Sony continues to do an excellent job of getting the most from its speedy Exmor R sensors and high-performance Bionz image processors to give snapshooters better results. There are plenty of shooting options on the TX200V to play with, including nine creative modes for those of you who are addicted to filters and effects. (For more on this Sony's shooting capabilities,.)
For those who like to leave it in auto, there are three options: Easy, Intelligent Auto, and Superior Auto. Easy mode takes away all options except for image size (large or small) and enlarges onscreen text. Intelligent Auto picks from 10 scene types and turns on face detection, dynamic range optimization, and image stabilization. Superior Auto takes Intelligent Auto and adds three multishot modes: Handheld Twilight, Anti Motion Blur, and Backlight Correction HDR.
Shooting performance is for the most part very good. True to Sony's claims, the TX200V does focus and shoot quickly, making it easy to catch that one-off shot of your kids or pets. Press the power button and it's ready to shoot in 0.7 second. Shutter lag is low at 0.3 second in good lighting and 0.6 second in dim conditions.
It burst shoots at up to 10 frames per second at full resolution; however, as with past Sony models with this feature, you're stuck waiting for the pictures to get stored on your memory card before you can shoot again. Plus, focus and exposure are set with the first shot, so if your subject is moving fast, there's a good chance they won't be in focus for all 10 shots. Regular shot-to-shot times were a bit longer than I expected at 2.1 seconds without flash and 4.8 seconds with flash.
At a glance, there's no reason someone would know that there's a 5x zoom lens inside as well as a GPS receiver and a high-performance image processor and sensor. The front is covered with glass and the back is nothing but an ultrahigh-resolution 3.3-inch OLED touch screen. The only physical controls are a power button, shutter release, and nub of a zoom lever on top. If you frequently forget what your fingerprints look like, buy this camera; pick it up and it'll be covered with them in seconds.
Since the camera is water- and dustproof, its battery, memory card slot (it takes Micro-SDHC and MemoryStick Micro cards), Micro-USB, and Micro-HDMI ports are under one door on the bottom of the camera. Considering the camera's price and how often you'll need to open and close that door, it really deserves a better lock and a more substantial seal; hopefully they're better than they look.
Battery life is decent, but with so many things like high-bit-rate movie capture, high-speed burst shooting, and touch-screen operation, you might want to invest in an extra battery. Turning on the GPS receiver will also cut into your battery life, which makes it all the more remarkable that it can't quickly be turned on and off.
The GPS does work well, though; once it's on it'll start searching for satellites, which happened fast for me, but can take up to several minutes depending on how much open sky is above you. The camera seamlessly adds the information to a photo's EXIF data, so you can use software like Picasa or Google Earth to see where you were when you took your photos. There is also a GPS Log option so you can track and later view the path and images on a map.
I'm not sure there's room in the market for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX200V. It is a good camera if you need something super powerful that weighs next to nothing and takes up little space. Its sky-high price is tough to swallow and although it's waterproof, the rest of its design is better for looking not touching.
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