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Design and Key Features

The Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 has a design that's very similar to its T-series predecessors. That means that the body is extraordinarily thin (just 15.4mm / 0.6 in) and made entirely of metal. There are four colors to choose from: black, blue, pink, and orange.

Because of its size and relatively light weight, the TX30 doesn't feel quite as rugged as its competitors, but we aren't about to drop it on the floor to find out how it will hold up.

The TX30 has the same sliding lens cover design from earlier T-series models that some people love, and others can't stand.

The door doubles as a power switch, in addition to protecting the lens.

One big frustration we had in the real world with that sliding door is that water and sand tend to get caught under it. Since there's no way to actually get under that door, you cannot clean it. If you close the door, which you'll want to do eventually, the water and the sand gets transferred to the top part of the camera, around the lens and flash.

The TX30 is indeed very slim, but we didn't like how all the buttons felt the same. in addition, the zoom controller is small and awkward. One big problem with the TX30's huge touchscreen is that there's nowhere to put your thumb. That makes it very easy to accidentally press something on it.

The location of your thumb isn't the only thing to watch out for. The fingers on your left hand can easily end up in the photo if you try to support the camera, since the lens is placed on the edge of the camera body.

Just because a camera looks delicate, it doesn't mean that it can't take a beating. Sony says that the TX30 can spend up to an hour underwater at depths of up to 10 meters (33 feet). It can be dropped from 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) if a bout of clumsiness strikes. As you might expect, the TX30 is also dustproof.

Nobody wants drops of water on their lens and the TX30 sheds them quickly, both in our 'dunk test' and in the real world.

The TX30 has a single door, which contains its combination microSDHC/Memory Stick Pro Duo slot and battery, along with its micro-HDMI and USB ports. There's only one lock, though it's nearly impossible to open accidentally. As with all weatherproof cameras, there's a rubber gasket that keeps water and dust from getting inside the camera.

While the camera generally doesn't remind you to check the seals, it will flash a warning when you select the waterproof scene mode.

The TX30 has a large 3.3-inch OLED display on its backside, and absolutely zero buttons.

The screen is gorgeous when indoors - with vivid color, a wide viewing angle, and 1.23 million dots. This display is far from perfect though, as you'll find out below.

One thing that nobody will argue with is how sharp photos are on the TX30's widescreen OLED display. This screen has over 1.23 million dots, though you'll only get to take advantage of all that resolution when shooting or viewing photos at 16:9. Unfortunately, this OLED display - which is so appealing indoors - falls short when you head outdoors. In bright sunlight, visibility is very poor, and you'll need to max out the brightness in order to see anything. Results are similar underwater.

An issue with having a widescreen display on a camera that shoots stills at 4:3 is that you'll get borders on the sides of the frame. Sony does put them to good use though, with touch controls on both sides.

Sony's biggest mistake on the TX30 - as well as its predecessor - is making a 'tough' camera with a capacitive touchscreen display. While it works just fine above water, offering touch focus, menus, and the ability to 'swipe' through photos in playback mode. The problem is that becomes completely useless once you get it wet. Want to change a setting, such as the flash or white balance, while snorkeling? Sorry, you're out of luck. Even if the camera has a few drops of water on the display, it will be unresponsive or not act is intended. In other words, this camera is not for serious underwater use. If Sony put some physical buttons on the camera - or used a pressure-sensitive touchscreen, the story would be very different.

One final thing to mention about the OLED display on the TX30 is that it's a magnet for scratches. We were pretty gentle on our TX30 sample, and it had numerous scratches on the display - and we're not the only one to have this issue. Some of the lettering on the front of the camera also started to rub off after a few weeks of usage.

The TX30 has a very small flash, which has a range of 0.1 - 3.3 m at wide-angle and 0.6 - 2.4 m at telephoto. That's at Auto ISO, which you may not want to use in low light.

Above the flash is the AF-assist lamp which, as its name implies, helps the camera focus in low light.

