The Sony Cyber-shot TX20 is an ultra compact waterproof camera from Sony with a 16.2 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, Full HD video recording, and a 3 inch touch screen on the back. It's one of the most stylish waterproof cameras available and is waterproof to 5 metres, and shockproof from 1.5 meters. The TX20 is this years update to the TX10.
Sony Cyber-shot TX20 Features
16.2 megapixel Exmor R (Backlit) CMOS sensor
4x optical zoom lens, 35mm equivalent: 25-100mm
Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilisation
3 inch 16:9 wide aspect touch screen
Waterproof to 5m, Shockproof from 1.5m
Dustproof, Freezeproof (to -10)
Full HD video with stereo sound and optical zoom
ISO125 - ISO3200
1cm macro mode
Available in black or blue
Sony Cyber-shot TX20 Handling
Handling - The TX20 looks like an ultra compact camera, rather than the more typical waterproof cameras, and features a sliding front cover - this makes it easy to switch on and off. However, it also means that it's easy to get water stuck behind the sliding mechanism, where it's impossible to wipe dry, making it take longer than other cameras to completely dry out. Whether this is a real issue or not could depend on how often you plan on getting it wet, and what kinds of water you put it in. The shutter release button pre-focuses when you gently rest your finger on it - this has regularly lead to me taking a photo when I simply wanted to confirm focus. I suspect that if this is your only camera then you would quickly get used to this, although if you switch between cameras then this is quite different to every other camera. The compact metal body feels well made, although having a touch screen is quite unique on a waterproof camera, although we found that it still worked when wet.
Menus – Some of the buttons on the touch screen are a little small for my man hands, however if you have smaller hands then this may not be a problem. The 16:9 wide-screen is great for the menus, with icons appearing large and quite clear, however it's not so great for viewing and taking 4 by 3 aspect ratio photos as they are quite small with large black borders on the left and right. The menus are quite easy to use, with the majority of options and modes shown with clear icons.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 250 shots according to CIPA test results, we were able to take just over 240 photos before the battery went flat. This is reasonable for an ultra compact, although you may prefer to invest in a second battery if travelling.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Shutter response is excellent and the camera has reasonable focus speeds. Switch on time is reasonable, and shot to shot time is also decent. Continuous shooting is excellent with the camera taking 10 shots in 1 second at full resolution.
Sony Cyber-shot TX20 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - The camera produces images with good colour and low noise levels. It even managed to take a good underwater photo of the moving fish using flash. The portrait photo looks good despite the camera using quite a high ISO setting, and there is no red-eye visible.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Purple fringing and chromatic aberations are reasonably well controlled without it causing any real concerns in images. Exposure and dynamic range is also reasonably good for a compact camera. Detail is reasonable, with only slightly soft corners. There is very little sign of vignetting. Macro performance is very good with the camera letting you focus as close as 1cm away from the front of the lens.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise at ISO125 is slightly noticeable and only slightly worsens at ISO200, and again at ISO400. At ISO800 there is a loss of sharpness, but even though there's a touch more noise at ISO1600, the sharpness remain fairly similar. ISO3200 produces images with a substantial amount of noise and loss of detail, however these images may still be useful.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) under tungsten lighting performed well, with the Tungsten preset also performing well. AWB under fluorescent lighting produces very good results. Fluorescent presets give a colour cast and we found it best to leave the camera on auto white balance.
Panoramic | 1/800 sec | f/4.5 | 4.4 mm | ISO 125 - The TX20 has an easy to use sweep panorama mode that automatically stitches together the photo as you pan the camera from one side to the other.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20 Digital filters
Digital Filters - The TX20 has a number of Creative Effects, as shown above, letting you produce more artistic shots.
Video - The TX20 records full HD video with stereo sound and optical zoom.
Value For Money
The Sony Cyber-shot TX20 is priced at £278 putting it at the more expensive end of the range. If you want the most waterproof and shockproof camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 ticks the box, as does the Olympus Tough TG-1.
You can tell that the Sony Cyber-shot TX20 has put an emphasis on design and style, rather than ruggedness, as the camera has a stylish sliding front cover (that also makes it slower to dry after being wet), and a stylish wide-aspect touch screen rather than chunky buttons. As the camera is rated to depths of 5 meters, and shockproof from 1.5 meters we would say that this is a camera for someone who wants an ultra compact, stylish camera, with the occassional water adventure. For someone into more rugged adventures and additional wetness a different waterproof camera would be recommended.
The Sony Cyber-shot TX20 is quite a lot more expensive than other more rugged cameras, so it doesn't necessarily represent the best value for money. With the stylish finish on the TX20 we are also a little concerned that dropping it will quickly scratch the camera. If you can still find it, you can save a lot of money by buying the previous model, the TX10. If however, you like the look of the new TX20, available in blue or black, then it's combination of ultra compact size, quick performance and good image quality makes it recommended.
The Sony Cyber-shot TX20's combination of ultra compact style, quick performance and good image quality makes it recommended.
Sony Cyber-shot TX20 Pros
1cm macro mode
Full HD video
10fps continuous shooting
Good image quality and colour
Extremely compact, stylish
Doesn't look like a waterproof camera
Sony Cybershot TX20 Cons
No real difference between the TX20 and TX10
Some small touch buttons on screen
Forgets / resets lens position when you go into playback mode
A super wide-angle zoom aimed primarily at landscape and architecture photographers with a more affordable price and a slightly wider range than the camera makers' own models...is there a catch? We aim to find out.
3 Aug 2009 11:34AM