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Performance (speed)

In terms of responsiveness, the Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 is definitely a strong performer. Whether you slide open the lens cover or press the power button on the top of the camera, the TX30 will be ready to shoot in one second. Focus speeds are extremely quick, regardless of the lighting situation. In good light, the camera locks focus in about a third of a second, at both wide-angle and telephoto. Taking the camera into a dimly lit room will slow it down, but not by much - it'll still lock focus in under a second.

Shot-to-shot delays are also very brief. You'll be able to take another photo in well under a second with the flash off. The TX30 isn't quite as impressive when using the flash, which will slow down that recycle time by three or four seconds.

There are a pair of continuous shooting modes on the TX30, aptly named 'low' and 'high' speed. In low speed mode, the camera took ten photos at 2.1 fps. The high speed most, as you might guess, is a lot faster, taking ten shots at 10 fps.

The TX30 is powered by a 2.3Wh lithium-ion battery known as the NP-BN (the NP-BN1 is also compatible). This relatively anemic battery leads to a below average battery life rating of 250 shots per charge. The battery is charged internally, which some folks may not be fans of (since charging a spare is impossible). It takes just under two hours to charge the battery using this method. An external charger, BC-TRN2, is available from Sony.

Image Quality

In what has become a common refrain throughout our reviews of compact waterproof cameras, image quality on the TX30 is not great. It looks okay downsized or printed at relatively small sizes, but if viewed at 100%, it's a mess. Fine details are over-processed to the point where they start to resemble a watercolor painting instead of a photograph. On a more positive note, the TX30 has eye-pleasing color and doesn't have as much of a problem with highlight clipping as some of its competitors. We didn't find chromatic aberrations to be a major issue, either.

Bright Light, Low ISO
This feet-in-the-sand photo looks pretty good when downsized.

ISO 80, 1/640 sec, f/5.6
If you look closer, though, you'll find over-processed, smudged details. Even people don't look real.

Just to repeat what we said earlier, while these photos look pretty lousy at 100%, they'll be fine for what most of their target audience will be doing with them. In other words, sharing them on Facebook or Flickr, or perhaps making small to mid-size prints.

Low Light, High ISO
While the TX30's low ISO photos don't look great, the camera holds up surprisingly well at middle sensitivities. This ISO 800 photo retains more than enough detail for the most common uses of compact cameras (listed right above this table).

ISO 800, 1/13 sec, f/3.5

While we doubt that this will effect 99% of TX30 buyers, it's worth pointing out that you cannot use manual white balance at ISO 6400 and above.

We had mixed results with underwater photos on the DSC-TX30. In deeper water, photos suffered from the blue/green cast found on nearly all its peers. However, it shallow water, the color cast was gone, leading to some very nice-looking photos.

This photo was taken in deeper water, and thus has the blue/green cast that's all too common on underwater compacts.

ISO 125, 1/160 sec, f/6.0
In this shot, the water was much shallower, which eliminated the worst of the color cast, and let to some impressive images.

If you're not pleased with the color cast in some of those underwater photos, you'll need to use your favorite photo editor to try to remove it. Sony's PlayMemories Home, the bundled Windows-only software, does not have a color tone adjustment tool.

Video Quality

As mentioned on the previous page, the DSC-TX30 can record video at 1080/60i with stereo sound. For ease of viewing we've put the samples below on Vimeo, which has deinterlaced them. If you're software does not deinterlace video, then you'll probably notice the horizontal lines that appear on moving subjects.

Sample Video 1

This video illustrates just how smooth motion can be with at 60 fields per second. Colors are vibrant, and there aren't any strange artifacts, either.

1920 x 1080, 60i, 24 Mbps, 109.5 MB, 38 secs  Click here to download original video

Sample Video 2

Our underwater sample video is short on fish, but hopefully it will still give you an idea as to what movies will look like in these situations. Since the water is deep here, the green/blue color cast is quite visible.

