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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1 Review

January 2005 | By Simon Joinson

Review based on a production Sony DSC-L1

At the tail end of August 2004 Sony 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. In many ways the DSC-L1 can be seen as a zoom version of the ultra-compact Cyber-shot U series, though it also sports a larger (1.5-inch) LCD screen and a couple of extra features. The DSC-L1 will be available in three colors / finishes (though what is available varies from region to region).

  • 4.1 Megapixel (2304 x 1728 Pixels)
  • 3X Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® optical zoom lens
  • 1.5" hybrid LCD monitor
  • Real Imaging Processor and 14Bit DXP A/D Conversion
  • 5 Area Multi-Point Auto Focus
  • AF (Auto Focus) Illuminator
  • Multi-Pattern and spot metering
  • 7 Scene modes
  • Ultra-compact design (3.7 x 1.75 x 1 inch)
  • Captures 640 x 480 video at up to 30 fps

Sony DSC-L1 Key specifications

Street price • US: $299
• UK: £180
Body Material Metal
Sensor • 1/2.7" Sony Super HAD CCD, 4.3 million pixels
• 4.06 million effective pixels
Image sizes

• 2304 x 1728
• 2304 x 1536 (3:2)
• 2048 x 1536
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480

Movie clips • 640 x 480 pixels @ 30fps
• 640 x 480 pixels @ 16fps
• 160 x 112 pixels @ 8fps
• MPEG1 (.MPG)
• Duration limited by card capacity (streaming)

• Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar 32 - 96mm equiv. (3x optical zoom)
• F2.8-F5.1
• Automatic ND filter switching (fixed aperture)

Focus • TTL autofocus
• 5 Area Multi-Point AF or Center focus
• Single/Monitor AF
• 12cm closest focus (Wide), 50cm (Tele)
Shooting mode

• Auto
• Program
• Twilight
• Twilight Portrait
• Landscape
• Soft Snap
• Candle
• Snow
• Beach
• AE compensation -2.0EV to +2.0 EV in 1/3EV steps

Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
White Balance • Auto
• 4 presets
Image parameters

• Saturation (3 levels)
Contrast (3 levels)
• Sharpness (3 levels)
• Color effects (Sepia, Black and White)

Continuous • Burst mode (1.1 fps, max 4 shots at 4MP)
• Multi Burst mode (VGA only)
Flash • Built-in flash
• Auto/Forced On/Forced Off/Slow Synchro/Red Eye on/off
• Range (ISO auto): 7.9" – 6.5 ft (0.2 - 2.0m)
Storage • Memory Stick Duo
• 16MB Memory Stick Duo supplied*
Viewfinder none
LCD monitor • 1.5" TFT, 78,000 pixels
Connectivity • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (
Power • NP-FT1 Rechargeable InfoLithium® Battery
• AC adapter included (in-camera charging)
In the box*

NP-FT1 Rechargeable InfoLithium® Battery,
AC-LS5 Battery Charger,
Tripod Adaptor,
USB Cable,
Neck Strap,
MSAM16A Memory Stick® Media,
Memory Stick DUO Adaptor,
Software CD-ROM
: Picture Package™ for Sony v1.1 (Windows), Pixela™ ImageMixer VCD2 (Macintosh), USB Driver, Cyber-shot Life tutorial (Windows)

Other features

Spot & Multi-pattern metering
PictBridge and DPOF compatible
Built-in speaker and microphone
• Autofocus Illuminator
Live (record mode) histogram
Optional SPK-LA Sports Pack

Weight (inc batt) 152 g (5.0 oz) inc media and neck strap
Dimensions 95 x 44.3 x 25.7mm (3.7 x 1.75 x 1in)

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2005 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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