Pros TINY for what it does; ease of use, flexibility, image stabilization in video mode, video quality
Cons grainy in low light, ergonomics takes getting used to, not the best camera for certain applications, color fringing, lens flare. auto focus hunting
Summary After almost 2 weeks, I have to post here because the original cnet reviewer and some of the negative user reviews seem so off the mark.
This is a tiny camera for what it does; that's the point here. Its design is very deceptive in its simplicity and it does suffer a bit ergonomically in trying to fit too much in a small space, but I am very appreciative of what the engineers and designers were able to accomplish.
It has long been my dream to be able to carry a recording device with me which can capture stills as well as video in a high enough quality to be useful for many applications and this is the answer to many years of designing just such a device in my head. It's very close to what I had idealized.
Yes there are other cameras which are small and can do ALMOST everything this one can, but THIS is the first compact camera which takes acceptable mega-pixel stills with a long zoom AND optical image stabilization. On top of that, it the FIRST to shoot high quality video as well. WITH the image stabilization AND zoom in movie mode.
Even some of the positive reviewers are missing the point about the video. It's an incredible tool. I disagree heartily that the image quality is in any way inferior. I have shot video with every generation of pro- and con-sumer portable video equipment since it first became available 30+ years ago, and this thing produces image quality rivalling todays best consumer camcorders. The MJPEG format is better quality than miniDV, and far superior to MPEG4, the current most popular, especially in ease of editing and still grab. No, this will not look as good as a good 3-CCD palmcorder, but better than some, and it is smaller than any.
The CNet reviewer in the video has HUGE hands! What were they thinking? I have big hands, but that's ridiculous! He's obviously not someone who is going to have an easy time with this camera. I'm still not used to all of the locations of usefull settings, and being good at adjusting them quickly with one hand will take some time, but for what is available in this thing, I know of nothing else which can accomplish it.
The image problems are a trade-off for having such a useful tool with me at all times: the compact lens does exhibit some color fringing on sharp edges at high magnification, but the 7 megapixels makes this magnification possible and the image quality is still way better then many compact cameras I have used and owned. Another by-product of the compact lens is some lense flair in certain extreme situations when highlights overpower the sensor, but this isn't a problem if basic rules of photography are followed even remotely.
The auto focus does have to be turned on and off depending on the shot or the hunting for focus is obvious.
I am constanly amazed by the results I get from this camera. Because of the image stabilization and small size, I am able to grab things inconspicuously. This is sometimes more important in photography than having the best lense or fanciest camera.
Pros Compact size & 10x zoom. I like the ergonomics.
Cons Some noise in dimmer light.
Summary If you know what you're getting this for & can live with its limitations, it's a great little camera. I can understand why the CNET reviewer (on the video) didn't like the ergonomics; he was holding it horribly, horribly wrong, or maybe his hands were just too large for the camera (he's pretty ham fisted). Index on top, thumb on bottom is just not the way to hold it. With the lens extended I rest the extension comfortably on my middle finger, & the camera then sits in my palm, with #s 4 & 5 cradling the front & bottom, thumb just beneath the zoom on the back & my index poised above the camera for snapping. There's sometimes a bit of a jerk when I press the shutter using it one-handed (like with all small cameras), & like all small cameras it's more stable when the other hand is involved; if I need a really steady shot & am not shooting burst mode I lightly support the lcd screen with my free hand. You've also gotta know what you want this camera for. I like the 10x zoom & the kinds of shots you can get with it (people living their lives without having a camera shoved in their faces) but don't always want to lug around a large camera (I've also got a Panasonic FX50 with 12x). I don't care much about the video (I see that as a fringe bonus, not a necessity). It's only fair indoors or without good light, but that's not the kind of photography I'm into.
"It's a camera with great video capabilities -OR- a video camera with great photo features!"on by rickymontalvo
Pros Best video/phot camera for good quality, everyday use.
Cons LCD is small.
Summary I'll cut right to the chase, if you want technical details/specifications etc on what the Canon TX 1 has, visit Canon's site here. I want my review to focus more on the camera's functionality for a number of reasons. First, many of the reviews like CNET (where you can also get an entire paragraph of tests conducted on the camera's power up time *yawn*) have indicated that form factor and image quality were two main reasons why one should wait. I disagree. I'll get to that in a second. If you want another detailed spec review, visit DPReview's article here. It's a very straightforward regurgitation of Canon's specs/press release when the camera first came to market. So my initial thoughts were "Is this a camera with great video capability, or a video camera with photo features?"
Yes, the camera is initially awkward to handle. So was the ability to text with one hand and hold a mocha frappaccino in the other, but we adapted and so did I when I started using the TX-1. It turns on just as fast as my Canon SD900, with only one additional minor task to complete, flipping up the LCD monitor. Moving on...
The LCD is probably my only major complaint, it's tiny. About 25% smaller than the one on my SD900, or 1.8" vs. 2.5". But I'll live. Next it's button placements. Hard to say where I stand on this, at first the "nipple" is somewhat hard to use in an upright position compared to the "dial" on the SD 900, why Canon choose this is beyond me, but I started to really like the "nipple" because in the upright position I could easily navigate the menu with just my thumb. Hey, if you can text with one finger on the iPhone, then this won't be a problem at all.
