Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX7 review

30 Jul 2010

A capable stills camera, plus video quality that competes with dedicated camcorders

Price when reviewed 
297
Buy it now for 
5

You’d have to be pretty serious about photography to spend £300 on a camera, but this isn’t an enthusiast’s camera. There are no manual exposure controls or RAW capture, and the lens is pretty gloomy with its f/3.5 – 4.6 aperture. Instead, Sony has blown the budget on a 3.5in touchscreen and 1080i video capture.

Admittedly, the screen is a corker. Its 921k resolution is as sharp as the eye can see, and it’s much less susceptible to reflections than usual. The touchscreen interface is polished, with a friendly layout and slick animated menus. A touch for spot focus function is available, although it doesn’t track moving subjects. It’s also possible to customise which four options appear on the left side of the preview image.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX7

Various scene modes provide novel ways to capture panoramic and low-light photos. The iSweep Panorama mode lets the user record a panoramic image simply by rotating the camera. Handheld Twilight mode captures a burst of six frames, aligns them and overlays them to average out noise.

Anti Motion Blur meanwhile, captures a burst of six frames, aligns and overlays them, but only for parts of the frame that are static. In areas of motion, it uses a single frame to avoid ghostly multiple exposures.

The downside of the huge screen is that there’s not much space left to hold on to. We had to grip the camera in a four-finger double pincer position to avoid accidentally touching the screen. Initially we also disliked the tiny zoom control located on the top-right corner of the camera, but we gradually got used to the design after a few days’ use.

The TX7’s main selling point is its 1080i video mode. It’s recorded in AVCHD format, as used by Sony’s consumer HD video cameras, with stereo audio in Dolby Digital format. Exposure is entirely automatic but the zoom can be adjusted during capture and continuous autofocus worked well.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX7 - rear view

Picture and sound quality was excellent, with not only more detail but also less noise than 720p videos from the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX5, which uses the same sensor. The only weakness was heavy barrel distortion at the wide-angle setting. This is corrected digitally for photos, but switching to video mode made straight lines appear curved. HDMI output is available via the supplied dock; we’d prefer it to be built into the camera but it’s still a welcome feature.

Performance and photo quality are both indistinguishable to the TX5, placing it slightly behind the very best compacts at this price but ahead of most others. With video quality to rival a dedicated camcorder, a touchscreen and plenty of other fun tricks, it adds up to an extremely impressive premium point-and-shoot camera.

Details

Price ex VAT £253
Price inc VAT £297
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 5
Image quality 4
Value for Money 5

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 10.2mp
Camera screen size 3.5in
Camera optical zoom range 4x
Camera maximum resolution 3,648 x 2,736

Weight and dimensions

Weight 133g
Dimensions 98 x 18 x 60mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 230 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? yes
Aperture range f3.5 - f4.6
Camera minimum focus distance 0.01m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) 25
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) 100
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/1,600
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 2s
Bulb exposure mode? no
RAW recording mode? no
Exposure compensation range +/- 2EV
ISO range 125 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? no
Aperture priority mode? no
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 10.0fps
Exposure bracketing? no
White-balance bracketing? no
Memory-card type Memory Stick Pro Duo, SDHC
Viewfinder coverage N/A
LCD resolution 921k
Video/TV output? yes
Body construction Aluminium
Tripod mounting thread? yes
Data connector type Proprietary USB

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual? no
Software supplied Picture Motion Browser 5.0
Accessories supplied USB and AV cables, dock, stylus

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