Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 Review

April 22, 2013 | Gavin Stoker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 is an all-action slim-line digital compact camera that boasts a number of interesting features, The TFI offers a 16.1 megapixel Super HAD CCD sensor, 4x optical zoom lens, Optical SteadyShot, 720p HD video, 2.7 inch LCD screen, Beauty Effect mode, 360° Sweep Panorama, and an Advanced Flash. On top of that it's also water, freeze, dust and shock proof. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 costs around £180 / $200 and is available in Red, Blue or Black.

Ease of Use

Not all waterproof or ‘toughened’ cameras are created equal. Whilst in the past we’ve happily used a Pentax ‘WG’ model in the pool on a week’s holiday with minimal moisture ingress, we’ve also killed off a Fujifilm Finepix ‘WP’ after dipping it for just a few seconds in the local pond, water sloshing about behind the glass of the LCD screen like some executive desk toy. So how will Sony’s cute rather than rugged looking 16 megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 fare? Is this the one we should confidently pack with our holiday gear for fun in the pool or on the ski slopes, or should it be left in the drawer with last year’s trunks that can no longer accommodate our swelling bellies?

Though the TF1 looks like it might cry digital tears if we were to treat it roughly, the headline specification ticks the usual boxes. It’s purportedly waterproofed to a depth of 10 metres for up to one hour at a time, plus dust, shock (from heights of 1.5 metres onto 5cm thick plywood) and freeze proofed into the bargain.

Within its slender palm-sized chassis Sony has also crammed in a 16.1 effective megapixel 1/2.3-inch ‘Super HAD’ CCD sensor, 2.7-inch back plate LCD with 460k dot resolution, plus a 4x optical zoom lens with internally stacked mechanism starting out at a wide 25mm equivalent in 35mm terms and going up to 100mm at the telephoto end. This ensures that at no point does lens protrude from the body – and in doing so the camera come to harm if dropped. Maximum close up is a very respectable 1cm and photos and video are committed to a choice of removable microSD card or Memory Stick Micro. We’re not big fans. There was surely room for a full sized SD card but no Sony has opted for the fiddly and unlovable microSD, which, oddly, seems to slot into place in the camera whichever way it’s facing. As a result it’s worth double-checking whether you’re shooting to card or the fall back of the small internal memory – with room for just six full resolution photos – before you start snapping away in earnest.

With card and rechargeable lithium ion battery inserted, and charged within the camera as is increasingly the way with compact snapshots, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 weighs all of a shirt pocket or shorts friendly 159g. Yet the build feels reassuringly solid nonetheless. Overall dimensions are 102.4x62x22.7mm, so just slightly longer and higher than a business card and a mere finger’s width in depth. Battery life is good for around 200 shots, which is so-so. Just enough to take a selection of images for this review over an afternoon, but any less and we would have been complaining.

Since there’s not much of the actual TF1 to get a grip on, camera shake could be an issue – though as we bore this in mind it didn’t prove to be the case in practice – so its maker has provided optical ‘SteadyShot’ image stabilization, along with a built-in flash that’s sufficiently far from the edge of the camera to avoid fingertips partially obscuring it. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the actual lens, so it’s worth watching out for the occasional fingertip straying in front.

In terms of how viable the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 might be for low light shooting, the manually selectable light sensitivity settings here run from the standard ISO100 to a conservative ISO3200. In-camera fripperies like a beauty effect mode plus 1280x720 pixels HD video with mono sound – rather than Full HD 1920x1080 pixels – also feature, with the camera itself costing £179 via Sony UK’s website but currently £15 cheaper online elsewhere. Fortunately the zoom can be deployed for video as well as stills, though the built-in microphone inevitably picks up handling noise, and also unsurprisingly wind noise shooting outdoors.

It tells you something about the market this camera is pitched at when effects are flagged up so heavily in the Sony’s spec and accompanying blurb. Also thrown into the mix are the likes of toy camera, ‘pop’ [art] colour, partial colour and high key and the ubiquitous 2D self-stitching pan-and-shoot ‘sweep’ panorama mode ubiquitous across Sony compacts that has a setting for underwater operation as well.

