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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.

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.

Bright Light, Low ISO
As with its peers, the DSC-TX30 produces a vivid photo of the Kaanapali Resort in Maui.

ISO 80, 1/640 sec, f/4.5
If you take a closer look, image quality is very lacking.
Again, everything looks very nice when the image is downsized...

ISO 80, 1/800 sec, f/5.6
... but at 100%, even this close-up subject has mottled details. The trees in the background are essentially one giant blob, as well.

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

There's very little fine detail left at ISO 3200, so this sensitivity is best saved for downsizing. As you'll see in our test chart on the following page, it's not a good idea to take the sensitivity any higher than this.

ISO 3200, 1/40 sec, f/3.5

As is the case with all compact cameras, you'd be able to get better results from the TX30 if Raw mode was available, but that's not a feature you'll find in the rugged/waterproof class.

The TX30 outdoor performance is good, with accurate exposure and pleasing skin tones.

The background blurring is good by compact camera standards, though everything behind the subject is mottled.

ISO 80, 1/400 sec, f/5.6
The TX30's flash is very weak. In order to obtain a proper exposure, the camera had to increase the sensitivity to ISO 1600. As you can see, this high sensitivity has done considerable damage to detail.

On a more positive note, there's no redeye to be found.

ISO 1600, 1/40 sec, f/4.5

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.

As with most of the other waterproof cameras we've reviewed, we highly recommend shooting at the wide end of the lens when you're below sea level. This brings in more light - of which you need all that you can get when underwater - and also allows for more flexible cropping options.

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

Our first video is a little wobbly and has a lot of wind noise (despite using the wind filter), but it gives you an idea of how smooth 60i video can be.

1920 x 1080, 60i, 24 Mbps, 32.6 MB, 11 secs  Click here to download original video

Sample Video 2

This second video is another illustration of 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 3

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.

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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
Deleted pending purge

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