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Sony DSC-P1 Review

September 2000 | By Phil Askey

Welcome to Sony's smallest digital camera to date, sporting a 3 megapixel imager and a 3 x optical zoom it's just 18 cm3 larger (by volume) than its nearest rival the Canon S20 at 252 cm3 compared to the P1's 270 cm3. Of course the S20 only has a 2 x zoom lens, weighs in 70 g heavier and the long / thin design of the DSC-P1 is somehow more appealing which makes it appear smaller than the S20. It has the head turning "ooh.. ahh.." factor.

Sony, with their incredible resources have the ability to react to the market extremely quickly, they saw that people wanted smaller digital cameras and produced the P1. Its sleek rounded lines, metallic case, high resolution, good zoom lens, crisp 1.5" LCD and excellent InfoLithium battery appear to place it in the market as an extremely desirable digital camera.. But how does it fair in real life? Read on...

Baby S70?

Probably the most common comparison people will make with the P1 is to its bigger brother the S70, as the P1 shares the same 3.34 megapixel imager, a 3 x optical zoom (although not Carl Zeiss) and very similar onboard software it really does look like a baby S70. However, there are some important differences:

  Sony DSC-P1 Sony DSC-S70

MSRP US$ 799 US$ 999
Imager 3.34 megapixel 1/1.8" CCD (3.14 megapixel effective)
Lens 3x Sony F2.8 - F5.3 3x Carl Zeiss F2.0 - F2.5
Lens thread No Yes, via adapter
Auto lens cover Yes No
Normal focus 50 cm 25 cm
Macro focus 10 cm 4 cm
Image sizes 2048 x 1536, 2048 x 1360, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480
Image modes JPEG, TIFF, GIF (B&W)
A/D Converter 12-bit
ISO Auto (100-300)
White balance Auto, Indoor, Outdoor, Hold
Auto Focus Contrast detection
Manual Focus No Yes
Exposure modes Auto, Twilight, Twilight+, Landscape, Portrait Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Twilight, Twilight+, Landscape, Portrait
Metering Center-weighted, Spot
Flash modes Auto, Anti-red-eye, Fill-in, Off
Flash range 2.3 m 2.5 m
External Flash No Yes (Sony connector)
Movie MPEG1: 320 x 240 (HQ), 320 x 240, 160 x 112
Animated GIF Yes, 160 x 120 or 80 x 72 No
LCD 1.5" TFT 123,200 pixel 2.0" TFT 123,200 pixel
Viewfinder Yes, optical
Playback zoom Yes, 1.1x to 5.0x
Storage MemoryStick (8 MB supplied)
Connectivity USB, AV output
Power Sony NP-FS11 InfoLithium 3.6V 4.1Wh
(1140 mAh) ~ 70 mins recording
Sony NP-FM50 InfoLithium 7.2V 8.5Wh
(1180 mAh) ~ 110 mins recording
Charger AC Adapter & Charger supplied (battery charges in-camera)
Voice recording Yes
Dimensions 114 x 54 x 44 mm
(4.5 x 2.1 x 1.7 ")
117 x 70 x 65 mm
(4.6" x 2.8" x 2.6")
Weight (inc.) 250 g (8.8 oz) 420 g (14.8 oz)

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

Photographs of the camera were taken with a Nikon D1, images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (normally 1024 x 768 or smaller if cropped) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

This review is Copyright 2000 Phil Askey and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey.

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