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Design

Funky, stylish, compact. Lots adjectives could be used to describe the P1. Sony let their designers run free and produce what is probably the best looking compact digital camera on the market. The 3x optical lens dominating the right hand side of the case which is in turn shaped to mirror the barrel shape. At the other end a small, but surprisingly practical, finger grip doubles up with the thumb indentation on the back to provide a comfortable and stable grip of the camera. Everything is where it should be, and build quality is superb. Strong metallic case feels cool to the touch and the whole camera feels like a very solid brick of electronics.

Back in July Sony gave us a tempting preview of an even smaller digital camera which (if it ever makes it to production) will take the half-size Duo MemoryStick. And you can see echoes of its design in the P1, although this is considerably more of a camera.

 

Hopefully the images above will give a better impression of the size of the P1.


Lens extension / lens cover

To be truly portable and pocketable the P1 needed a decent lens cap, Sony have taken a page out of Canon's book and installed an automatic lens cover which protects the lens when the camera is not in use, and the whole thing leaves the camera with a flush (almost) flat front.


Rear LCD Display

Because of its diminutive vertical proportions the P1 has a 1.5" LCD, amazingly this smaller LCD has the same number of pixels as the 2.0" LCD on the S70. Side-by-side the P1's LCD is brighter, sharper and easier to use than the S70. Kudos for Sony for listening to our requests, this time they've put one of those excellent anti-reflective coatings over the LCD cover (same stuff you'll find on the Nikon D1 LCD)

Full details of information displayed on the LCD (in record mode) are shown below:


Top Information LCD

The top LCD is very similar to that found on the S70, indeed the only difference is the new CLIP indicator and removal of a manual focus indicator. Full details of information displayed on this LCD are shown below.

 


Viewfinder

The viewfinder on the P1 is standard digital camera quality, small and OK for those occasions when you can't frame using the LCD. The view through the viewfinder is the same as the S70, a central cross indicating focus point and center of frame. Note there are no parallax error lines for close focusing (shame).

The three lights on the viewfinder indicate the following:

Red Flashing Memory Stick activity / Self-Timer
Green Flashing rapidly Camera is focusing
Green Steady Subject in focus
Green Flashing slowly Camera can not get a focus lock
Orange Flashing Flash Charging
Orange Steady Flash charged and will fire with shot

Note the new "green flashing", this is something we've been asking for on Sony cameras, it indicates that the AF system can't get a good focus lock. It would have been nice to have an option for shooting priority or focus priority because despite of this new feature the camera will still take a shot even if it hasn't got a focus.

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