Waterproof cameras aren’t just for scuba and skiing excursions. Since these cameras tend to be shockproof – in the TX5’s case for drops of up to 1.5m – they can be thought of as lifeproof too.
The TX5 is slimmer than most tough cameras, and the 3in touchscreen and large sliding lens cover lend it a luxurious air.
The slick touchscreen interface from the Sony TX7 also appears here, although this screen is smaller and less detailed. There are some interesting options among the scene presets, though. The iSweep Panorama mode lets you record a panoramic image simply by rotating the camera. Handheld Twilight mode captures a burst of six frames, aligns them and overlays them to average out noise. Anti Motion Blur is even more impressive: it also captures a burst of six frames, aligns and overlays them, but only for parts of the frame that are static. In areas of motion, it uses a single frame to avoid ghostly multiple exposures. Performance is fast with a 10fps continuous mode that lasts for ten exposures. Its 720p video is excellent, but not as good as the TX7.
Image quality is a step up from most compact cameras. The sensor’s modest 10.2-megapixel resolution and back-illuminated design keep noise down in low light, giving far better results than the 12- and 14-megapixel compacts. The downside is ISO speed starts relatively high, at 125.
The lens could be sharper and its f/3.5-f/4.6 aperture is disappointing, but the 25-100mm focal length allows for impressively wide-angle shots. Perhaps most importantly, the success rate of the automatic mode was extremely high, with not a single dodgy shot in our tests.
The TX7 impressed us even more with its 1080i videos, bigger screen and HDMI output, but if toughness is a bigger priority, the TX5 is an excellent choice.