Ultra-compact, auto-only cameras are popular with today's users because these diminutive, easy to use, feature rich devices enhance their busy modern lifestyles. Sony's new TX66 digital camera could be the poster child for this electronic device loving demographic.
I used to shoot 35mm slides and I loved the vibrant, highly saturated colors and incredible detail captured by slow 35mm transparency films, but I hated waiting to get my slides back. One of the major reasons I've always liked Sony digicams is because their default color interpolation is very similar to the look of slow 35mm slide film - if I had to guess, I would opine that Sony's digital engineers had tried to duplicate the look of Fuji's classic Velvia slide film. The nifty little TX66 doesn't deviate from that winning corporate philosophy - its images look very much like the 35mm slides I loved, but without all the exposure headaches that shooting those slides entailed.
Camera manufacturers are running scared these days because lots of consumers seem to be ditching their point-and-shoots for smartphones, which goes a long way toward explaining why many digital cameras now feature touch screens, Wi-Fi connectivity and built-in GPS receivers. The TX66 is a dead ringer for last year's TX55 (which it replaces) and the only significant difference between the two is the TX66's boost in resolution from 16 megapixels to 18 megapixels. If you can find a discounted TX55 (currently selling for as low as $249) you can save $100 and not have to give up anything.
Until fairly recently ultra-compacts featured 2x or 3x zooms, and one of the most exciting developments in the ongoing digital imaging revolution is ultra-compact digicams with longer zooms. The TX66's periscope style 5x zoom makes it possible to carry a camera with a 26-130mm (true wide-angle to short telephoto) lens in your shirt pocket. The TX66 is easily pocketable measuring 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches (about the size of a credit card). It's a featherweight (with battery and MicroSD card) at 3.8 ounces. This 18 megapixel ultra-compact offers an absolutely amazing 3.3-inch touch-screen OLED LCD with 1229k-dot resolution. The TX66 also sports a tough metal alloy body, 1080i HD 60fps video mode, face/smile detection AF and an HDMI output.
I've only been using the TX66 for a few days, but I've long been a big fan of famous natural light photographers like W. Eugene Smith, Bruce Davidson, and Robert Frank and the TX66 produces consistently excellent natural light images. For shooters who love to natural light portraits and existing light subjects, the TX66 is going to be a fine choice. That is not to say that I haven't noticed any faults, but I'll cover those in more detail in the full review after I've spent a bit more time with the camera. Watch here for our full review (coming soon) of this exciting new camera.