As I mentioned on the previous page, the TX5 shares most of its features with the excellent Cyber-shot TX1 launched last year. These include its 10.6-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, its Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar f/3.5 – 4.6 4x zoom lens (equivalent to 25-100mm), and its big 7.5cm (3.0 inch) 16:9 format TFT LCD touch-screen monitor. Although I'm not a fan of touch-screen interfaces on cameras I have to admit it makes sense on a camera like the TX5. Although the button areas are a bit small it is possible to operate the touch controls while wearing gloves, a useful feature for a camera that is just as at home on a ski slope as at a party. Like the TX1 the menu interface can be customised by dragging icons for often used items onto the main screen. It's not the quickest or most responsive screen I've ever seen, in fact there is a slight but not quite annoying delay when a button is pressed, but it is versatile, easy to use and works reliably.
There are some problems with the TX5's handling. It is a very small camera with a very big monitor, and despite the narrow textured strip down the right of the screen there isn't a lot of room to hold the camera. The glossy finish and slightly curved edge of the front panel make it quite slippery to hold, obviously a problem for a camera that is likely to be used with wet hands. The zoom control is also very fiddly, a tiny slider switch on the top right corner that is awkward enough to use with bare hands, and nearly impossible to use with ski gloves.
The TX5 is a point-and-shoot camera, so it doesn't have much in the way of creative control apart from the usual selection of focus and metering modes. It has all of the other features of the TX1, including the clever Sweep Panorama feature, which automatically stitches together a continuous panorama when the camera is panned across a scene. It has the same Hand-held Twilight mode, which combines a series of still low-light images into one picture with (hopefully) reduced noise and camera shake, and an Anti-Blur mode which does exactly the same thing. One extra feature of the TX5, and which I was surprised not to find on the TX1, is a backlight correction HDR mode. Can I get away with taking credit for that idea?
Also like the TX1 the TX5 has a good video recording mode, shooting in 1280 720 resolution at 30fps, with mono audio and full optical zoom. Video and audio quality are very good, and the front-mounted microphone is quite directional. It doesn't seem to suffer much from the infamous “Jello effect” common to some CMOS sensor cameras.
It's also worth noting that unlike the TX1 the TX5 has a dual-formant memory card slot, and can take either SD/SDHC cards or Sony's own Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.