Compact cameras by themselves are really appealing, due to their ultra portable attributes. So, in a camera segment where there are virtually all the possible advancements in technology; what does a brand do to get a notch above the competition? Nothing but, launch a compact camera that is even more compact than any other camera in the world. This is what Sony has precisely done with the DSC-TX55. Apart from it being the world’s slimmest camera, which is its main USP, the brand has also added some interesting features, such as a full touchscreen interface, 3D image capture as well as full HD video recording in AVCHD. Here is a closer look at this ultra compact offering from Sony.

The internals of the DSC-TX55

The internals of the DSC-TX55

Design and Build Quality
It is not very often that we see the design of a compact camera, which actually blows our minds away. This is definitely one of those times and it has to be rightfully so, given the fact that it is the world’s slimmest compact camera. The camera measures a mere 12mm in depth with the lens cover opened and a millimeter more with it closed. The camera comes in three colour variants, which are dull gold, silver and black. The colour variant that arrived in our lab was a black one.

At first glance, the camera looks like a tiny black box, but on closer inspection, the features of the camera are noticeable. The front of the camera features the lens cover that has a matte black finish and apart from the Sony branding, this side of the camera is devoid of any features. This gives the camera a stylish, classy and minimalistic look. Once the lens cover is opened, the lens, AF assist and flash can be seen.

The rear of the camera is devoid of any buttons and it has a full touchscreen interface. The screen at the back is a large 3.3-inch OLED display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. This screen is significantly larger than most other cameras in the market, as other cameras nowadays feature a display size of 3 inches. There is no bay featured at the side of the device for connectivity options instead, Sony has added these on the underside of the camera. The connectivity options located here, include a proprietary USB port that can be used for charging the device as well as a HDMI port that can be used for connecting it to a large screen HDTV.

The stylus comes in handy while using the touchscreen

The stylus comes in handy while using the touchscreen

The top of the camera features a circular button, which when toggled is used as the zoom rocker. Along side this zoom rocker are the shutter release button as well as the power button. The three buttons featured on the camera are designed well and feel sturdy enough to survive the wear and tear of general usage. The battery bay located underneath the camera houses the MicroSD card slot and the flap for this bay feels quite sturdy, too. One can easily capture images and videos using a right hand, as it weighs just 109g. The stylus bundled with the camera is sturdy and compact. It can be easily carried around in a wallet or a camera pouch.

Overall, the DSC-TX55 is a stylish looking compact camera and Sony have done well in keeping it simple and stylish. The build quality is really good as well and it looks like it would come out on top, if it was dropped accidentally a few times. However, one should be careful with the display screen, lest it suffers a scratch and would want to add a screen protector to keep the screen scratch free for as long as possible.

Features
The main feature of the DSC-TX55 is its ultra compact form factor and undoubtedly so, as it is the world’s thinnest camera. Very few cameras in the market can compete with the depth of this camera and right now Sony is slicing through the competition with its thin form factor. Though the camera boasts of being just 12mm at its thinnest point, it also boasts of other interesting features, which helps in keeping the competition at bay.

The layout of the interface is good

The layout of the interface is good

The camera sports a 16.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor that is powered by Sony’s BIONZ processor, which they claim offer reduced noise in low light shots. The camera features a 5x optical Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Lens with a focal length of 4.7 – 23.5mm. Sony claims that another interesting feature of this lens is that it can use up to 10x Clear Image Zoom without reducing the pixel count or lowering the image quality or sharpness. Having a full touchscreen interface, Sony has used almost the whole rear portion to use as a display. The 3.3-inch OLED touch panel used offers significantly more clarity than regular LCD displays. One will find that the images appearing onscreen appear vivid with a lot of detail being resent.

The interface of the camera is accessed through the options found onscreen. There are different modes available, such as Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto Movie mode, Picture Effect, 3D Shooting, etc. Apart from the auto modes, one can tweak the settings in the other modes to an extent, by adjusting the ISO sensitivity levels, white balance, EV, etc. The picture effect mode is an interesting mode for those who want to be creative with their pictures, as it offers options, such as HDR painting, rich tone monochrome, toy camera effect, partial colour and other preset modes. These modes are interesting as they offer one a range of artistic filters, thus reducing the need to go on to post processing applications, such as Photoshop to edit pictures.

