Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX7 review
A capable stills camera, plus video quality that competes with dedicated camcorders
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.
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.
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.
|Price ex VAT||£253|
|Price inc VAT||£297|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||5|
|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
|Dimensions||98 x 18 x 60mm (WDH)|
|Battery type included||Lithium-ion|
|Battery life (CIPA standard)||230 shots|
|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|
|Memory-card type||Memory Stick Pro Duo, SDHC|
|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|