After the Sony Carnival some months back, Sony lent me two products they featured - the Sony DSC-TX5 Cyber-shot digital camera, and the Sony HDR-CX550 Handycam. The review for the Handycam will be published next week - this week I'm focusing on the Cyber-shot.
I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a photography expert. My requirements for a camera are pretty simple: must be easy to operate, take good photos in daylight and low light, and not be too bulky. If I can't take it along to a Geekzone Pizza evening and still use it after a beer (or two or three or four), it's not going to be suitable.
I'll start my review the same way as I demonstrated the camera to mates: by dropping it in a jug of water.
A pretty impressive party trick (and a good way to freak out unsuspecting bystanders), the DSC-TX5 can be used in water up to 3 metres. The whole camera is sealed up tight, with the battery and memory card stored safely behind a compartment at the base of the camera (this also has the HDMI plug). Not only does this mean you can take photos in your swimming pool if you so wish, but you don't need to worry about this camera being ruined after an accidental beer spill - the offender can shout another round, and you can wash the camera off easily.
The massive 7.5cm touch screen on the back of this camera makes using it a charm. The menus are well laid out, and the different functions can be reordered as you please. You can move between photos with an iPhone style finger flick, setup an automatic sideshow, or view photos on a calendar, grouped by the date they were shot. You really appreciate how good the interface is on a full touch screen after using an older camera with a small screen and clunky buttons.
Other DSC-TX5 features:
- A smile sensor so when people smile at your camera, it takes a photo automatically. You can set it by triggered with a full cheesy grin, or an uncomfortable smirk (my terms, not official Sony).
- Intelligent Sweep Panorama allows you to take 180 degree photos by simply moving the camera from right to left (or left to right, or up then down, or down then up).
- For the technologically challenged, basic mode hides all the complex menus and only shows the core functions - change image size, flash on or off, self-timer on or off - plus it displays exactly how many photos are left.
- Video can be recorded in HD (1080i) or SD.
This camera is compact, and the front cover slides down to show the lens and turn the camera on. It is so light it's like carrying another mobile phone (compared below with my Nokia E71):
The real deal clincher for me is this camera makes it easy to take photos. There is nothing more frustrating than blurry photos with red eye after a night out. I don't have the expertise to operate a full digital SLR camera (nor do I want to) - I want a camera that allows me to take good photos with a simple push of the button, regardless of the lighting. With the DSC-TX5 automatically determining the best settings, plus taking photos at 10.2 megapixels, you can't go wrong (for those of you in the know, you can also set it to manual mode).
I've been using this camera for about a month and I'm disappointed to give it back. It really is a great piece of technology, and if you're looking for a camera for everyday use, you can't beat this little beauty.
My thanks to Bernadette Barrett at Sony NZ for the loan of this camera for my review.
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