Sony continues to do an excellent job of getting the most from its speedy Exmor R sensors and high-performance Bionz image processors to give snapshooters better results. There are plenty of shooting options on the TX66 to play with, including nine creative modes for those of you who are addicted to filters and effects.
For those who like to leave it in auto, there are three options: Easy, Intelligent Auto, and Superior Auto. Easy mode takes away all options except for image size (large or small) and enlarges onscreen text. Intelligent Auto picks from 10 scene types and turns on face detection, dynamic range optimization, and image stabilization. Superior Auto takes Intelligent Auto and adds three multishot modes: Handheld Twilight, Anti Motion Blur, and Backlight Correction HDR.
Shooting performance is for the most part very good. True to Sony's claims, the TX66 does focus and shoot quickly, making it easy to catch that one-off shot of your kids or pets. Slide the lens cover down and it's ready to shoot in less than a second. Shutter lag is low at 0.3 second in good lighting and 0.6 second in dim conditions. It burst shoots at 10 frames per second at full resolution; however, as with past Sony models with this feature, you're stuck waiting for the pictures to get stored on your memory card before you can shoot again. Plus, focus and exposure are set with the first shot, so if your subject is moving, there's a good chance they won't be in focus for all 10 shots. Regular shot-to-shot times were a bit longer than I expected at 2.1 seconds without flash and 4.8 seconds with flash.
What's most remarkable about the TX66 is that you get all of the above in a camera that is roughly the height and width of a business card and the thickness of a AA battery. Being that small, though, it's not the easiest camera to operate and hold steady. Sliding down the lens cover is a bit of a challenge even if your fingers are completely dry. It is quite possibly too small for some users, and you have to be very careful to keep your fingers out of your shots.
To get the camera that small, some sacrifices are made. For one, the only physical controls are the tiny, closely spaced power button, shutter release, and nub of a zoom lever. Everything else is done with the touch screen, which, thankfully, is very responsive and customizable. It can be very difficult to see in bright sun, however, making setting and shooting mode changes tricky. In order to attach the camera to a tripod you need a little included adapter that's destined to get lost.
Instead of using a full-size SD card or Memory Stick, the TX66 stores to microSDHC or MemoryStick Micro cards. It also has a very small battery pack that runs down pretty fast if you're doing more than snapshots. Along with that, it has a proprietary USB port for charging, so if you lose the cable, you can't just use an off-the-shelf Micro-USB cable.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX66 is a lot of fun to use and turns out some very good photos and movies. Don't get too excited about the 18-megapixel resolution, though. Sony takes advantage of the extra resolution for some things, but for the most part, it's just marketing. You'll also definitely want to try one out to see if it's too small for you to use.
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