Sony TX100V Hands-On Review

The Sony Cyber-shot TX100V is a 16.2MP ultra-compact camera that offers a 3.5-inch OLED touch screen and captures 1080p HD video.  As was the case with its sibling Cyber-shot HX7V, I had a chance to go hands-on with the TX100V at CES 2011 for a few minutes.  Check out my first impressions, along with some sample photos and video below.

The first thing that sticks out about the TX100V is its size.  This is an ultra-compact camera and is pocketable in just about every sense of the word.  The smooth surface around the entire camera is marred by only a few controls – a recessed-power button, shutter release, zoom rocker and an image preview button.

The camera powers up when you slide open the front panel, which also serves as a lens guard when the camera is loosely in a pocket, purse or camera pouch.  The entire control interface (aside from the aforementioned buttons) is accessible only via the rear OLED touchscreen.  I think the last TX model I reviewed was last year’s Cyber-shot TX7, which had a great touchscreen interface.  The TX100V’s look and response is even better.

I haven’t used every touchscreen camera out there, but I’ve tried lots of them – and I think the TX100V has the best input response yet.  I want to spend a little more time with the camera before I judge the menu system; however, at first blush, it works just as well as the earlier models.  It’s actually a rather quick process to make changes once you “get” the menu system.  Those unfamiliar with touchscreen cameras will require some time to become acquainted with the interface, but it likely won’t be a painful process and you’ll be using one of the better touchscreens available.

Zooming is smooth during video capture and fast enough to cover the 4x zoom range during still image capture that you won’t get frustrated with the camera.  Autofocus and shutter response is rock solid fast.  The TX100V performs well in all the shooting categories that you would expect it to when you just pick it up and start using it.

The only complaint that I really had with the TX100V is that was almost too small and streamline.  That is, I could have used a little grip on the right side to help me hold onto the tiny camera.  But I’m really nit-picking with that.

I managed to grab a few stills across the ISO range of the TX100V, which I’ve included below.  Feel free to download any of these sample images for your personal inspection (not for republication).  You can get the original files by right-clicking on any of the images and choosing “Save link as…”  Please note, however, that these images come from a pre-production TX100V.


ISO 125 – f/3.5 – 1/13s


ISO 200 – f/3.5 – 1/20s


ISO 400 – f/3.5 – 1/40s


ISO 800 – f/3.5 – 1/80s


ISO 1600 – f/3.5 – 1/160s


ISO 3200 – f/3.5 – 1/320s

I also recorded a short video clip with the TX100V at 1080/60p, which you can see below.

I don’t know about you, but I think the video from the TX100V looks pretty stellar.  For such a tiny camera, those shadow areas in the show hall look pretty darn impressive.  The 60p framerate (59.94) makes for some really smooth motion.  I’m not really sure what Sony is doing inside its new point and shoot cameras, but it looks like a pretty solid combination of magic and engineering.  If you want to check out the 720p version of the file, you can download it here (right-click and choose “Save link as”).

In sum, the Sony TX100V is probably the most impressive point and shoot camera model that I saw at CES 2011.  It’s not the cheapest at around $380 retail, but those looking for the highest quality in the smallest package will have a hard time finding a better ultra-compact than the TX100V.

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Comments

  1. Lofi says

    thank you very much for the review! looking forward to this camera. do you have the 1080/60p video and can link to it? your link provides only a 720/30p video.

    • says

      Sorry about that Lofi. I don’t have another link to the file. I didn’t realize it would be down-res’ed to 720p when I uploaded it to SmugMug. I’ll correct the reference to 1080p above.

  2. says

    Very intresting review. I am very curious to see the original 1080 60p AVCHD video. Could you please fix the link to point to the original MTS file.

    Thanks,
    Peter

  3. Oberoth says

    It looks like a slight step up from the TX7 but do you not think that f-3.5 – 4.6 is very dark, especially when we are seeing highend compacts race towards much lower f-stops.

    What i really want is a high-end water-proof camera, the TX10 seems to be as good as they get but they always take away features from the top of the line model to make it water-proof like 1080p60 and i just don’t understand why.