Handling the camera is easy due to its lightweight

Handling the camera is easy due to its lightweight

The interface is made up of different widgets denoting the different modes and the layout of these widgets are well spaced. Another interesting feature of this camera is that it can record videos in AVCHD 1080i as well as capture images at 12MP, simultaneously. Apart from this, the other features found on this camera, include 3D image capture, panorama mode, Full HD movie recording in AVCHD format, optical steady shot and 10fps burst shooting.

Overall the features of this camera are pretty impressive considering its tiny form factor.

Performance
The handling of the TX55 is very simple, due to its ultra compact size. One can easily capture images using a single hand without any difficulty. The screen is really good and there is a lot of clarity noticed in the images that appear onscreen. The screen, like most Sony cameras is a bit vibrant and for those who like this feature will certainly enjoy this camera. The camera was tested by capturing images indoors, outdoors as well as in a controlled environment to check the noise levels at different ISO sensitivities. This is what we learned from the camera.

ISO sensitivity test

ISO sensitivity test

ISO Sensitivity Test
In the ISO Sensitivity, we learned that the noise levels at ISO 100 are negligible and there was no desaturation in colour. However, at a relatively ISO of 400, noise began to appear in the image where usually other point and shoot cameras handle this ISO sensitivity properly. At ISO 800, the noise levels rose significantly and there is a very noticeable difference between the grain found in both ISO sensitivities. At ISO 3200, which is the highest ISO sensitivity found on this camera, there was a lot of image noise and a significant amount of grain.

Zoom test

Zoom test

Performance Continued
The camera had some anomalies that appeared across the screen when used in a well lit environment. This was apparent during outdoors as well as indoor shots with fluorescent lighting. However, images captured well in outdoor environments with colours appearing natural. There was hardly any colour fringing visible as well. Indoor images captured well, too with there being hardly any grain. However, the amount of detail expected from shots was not present, as compared to other cameras in this price range. Macro images shot really well with the images appearing crisp and a lot of depth of field noticed. During our zoom test, we noticed that there was no blur visible in the subject and the image stabilizer does a good job of keeping it in check.

The depth of field is good during macro shots

The depth of field is good during macro shots

While using flash, we observed that the camera does well and easily lights up an area of around 12 feet. While using the stylus, the touch was more responsive, as compared to while using a finger, since when one uses a finger, considering that the options onscreen interface are quite close to each other, there is a tendency of accidentally tapping the wrong option. Though the images onscreen appear very vibrant and garish, when transferred on to a computer, all colours appear accurate, as they should be. Although this is a good thing, it may deceive some during image capture. While recording videos, the camera performs well and there were no recording issues. Video playback was good, too with no noticeable transition issues found when moving from a dark area to a bright one and vice versa. Sony bundles a 630mAh battery along with the camera and the brand rates it at approximately 250 shots. Rounding up the performance segment of the review, the camera does well in casual usage, such as basic indoor and outdoor photography. It excels while clicking macro shots as one can get extremely close to the subject. Video recording is a major plus point for this camera as one can get good quality videos, too.

Verdict
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX55 is available in India at a price of Rs.19,990. The camera has been designed really well and the extremely compact form factor adds to its style. This point and shoot has a lot of features thrown in it even though it is this small, making it a good camera for casual use. The different filters help in enhancing one’s creative ability without the need to work that extra bit by going on to a PC for post processing. Performance-wise, one would enjoy this camera as it does well in indoors, outdoors, close-up as well as video recording. The only thing lacking from this camera is the ability to tweak settings a little bit more as there is no manual functions, such as shutter priority, aperture priority, manual mode, etc. This camera may not appeal to photography enthusiasts as they may miss out on the fine tweaking abilities. Though it may be on the tad bit pricier side, there are a lot of features added to the camera that may warrant such a price, which are 3D photography, full HD video capture, an OLED display etc.

Measures a mere 12mm with the lens cover down

Measures a mere 12mm with the lens cover down

But, if one is in the market looking out for a really small camera, with really good touchscreen capibilities and for casual photography, during occasions parties, outings and get togethers, then this is an ideal option.

Publish date: January 30, 2012 9:34 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 9:28 pm

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