The Sony DSC-TX20 is the latest waterproof camera on the market. It should be perfect for those looking to take snaps underwater, or those forever spilling pints on themselves, but it’s also very similar to its predecessor. Like the Sony DSC-TX10, it has a 16.2-megapixel, 1/2.3in Exmor CMOS sensor and a 4x optical zoom. If you have Sony’s last waterproof camera, it’s not worth the upgrade. But is it worth buying for new buyers looking to get moist?
If you want a camera to take out in the rain or underwater, but don’t want to use a clumsy case, the Sony DSC-TX20 is a safe bet. Sony says it can withstand submersion in 5m of water, a drop from 1.5m height, is dustproof and can handle temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius. That’s equivalent to IP68 certification, the highest standard grade you can get.
To attain these impressive stats, the DSC-TX20 uses rubber seals at each of its openings. These are all entirely standard aside from their waterproof cred. There’s one for the battery and SD card slot, and another for the HDMI output and USB socket. Fail to close either of these properly and submerge the camera in water and – probably – it’ll be game over.
The major benefit of a camera like the Sony DSC-TX20 over a waterproofing accessory is that it’s small, easy-to-use and doesn’t look ridiculous. At the camera’s launch, we only got to see the blue and black versions of the device, but there are also two-tone editions – orange/silver and green/silver.
The Sony DSC-TX20 has a metal-finish body, with a slide-up front panel that covers the lens, flash and stereo mic grilles when the camera’s not in-use. This front panel has to be manipulated manually – it hasn’t suddenly become automatic since last year’s DSC-TX10. Although we didn’t get to thoroughly test its shock-proof and waterproof claims during our hands-on, the tough-feeling body gave us no cause for doubt. It’s just under 18mm thick too, and easily small enough to slip into most trouser pockets.
However, there is one thing that trips-up its usefulness in situations that make use of its waterproof skills. Its 3in 921k-dot screen uses a good-quality display, but the capacitive touch layer means its touchscreen controls will become useless in heavy rainfall or underwater.
Capacitive touchscreens use conduction to sense points of contact, and are naturally tripped-up by the conductive properties of H2O. You can use the camera in watery conditions, but it severely cuts-down how many of the Sony DSC-TX20’s features you have access to.