The DSC-TX30 has an extraordinarily weak flash. The maximum range listed above is at Auto ISO, which tops out at ISO 1600 - a sensitivity you probably want to avoid. If you drop the ISO down to a more reasonable 400, the flash range is just 0.8 m at wide-angle and 0.6 m at telephoto - not good at all.

The four menu items (pictured earlier) shown on the left margin when shooting photos can be customized, as the video above illustrates. The main menu has large 'buttons' that cover the most important shooting items. There's a more conventional setup menu available by pressing the 'suitcase' icon at top-left.

One nice thing about the DSC-TX30 is that Sony has built-in a pretty elaborate help system. From the main menu you can press the question mark icon and then press the item you want more information about.

A sample of the 'contextual' help available for menu items. The main In-Camera Guide section offers in-depth help that goes beyond the basics.

The In-Camera Guide is a nice addition to the TX30, and covers things like tracking focus, metering, white balance, and much more.

Shooting Modes

The Cyber-shot TX30 is very much a point-and-shoot camera, with very little manual control. It has a pair of Auto modes, plenty of scene modes, and the requisite collection of 'Picture Effects'. The only manual controls are for exposure compensation and white balance. Unlike many of its competitors, there's no underwater white balance mode on the TX30.

The REC mode menu, accessed by pressing 'Mode' on the shooting screen, has a nice set of options, including 'Picture Effects' and scene modes.

The Intelligent Auto mode is nice, with automatic scene selection, but the Superior Auto mode goes a step further. It'll still pick a scene mode for you, but widens the selection to include three 'layered' modes: Hand-held Twilight, Anti Motion Blur, and Backlight Correction HDR. Each of these modes take several exposures in a row and then combines them into a single image, with the aim of improving contrast or reducing blur.

Here's a real world example of the Backlight Correction HDR feature:

HDR off

ISO 80, 1/80 sec, f/3.5
HDR on

ISO 80, 1/80 sec, f/3.5

You don't need to be a camera reviewer to see the difference between those two shots. There's a lot less highlight clipping, shadows are brighter, and the overall contrast has a much better balance. One nice thing about the HDR feature on the TX30 is that it shoots so quickly that no tripod is needed. An added bonus is that you won't have 'duplicate' versions of moving subjects in your HDR photos, since the camera removes them automatically.

You can select the three multi-shot features manually via the scene menu. You'll find numerous other scene modes there as well, including an underwater option.

The rich-tone monotone gives the metal tree at left a more bold appearance.

The partial color photo above is a favorite of many, and really makes this Calder sculpture stand out.

The TX30's Picture Effects are fairly standard by compact camera standards, and include illustration, partial color, miniature effect, and HDR painting (which creates an very exaggerated HDR effect).

Panorama shooting

Sony was the first to include a 'Sweep Panorama' feature on its cameras, and its latest models feature 'iSweep Panorama". The cool part about iSweep Panorama is that the camera prevents people and other moving subjects from appearing in multiple places in the panorama.

There are two top-level iSweep Panorama modes to choose from: regular and underwater. You can also apply three Picture Effects (pop color, partial color, and soft high-key) to an image. Once that's done you just 'sweep' the camera from one side to the other (you can go up or down as well). The results are stitched instantly.

There are four sizes to choose from: standard (4912 x 1080 vertically), wide (7152 x 1080), 360 degree (11520 x 1080), and high resolution (10480 x 4096). For those unfamiliar with the sweep panorama feature, these images are much higher resolution than normal. Speaking of high resolution, you'll take photos for that mode holding the camera vertically.

Although the final result is rather soft, the TX30 did a perfect job of stitching this image together.

ISO 80, 1/800 sec, f/4.5
This high resolution panorama, on the other hand, has obvious vertical banding in the image. We were able to replicate this repeatedly.

ISO 80, 1/800 sec, f/4.5

If you're sticking to the 'standard' sweep panorama - which uses the camera's movie mode to create images - you'll get good results. Based on what we've seen, the high resolution mode - which uses the electronic shutter - is best avoided.