Otherwise there’s nothing especially flash (pardon the pun) about this particular camera; with a continuous shooting speed of – wait for it – 1fps, it’s point and shoot all the way – which is arguably just exactly what is required from a camera you’ll be able to mess about in the pool or on the ski slopes with.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1
Front Rear

Rather worryingly, at the outset the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 comes with a caveat from its manufacturer: ’Depending on use conditions and circumstances, no guarantee is made regarding damage to, malfunction of, or waterproof performance of this camera. Battery life may [also] decrease at low temperatures.’ We can stomach the latter, sure, but a waterproof camera that might not actually be that waterproof? About as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot, surely?

We had the eye catching crimson/red version of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 in for review. As we’ve established, from the front the TF1 looks, well, not particularly tough. Apart from a thin raised rubber strip running down the left hand side of the faceplate providing a possible purchase point for wet fingers, the camera resembles any other non waterproofed point and shoot with a budget price tag.

This Sony is not without style, sure, but it hides its inherent qualities rather than making a feature of them. So it omits the industrial faceplate screws of an Olympus ‘TG’ Tough or in-your-face stripes and bumpers of a Pentax WG model, which makes that rival series look like it might bounce back up into your grasp should you drop it. The TF1 is clearly about subtlety rather than sensationalism, and so should attract those who favour a less self-consciously butch approach.

The other features of the TF1’s faceplate are a tiny porthole housing the self-timer/AF illuminator lamp, located left of the internally stacked zoom lens, plus the aforementioned integral flash situated above and to the left of this again, the flash here formed of the standard narrow lozenge shape.

The top of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 features a strip of what feels like a very thin layer of rubber, which continues down the left hand side of the camera when viewed from the back, and then loops around beneath. Set into the portion of this that forms the top plate are a small raised zoom lever with a ridged edge – useful for wet fingers but too small to be readily operated if wearing gloves. Along from this a mirrored shutter release button, the largest control on the camera, but again it’s not ideal for slippery digits.

Immediately alongside the shutter release button we find a smaller on/off button. Give this a jab and within two to three seconds the camera is ready for action, rear plate LCD blinking into life and displaying the image before the lens in all its 460k dot ‘glory’. Give the shutter release button a half squeeze and the camera determines focus and exposure in a second or so, though under artificial light it takes slightly longer to decide what the subject is. Press down fully to take a 16 megapixel shot and this is written to card in three seconds. Whilst none of these timings are lightning fast, they’re nonetheless commensurate with a camera in the TF1’s class.

Also on the top plate are an indicator lamp and a built-in mono microphone, the speaker for which is at the camera’s left hand side when it’s viewed from the back.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1
Front Front

Moving to the rear of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1, and top right is a button that with each alternate press takes the user through the camera’s three different shooting modes – be they regular (and reliable) intelligent auto or program auto capture, the aforementioned sweep panorama mode, or the third option in the sequence – the video mode. Give this a press to implement the mode you want and then select the ‘menu’ button bottom of the camera’s backplate to drill into the options available.

In the shooting modes we are presented with a Canon-like black toolbar down the left hand side of the screen. Tab down the icons to alight on them and the options for each extend out across the screen to the right. For example, as well as intelligent auto and program auto, there are further options including picture effect – which provides the toy camera, pop colour, partial colour and soft high key options, whilst a further tab to the right alights upon a selection of scene modes.

Here these comprise a modest 11-strong selection of portrait and landscape flattering options – including both night portrait and night scenes – as well as dedicated settings for pets, the beach and underwater.

Next option down on the toolbar is for dipping into ‘easy’ mode which enlarges the on-screen font sizes as well as paring back the options available to the user. Next up is a means of choosing still image sizes, which here range from the full 16 megapixels in 4:3 ratio, down to a widescreen 16:9 ratio option at two megapixels.

The fourth option down on the toolbar is the macro shooting option, with close ups of 1cm offered here, whilst the fifth option is for the drive modes – with the straightforward ability to flick between single shot capture and 1fps continuous capture.