1920 x 1080, 60i, 24 Mbps, 59 MB, 20 secs  Click here to download original video

The TX30's video quality can be quite good, though you'll probably want to deinterlace before viewing. Sony's included PlayMemories Home software can do just that, and it also lets you edit the AVCHD video.

Final Thoughts

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 is a camera with an ultra-thin body and a great feature set. However, its designers forgot that this waterproof camera might actually go underwater. That's because the camera's touchscreen display just doesn't work when the camera gets wet.

If you're not planning on swimming with the DSC-TX30, then here are some reasons why it may be appealing. As mentioned above, it's the thinnest rugged camera on the market, by far. It has wide selection of point-and-shoot features, including the top-notch Superior Auto mode, useful HDR function, and one of the best 'sweep panorama' features on the market. We liked how quickly the camera focused in various lighting conditions, and quickly you can take another shot.

That said, the Cyber-shot TX30's photo quality isn't great. Fine details are smudged and low contrast subjects are mottled. The otherwise-nice OLED display isn't easy to see outdoors. The lens is easy to block with your fingers, and there's little room for your fingers on the back of the camera. The built-in flash is very weak, and battery life is above average.

While the DSC-TX30 has a slick design and feature set, it's large number of flaws keep it well back from the front of the rugged pack.

Click here to read the full conclusion from our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 review

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Comments

Total comments: 123
12
CameraLabTester

From this lineup, Lumix and Nikon are about the only ones you would not be ashamed of being seen as a user.

There rest are just Comedy Central.

.

1 upvote
Timmbits

not even...
Nikon: Not good for: Frequent shooting in bright light, pixel peepers, or those who want long battery life
Panasonic Lumix: "Photo quality is typical for this class. Fine details are often smudged and chromatic aberrations can be strong at times." Not good for: Low light

0 upvotes
tommy leong

does GoPro and Astac 7200 fit into this category ?

0 upvotes
Rod McD

Hi DPR, thanks for your review.

People buy these things because there's no alternative other than a bigger camera and a housing. I'd like to see a manufacturer opt for a new approach. Year after year your reviews (and others) comment on their small sensors and poor IQ. The internet is also littered with leak complaints and poor company response on guarantees.

There seems to be a view that wilderness/outdoor/water sport followers don't value better IQ, which is absolutely untrue. And that serious photographers should have a D4 in a housing. Try stuffing one of those in your life jacket. The middle ground - the old Nikonos - is gone.

We need a manufacturer to make a robust, WR, direct light path camera with an APSC sensor, a fixed 24-85eq zoom (or primes) and real "O" rings. One 25mm "O" ring cover could give access to an SD card, a shaped battery and USB plug. Add a decent grip. And useable with gloves please.

Yes it would be bigger and cost more. But worth every cent.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
Treeshade

Most of these cameras are not only water-proof but also shock-proof - they are not just for diving, but also for skiing, skating, mountain-biking, etc.. It would be really difficult to shock-proof an APSC standard zoom.

Imagine the thickness of a 58mm fliter that would not break when dropped to the ground with a 1kg body crushing it.

But I agree that it would be fantastic be have, for example, a weatherproof tough X100s.

1 upvote
breth

Agree with Rod. I can't be completely sure, but I believe there is a good market out there for a WR aps-c sensor serious compact. Not only would it be the backpacker's ultimate camera for convenience, I think that perhaps it would also interest streetshooters who like to get photos in the rain, or other less than perfect conditions.
If Ricoh-Pentax would use their expertise in designing cameras like this, I see no reason why a serious WR compact would not be a hit. A WR Ricoh GR would perhaps not have to be much bigger than it already is - and even if it would be, it still would be very attractive to a lot of backpackers.

1 upvote
Timmbits

I'd settle for a waterproof RX100.

it would seem like a reasonable compromise.