The DSC-TX30 is able to record video at 1080/60i with stereo sound, for up to 29 minutes using the AVCHD codec. While the video is very smooth, you'll notice the problem with interlaced videos: rows of horizontal lines, especially on moving subjects. The good news is that you can "deinterlace" videos using software on your Mac or PC (we used Handbrake with pleasing results). If you want to save some space on your memory card, you can opt for a lower bit rate (17Mbps vs 24Mbps), or a smaller resolution (1440 x 1080).

If you'd rather using something other than AVCHD - which can be difficult to share without editing it first - the TX30 also offers the MPEG-4 codec. You won't be able to record Full HD video, with the highest resolution being 1440 x 1080 (at 30 fps).

The optical zoom can be used while you're recording, and the camera will keep things in focus as your subject moves around. The image stabilizer is also available, with a special 'Active' mode to reduce severe shake. A wind cut filter is available for shooting outdoors, though it wasn't a huge help, as you'll see in the sample on the next page.

Another neat trick the camera can perform is to take up to ten 13 megapixel stills while simultaneously recording video - even at the highest resolution.

The TX30 doesn't offer the ability to trim or split movies, which is a shame because that's always handy.

Playback mode

One nice thing you can do in playback mode is enlarge photos to fill that giant 3.3" OLED display.

There are a number of features in playback mode worth mentioning. You can sort through photos by date, using either 'cover flow' or calendar interfaces. You can apply picture effects, sharpen, and even 'paint' on your photos.

If the camera detects a face in the scene, it will give you several retouching options, including skin toning, skin smoothing, shine removal, eye widening, and yes, even teeth whitening. Another somewhat-gimmicky feature lets you navigate through photos by tilting the camera side-to-side. We found it to be more trouble than it's worth.

Something that we noticed is that the TX30 is fairly sluggish when you're in playback mode, especially when viewing thumbnails, or zooming in on a photo.

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Total comments: 50

I used my tx30 Doran underwater shot.. After 3 pictures the LCD went black then yellow until no details seen.. I chose the underwater setting before taking the pictures... Can it be repaired? Thanks


I've had a Sony T100 (8Mp, similar form factor, NOT waterproof/shock proof) for 7 years this spring. It has been dropped on concrete (+ various other surfaces), and submerged in a pool. Still focuses & exposes properly. I've taken over 20k pictures with it and prefer it to my other cameras for many situations. For anything smaller than 16x20 the detail is sufficient to very good. This new TX30 will take even better pictures..

I love the folded optics, so discrete, and the placement of the lens in the corner means you can actually see the tiny little thing you're taking a macro of.

This camera can be pulled from your pocket, concealed in your hand, turned on with your thumb, a sharp, properly exposed and focused image snapped, the camera turned off (again with your thumb) and back in your pocket in less than 5 secs.

A great all-around camera for those who hate to carry a camera but like to take pictures.

I wish for WiFi, though.


Hi, just bought the Sony Cyber-shot TX30 camera and have a problem with the flash of the camera. Tried to take a picture indoor with low lighting and while putting the automatic flash mode, the flash didn't went off. Tried tu put it on forced flash and didn't work either. Any reason why the flash should not work.
The camera is brand new and use it less than a month. Is this normal?


There is a mistake in this review: "In deeper water, photos suffered from the blue/green cast" ?
I believe you missed the fact that one of the Scene modes is specifically called "underwater". You were supposed to engage that mode before taking such pictures. There is no need for photoshop color correction. It's nicely done in-camera.

Regarding PQ, the optimal quality is achieved in 10MP jpeg mode. There is no point in recording 18MP jpegs with this sensor. Additionally, the jpeg compression ratio that Sony chose for 18MP files is quite low (it shows in your jpeg samples).

1 upvote
Whiskey Woman

" RE: Sony's PlayMemories Home, the bundled Windows-only software, does not have a color tone adjustment tool."

Sony's PMH DOES HAVE a tone curve adjustment tool and the typical features one finds useful for minor edits. The older Sony software for the TX series also had this feature.

