The Vertical ELPH: remembering Canon's PowerShot TX1 hybrid camera
Buried among the February 2007 announcements of Canon's PowerShot SD750 and SD1000 Digital ELPHs*, and the A560 and A570 IS was the PowerShot TX1. It took the main features of camcorders at the time, namely the vertical design, rotating display and long-ish lens and put them into a stylish body about the same size as your average Digital ELPH. Add in 720/30p video and it quickly became obvious that the TX1 was created to bridge the worlds of photo and video shooting.
* The SD750 was known as the IXUS 75 while the SD1000 was the IXUS 70 outside of North America.
|Behind that metal door was an F3.5-5.6, 39-390mm equivalent lens.|
The PowerShot TX1 was based around a 1/2.5", 7.1MP CCD, which was paired with Canon's DIGIC III processor. While the F3.5-5.6, 10X zoom lens was quite long for that day, it had a focal range of 39-390mm equivalent, so wide-angle work was out. The lens featured Canon's excellent image stabilization system – a necessity when capturing video at long focal lengths. Keeping with the stylish look of the ELPH/IXUS lineup, the TX1's lens hid itself behind a door when powered off.
|The 1.8", 114k-dot LCD could rotate a total of 270 degrees, fitting in perfectly with the TX1's camcorder-like design.|
Canon had to cram a lot of buttons into a small area on the diminutive TX1. The result was a camera with pretty lousy ergonomics. DPReview's Simon Joinson sums up the TX1's ergonomic issues nicely in this paragraph:
'Sexy looks aside, in use the design is nothing short of a disaster, and has the unique ability to make you feel like you have too many fingers on your right hand. Once you've mastered not blocking the lens the challenge is to take a picture without jolting the camera, change settings without dropping it, or use it to take a vertically orientated picture at all. It's better if you use two hands, but not a lot.'
Ouch. Something that came along with the small body was a small battery. The TX1's CIPA rating of 160 shots per charge was probably the worst I've seen in almost 20 years of reviewing cameras.
|The TX1 took SD and MMC cards, and you needed a big one to store more than a few minutes of video.|
Ergonomics and battery life aside, the PowerShot TX1 took pretty nice photos. Its resolution was competitive with other 7MP cameras, distortion was relatively mild and its noise levels weren't too bad at ISO 400 (going much higher than that on a compact was a bad idea). As with most compacts, the TX1 had some image quality shortcomings: clipped highlights, purple fringing and redeye were all problems, though the latter could be fixed in-camera.
For those hoping that the TX1 would be a camcorder replacement, it wasn't. Its 1080/30p video is noticeably softer than what you'd get from an HD camcorder and the use of the Motion JPEG codec meant that each second of video took up 4.5MB on your memory card.
|Photo courtesy of DCResource.com|
The TX1 didn't have an HDMI port (but what camera did then?) so if you wanted to hook into a nicer TV, it took a lot of cables. On the right in the photo above are component video cables, which take up one port on the camera. Naturally, you'd want to listen to the high quality stereo sound recorded by the TX1, which required a second cable: the composite one you see above-left. It ended up being quite the rat's nest.
In the end, the Canon PowerShot TX1 generated a lengthy list of pros and cons and was the recipient of DPReview's 'Recommended (but only just)' award.
Did you actually have a PowerShot TX1 and want to share your memories? Leave 'em in the comments section below! As always, suggestions for future Throwback Thursdays can be left there, as well.
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