Sony is the latest big-name company to announce point-and-shoot cameras for the fall. Two new Cyber-shot models offer high-end features previously found only in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 megazoom camera.
In particular, both the Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 and the Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 include the Exmor R CMOS sensor, which the company says produces excellent low-light shots at high ISO settings due to a revamped design. Sony says the Exmor R sensor captures more light in dark environments, due to the fact that light-blocking circuitry has moved to the bottom of the sensor.
The Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 also features a "premium" Sony G Lens; previously, until the debut of the bulky DSC-HX1 earlier in 2009, the G Lens was available only in the company's digital SLR cameras and high-end camcorders. Now, the DSC-WX1 offers the same optics in a pocketable frame.
In addition to the company's unique Sweep Panorama mode (also in the DSC-HX1), both upcoming Sony models feature a couple of new in-camera tricks. The DSC-TX1 and the DSC-WX1 each have a "Handheld Twilight" feature that takes six pictures in rapid succession at different exposure settings and then combines the images to create low-light shots with increased dynamic range.
Both cameras have ISO levels ranging from 80 to 3200. Although many point-and-shoot cameras generate a noticeable amount of noise at ISO settings of 800 and above, we took a few quick test shots during some brief hands-on time with the cameras, and the "Handheld Twilight" mode produced surprisingly sharp images at high ISO levels.
Aside from the shared features, the new Cyber-shots are very different animals. The 10-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 is a fashionable, ultra-slim (0.66 inches thick) camera with a 3-inch-diagonal touchscreen LCD, a 4X optical zoom (35mm to 140mm) bolstered by optical image stabilization, and 720p HD video recording (MPEG-4 files at 30 fps). Other than the shutter button, zoom, and playback buttons, controls for all camera operations are on the touchscreen. A stylus is included with the camera; but during our hands-on time, we found the screen responsive to finger gestures.
The DSC-TX1 will be available in gray, blue, pink, and silver for US$380 starting in September.
Despite carrying a lower price, the Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is a higher-end compact Cyber-shot, geared toward performance-minded buyers. It offers a wide-angle, optically stabilized Sony G Lens with a 5X optical zoom (24mm to 120mm), 720p HD video recording (MPEG-4 files at 30 fps), and a 2.7-inch LCD screen. The DSC-WX1 will be available in black starting in October for US$350.