Pre-PMA 2003: As part of our ongoing coverage of new products announced at PMA we have produced a quick preview of Sony's new five megapixel four times optical zoom DSC-V1 digital camera. This compact digital camera packs a lot into a space only a little bigger than Canon's PowerShot S330 (IXUS Digital 330). The V1 gets all of the new features introduced by Sony in their latest wave of Cybershot cameras, this includes MPEG VX (640 x 480, 16 fps, unlimited), USB 2.0, color saturation / tone adjustment and more. Additionally the DSC-V1 has a flash hot-shoe and additional manual features.

Click here for our previous news article with full specifications

Note: Due to the pre-production status of this camera we will not be posting sample images.

Sony Cybershot DSC-V1 - Quick Preview

As you can see the V1 is small and quite well designed, although there are a lot of buttons around the back of the camera. A body design but functional looking with a cool-to-the-touch metal case.

Major manual control features

  • Manual Exposure Controls: Flexible exposure control is provided with aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure modes for better command over motion and depth of field.
  • Program-Shift Dial: Situated next to the LCD for easy access, this dial allows the user to select from a range of available combinations of aperture and shutter settings for control over motion and depth of field while remaining in an automatic exposure mode.
  • Five-area Multi-Point Auto Focus: The camera evaluates five separate areas of the frame and intelligently focuses on the subject, displaying the selected focus point, or the user can choose any of the five points for manual control.
  • Hologram AF™ Illuminator: Projects a laser pattern on the subject to create contrast for precise focus, even in low or no light.
  • Multi-Pattern Measuring: Independently meters the light in 49 points of the frame to establish the optimum exposure, even when highlight and shadow aren't centered in the frame.
  • Auto Fill Flash: When the subject is backlit or in shadow, the fill flash automatically fires to provide optimum exposure.
  • NightShot Infrared System: Captures infrared images in total darkness at a distance of up to 15 feet.
  • NightFraming System: To capture crisp images in low or no light, this feature illuminates the subject with the NightShot system for proper framing, focuses with Hologram AF illuminator and lights the scene with the appropriate amount of flash.

Side by side

Below you can see the Sony DSC-V1 between Canon's PowerShot S330 (left) and PowerShot G3 (right). As noted in our original assessment of the V1 it's only slightly larger than the S330 from the front but is quite a bit thicker. The DSC-V1 really does make the G3 look big.

In your hand

It's reduced size doesn't cause any problems with grip, the camera is thick enough with a subtle front moulded finger grip to ensure a steady and firm fit. Weight balance is good and the camera feels robust thanks to its all metal case.

Camera elements

The DSC-V1's flash unit pops up from the right side of the body. Additional flash support is available thanks to a new 'intelligent' hot-shoe, although I suspect it will be a bit of a balancing act to put a flash on such a small camera.
The DSC-V1 has a 'Carl Zeiss' lens with a fairly unremarkable F2.8 - F4.0 maximum aperture, this is limited by the size of the lens elements. In the base of the camera is the single combined battery and Memory Stick Pro compartment. The DSC-V1 is supplied with a Lithium-Ion battery.
All of the cameras connectors are found on the left side behind a corner hatch, top to bottom: USB 2.0, A/V out, DC-IN (battery charges in camera).  

Camera displays

Record: The V1 provides an optional live histogram which can be useful for obtaining the correct exposure. Here we have half-pressed and have a good focus lock (green circle). Record: Hold the shutter release after the shot is taken to see the review image (same as F717). Note that the histogram is still displayed along with exposure information.
Review: Press the quick review button to display the last image taken. As with play mode the camera initially displays a rough image and then just under 2 seconds later replaces it with the loaded higher resolution image. Note histogram again. Play: Switching to play mode displays the last image taken or the last image on the Memory Stick, again display is first a rough thumbnail (not shown above).
Play: Press delete to delete an individual image, use the left and right arrows to browse between images while remaining in delete mode. Play: Press the thumbnail index button to switch to a 3x3 (9 image) index display.
Play: Press the thumbnail index button once more to switch to a three image exposure information mode. Cursor up and down to browse the two pages of info. Play: Press zoom controller towards telephoto to magnify the image, from 1.1x to 5.0x in 17 steps. Once magnified you can use the cursor pad to pan around the image.

Camera menus

All of the DSC-V1's menus use a new more rounded font and mixed case text which does come across as being more user friendly.

Auto Record: Basic options for the type of record mode. Press the image size button to display this pop-up. P/A/S/M: Full control of camera settings, note the new options for saturation and tone control. I would still have liked to have seen more latitude of adjustment (maybe +/-3 or 5 levels). Press the image size button to display this pop-up.
Scene: You can select the scene mode (now an expanded range) as well as other settings. Press the image size button to display this pop-up. Movie: Options for metering, white balance and picture effect. Press the image size button to display this pop-up.
Play: The play menu is fairly much unchanged from the F717