Sony today announced the ultra-compact DSC-L1, a four megapixel digital camera featuring a new three times optical zoom lens which is considerably more compact than any Sony lens before it but provides a 32 mm wide (ish) angle. Looks wise the DSC-L1 is closer to the DSC-U series but has a larger LCD monitor (1.5" vs. 1.0") and the zoom lens. The DSC-L1 will be available in three colors / finishes. We've had a pre-production camera for a couple of days now and have some hands-on images. Expected street price around US$ 329.

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Press Release:

MORE ZOOM IN A SMALLER POCKET: SONY’S TINY CYBER-SHOT
DSC-L1 CAMERA GRABS FARAWAY DETAIL AND ADMIRING GLANCES

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 29, 2004 — The challenge to Sony engineers: pack a 4.1-megapixel, 3X- optical zoom camera into a hip little package a fraction the size of a candy bar. Their answer? The Cyber-shot DSC-L1 camera, an elegant confection that will come in four colors and finishes: brushed silver, dark blue matte, black and a striking dark red piano gloss.

The silver DSC-L1 camera will be available in mid-October, and the blue, black and red models will follow in January, each for about $300.

Measuring 3 ¾” x 1 ¾” x 1”, the L1 model is powered by Sony’s Real Imaging Processor™ circuitry, delivering outstanding shot-to-shot speed, stamina and quick start-up time for catching the action as soon as it happens.

For the first time in the ultra-compact class of digital cameras, the Cyber-shot L1 model delivers a 1.5-inch transflective LCD, making it easier to see what’s on the LCD even in bright sunlight.

It also has a new Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® 3X optical zoom lens, setting the stage for picture quality typically delivered by larger, more expensive digital cameras.

“Decades of expertise in miniaturization have enabled us to achieve a balance between fashionable design and such advanced features as the world’s smallest mechanical zoom lens,” said Greg Young, general manager for digital still camera marketing in Sony Electronics’ Personal Mobile and Imaging Division. “But size and features are only half the story. In the L1 camera, we’ve also created something that’s easy to grip and shoot, and takes outstanding pictures.”

Marrying High-Tech Features with Low-Tech Operation

Like all Cyber-shot cameras, the DSC-L1 model has speedy auto-focus and auto-exposure options to snap the best picture the first time. You can quickly select the best setting based on the shooting conditions by choosing from one of seven preset modes, including twilight, snow, beach and fireworks.

Four newly developed technologies – including a linear focus drive and a compact high-resolution optical system – combine to produce the ultra-small lens. This lets you zoom in for crisp images of a flower or zoom out for a far-away shot of the game-winning goal, all the while staying in sharp focus.

When used with Memory Stick PRO Duo™ media, the L1 camera’s high-quality MPEG Movie VX Fine mode captures and plays back high-resolution moving images with 640x480 pixel resolution at 30 frames per second, up to the capacity of the memory media card.

The L1 camera provides approximately 240 shots per charge of the InfoLithium™ battery, with a to-the-minute, on-screen display of remaining battery life.

Reveal New Sides to the Cyber-shot L1 Camera with Accessories

To get the most out of the new DSC-L1 camera, Sony will offer a variety of accessories, including:

  • An accessory kit (ACC-CFT) with a leather carrying case and a spare battery
  • A leather carrying case (LCS-UP) that was designed specifically to protect the L1 camera
  • A gray polyurethane carrying case (LCS-UQ/H) designed for a more personal style statement
  • A sportspack durable housing (LCS-UQ/H) to guard the camera in water up to three meters deep which will be available in October for about $100.

Sony DSC-L1 specifications

Sensor • 1/2.7"
• 4.1 million pixels effective
Lens • 3x optical zoom
• 32 - 96 mm equiv.
• F2.8 - F5.1
• 'Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar'
• Folded optics
Auto focus • 5 area multi-point AF
• AF illuminator
Focus range 12 cm - Infinity
Image sizes • 2304 x 1728
• 2304 x 1536 (3:2 ratio)
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480
Movie sizes • 640 x 480, 30 fps (req. Memory Stick Pro Duo)
• 640 x 480, 16 fps
• 160 x 112, 8 fps
• All limited only by storage capacity
• All with audio
File formats • Still: JPEG (Fine / Standard)
• Movie: MPEG
Exposure modes • Auto
• Program AE
• Scene
• Movie
Scene modes

• Beach
• Candle
• Soft Snap
• Landscape
• Snow
• Twilight
• Twilight Portrait

Noise reduction • Clear color
• Clear luminance
• Slow shutter NR
Metering • 49 segment Multi-pattern
• Spot metering
Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
Shutter speed 1 - 1/2000 sec
Apertures • Wide: F2.8
• Tele: F5.1
Flash • Built-in
• Modes: On, Off, Slow Sync
• Red-eye reduction: On, Off
• Range: 2.0 m
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Fluorescent
• Incandescent
• Flash
Histogram • Live view
• Playback
Burst mode • 4 MP, 1.1 fps, 4 frames
• 3 MP, 1.1 fps, 4 frames
• 1 MP, 1.1 fps, 10 frames
• VGA, 1.1 fps, 30 frames
LCD Monitor • 1.5" TFT Hybrid (semi-reflective)
• 78,000 pixels
Viewfinder None
Print compliance • Exif Print
• PictBridge
Storage • Memory Stick Duo (16 MB included)
• Memory Stick Pro Duo
Power • Supplied Lithium-Ion NP-FT1 battery
• AC adapter/charger cradle
Connectors • Video out (via cradle)
• USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (via cradle)
Dimensions 95 x 44 x 26 mm
Weight (no batt) 122 g (4 oz)

Hands-on images