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UNSAFE AT ANY DEPTH--FAIL
on April 11, 2013
I purchased this camera after A LOT of research on the Web. Okay, it's a sickness, but I like to make sure I'm buying a solid machine if I can. Surprisingly, other companies that have been making these types of "Tough" cameras for much longer--companies like Olympus and Pentax--have pretty lousy track records overall. They cost a bunch, the pictures are soft, the video is SD or mono, and they're just not as tough as they need to be.
Which is why I was skeptical about the TX20. It's smaller than those cameras, has more features and doesn't look "Tough." But review after review touted the camera's durability and performance. The stereo video and compact size is what sold me on the camera ultimately. That and the fact that it uses SD cards instead of those awful old memory sticks.
So why get a Tough camera? Well, I wanted to get the shots I could never get before. Rainy shots. Underwater video. Pool park photos. There are so many places a Tough camera can go that you wouldn't take another camera. And even though the shots will be softer and less defined than most any other compact camera, a slightly soft shot is better than no shot at all. If you're looking for a "do-everything" camera, look elsewhere. I use this camera as a supplement to my serious compact and DSLR. Both of those get far better results, but neither can go underwater (without insanely expensive housings).
First shots were impressive. The LCD is bright, which is great considering that it's usually very bright outside in water. Pics look great on the back of the camera--much less so on your monitor at home. The video and the stabilization is terrific for so small a camera. It is hands-down its best feature. That and the panorama stitch.
So I took some shots in a pool, at a water park, in puddles. I tried to submerge the camera sparingly. I didn't, for example, place it in my swim trunks and swim around in it. I also never brought the camera down any lower than 2-3 feet in the water--I just didn't want to risk it. Things worked swimmingly for the first 3-4 outings. The flimsy outer door can get sand trapped in it, and you run the risk of scratches if that happens. It also traps water, making it hard to REALLY dry off the camera. And the battery SD card door doesn't inspire oceans of confidence in terms of feeling like there is a strong seal there. But, it seemed to be doing a fine job.
So I put the camera on a shelf for 3-4 weeks, and went back to shoot it. The camera powered up, but there was nothing on the LCD--couldn't take a photo or video. After drying the camera out, and re-charging the battery--nothing. So I brought it into my local camera repair shop (it was out of warranty at this point). The camera had gotten water in the battery compartment and they had to disassemble, dry out the parts, replace a couple of fried parts, and re-assemble. $90 later, it was fixed.
Now I have a repaired "Tough" camera that I have no confidence in. It lasted approximately ONE VACATION. And it's not a cheap camera. It's even more expensive when you sink $90 into a repair. The TX-10 is no different than the TX-20, and go and check THOSE reviews. You'll find lots of similar complaints. Bottom line, this camera is good at nothing else but shooting in and around water. Period. It's not a "take anywhere" camera. It's a pool camera. And if it can't do that, it's a paperweight. Sony needs to back up their claims, and review site testers need to put these cameras through far more rigorous testing than they currently do (dropping it in a tumbler of water? Really?). This camera is not tough, it's not durable, it takes the best pics and video of any current Tough Cam, but worse than any other non Tough Cam point and shoot. And it leaks. It leaks, it leaks, it leaks. Wait until someone really tests these tough cams thoroughly before buying. This market still needs work. Until then, buyer beware.