Next up is exposure compensation, which runs between a modest -/+ 2EV, and following that ISO sensitivity, offering up ISO auto and then incremental options from ISO100 to top whack ISO3200. The setting which follows on from this is for manual control of white balance, and, after this, we have the offer of either multi zone or centre weighted AF. Likewise metering options here are multi zone, centre or spot. Indicating what this camera is probably going to be used for in the main, smile shutter, smile detection and face detection modes also feature prominently here.

Rather more interesting perhaps are three dynamic range optimization settings – either off, standard or ‘plus’, the last being the ‘strongest’ of the three in terms of balancing out light and shadow detail in the image. An in-camera guide and the set up folder are the final two options on the list. In set up we find the usual ‘suspects’, such as the ability to leave the AF illuminator set to ‘auto’ or turn it off entirely, as well as call up a nine-zone grid on-screen for practicing our rule of thirds. The remaining settings govern sound, formatting the card in use along with the ability to set date and time – all pretty standard stuff which we’d expect to find on any digital snapshot.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

In terms of the next shooting setting via the same mode button top right of the backplate, we are provided with several options for shooting Sony’s sweep panorama, including the ability to pan from left to right or vice versa, or from top to bottom or bottom to top. To these can be added picture effects whilst, fittingly, there’s also a dedicated underwater mode for this camera. As if this wasn’t enough, the shooting options break down still further, with the ability to switch from a standard to a wide to a 360° panorama as the fancy takes us. Again, capture is as easy as pressing the shutter release and panning slowly in the direction of the arrow we’re provided with on screen, at which point the panorama gradually ‘builds’ before us.

Press the shooting mode button again to access movie mode and we’re allowed access to the picture effects once again, as well as another dedicated underwater mode. Once again, the video capture options range from 1280x720 pixels, through 640x480 pixels, down to QVGA 320x240 pixels, dependent on your imagined end use.

Left of this button on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1's back is the self-explanatory playback button, and below this a multi-direction control pad or disc, with arrows pointing north, south, east and west. Whilst the ones pointing north and south are unmarked, the ‘west’ arrow accesses the self timer options (off, two seconds or 10 seconds), whilst the ‘east’ arrow points us in the direction of the flash controls. The flash settings are a rather basic auto flash, flash on, slow sync or flash off. There’s no red eye reduction setting here.

The final button at the bottom right hand edge of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-FT1’s backplate acts as a delete function when in playback mode, or another means of calling up the camera’s in-built guide when alternatively in capture mode.

Whilst the left hand side of the camera, when viewed from the back, features a built-in speaker, the right hand provides a lug for attaching a wrist strap.

The bottom of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 meanwhile features a compartment for both battery and media card protected by a thick ‘door’ with chunky lock in order to try and prevent any ingress of moisture when in action. The use of this chunky cover, which also protects a tiny USB port, has resulted in the screw thread for attaching a tripod being located slightly off centre at the camera’s base. Happily the TF1 survived the dunking we gave it and passed the unscientific test of being held tap. When we looked into the battery compartment afterwards there were a few very thin beads of moisture; however that might have been difficult to spot unless you were actively looking for them.

Whilst the TF1 may seem like nothing much very special on the ‘fascia’ of it, how do its images measure up? Do they reveal the camera punching above its weight or literally sinking when it tries to, um, swim? Click forward to our next section to find out…

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

Bugbears that besiege small cameras with equally small internally stacked lenses are present and correct here, and no one will be surprised to learn that image quality is merely of snapshot standard. At maximum wide angle we don’t have to look very hard to spot a loss of visual sharpness towards the corners of each frame and also leaning verticals/ fisheye effect. Pixel fringing is also visible between areas of high contrast and overall images have a slightly soft, washed out feel to them, particularly when the camera is left to its ‘auto everything’ devices and biases sky rather than foreground detail.

The plus points are some bright vibrant colours on occasion, but what you’ll really be considering buying this for of course is to be able to take pictures and videos in conditions that you’d be foolhardly to attempt with a non ‘proofed’ camera. As a result you’ll come away with images that you might not have otherwise have got, and perhaps that’s worth the compromise of the odd bit of softness.

In terms of low light performance the unit would appear to be nothing special as we work through the ISO settings, although choosing the night time mode from amidst the scene modes did produce some pleasing results. Otherwise as low as ISO400 we’re beginning to see a softening of detail and the appearance of grain, which is disappointing, and any higher than, say, ISO800 is not really worth bothering with, suggesting Sony was right to cap proceedings at what would outwardly seem like a modest ISO3200.

