Sony has announced the five megapixel three times optical zoom DSC-M1, their first 'Hybrid' movie / stills product. The DSC-M1 is the first Sony digital camera to feature MPEG-4 movie encoding which means higher quality clips which occupy much less space. The folded lens / sensor system appear to be taken from the DSC-T1. The body design is also unique, it's about the same size as the DSC-P100 but has a rotating screen portion which holds the large 2.5" LCD monitor.
Phil: We've had an early prototype version of this camera for a while now, unfortunately due to cosmetic differences between itself and the final model we're unable to bring you a preview.
SONY’S CYBER-SHOT M1 CAMERA
EXTENDS THE MEMORY TO MORE THAN JUST AN INSTANT IN TIME
New Cyber-shot Shooting Mode Sandwiches Quality Stills Between Video Clips
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 8 2004 — A picture may say a thousand words, but with Sony’s futuristic new Cyber-shot® DSC-M1 digital camera and its extraordinary video features, it’s what happens before and after the picture is taken that says the most.
“Capturing that one special moment in time is, of course, the reason why cameras exist,” said Steve Haber, senior vice president for Sony Electronics’ Personal Mobile and Imaging Division. “But what led up to that moment, and what happened just after is an important story to tell too.”
Enter, the Cyber-shot DSC-M1, a 5.1-megapixel digital still camera that also pays particular attention to the role moving images play in preserving memories, and even more attention to making it easy to use. It will be available in December for about $600.
The camera, a slim, matte-black device about the size of a deck of cards, is held vertically, and its 2.5-inch articulated LCD swivels upward and rotates a full 270 degrees. This new shooting orientation provides more surface area to access both the menu navigation buttons and two “hot” buttons for direct access to recording stills and video.
The outer edge of the LCD also has buttons serving two functions. While the LCD is extended and the camera is in record mode, the buttons can be used to record, and toggle back and forth between stills and video. When the LCD is facing outward, but flush with the camera’s body, the buttons can be used to playback stills and video, turning the camera into a personal media viewer.
A Revolution in Short-Clip Video Capture and Compression
A new hybrid record mode makes the most of the scene being captured by automatically recording five seconds of QVGA video before and three seconds after the still image is snapped, creating a more complete record of the sights and sounds of the moment. The video and still images are stored as two separate files, but played back as one in the camera.
“This hybrid recording mode serves as something of a safety net for unanticipated moments that you’ll later be glad you caught,” Haber said. “Think of what happens immediately before and after the guest of honor walks into a surprise party. A photo may have been taken at just right moment, but the M1 can be a time machine that tells others what it was like to be there.”
The Cyber-shot DSC-M1 camera’s enhanced video functions include recording with the new MPEGMovie 4TV feature, the MPEG-4 compression format that significantly increases picture quality and resolution while dramatically reducing file size. Employing a reduced bit rate (from 11Mpbs to 2.5 Mpbs), MPEGMovie 4TV mode enables the recording of up to 27 minutes of VGA-resolution, 30-frames-per-second video with stereo sound on an optional 512 MB Memory Stick PRO Duo™ media card, or up to 54 minutes with the optional 1GB card, available soon.
The camera uses a Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® 3X optical zoom lens, and the zoom operates even while capturing video. The M1 model also uses Sony’s Real Imaging Processor™ circuit, an ultra-fast processor that enables quick start-up and rapid shot-to-shot times. It also enhances the speed of advanced features that help the user get the picture right the first time, including sophisticated auto-exposure, auto-white balance and five-area, multi-point auto-focus features.
The M1 camera operates using Sony’s InfoLithium® rechargeable battery system, displaying approximate to-the-minute remaining battery life on the LCD. It comes bundled with a custom-sized Cyber-shot Station USB cradle for keeping the battery charged and the camera connected to your PC for easy downloading. The Cyber-shot Station also connects to a TV for playing back videos and stills on the big screen.
Bundled software includes the PicturePackage™ 1.2 application, which includes a function for converting MPEG-4 video clips into the AVI format, allowing for easy editing.
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