The older TX10 took some nice panoramas in high-res mode without the banding (not always) so it's surprising to hear it was such a consistent problem with the TX30 and that they hadn't fixed the issue since it first cropped up.

TX10 without banding: (Grand Teton NP)

TX10 with banding: (GTNP)

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting

Have been using a TX20 a few years now. We have other cameras that can take much better pics, but somehow the TX20 often ends up being the chosen camera.
Very small, so is easily pocketed or packed. Life-proofed enough to have some confidence it survives travel, fishing trips, beach, and other trips into the world. Simple enough that it takes little time to get a reasonable setup for whatever shot. And the resulting pics have been great for us.
But the TX20 annoyed me in a few things. Long delay for it to decide to record video. Significant delay after starting up to take a pic. Proprietary cable, so one more thing to pack and try and keep track of. 4x optical zoom could be longer.
TX30 sounds to have improved in all these. I noted a price drop this week, and by the time I add up 25% more discounts I get, I pulled the trigger on the TX30. No silver color offered in the US? How odd is that? So I chose blue, hope it doesn't heat up in the sun much, and is easily located in dim light.


From the comments, sounds like people expect this camera to be all things to all people. In the ruggedized bunch, the Olympus is what I'd go after for really rugged, more options, and better pics. Or maybe the Panasonic.
But those others miss the main points for me... be small, be simple, and be likely to survive, while taking decent pics. It is a point n shoot afterall and the main reason we have so many pics using our old TX20 is that it was convenient and in-pocket so often.
The new TX30 I expect to be a bit friendlier to me in some ways, in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary way.


oh,,,, replace "TX20" with "TX10" in my comments. I forgot that I skipped the TX20 version. So I'm going from TX10 to TX30


I have had many of these TX cameras ( TX-5, 4 TX-20's). All have failed. None of them have lasted longer than 18 months. I always buy the ADH policy, which pretty much means that I am leasing the camera for the ~$70 the ADH costs me. I love the cameras except for two things, 1) the screen is useless outdoors. You pretty much have to memorize the screen to use it outdoors, and 2) the lens is in a bad place so lots of shots with fingers in them.

But I think I will be moving on to another camera now. I just had one TX-20 replaced, my green one, using the ADH warranty. Then my blue one failed in only 6 months, so it was still covered under the factory warranty. Shipped it to Sony, they said they fixed the "flash" unit circuit, and now after only 2 weeks, it is failing with an over-heating message.

I buy these for my kids, so they can have fun. But the failures and poor screen are causing me to consider the Panasonic, plus the TX-30 switched to micro-SD from SD.

Buyers beware.

1 upvote
D Alchemist

I think the review may be overly harsh. I have had the TX5 for several years. If you need a slim camera for outdoor adventure use, your options are this and a Casio that is nowhere near as good.

The Sony deploys, one-handed, while riding my bike, without looking, in a couple of seconds, from a pouch or pocket. Recently returned from touring in Dordogne, France with the family. Hundreds of on-bike shots and HD video clips that look great on my 2560 x 1440 display. I believe the TX line is the ONLY camera that fits this need well.

The criticism about the screen in sunlight is well-taken, but I find it little worse than most. Underwater use? The camera is not intended for underwater use- it has very modest waterproofness. Screen scratching? Not to my experience. And the touchscreen works with thin gloves on.

Last thing is this camera is TOUGH. Dropped several times at 15+ MPH to asphalt and rock. Scratched up a bit. Still works like a champ.


Hi Jeff,
Could you please review the Sony DSC-HX50V?
I'm really interested in this camera.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting

Can't believe Sony still has 6400 & 12800 modes. Very deceiving. Maybe a different mode for those two named anti-shake high ISO. But nice constant quality but a tad too much dark shadows.

JJ Rodin

Nice designed cam, crappy sensor!!


Great Last Name! Another Rodin

JJ Rodin

It did not seem to say about size but it is no larger than 1/2.3" as the picture are pretty bad for anything larger than that!!

Not the worse in group, maybe the best, but still bad with nothing more than 10-12mp resolution.

