By >Daimaou - G.G-B
PowerShot TX1: Getting started with the first Canon HD camcorder
A few weeks ago, Canon was presenting its new collection of pro and consumer digital cameras. Among these new models, 2 models particularly caught our attention: the new MARK III and the PowerShot TX1, an HD camcorder.
If we’re only reviewing the Canon TX1 today, you can expect a complete review of the MARK III next month from David of www.lajapon.fr. We’ll give him a week to play with it… (David, just take your daughter’s bib away, it drips everywhere… really disgusting!)
So, let’s talk about the TX1. Based on the simple concept of a compact pocket camera and camcorder, Canon directly took a step further and made their very first pocket camcorder an HD product. Sanyo was the first company to offer a similar product with their HD1, and now the HD2, but we have to admit this product is not fully worthy of its HD logo… We haven’t had a chance to test the HD2 yet, so it’s difficult to judge the product and figure out if Sanyo finally understood what HD meant. However with Canon, we have a company that fully understands the world of photography and video, and even HD video. So there’s a good chance we can expect a product capable of real performances, even for an entry level HD combo.
The TX1 is really compact, measures 88.8x29x59.9mm and weights 220g with its SD card and battery. Personally, I’m not too fond of its squary design, but this is a personal judgment, and I’m sure many of you will not agree. However, as for many other Canon products, this camera has a good feel in the hand, and unlike Sony with their latest models, this camera has a metallic case, not plastic with a metallic finish. A very good point for the TX1 then, which will instantly give you a sense of durability and robustness. Even with its small size, most control buttons remain easily accessible. Most of them being the buttons for video mode, zoom and other function buttons. We had NO problems whatsoever with them! But, the button for photos (shutter release) was ABSOLUTELY not accessible! We already had a hard time finding it… Whereas all control buttons have a small icon indicating their function, this photo button has none, and is placed somewhere on top of the TX1, next to the flash. After spending 5 minutes looking for that button, we finally could take photos. Not really in fact… But it took us a while to be able hold the TX1 with one hand and press that damn button with the same hand! I have no idea if Canon tested the TX1 with human beings, as it was IMPOSSIBLE for us (Totoro and myself) to press on that damn button with the only free finger left, the index finger. We were able to take photos, but each time, out index finger was trailing in front of the lens, trying to get to that (censored expletive) button.
Facing such difficulties, we had to ask Maki, our assistant, to try taking photos, and Oh! Miracle! she was able to. So, if you’re taller than 1m70 (and adequately proportioned), it won’t be possible to take photos on your TX1 without risking severe cramp, but if you’re smaller, bingo!
As you have guessed, the TX1 is not perfectly ergonomic. Not as good as an Xacti for example. But what about the quality of photos and videos? I’m not a professional photographer and my opinion may not be yours, but the TX1 has a specific mode for HD that also works with photos: the Wide mode (16:9). Not a very common mode for photos, but ideal if you’re looking at your photos on a TV screen (a 16:9 one of course). The photos will appear perfectly well, without deformations.
I’ve compared my Xacti 4 with the TX1 to see if the latter would be better than my old thing. Well, photos are much better! There are 2 examples below. One without the zoom, and the other one with the optical zoom set on maximum (10x). As you can see, there’s nothing really breathtaking, but the quality for this kind of camera is quite good. I’ll you judge, because compared to my other 30D, I can’t be too objective (that was my 2cts joke!)…
Photo Sample 2 (click here to see the original size)
Now onto the video side. While I was not convinced by the quality of its HD videos in Motion JPEG (1280×720) during my first encounter with the TX1, I have to admit that I’m now nicely surprised. OF COURSE, we’re far from the quality of a video coming out of a Canon XL1 or a P2 HVX200, the TX1 was able to generate videos of much better quality than the HD1, even in Motion JPEG… Take a look at the short video we recorded at the office. Even if I don’t think I’ll use this kind of product for my videos, even personal videos, the TX1 is a good product and many users should be totally satisfied.
48MB Video Sample (click here to download the video)
Materials used on the TX1
Decent HD and SD videos even with Motion JPEG
Inaccessible photo button
The TX1 is a nice step toward an all-in-one video and photo product, with the ability to take HD videos in a very acceptable quality for this kind of product. We loved the feel and the quality of the materials used on this camera, but we really hated having to deal with that photo button. That’s the only thing we hated, really.