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Sony bulks up on slim cameras for spring 2012

Sony fills out the remainder of its T and W series Cyber-shots with the ultracompact TX66, rugged TX20, and the twin 10x zooms of the WX150 and W690.

Now playing: Watch this: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX66

Apparently, it wasn't enough for Sony to have one high-performance ultracompact in its T-series lineup. Joining the TX200V are the new TX66 and TX20.

The TX66 is almost the same as 2011's TX55, so if you have that, you probably don't need to dump it for the TX66. The 5x f3.5-4.8 26-130mm lens and 3.3-inch OLED touch screen are the carried over, but Sony bumped up the resolution from 16 to 18 megapixels. From the test shots I've taken so far, the extra resolution isn't really improving image quality. However, Sony is using its sensor and processing technologies to improve other things.

For example, its digital Clear Image Zoom uses pixel creation and pattern matching when it "zooms" in. Sony claims this will maintain the image quality and keep the same number of pixels, allowing you to double the camera's optical zoom; in the case of the TX66 that's 5x to 10x.

Also improved is the camera's shooting performance. Slide the lens cover down and it's ready to shoot. The TX66 gets a new autofocus system that focuses in approximately 0.13 second in daylight and 0.25 second in low light. We haven't lab tested it yet, but the camera does feel extraordinarily quick in casual testing, fast enough to shoot active kids--at least in bright daylight conditions. It will also burst shoot at 10 frames per second at full resolution; however, like past Sony models with this feature, you're stuck waiting for the pictures to store to your memory card--in this case a microSD card--before you can shoot again.

There are plenty of options for snapshooters to play with, too, including nine creative modes. But what I really liked was being able to tweak brightness, color, and vividness, even when shooting in its full automatic modes--something most cameras in this class don't let you do. If you've been unhappy with Sony's color processing in the past, the TX66 lets you easily adjust them with a simple slider.

The DSC-TX66 will be available in March for around $350 in silver, gold, red, white, purple, and pink versions.

The TX20 will be available in orange, green, black, blue, and pink this May for about $330.

The TX20 is the refresh of Sony's 2011 ultracompact rugged camera, the TX10. It gets some shooting feature updates, like the aforementioned creative modes and the capability to capture full HD video and 12-megapixel stills simultaneously. The lens, sensor, and 3-inch ultrahigh-resolution touch screen are the same, and it just as rugged: waterproof up to 16 feet, dustproof, shockproof up to 5 feet, and freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

For those who like their cameras to look more like a camera, Sony added two 10x ultracompact cameras to its W-series models. The WX150, like the TX66, features an 18-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, high-speed autofocus, enhanced low-light shooting, and improved image stabilization. Rounding out the features are a 10x 25-250mm lens and 3-inch high-res LCD.

It'll be available in May in silver, black, red, and blue versions for about $250.

If that lens sounds great, but you don't want or need all the high-performance features, you can pick up the W690. It's basically the same design, but it uses a 16-megapixel CCD sensor. A lot of the shooting options get stripped away, too, making it a fairly average point-and-shoot. But, the price drops to $180 and you get the same 10x zoom lens.