Shooting the Rapids with Sony's Cyber-shot TX5

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Sometimes great ideas don't always pan out. This post is one of them. What I proposed to management was testing Sony's new waterproof and shockproof digicam- the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 - while shooting the rapids of the Colorado River. And would you believe it... they shot me down. Trooper that I am, I dusted off my pride and set out for the alternative wilds of Hackelbarny State Park, where I proceeded to put Sony's latest honey through its paces.

 Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-TX5  is Sony's 1st advanced technology digicam that you can dunk down to 10' (3 m) of water, drop from falls up to 5.5', and shoot within a temperature range of -14 to 104-degrees F. Available in black, pink, red, green, and silver, the Cyber-shot TX5 truly crams an awful lot of useful imaging technologies into a tough-yet-slim (23/32" / 17.7mm) package that  fits easily into your pocket. (Did we mention the TX5 is also dust and lint-proof?) But like they say in show biz, a svelte, tough body will get you only so far, and here too the Cyber-shot passed the audition with flying colors.

Like Sony's non-dunkable and less bashable Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V and DSC-TX7 (Two New Sony Cyber-shots) the TX5 features a10.2Mp back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS imaging sensor, which with the assistance of the camera's BIONZ image processor, can bang out up to 10 full-res images-per-second. As for optics, the TX5 sports a 4x, 25-100mm equivalent Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens that focuses down to a scant 0.39" (1cm) from the front lens element.


 A particularly neat feature found in the Sony TX5 is its 3" Wide Clear Photo touch screen LCD that aside from its usual duties allows you to focus on your subject by simply tapping the screen, which is fun to diddle with even when you're not taking pictures.  

For going beyond the parameters of 'normal' imaging, the TX5 features an Intelligent Sweep Panorama mode, that allows you to capture panoramic images with fields-of-view up to 258°. For low-light shooting, you have a choice of Hand-held Twilight or an Anti Motion Blur mode, which allow you to capture sharp, near-noiseless images without need of a flash under the lowest of lighting conditions. If you're so inclined, you also have the option of bumping the ISO up to a high of 3200.

Another image-enhancing tool found in the Sony TX5 is a Dynamic Range Optimizer, which in concert with the TX5's back-illuminated Exmor CMOS sensor is able to retain greater shadow and highlight details. In addition to 4 compression sizes of JPEG stills, the TX5 also captures 720p video; and there's an HDMI port on the camera if you get a hankering to watch your stills and videos on your home TV.

And in case you're wondering how i captured the above images, all I did was set the camera to High-Speed Continious mode (10 fps) and in one quick swoop dunked the camera under the falls and yanked it back out. It was so easy and the results are so cool. (And you can click on the pix if you want to see them larger)

And if anybody actually gets to shoot the rapids of the Colorado River with the a Sony Cyber-shot TX5, please drop me a line and let me know how you made out.

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Hi Allan,

   When next you publish a review , would you mind mentioning the prce of the camera alongside all those words ? For a sinple consumer like me, that criterion would likely determine whether I will investigate it any further ...

Dan

I agree. How much? 

Dan,

First I want to know how much, and then decide if the new tech is worth looking into

check B&H.   It's $349.99

 Looks like a fun little camera, but is the red one really as magenta as it looks in photos? 

 Hi,

First off thanks for the nice review of the camera as I've been interested in this camera since I saw the sweeping panoramic view capabilities. I noticed the TX-7 came out earlier this year and was wondering is the TX-7 just a larger LCD screen version of the same camera or is this a more up to date TX line with a smaller 3" LCD?

Thanks again

How about showing a sample video from a camera that shoots video?

And since you've told us it's a 10.2Mp back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS imaging sensor, why not tell us the size of the sensor?

Thanks for the nice photos.

I would like to know if there is a fully manual mode?

In the old days (like 2-3 years ago) Canon had a manual mode on almost all their mid priced cameras but not on thier smaller, pricer point and shoots. Now it seems they have dropped the truly manual mode from almost their entire line until you get near the top.

Does this Sony have a fully manual mode?

If not, is there a dunkable/droppable model manufacturer's line?

- Rob

Gosh, those are pretty crappy pictures.  How do you expect sell anyone on that camera with such bad examples.  I was seriously considering buying the TX5 but now, I don't know.

