Sony's New Cyber-Shot Cameras See Better In The Dark

Well, well--what have we here? As the world of point and shoot cameras gets ever more saturated, it's growing tougher and tougher to differentiate between the masses. Sony's newest two, however, are easy to spot from the crowd. The Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 and DSC-WX1 are the company's first two cameras to utilize back-illuminated "Exmor R" CMOS sensor technology, a new approach to optics that supposedly provides "unprecedented advances in low-light performance with approximately twice the sensitivity of cameras with traditional image sensors."

For anyone who has used a point and shoot model for any length of time, you'd understand that low-light performance is always a low point. Hardly any P&S cameras out there can perform well in low-light situations, particularly when you're hand-holding the show. Sony's new tandem is hoping to change that, and we can honestly say we're excited about the possibilities. The new tech is said to simply "improve shooting in low-light scenarios, enhancing image clarity and drastically reducing grain."

Phil Lubell, director of the digital imaging business at Sony Electronics, took the opportunity to gloat about the feat of engineering accomplished here:

"With these new “Exmor R” CMOS sensor cameras, Sony has vastly improved the customer experience for taking pictures with digital still cameras in low-light scenarios. We’ve all taken pictures in dimly lit situations, like blowing out candles on a birthday cake, and the results were grainy and unclear. By redesigning the way these cameras capture light, Sony is leading the industry by creating this easy way to take amazingly clear, vibrant photos in low lighting scenarios."

If you're wondering what exactly makes this CMOS sensor so special, have a listen at this: traditional image sensor architecture has required wires and other circuit elements to be positioned above the light sensitive photo-diodes, limiting the imager’s light gathering capability. Exmor R sensors overstep that limitation in order to gather more light, resulting in approximately twice the sensitivity compared to conventional sensors. Furthermore, both the TX1 and WX1 cameras incorporate the hand-held twilight and anti-motion blur multi-shot modes introduced in the DSC-HX1, and when combined with Exmor R, they can snap six images in under a second and use Sony's BIONZ processor to combine the shots into a single image.

If that wasn't enough to pique your interest, both units also include the company's Sweep Panorama and 10 frames per second burst shooting modes, the former of which lets you shoot continuously while sweeping and have BIONZ stictch everything together afterwards. The TX1 measures in at 16.5mm and packs a 10.2MP sensor, touch panel, 4x optical zoom and Optical SteadyShot, while the WX1 gets a Sony G lens with an wide angle 24-120mm 5x optical zoom lens that touts a f/2.4 maximum aperture. Finally, both models shoot video at 720p in HD MPEG4, so even those who like to keep things rolling rather than snapping a lot of shots will be pleased.

The TX1 camera will be available in silver, gray, pink and blue this September for about $380, with the WX1 camera available in black this October for about $350.

In related news, Sony also took this opportunity to issue its first-ever intelligent camera dock, the IPT-DS1. Less formally known as the Party-shot personal photographer, this camera dock pans 360 degrees and tilts 24 degrees, automatically detects faces, adjusts composition and takes photos for you. You simply insert two AA batteries (or connect an optional, unpriced AC adapter), toss one of Sony's new cameras mentioned here in there and let it do the hard work. For now, only the newly released TX1 and WX1 will work here, but we can't imagine Sony not letting other cameras in the swiveling fun here soon. The Party-shot camera accessory will be available for about $150 in September, with pre-orders being taken today.