Whilst the performance here then is nothing spectacular, in truth that was about all that we expected. And, as we note, a consumer level waterproof camera around the £200 mark is never really going to produce class-leading imagery.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

Focal Range

The Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1's 4x zoom lens offers a fairly versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft and ideally benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively you can change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1 handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1 allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1 are Auto, Forced Flash, Slow Syncro, No Flash, with a Red-eye Reduction option in the Main menu. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (25mm)

Forced Flash - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Suppressed Flash - Telephoto (100mm)

Forced Flash - Telephoto (100mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, both the Forced Flash setting and the Red-Eye Correction options both caused a tiny amount of red-eye.

Forced Flash

Forced Flash (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1's maximum shutter speed is 2 seconds in the Program mode, which isn't great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 2 seconds at ISO 100.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample video from the Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1 camera at the highest quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 29 second movie is 90.7Mb in size.

Product Images

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Front of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Isometric View

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Isometric View

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Rear of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Top of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Bottom of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Side of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Front of the Camera


Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Rear of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Memory Card Slot

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1

Memory Card Slot

Sony CyberShot DSC-TF1
Battery Compartment


For around £160 to £180 at the time of writing, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 presents itself as a simple yet stylish 16 megapixel palm-sized snapshot with added ‘proofing’ qualities, whilst design-wise the fact that it doesn’t readily resemble your average toughened camera – no square edges or front plate ‘rivets’ here – will appeal to those who like their snapshots to maintain a smidgeon of style. The softened rounded edges and gentling sloping front plate also, to be frank, soften and ‘feminise’ the camera somewhat, whilst the colour range on offer should ensure that both sexes find a model suiting their tastes.

Whilst the TF1 may enable you to take pictures in shooting scenarios you might not otherwise attempt – and this is the true value of the camera above all else, we naturally have to give a verdict based as much on image quality as handling. And whilst the camera is as easy to use as one would expect and features such as picture effects and sweep panoramas are a nice value added touch, stills image quality is, unfortunately, commensurate with a budget snapshot camera, being softer than we would have liked and displaying plenty of the usual artefacts under close examination. Make a purchase with this in mind however and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 won’t disappoint.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3
Value for money 3.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 from around the web. »

The Cyber-shot TF1 is a spinoff from the company's popular TX-series stylish rugged compacts. Compared with the TX-series, what Sony is trying to do here with the TF1 is to squeeze affordability, durability and style in a slim package. While image performance leaves more to be desired in low-light conditions, the TF1 still provides a rich feature set, user-friendly user interface which makes it a good gateway camera for those looking to get their feet wet without breaking the bank.
Read the full review »



Optical Zoom 4x
Clear Image Zoom NO
Digital Zoom 10M Approx.5x /5M Approx.7.1x / VGA Approx.28x / 2M(16:9) Approx9.6x
F F3.6(W)-4.7(T)
Focal Length (f= mm) f=4.43-17.7mm
Focal Length (f=35mm conversion) f=25-100mm
Macro (cm) iAuto:AF(W:Approx.1cm(0.39'') to Infinity, T:Approx.50cm(1.64') to Infinity) / Program Auto:AF(W:Approx.8cm(0.26') to Infinity, T:Approx.50cm(1.64') to Infinity)
Filter Diameter (mm) NO
Conversion Lens compatibility NO
Carl Zeiss® lens NO
Sony G NO

Image Sensory

Sensor Type Super HAD CCD
Size (Inches) 1/2.3 type(7.75mm)