But a nice tough cam, but pricey!!

Compare the old lady details using Canon sx230hs, Canon has SOO much more detail & is a 12mp sensor.

Sony is silly to insist on high resolution sensors when they do not give even 12mp 'real' resolution, a waste of memory on card IMO!!

Silly Sony!!

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting

I didn't get... wich size is the sensor?


I am a bit surprised by this review and some of the comments too. Some commenters just expect a cadillac of a waterproof cam out of a long-existing niche of inexpensive water-tight P&S. At sub $500 it aint gonna happen! The review itself: a few years ago I went through a slew of cams for beach/pool/ocean trips/waterparks. I owned one of the first underwater Olies, was relatively happy with it, till its battery door broke down. Hence, bought Panasonic TS-2, only to have sand stuck in the power button. Bought and returned several underwater Olies as they were sluggish and less usable than their earlier models. Finally, got a Sony TX5, which has blown everything else in the underwater P&S out of the water: fast, sharp, sweep panorama and IQ overall were all light years ahead of the peers from other brands.

1 upvote

Part 2: I too was suspicious at first of the sliding cover, but after several years of abuse, regular trips to the beach, etc., it still works, albeit its black paint has peeled off to display shiny metal on the sliding cover. After a day at the beach I just wash it with faucet water at home, voila! Having looked at this TX30 at a store I personally think Sony again has a big time winner in the category: like the LED's around the lens, and like the quality of shots at ISO1600. I am buying this as soon as my TX5 goes kaput, in fact I can't wait! (I own/ed top notch cams from other categories, so, I'd classify myself as an advanced hobbyist).

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Another unnecessary disappointment. It really begins to look like a conspiracy, because it is simply hard to believe that among all the World's caera manufacturers there is not one designer capable of understanding what an underwater-capable camera should comprise.
Don't they understand that part of the market? Apply all the proper principles, get rid of all the useless crap, and what remains should be an indestructible camera capable of withstanding 10 Atm/Bar, with interchangeable lenses, with IR commands to wirelessly control the lighting accessories, etc. It can be small and coat-pocketable, and it WILL sell. It will be unique like Nikonos III, and usable in the rainy city, in the hospitals, in the depths, on boats, in mines and caves, in ultralight flights etcetera.
But no, they simply have to follow the half-chewn solutions of some "experts" who think they think... and we get products that fall short in every aspect, just to fit someone's idea of "pocketability".
Really sad.


I think there could be a more capable and serious rugged/underwater camera out there someday. The question remains how much are pro-sumers willing to spend before we enter the realm of professional equiopment and housings for them; replete with their astronomical prices?
As for the legendary Nikonos here is a re-post form a month ago:

Seems there was at one time an "Area 51" Nikonos :

For the serious underwater guys there are all sorts of housings for DSLR's and HD video equipment. They may be a better investment that that Hasselblad Lunar:

Personally I would like to see a pro-sumer level camera even if it didn't fit in my bathing suit pocket. Something like an underwater Canon G1X or Sony RX1 or NEX even a Fuji X Pro 1. If one of these were made, it would still be a $3.000 to $4,000 camera. Any takers?

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
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The area is very specific and not all designs can be used in building an underwater camera. Cameras in housings are a different kind of thing entirely. But when you consider amphibious cameras (those that can be used by divers the way they're built), bear in mind that these can not be of the variable volume. Thus, no extendable zooms. There should be several interchangeable lenses, so some of the glass can be wide-range zooms, while other lenses can be made for underwater use only.
This solves several problems related to the optical characteristcs of u/w lens ports. Dry-land lenses would not have to have any, and u/w short-range zoom lenses can be cased-in behind special ports. Zooms are not of much use in the water.
As for the body, properly formed shape alone cancels out a lot of the pressure (convex surfaces, no flat area save the monitor), and all closures should be o-ring sealed. Commands could be magnetic (reed) switches, not push pins. All that does not have to be expensive.

