10MP Stills and 1080i/60 Video
in The Palm of Your Hand
About once every six months I lift my head above the more rarified waters of DSLRs and medium format gear to see what's new in the world of pocket cameras. These little guys come and go at a ferocious pace, and the rate of technological change is also astonishing.
I'm from the school of thought that holds to the premise that if you don't have a camera with you, you can't take pictures. Since it isn't always possible (or appropriate) to have a larger camera along, something that easily fits in a pants or shirt pocket is an appropriate thing to have handy, whether walking the dog around the block or going to the Opera. You never know, the Alien Mothership could land accross the street, and without a camera – there goes your Pulizer.
Recently I've covered a number of different pocket cameras, including the Panasonic Lumix ZS3, Fuji Finepix F200EXR and Canon Powershot SX 200 IS, the Canon G11, and Canon S90. Each has its pros and cons, though the S90 is the one that has found its way into my pocket the most.
But my interests also increasingly include shooting video. With my main video gear I shoot 1080i/60 or 1080P/60, while all pocket sized cameras have been limited to 720P at best, and often VGA (uggh) as in the case of the otherwise appealing Canon S90. Also, many of these cameras use poor quality codecs, such as Motion JPG, rather than the somewhat more difficult to use but usually higher quality AVCHD.
But those days are now passed. In January, 2010 Sony introduced two new pocket cameras, the HX5 and TX7. These cameras use the same 10MP CMOS sensor, and have the same 1080i/60 AVCHD video recording capability. They differ in their size (the HX5 is quite a bit larger because of its 10X lens), while the TX7 reviewed here has a 4X lens.
Stills and Video
The TX7 has a number of fascinating capabilities, including in-camera HDR and sweep panoramics. These are all made possible by the fact that the camera has shoot at a very high frame rate – 10 frames per second.
There are any number of pocket cameras that can shoot high speed bursts, but what makes the TX7 unique is that it can do so while producing full sized, full resolution 10MP images, rather than the smaller ones produced by most competitors.