The LCD swivels around a full 180 degrees so you can see yourself in self-portrait mode or if you are raising the camera high above a crowd trying to bootleg a concert you can simply rotate it in almost any 360 degree position. Once I figured out the buttons, menu navigation etc, it was time to use it.
The Canon TX-1 isn't as easy to fit in your jeans pocket as the SD 900. It's a bit thicker, but still small enough to fold up and actually look like a camera rather than an upright device.
Image quality is better than CNET's review, I'm a firm believer that it's not all about the megapixel, but instead the composition, depth of field etc. This camera performed well in every picture I took. (Example #1) The zoom is especially nice when I took photos from atop the hill over looking the Golden Gate Bridge (Example #2).
Although a great still camera, video is where this baby excels. I'm talking about some serious 720P type stuff. The Canon TX-1 is an excellent alternative to walking around with a huge video camera. The microphone has quality sound with wind reducing capabilities, which is a huge plus here in San Francisco. This is an overall great camera for those seeking a nice middle ground for a digital camera and video recorder.
Pros The SIZE, i.e. the combination of having a good digital camera with the ability to use it as a HD camcorder as well!
Cons The ergonomic is not the best, but this is a tradoff you have to live with when you prioritizes the small size.
Summary I am after 2 days with the camera in my possess, still very impressed of the capability for this small camera. I am very pleased of what this small camera can produce, both regarding to still images and video recordings. The optical stabilizer works fine and compensates for a lot of the shakings due to the small size of the camera. The possibility to have an 10x optical zoom is perfect in many occations, compared to the limit of the 3x zoom that you almost are limited to in other cameras of this size. The automatic face detection is also a nice feature to have that seems to work well in most occations. There are still a lot of other features that I not yet have been able to test yet. But as I said before I am impressed of the quality of the outcome for the basic features: Still images and the movie clips both in HD and SD format.
To be able to make longer movie clips in HD format, without filling up the internal memory buffer, it is recommended to use SDHC cards with at least class 6, 20MB/s. I started with a 4 GB Panasonic class 6, and intends to upgrade to an 8 or 16 GB SDHC as soon as the prices comes down to resonable levels. I would also recommend you to buy an extra battery if you are going to use the camera as a camcorder.
Pros pocket sized video and photo with good quality
Cons Large file size
Summary First let me say that after a month of using this camera I couldn't be more satisfied with my purchase. I wanted to address some of the "concerns" I have read in different reviews.
I have 4 small children and I almost never get to see a candle blown out on a birthday cake because I always find myself looking through the video camera in one hand and the still camera in the other. They are constantly on the move and doing "cute" things. For YEARS I have waited for a viable hybrid option. I learned long ago that if it didn't fit in my pocket I wouldn't take it many places and I would miss most of the wonderful family moments that exist. Additionally I hate having my pictures and video in two different locations and on different media.
There were two main options for providing good stills and video that would be "good enough" to eliminate the video camera from most situations, the TX1 and the Sanyo HD2.
I know that I mentioned large file size as a con because of the time it takes to transfer them to my computer and then the need to rework them to a usable size for sharing but it is also one of the primary reasons I chose this camera over the Sanyo HD2. Space is getting cheaper by the second and I am buying a 500GB "vault for just video for less than $100. My main concern is the quality of the video which is substantially better in the TX1 (precisely because the file sizes are bigger and less compressed). I can compress the video with MPEG4 on my computer to similar sizes and still maintain better quality than the Sanyo, it just takes more time.
I have read people complaining about the quality of the TX1 video as being less than other dedicated HD camcorders (that take poor stills) but the video quality is still far superior to my miniDV or my DVD camcorders.
I have also read complaints about the "short" 13 min of video that can be shot in a single sequence. I have learned that the longer the clip, the more boring it is and the less likely you are to watch it ever again and that is not my goal. My typical shots are between 10-20 sec. This camera works wonderfully with this.
Battery life is a bit short but this camera also uses the same batteries that the canon still cameras use so I have three of them.
Another concern I have heard is the ergonomics of the TX1. I have yet to press the wrong button nor have I had much trouble with the tiny joystick on the back.
The camera is small, VERY small but that is exactly what I need, something the size of a wallet that I can throw in my front Levi pocket and not feel like I am lugging something around. If I use it during the day, great, if not, thats OK too. I have heard many reviewers say that it is not a replacement for the camcorder but I have found that the quality genuinely IS good enough for me to leave my camcorder behind. But I am also not the type to video an entire soccer game or play.
Have you ever noticed how guests enjoy flipping through photo albums but abhor watching "home movies"? I think it is because videos are much longer and boring so they are never shown. I would encourage any parent to pick up something like this camera and force themselves to limit their video clips to 25 seconds so they can catch all the beautiful "spontaneous" moments in life in short enough clips that they will be a joy to watch instead of on the shelf collecting dust. All this in video with great stills to boot!