2 upvotes
KonstantinosK

I'd even be happy with a waterproof DMC LX7. But even this seems highly unlikely to happen...

2 upvotes
monkeybrain

I completely agree with all these comments. A waterproof and ruggedized Ricoh GR or Nikon Coolpix A would be a great outdoor sport camera. Also, Nikon wants to revitalise the Nikon 1? Bring out a fully waterproof and shockproof model with a couple similarly toughened primes to match. It's already got the great autofocus that would be good for skiing etc. Nikonos reborn!

2 upvotes
LaFonte

It is extremely expensive to make waterproof "real" camera that would withstand more than a year of use. On all professional equipment you have to regularly change the o-rings and take pretty good care of the housing. A grain of sand can make waterproof camera no longer waterproof.
All of those small wp cameras are basically with planned 1 year obsolescence. They are cheap inside so if they start leaking, then you throw it away and get new one. Many of those would leak after some time, some even after first dip :-)
You definitely don't want a wp expensive camera like rx100 or x100 and nobody will make it. If you need wp you will buy a marina case that is probably more expensive than the camera itself, but it will protect your equipment.

0 upvotes
PicOne

Sony rx100 option here below.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/909217-REG/Ikelite_6116_10_Housing_For_Sony.html

0 upvotes
tiberius_dinu

I have bought the Lumix TS5 and I'm very pleased with it. The image quality is as good as it can be in this class but would not care more about. I do shoot Canon 6D but I can not take in the water or running or snorkeling. The video is as advertised and it looks awesome and that was one of te reasons I opted for TS5. I had no issues with the wifi and it connects smoothly to my ipad, iPhone and the LG android I'm using. Neat to be able to control the zoom and the settings in the camera remotely.

Thanks for the reviews I did follow them and it did help me.

Cheers

T

2 upvotes
PicOne

Would have liked to have seen some mention/discussion of options out there using dedicated or aftermarket housings in conjunction with standard compact cameras. Ie. Can u get a better performing camera + housing for not much price difference?

1 upvote
Mikhail Tal

This is the review you should have made to begin with instead of giving every single rugged camera its own review. Why do you assign these cameras for review rather than the many mirrorless cameras you have skipped or may be about to skip over like the GF5, G5, GF6, G6, E-PL5, NEX-5R, NEX-3N, just off the top of my head. Not a single one of your six individual rugged reviews got even 100 comments. I guarantee you that any one of the cameras I mentioned would get more than 100 comments if it was still the current model.

5 upvotes
Barney Britton

We don't judge success by comments - if we did, every other news story would be about Adobe Creative Cloud.

16 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

Simon Joinson himself said that you judge success by traffic and I'm sure there's a strong correlation between number of comments and number of page views.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Timmbits

bah! come on!
no harm was done.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

We're talking about cameras that should have been reviewed and weren't, not whatever your definition of "harm" is.

0 upvotes
monkeybrain

I doubt there is a correlation between comments and page views. Most page views surely come from people who are not registered members of the site. DPReview reviews cameras that will generate more page hits, so why budget DSLRs are reviewed in a timely fashion and also consumer friendly cams like these rugged cameras (summer's almost over though, these are a bit late I'd say).

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

If you honestly think that a review with 50 comments and a preview with 700 comments are equally likely to have the most page views between the two, you are completely delusional. More likely is that you just don't understand correlation very well.

2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer

Barney makes a good point. A doorstop from Nikon will generate 10 times more comments than an unusual or outstanding camera from a small fry like Ricoh.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

Nikon Coolpix AW110 Review: 77 comments
Ricoh GR Review: 214 comments
Panasonic GX7 First Impressions Review: 702 comments (and counting)

Want to try again?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 29 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Barney Britton

Mikhail - please stop it.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

Can you be more specific? What I've done here is to refute people's factually inaccurate statements, is that not allowed? Or if I have myself said anything inaccurate in this chain of replies, please explain that as well. Thank you.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 123
12