The TX1 is equipped with Sony's latest Exmor R high-speed CMOS sensor and BIONZ processor, giving it some pretty impressive performance figures. It starts up is a fraction under two seconds, and in single-shot mode at full resolution it has a shot-to-shot time of a decently brisk 1.5 seconds. In continuous mode it is a bit unusual. It has three speed settings, each of which can shoot a maximum of ten frames, in either one second, 2.5 seconds or five seconds, all at full 10MP resolution.
The autofocus system is also nice and fast, although it does slow down a bit in low light. It is reliable even in very low light though, with a good AF assist lamp giving it a range of several metres even in pitch darkness. The flash is nice and powerful too, easily filling a large room and attenuating well for close range shots.
Image quality is also everything you'd expect from a £300 camera. The Carl Zeiss lens performs excellently, with good corner-to-corner sharpness, very little wide-angle distortion and plenty of detail. At maximum image quality files average around 4.2MB, and there are no signs of image compression. Colour rendition is very smooth and natural, and dynamic range is also better than average for an ultra-compact, although the Dynamic Range Optimiser doesn't appear to be terribly effective in very high contrast shots. Image noise is very well handled. The camera has a normal maximum ISO setting of 800, and at this setting images are quite usable, with good colour and very little visible noise. At lower settings they are better still, with the unusual minimum setting of 125 ISO producing very clean sharp images.
Although it is very expensive for a pocket snapshot camera, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 does offer a lot of camera for the money, with excellent build quality, surprisingly good handling and a range of useful high-tech features. Image quality is as good as any of its competitors, so if you can afford it you won't be disappointed.