Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 (Sample photos)

Check out an examination of photo quality from Sony's top-of-the-line ultracompact, the Cyber-shot DSC-TX7.

Joshua Goldman
1 of 9 Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET

ISO comparison

The TX7's photo quality is fairly typical for a point-and-shoot camera. It's good up to ISO 200, but at higher sensitivities its noise reduction softens fine details, which is noticeable when pictures are viewed at 100 percent or when heavily cropped. Even at the camera's lowest ISO of 125, subjects are soft and benefit from a little post-shoot sharpening. By the time you get to ISO 400, photos start to look smeary. In its favor is its consistent color performance across sensitivities up to ISO 800. As long as you don't mind their painterly appearance at ISO 800, the results are fine for 4x6-prints and smaller and Web use. Photos at ISO 1,600 and ISO 3,200 look washed out and details are absent. In the end, if you're going to make poster-size prints and stare at them from a foot away, you're probably going to be disappointed with what you see. Also, if your subject isn't moving, we suggest you use the Hand-held Twilight mode for the best results in low-light conditions.
2 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Image softness

The top photo, taken at ISO 125, is a 100 percent crop from the inset image. Even at the camera's lowest ISO, it's image details are soft. The bottom photo is after it's been processed with the camera's built-in unsharp mask, but you can do the same thing with any basic photo editor software. If you're going to crop or enlarge shots from the TX7, you'll want to do a little sharpening. At smaller sizes, it's less of an issue.
3 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET


Like a lot of point-and-shoot cameras, the TX7 gets sharp results in Macro mode. Unlike the photo in the previous slide, this shot is sharp with plenty of fine detail when viewed at 100 percent.
4 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Hand-held Twilight mode

Sony's Hand-held Twilight mode, and similar Anti Motion Blur mode, use the camera's capability to quickly capture six images and combine them into one photo with less blur, lower noise, and better detail than you would otherwise get with just one shot. The top photo was a single shot taken at ISO 1,600. The bottom photo uses the Hand-held Twilight, which was shot at ISO 1,250. While the HHT shot is softer, it's also clearer because of the reduced noise. If you're trying to shoot something like a city at night or a dimly lit portrait, I highly recommend taking advantage of the mode.
5 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

High-speed burst

The TX7's high-speed burst option is capable of capturing up to 10 frames per second at full resolution. This is a 100 percent crop of the inset image using this option. Since the camera focuses once for the entire burst, moving subjects won't always be in focus. On the other hand, you'll be able to get shots not possible with many ultracompact cameras and they'll be fine for 4x6 prints. There is one more caveat, though: once they're shot, you have to wait a few seconds for each shot to save to memory before you can shoot again.
6 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Intelligent Sweep Panorama

The Intelligent Sweep Panorama option lets you shoot horizontal or vertical panoramas with one press of the shutter release; this is unlike other cameras that require you to take several shots. It's been updated for 2010 on its models that use the Exmor R sensors. This new version--designated by Intelligent--automatically detects faces and moving subjects to avoid distortion. It's definitely one of those features you might not care about until you try it. Once you realize that it's fun and works well, you end up using it all the time. The quality isn't great, though, so they're best suited for small prints and Web use or viewing on a TV from a proper distance.
7 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Lens distortion

The TX7's lens quality is OK. There is some visible asymmetrical distortion at the wide end (top) and a touch when zoomed out (bottom). Center sharpness is very good, but it drops off to the sides. The corners are particularly soft and the wide angle can cause a bit of a fish-eye effect.
8 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET


Fringing in the TX7's images is below average to average; it is present in the high-contrast situations you would expect to see it, but it's only really visible at 100 percent and is thin enough that it could be removed with photo-editing software.
9 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET


Photo color accuracy is very good with the TX7. While blues and reds maybe aren't as accurate as other colors they're still nice looking with all colors turning out bright and vivid. Plus, they're consistent up to ISO 800; above that, things are slightly washed out looking. Exposure and white balance are strong as well. However, clipped highlights are a regular occurrence.

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