LAS VEGAS — Out of the seven (!!) new Cyber-shot models on display at the sprawling Sony “booth,” the two at the very top end grabbed my attention and shook it vigorously. The 14mp, $400 DSC-TX7 and the 10mp, $350 DSC-HX5 are quite different from each other, but share four really cool features.
The first is that both cameras have been upgraded from a CCD sensor to a better-image-producing CMOS. The second is that they’re both capable of shooting full, 1080i HD video at a blistering 60 fps. They also both feature what Sony calls its Intelligent Sweep Panoramic mode, seen on last year’s HX1, which requires nothing more than the photographer clicking the shutter release once and rotating in a 180-degree arc to produce panoramic images; the processor is even able to compensate for movement. A demo of the feature resulted in very quickly produced, gorgeous-looking panoramas. Finally, both have Sony’s new TransferJet tech, providing wireless transfer of images from the camera to a computer, a digital picture frame or another camera with the same feature.
Other than that, they’re quite different, beside disparity in megapixels and price.
The TX7 is an ultra-portable touchscreen camera with a Zeiss lens. The HX5, however, is a powerhouse shooter’s camera, with 10x optical zoom (with 25mm wide-angle equivalent), full manual controls, a stereo microphone and a GPS receiver plus magnetic compass for geotagged shots. The HX5 will probably also be irresistible to budding directors because of an optical steady-cam.
At the other end, the DSC-S2100 is the least expensive new Cybershot at $120, but still manages 3x optical zoom, 12 MPs and a bunch of other fire-and-forget features like intelligent auto, smile detection and image stabilization. It runs on a pair of double AAs.
But the really huge change is that it’s finally dawned on Sony that it needs to play nice withe the rest of the electronics world and has — hallelujah — made the new Cyber-shots (and all future ones) compatible with both Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick and SD cards, a smart move that should benefit both Cyber-shot fans and Sony.