Effective Pixels (Mega Pixels) Approx. 16.1
Bionz Processor NO
Face Detection YES
Smile Shutter YES
Soft Skin Mode YES
Background Defocus NO
Waterproof YES
Backlight correction HDR NO
Picture Effect Toy camera, Pop Color, Partial Color, Soft High-key
Sweep Panorama YES
Intelligent Sweep Panorama NO
Underwater Sweep Panorama YES
3D Sweep Panorama NO
Auto Focus Area (Multi Point) YES
Auto Focus Area (Centre weighted) YES
Auto Focus Area (Spot) NO
Auto Focus Area (Flexible Spot) NO
Manual Focus NO
Aperture Auto Mode iAuto(F3.6-F6.6) / Program Auto(F3.6-F6.6)
Aperture Priority Mode NO
Aperture Manual Mode NO
Shutter Speed Auto Mode (sec) iAuto (1/4 - 1/2000) / Program Auto (2 - 1/2000)
NR Slow Shutter NO
Hand Shake Alert NO
Exposure Control ± 2.0EV, 1/3EV step
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluor(Cool White), Fluor(Day White), Fluor(Daylight), Incandescent, Flash, Underwater 1-2
Automatic White Balance YES
Light Metering (Multi Pattern) YES
Light Metering (Centre weighted) YES
Light Metering (Spot) YES
Sharpness Setting NO
Saturation Setting NO
Contrast Setting NO
ISO Sensitivity (REI) Auto/100/200/400/800/1600/3200
Scene Selection Soft Snap / Soft Skin / Night Portrait / Night Scene / High Sensitivity / Handheld Twilight / Beach / Snow / Gourmet / Pet Mode / Landscape / Underwater


SteadyShot capability YES
Optical SteadyShot capability YES

Auto Focus System

AF Illuminator Auto / Off


Flash Mode Auto / Flash On / Flash Off / Advanced Flash
Red-Eye Correction Auto / On / Off
Auto Daylight Synchronized Flash NO
Distance limitations using Flash (m) ISO Auto: Approx.0.5m - 3.9m(Approx. 1feet 7 3/4 inches to 12feet 9 5/8 inches)(W) / Approx.0.5m - 3.0 m( 1feet 7 3/4 inches to 9feet 10 1/8 inches)(T), ISO3200: up to Approx.8.0 m(Approx.26feet 9inch)(W) / Approx.6.0 m(20feet 3/4inches)(T)


Recording Media Memory Stick Micro* / Memory Stick Micro (mark 2)*
Recording Media II microSD Memory Card* / microSDHC Memory Card*
Recording Format JPEG
DCF (Design rule for Camera File System) YES
DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) YES
Burst Mode (shots) Approx.1 fps
Burst Interval (approximately sec) Approx.1.0 sec.(100 shots)
Still Image size (20M 5184 x 3888) NO
Still Image size (16M 4608 x 3456) YES
Still Image size (18 M 4896×3672) NO
Still Image size (14M 4320 x 3240) NO
Still Image size (13M 4224 x 3168) NO
Still Image size (12M 4000 x 3000) NO
Still Image size (10M 3648 x 2736) YES
Still Image size (9.0M, 3456 x 2592) NO
Still Image size (8.0M, 3264 x 2448) NO
Still Image size (7.2M 3072 x 2304) NO
Still Image size (5.0M, 2592 x 1944) YES
Still Image size (3.1M, 2048 x 1536) NO
Still Image size (VGA, 640 x 480) YES
Still Image size (16:9 mode, 1920 x 1080) YES
Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4896X2752) NO
Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4,608 x 2,592) YES
Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4,320 x 2,432) NO
Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4000 x 2248) NO
Still Image size (3:2 mode, 4000 x 2672) NO
Still Image size (3:2 mode 3648 x 2432) NO
Still Image size (3:2 mode 3456 x 2304) NO
2D Panorama 360°(11,520 x 1,080) / Wide(7,152 x 1,080/4,912 x 1,920) / Standard(4,912 x 1,080/3,424 x 1,920)
3D Panorama NO
Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50p Approx.28Mbps) NO
Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50i Approx.24Mbps) NO
Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50i Approx.17Mbps) NO
Moving Image Size (1440x1080 25fps Fine Approx.12Mbps) NO
Moving Image Size (1280x720 50i Fine Approx.9Mbps) NO
Moving Image Size (1280x720 30fps Standard Approx.6Mbps) YES
Moving Image Size (1280x720 25fps Fine Approx.6Mbps) NO
Moving Image Size (640x480 30fps Approx.3Mbps) YES
Moving Image Size (640x480 25fps Approx.3Mbps) NO
Moving Image Size (320x240 30fps) YES

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