If you need a small digital camera that can also shoot Full HD video, then the tiny Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 is a worthy choice. It can capture vibrant colours and a deep black, but it does suffer from chromatic aberration, lens distortion and colour bleeding. It's also not the easiest camera to use because of its design, but you get used to it after a while.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 is designed for people who want a slim compact camera that can be carried effortlessly in a pocket or purse. It's capable of shooting 1080p video in addition to capturing still photos, and it does away with control buttons; instead you can tell the camera what to do by tapping the icons on its touch screen. Its image quality won't set the world on fire, but it's more than suitable for everyday shots that will be used on social-networking sites or printed at a small size.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 looks stylish; it retains the slide-down lens cover we saw on the Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 and it feels solidly built except for the battery compartment. The battery compartment has a locking mechanism that is too small to use comfortably; it always looks like it hasn't been closed properly and that it will pop open at any second. It never actually popped open during our tests, but we're still looking at it thinking it will.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7: awkward design
Because the camera is so slim and doesn't have a protruding lens at the front, it is difficult to hold. You can't hold it sturdily with both hands like you would a normal camera with an extended lens, as your fingers might get in the way of the lens.
The lens is recessed deep in the body and it has a wide angle of 25mm, which means that it can see fingers if they aren't positioned far away from the bottom and side of the lens. You have to hold the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 in a dainty way in order to make sure your fingers aren't in the shot. This can lead to camera shake, which can produce blurry pictures in dim lighting. It would be better if the lens was positioned slightly further towards the centre of the body.
The shutter button feels very shallow and doesn't provide a distinct enough two-step process for focusing and then taking a shot. However, in Intelligent Auto Adjustment mode, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 continuously focus automatically so you can just press the button all the way down in one go.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7: Touchscreen controls
Once you master how to hold the DSC-TX7, then you have to master its touch screen interface. Everything can be done through the touch screen, from the initial setup to the selection of the shooting mode and the focus point, and it responds swiftly to commands. The screen can be difficult to view in very bright sunlight, which will not only make it difficult to frame your shots, but also to change settings.
The screen has icons along each side that can be used to change the camera's settings, while the middle of the screen is used to frame your shots.
You can easily change shooting mode by hitting the 'mode' button, letting you select the auto modes, specific scene modes, movie mode or any of the other specialised modes.
iSweep Panorama mode lets you capture panoramas effortlessly. Simply press the shutter button and sweep around slowly to capture a panorama greater than 180 degrees. It takes advantage of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 camera's video mode (panoramas will be restricted to 1080 pixels in height) and performs well when capturing people and dynamic scenes. The same feature was in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1.
NEXT: specs and picture quality >>