    Water-proof cameras need, more than anything, good low light performance, and given the sensor size of compact cameras ISO is never going to be world class so the next most important thing is the F-stop and why i am so disappoint that Sony leading flag-ship can manage at best f3.5

    • Daniel says

      Waterproofing a camera is like packing a camera inside another shell…obviously no external moving lens parts. So as this camera, everything is inside. At such a tiny space (between the objective & eyepiece lens), its almost impossible to achieve a reasonable focal range without sacrificing on its aperture. Well, the law of physics says that light travels in a straight line…can’t help that, except making the camera much bigger that is like Canon D10.

  4. volodymyrqa says

    Thank you for sample shots!

    I am going to buy this camera when it will be available here in Ukraine.
    Already purchased Sandisk Extreme Pro card :) 45mb/s will be good enough for 1080p video :)

  5. Robert says

    Still cannot see the 1080p60 video! You can use MegaUpload or such services to share the original MTS file.

  6. nigel winterbottom says

    Eric

    Thank you very much for giving us a preview of this camera. I was considering purchasing the upcoming Canon Elph 300 HS but this model may represent a better choice for me, particularly as the display may be more legible than the Canon 300 HS.

    I continue to been disappointed that an optical viewfinder has disappeared from modern compact digital cameras as I have been totally unable to see what I am shooting in outdoor bright sunshine using the pesky LCD screens and I have no idea why manufacturers don’t understand this basic problem. It’s not as though I am expecting an optical viewfinder to provide significant framing accuracy, I just need some vague idea of where I have pointed the camera in broad daylight. In your opinion, do you think that the high resolution OLED screen on the TX100V might improve its visibility outdoors. If not then the combination of a touch screen and no optical viewfinder could be fatal.

    I look forward to reading your full review on the TX100V assuming you get an opportunity to do one. Thanks again for being ahead of the curve compared to other Internet sites and also for helping consumers like myself make better buying choices.

    • nigel winterbottom says

      I ended up buying this camera and would make the following negative comments about it.

      The OLED display might be very nice but it is still not legible outdoors in bright sunshine. A rudimentary optical viewfinder should always be included on these cameras and someone needs to use a baseball bat on the heads of today’s camera designers (or marketing executives) until they fix this. It is not that I was unaware of this when I purchased the camera, it is just disappointing to find the OLED display was not legible outdoors in bright sunlight even when set to maximum brightness.

      The touchscreen interface is not at all intuitive and Sony should do better. This camera also needs to have a dedicated physical movie start/stop button. This function is currently only available as a displayed icon on the touch screen which as I have already pointed out, becomes useless outdoors in bright sunlight when you cannot see anything on the screen. It was particularly irritating not being able to find the movie start/stop icon in these conditions. As a result of these problems I wish I had purchased the Sony WX9 instead as this model does not have the touch screen and does provide a dedicated physical movie start/stop button.

      The stereo microphone performance was much weaker than I had expected and does not pick up much at anything beyond modest distances from the camera. Although it is not totally useless, its performance does not come anywhere close to matching that of my older Canon camera.

      On the plus side, the low light performance of this camera has exceeded my expectations. I am also happy that I can just connect the camera to a PC USB port and use Windows Explorer to perform basic copying and deleting of my pictures and movies without having to install any special software on the PC.

      I would not wish to discourage others from buying this camera although I do think that the WX9 model may have been a better choice.

  7. robert says

    I’m confused :0 You see the TX 100v and TX 10 advertised on web sites as 1080p 60i and that is interlaced, should it not be 60p? Me thinking that 60i is really 30p??

  8. says

    buy it, its really awesome, it supports 1080p@60fps and 1080i@60fps as well,
    first one require a lot of CPU to play.
    in core2@2.8 runs fluent thought.

    regards.

  9. Rob says

    I’m sold on this line of Sony touchscreen cameras. I own the T200, T700 and T900 models. I’m surprised that you didn’t test out the 3D capability of this camera, although maybe it wasn’t available on this pre-release version.
    I’m curious to see the 3D results from this single lens model, in both still and video.

    • says

      Hey Rob,

      I think testing the 3d feature will require a 3d tv, although the 3d sweep panorama shots can be viewed on the screen by tilting it back and forth.

      I don’t think it can take 3d videos though.