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As to the article linked in your post, the man is holding a stabilized Canon binoculars that can be bought just about anywhere, and the "mysterious" camera below is an Nikonos RS with a bit of add-ons which does not make it much better than the original RS. Divers have pronounced the RS a flop; this was an outrageously overpriced SLR which was very hard to keep in perfect working order in the field. Besides, ALL SLRs, amphibious or in the housing, were not very practical underwater, except in near ideal light conditions. Thus, refurbishing an Nikonos V casing by adding an articulated monitor in place of the film hatch would make much more sense. So far, it's all just wisful thinking.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting

Typical $100-300 Sony quality - can only be expected to be decent (generous) at 5 megapixel size and pretty good for video.

Only the big two really try to have decent image quality in the low price range past few years.


Why dpreview reviews crappy camera like this one and doesn't review fantastic cameras like Samsung NX300?

Neloy Sinha

Sony should add a phone chip to it.Then it will be a perfect companion to carry.Why Sony should fall behind? We are eagerly waiting for a good camera phone.


get a TG-2 or WG-3
it is that simple


Or Panasonic TS5!


nice pic, no PP? just out of camera?


Only some minor corrections in Picasa3.


they should come back to 12 mpix and do something better out of that. Beyond 14 mpix, those sensors get just crappy.


TX5 was the best.


I like my TX5
wish I can buy it again
not this junk

1 upvote
Bryan Biggers

Yeah, I finally broke my TX5, unfortunately. The new cameras are just horrible image quality compared to that camera. I'd like to buy another Sony to replace it, but the new cameras are horrible, bought one and returned it.

1 upvote
white shadow

More style than substance.

If one do not need a zoom or water resistance capability, one is much better off with the Samsung Note II or the S4 smartphone. The image quality might be even better.

I have taken some photos on these devises and they do not disappoint. They can perform quite well just below 0 degrees without fogging.


"We've just posted the sixth and final review in our round-up of compact rugged cameras."

Thank goodness...

1 upvote

Neither at the present review, nor at the camera database is listed size of the sensor.
Accidental overlooking or a new standard for information?

Jeff Keller

Since they're $300-400 compact cameras, I think it's safe to assume that they're 1/2.3" :)


The sturdiness but especially the IQ of all cameras in this class lead me to think they're at best suitable as a gift for my kid to take to the beach or poolside.
Come to think of it, they're actually perfect for that. ;-)


The IQ seems to be worse than the TX10 in the comparison tool. The higher the ISO, the worse it gets.


Compared to the Canon D20, this camera looks soft, lacks detail and has lots of noise/mottling in areas of fine detail. At 6mp less, the D20 shows more detail in the face etching and is cleaner all over. Detail is smeared away in the Sony. This is why it is pointless to put high pixel counts on small sensors. But, hey, the market for which this camera is aimed is not supposed to care.


I wonder how a GoPro 3 Black would stack up against these cameras?


GoPro stills are rather uncompetitive, especially due to wonky colors, but I am in awe of the video they can produce on such a small device.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote

I've had this camera for a couple of months now, and pretty much just use it when I go to the beach and water parks. For that it's superb. Slip it into your bathing suit pocket and forget it's on you. Photo quality is definitely lacking, but with 18 MP and since I rarely print these types of photos larger than 5 x 7, it works just fine. Color, exposure, and focus is always superb.

I love the sliding lens cover. It makes it very easy to get that quick shot.

Although the screen is not super easy to see outdoors, I don't have the same problems the reviewers had. Lastly, the touch screen is very responsive.


This whole category of camera disappoints me.


Just the fact that you have to pull the whole "Deinterlacing" disclaimer on it should have put the 1080/60i video in the "What we Don't like" column. I guess you had to find something positive to say.


Conclusion: "They call it a camera".


F3.5-4.8, max usable ISO = 80, No RAW, 1080i/60 video that has to be deinterlaced.

What is not to like about it? Pretty much everything.


Sound of crickets, tumble weed rolls past, dog looks away bored.


At least it deserves and got a review, which is more than can be said for the Fuji XP50.

1 upvote


Comment edited 1 minute after posting
Total comments: 50