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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1

If you tend to leave it in Auto mode, Sony's Intelligent Auto turned in reliable results as it picks from eight scene types (branded iSCN) and turns on face detection and image stabilization. Sony's iSCN can be set to Auto or Advanced, the difference being that in difficult lighting the camera will automatically take two shots with different settings so you have a better chance of getting a good photo. There are three levels of high-speed full-resolution shooting, too, which all live up to Sony's performance claims. However, once the photos are shot you have to wait for them to be stored to the memory card--roughly 2 to 3 seconds for each photo taken.

Shooting performance is above-average with the exception of low-light shutter lag. The wake-to-first-shot time is 1.8 seconds. The shot-to-shot time is rather quick at 1.2 seconds; add 1 second to that time if you're using the flash. Shutter lag in bright conditions is a very good 0.4 second; however, dim lighting extends the lag out to 0.8 second. The camera has no continuous shooting mode, but its high-speed burst mode is capable of snapping off 9.9 frames per second at full resolution.

Like Sony's WX1 that shares the same sensor technology, the TX1's photo quality has its highs and lows. The TX1's results are fairly typical point-and-shoot; good up to ISO 200, but at higher sensitivities noise reduction mucks up fine details, which is noticeable when pictures are viewed at 100 percent or when heavily cropped.

The TX1's consistent color performance across sensitivities up to ISO 1,600 keeps them usable for 8x10 prints and smaller. Photos at ISO 3,200 look washed out and details are absent. There's some color noise/artifacts at all sensitivities above ISO 125, but at ISO 400 subjects show yellow splotches, too. 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, I suggest using the Hand-held Twilight mode for the best results in low-light conditions.

For a 35-140mm-equivalent lens, the TX1 displays a fair amount of barrel distortion at its widest position and pincushioning when fully zoomed out. Purple fringing in its images was below average to average; it was present, but in the high-contrast situations you would expect to see it.

The TX1 produces some excellent, vibrant colors with good exposure. The only hang-up is that highlights blow out. The camera's dynamic range feature boosts shadow detail, but doesn't seem to do anything to help keep the other end in check.

Its video quality is very good, and while the mic does a good job, it is mono like the majority of compact cameras available. Again, you do get use of the optical zoom and since the lens is internal, you can barely hear it operating if at all.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 is a considerably expensive ultracompact camera, and if your priority is photo quality, it's not a price worth paying. Conversely, for those in the market for an ultracompact to take everywhere and get shots that would normally be missed by the competition, it's probably money well spent.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)
Typical shot-to-shot time
Shutter lag (dim)
Shutter lag (typical)
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1
Samsung DualView TL225
Nikon Coolpix S70
Canon PowerShot SD980 IS

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1

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