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Sony DSC-TX20 - Features and Picture Quality

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams
Reviewed:

Summary

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Review Price to be confirmed

The Sony DSC-TX20 uses a CMOS Exmor R 16.2-megapixel sensor. However, since this was the same line-up that featured in the previous DSC-TX10, we have to ask – what’s the big deal?

The biggest differences between the two seem to be in software rather than hardware. In common with many recent mid-range digital cameras, Sony is keen to big-up the DSC-TX20’s speed and alternative modes.

Sony TX20

Sony claims that the DSC-TX20 can focus-in on a scene in 0.13 seconds in daylight and 0.25 in low light. Without a stopwatch or lightning-speed reflexes to call upon, we couldn’t test this, but focusing was both quick and reliable. And the image stabilisation keeps carelessly-taken zoomed-in shots sharp as long as there's sufficient light. However, the shutter button is a little spongy – lacking the clear distinction between the focus and shutter stages that many photographers will be after.

This “lite” approach to controls is seen throughout the DSC-TX20. The zoom control is handy, sitting on the edge of the camera, but is a dinky little nubbin that is easy to lose grip of in the heat of the moment. There’s also no EVF, and no manual physical controls.

TX 20 menu

The touch-based interface is friendly-looking

These sort of control compromises tell you a lot of what the camera is about. It’s for keen photographers wanting a camera that can produce water-bound, decent-quality images without the compromises of a waterproof case, or those who want a degree of “lifestyle” flexibility and are willing to trade off the extra control non-waterproof cameras at the same price can provide. Let’s not forget – the Sony DSC-TX20 isn’t cheap.TX20 interface

However, it does offer plenty of modes that improve its out-and-about skills. The panorama option has been boosted since the DSC-TX10’s entry, offering solid panoramas of up to 360 degrees, and there’s a comprehensive selection of fun modes. These include “background blur”, toy mode, a hipstamatic-style mode, tilt-shift, a handful of other “fun modes” and a couple of ultra-accessible auto modes.Sony DSC-TX20 macro

There is a macro mode, but our results were unremarkable

There’s plenty of potential for photo hijinx, but equally a few are quite limited. In the colour pop mode, you can only choose between four colours – rather than selecting a colour or area using the capacitive touchscreen – and the DSC-TX20’s macro abilities appear to be a little limited. Getting right up-close with subjects, detail captured was unimpressive compared with some similarly-priced advanced compacts. However, we’ll test this more fully in our review.

DSC-TX20 modes

The colour isolating mode can provide some very neat results. However, it is limited.

Panorama TX20

The panorama mode is strong, with seam-free results if your motion is smooth enough

In low-light conditions, performance was decent. Noise increased significantly, but images remained mostly free of chromatic aberration and purple fringing – evidence of the improvements made in small-sensor cameras like this in recent years.

Verdict

The Sony DSC-TX20 is a largely iterative update to last year’s TX-10 model. Waterproofing hasn’t improved, and neither has the sensor’s specs, but apparently increased focusing speed and mode flexibility make it the better bet. Treading water? Perhaps, but then that’s what this camera is all about.

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SC20

May 31, 2012, 7:18 am

Hello Andrew.
I am very interested in this camera. As you pointed out that it would not be worth the upgrade to the TX20 from the TX10, I still would like to entertain that idea. This decision hinges upon one feature alone and I was hoping you could shed some light. The TX5, I also own, is basically ready to go as soon as you snap the cover down for shooting stills or video but the TX10 has an annoying boot time associated with its standard operation. When you snap the cover open on the TX10, it now "boots up" and reminds you every time to "ensure your battery door is properly closed," etc. I would rather not have this happen with the TX20. Do you know if they improved upon the TX20s ready time over the TX10?
Please, let me know because I will preorder this camera today! I love the TX series, excellent pocket camera for any out door activties! Takes the best photos and 1080p video of any camera in it's class, hands down!
Thank you!
SC20

Darren

November 4, 2013, 11:58 am

I had the same problem when I upgraded from the TX5 to the TX10. The slow boot-up and annoying menu layout made the TX10 a lot less useful. It's not a problem any more as the TX10 flooded on its third brief use under less than 50cm of water. I'm not sure I would trust the TX20, but miss my old TX5.

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