture as the TX5 can do.
Quality: I found the TX5 took above average quality pictures for a compact digicam, although it was subject to flare, due to the lens being so exposed. Take my advice and use the upper ISO settings to attain the fast shutter speeds.
Why you would buy it: you want to easily shoot underwater, capture panoramas, shoot a burst of frames.
Why you wouldn’t: you already have Olympus or Canon’s u/w model!
One tip: make yourself very familiar with practice runs on the viewfinder menu before you head out to shoot.
Otherwise, welcome to another rugged digicam!
Image Sensor: 10.2 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi zones, centre-weighted, spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm CCD.
Lens: Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar f3.5-4.6/4.43-17.7mm (25-100mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 2 to 1/1600 second.
Memory: Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo/SD/SDHC cards plus 45MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 3648×2736, 3648×2056, 2592×1944, 1920×1080, 640×480.
Movies (pixels): 1280×720, 640×480 at 30 fps.
Rear LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (230,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 125 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, DC.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 94×56.9×17.7 WHDmm.
Weight: 144 g (with battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 at Amazon.