A couple of comments about waterp[roof cameras for whitewater paddlers in general.,

1. "Depth" ratings:  A camera rated for a "static" depth (still water) may leak in rapids because the churning water can produce momentary pressures that exceed the depth rating.  This means that a waterproof camera can leak during swims.

2. If the lens structure of a camera is not assembled with very dry air (or nitrogen or whatever) within the lens it can be subject to internal condensation problems after an immersion in really cold water.  (Think Nantahala in the Spring.)   Interior "fog" on the lens elements will not only mess up the immedate picture but can ruin the lens in the long run.

3. I've yet to see an autofocus system that will work correctly under water.

I'd be interested to see if Sony has addressed any of there problems to give a real paddler's camera.

How about video performance?  Does it capture audio along with video?

So, are there any "splash proof" cameras that DO have a truly manual exposure setting? (not just exposure compensation)

Thanks

To answer the question of how magenta the "red" model is I would have to say it is not red at all but definately a magenta pink in color.  How Sony could call this "red" and not "hot" pink or "magenta" pink...they must be color blind.  I had to wait to get the "red" model as it was the last color produced.  If I had known it wasn't a true "red" I would have probably purchased the lite "pink" version.  I'm not saying I don't like the "red", but someone at Sony needs to change the description to truely match the color. Otherwise I love the camera so far.

 I Want to kwow the price of this camera becaause I may Go to NY in a few wees

I'd like to know what the maintenance requirements are on this camera. I have a waterproof case and it requires me to re-grease the seals every time after I use it. Are there similar issues with this camera, or is truly so well-designed that none of that is needed?

 Ya Know,  349 bucks isn't bad for a car of this size. I especially like the windshield. Oh wait,  it's 349 clams for a camera....oh jeez!   What do you take me for SONY, an idiot?!?!

Just want to say a nice little write up on the camera.  I think if others read the whole post, you would understand that this is not a full blown review, but just a quick blog entry about this camera shooting in rapid waters.  Hence, shouldn't be expecting the most beautiful pictures this camera can take as the goal here and judge these pics on what the cam is capable, you can check many review sits and flckr for more realistic pics taken with this cam.

I actually quite appreciate the blog and all the discussions people are having in the comments, it gives me some real world info and opinions that is actually helpful and short to read.  (Rather than long forums where I have to filter many posts)

I just ordered this camera and was wondering anyone have any snorkling experience with it and how do the find the cam handle it?  The macro tip underwater is good, I will be sure to keep that in mind while shooting.  Is it really hard to focus well under water with these kinds of waterproof cam?

I'VE GOTTEN POOR SERVICE LIFE OUT OF SONY PRODUCTS IN RECENT YEARS. WOULD NOT TOUCH ONE WITH A TEN FOOT POLE. SONY MAKES A SHODDY PRODUCT. THEY USED TO BE GREAT. GREG A.

Just got my TX5 camera from the mail.  So far....   Its pretty awesome!!  IQ wise, it is really quite good.  For low light, indoor, it is probably the best point and shoot I have ever used.  Its Twlight and Anti motion blur modes really do work and it produces very nice results with dim light.  I was pretty surprise.  Even the white balance for indoor using these modes are pretty good.  The panarama mode is also very good and by far the easiest to use.  Overall very good build quality.  Tested the underwater mode in my sink and works very well.  Will be going to a snorkling trip in a month or 2 and that would be the real test.  I am worry about it warning that it shouldn't be underwater for over 60 continous minutes..  I do wonder if it would leak if I do that..  

In terms of maintenance, only 2 things needed from the doc, 1) as Allen mention, wash / rinse it in fresh water after using it in salt water to get everything off, 2) just make sure no hair, sand or small particles get stuck in the opening or around the seal where the compartment doors of the battery is cuz that will cause leakage, so if you went to the beach or your hand is dirty, don't open the battery door until you make sure your hand and camera is clean.  Which makes sense to me.  I think for hardcore underwater usage, an under water casing is still better.   So when I go to my trip, I don't plan on constantly opening and closing the battery compartment too much to risk things tuck at the opening.

In regards to the red/hot pink/magenta argument... I really want to purchase this in the red becuase it looks hot pink.

Does anyone know if it is hot pink or actually red? Because most photos look magenta/hot pink but i have recently seen a few that show it looking completely red. I don't want to buy the "red" hoping it's magenta only to wish I got the one that's actually pink :(

help?

Thanks.