Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 Preview
by Mike Tomkins
If you like to get out and live life, you need a camera that can live it along with you. Amazing image quality and a rich feature set are no good, if your camera fails right when you need it most. That's where the Sony Cyber-shot TF1 comes in. It's waterproof, shock-resistant, freezeproof, and dustproof. If your body can handle the environment around it, chances are good that the TF1 can, too. Sony rates the camera as able to be used at depths of up to 10 meters (33 feet) for as long as one hour, and shockproof to a height of 1.5 meters. And since you may be wearing gloves when using the camera in freezing conditions or underwater, the design features large buttons and a chunky grip that should make for easier handling in gloved hands. Of course, even if you're not the outdoors type, all of this will still be equally useful when at the beach or pool, or you're prone to dropping your gadgets.
Sony combines a 16 megapixel Super HAD CCD image sensor and a 4x optical zoom lens in the Cyber-shot DSC-TF1, and while it turns in a rather pedestrian performance of just one frame per second, there's a reasonably useful ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 3,200 equivalents. 35mm-equivalent focal lengths range from a handy 25mm wide angle to a modest 100mm telephoto. Maximum aperture is rather dim, starting from f/3.6 at wide angle, and falling to f/4.7 by the telephoto position. On the plus side, there's Optical SteadyShot image stabilization to help you get blur-free images at slower shutter speeds.
On its rear panel, the Sony DSC-TF1 features a slightly smaller than average 2.7-inch, Clear Photo LCD monitor with a reasonably high resolution of 460,000 dots. On the front panel, a flash is included, with a range of 3.9 meters at wide angle when using Auto ISO sensitivity.
Ease-of-use features include Sony's Intelligent Auto mode, which recognizes the scene type and then configures the camera appropriately, as well as a 360-degree sweep panorama function that handles image capture and stitching automatically. All you need do is press the shutter button once and pan across the scene. A Beauty Effect function lets you retouch portrait images to smooth and tone your subject's skin, whiten their teeth, widen their eyes, and remove shine. And as well as stills, you can shoot high-def 720p30 movies, with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels and a rate of 30 frames per second.
The Sony Cyber-shot TF1 is powered by a proprietary NP-BN lithium ion rechargeable battery, and includes both composite standard-def video output and USB 2.0 High Speed data connectivity. Images and movies are stored either on MicroSD or MicroSDHC cards, or on Sony's own proprietary Memory Stick Micro cards.
Available in black, orange, or pink-bodied versions, the Sony TF1 is priced at US$200 or thereabouts.