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Sony intros TX55 ultracompact with new digital zoom, creative filters

Using "By Pixel Super Resolution," Sony promises double the optical zoom range with no image degradation.


So it seems digital zoom is experiencing a bit of a revival after years of consumers being told not to use it. Panasonic has its Intelligent Resolution/Intelligent Zoom function, which extends the zoom ratio by about 1.3x while maintaining the picture quality. Sony's new By Pixel Super Resolution technology in its latest ultracompact, the Cyber-shot DSC-TX55, puts that ratio to shame.

Instead of just magnifying pixels or cropping in, Sony's 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 TX55 that's 5x to 10x.

The Super Resolution also allows the camera to capture 12-megapixel photos while it records video (3 megapixels was the previous limit) and improves Sony's Active Mode image stabilization at the telephoto end of the lens. Previously, the Active Mode, which helps when you're recording video while moving with the camera, was only really effective at the wide end.

In addition to this technology, the TX55 gets Picture Effect options for getting creative with your shots. The list includes HDR Painting, Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature, Toy Camera, Partial Color, Pop Color, and Soft High-key. The effects can be viewed onscreen before you shoot so you know what the final shot will look like.

At just less than half an inch thick (excluding the lens cover), the TX55 is very thin and Sony claims it's currently the world's thinnest with optical image stabilization. And along with the new features mentioned earlier, the TX55 also has:

  • 16-megapixel Exmor R backside-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 26mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with 5x zoom
  • 3.3-inch OLED touch screen
  • Full HD movie capture at 60i in AVCHD
  • High-speed autofocus
  • Intelligent Sweep Panorama
  • 3D photos and panoramas
The TX55 rolls out in September for about $350. Oh, and if you don't care about all the By Pixel stuff and the creative effects modes, go check out the TX100V. It has most of the other features of the TX55, but adds GPS for geotagging photos and is available now. However, since the TX55 is replacing it, the price might come down some in the next couple months.