The Sony Cyber-shot TX5 is a rugged, point and shoot camera that is touted as dustproof, waterproof, freezeproof and shockproof. The TX5 features a 10.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor for improved low light performance and noise control. Additionally, the TX5 features a 4x optical zoom lens with image stabilization and can capture 720p HD video.
Like it’s more powerful sibling, the TX7, the Sony TX5 features a touchscreen LCD for quick and intuitive menu navigation. The touchscreen LCD also allow you to tap the screen to select your focus point.
I really liked the TX5’s 3-inch touchscreen LCD. There are some touchscreens that just down work on cameras – either in terms of input response or menu navigation. The TX5, along with the pricier TX7, do touchscreens right.
I must admit that I like the TX5’s touchscreen more than the iPhone with regard to input response. You tap an icon or menu selection and it works every time. If Sony can get a touchscreen on a compact camera so right, I could easily see Sony successfully planting a touchscreen display on an entry-level Alpha DSLR in the near future. In my opinion, Sony is doing a lot of good things in the compact camera and DSLR market right now and this touchscreen is another solid example.
Like many other recent Sony Cyber-shot models, the TX5 offers the very cool Sweep Panorama mode for make quick and easy panoramic images with no post processing required. If you’ve never seen this mode work in real life, it’s an amazing feature. You select the panorama mode in the menu, the camera tells you which way to pan the camera on the back of the LCD thanks to a big arrow (in the image below it was from left to right), then you just sweep the camera in that direction and it captures multiple images as you pan to produce one large panoramic image.
Click here for full size image
The Sweep Panorama mode is most effective with static subjects like landscapes and such. When moving subjects are in the scene, it creates problems because you are capturing multiple images as you sweep the camera from side to side, which can create weird effects like capturing half a head or arm of person. Just a little tip to keep in mind, but still a very cool feature for a pocket camera.
As noted above, the Sony TX5 is a very rugged camera. The full specs on these rugged qualities provide of submersion in water up to 10 feet deep, freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and drop resistant up to 5 feet. Below is a short clip from PMA 2010 that somewhat demonstrates these qualities.
The TX5 also offers a great feature that Sony calls Backlight Correction High Dynamic Range mode. I really like this feature on every Sony camera that I’ve used it with, including the recent TX7, which I have used it extensively (expect a full review of the TX7 soon). This HDR mode captures two successive images at different exposure values each time you press the shutter, and then combines the files instantly inside the camera to produce one image. The resulting effect is tamed highlights and details in shadow areas of the image, and it works extremely well for a compact, point and shoot camera. While I didn’t get to experiment with it a whole lot with the TX5, the same mode works exceptionally well in the TX7 and I expect similar consistent results from the TX5.
One of the big advantages in Sony’s recent line of point and shoot cameras is the compatibility with industry standard SD cards. Up until the most recent batch of cameras were released, Sony’s Cyber-shot line was tied to using Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick format, which was more expensive and frustrating if you had different brands of cameras in your household. Thankfully, Sony finally got on the same train as consumers and offered SD cards as an option. All of the new Sony Cyber-shot models, including the TX5 are compatible with both Memory Stick and SD cards. Again, big kudos to Sony for stepping up to the plate here.
Finally, I managed to grab a few images a different ISO settings as they were turning the lights out on me at the end of my last day at PMA 2010. Thanks to the kind Sony rep who waited patiently as I snapped a few more images with the TX5. You can right-click on the links below and chooses “Save link as…” to download any of these images for your personal inspection.
Sure, there’s some grain in the images as you move up to higher ISO settings; however, it’s not so bad that it won’t look fine as a 4×6 print for the family album. And that’s generally the standard that I hold a point and shoot camera to. While I’ll reserve final judgment on the TX5 after I get a chance to spend some more time with it, and take a little more time shooting and printing images from it, the initial results appear quite promising.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I was very impressed with the Sony TX5. Even without considering the rugged build of the TX5, it would be a solid offering with an above-average feature set. Add in the waterproof, shockproof and other rugged ratings, and it is shaping up to be a great little compact camera. From the touchscreen display to the powerful shooting modes, the TX5 looks like it will deliver the goods. If the overall image quality is on par with what Sony has been delivering in its other Exmor R CMOS cameras (e.g., Sony WX1), then it looks like it will be a very solid camera.