Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1 review
This is an excellent ultra-compact camera as a point-and-shooter, and even has some good flexibility to be used by experienced photogs.
Its purpose is, of course, to be incredibly small and portable, and that it achieves perfectly. Prices have fallen, and at $220 the camera is an absolute steal. Feature-set is above average for an ultra-compact. The 3x zoom is average for the class, but shot-to-shot speeds, shutter lag, and start-up are all class-leading...this is a quick camera ready anytime. Standout features include Monitor AF, which instead of focusing at half-press, focuses all the time reducing lag; AF light; live histogram when shooting (very rare for an ultra-compact); program mode allowing control over ISO, White Balance, and EV; and Multi- or spot-metering. Battery strength is good, giving a normal day of shooting without any problems, and because it is InfoLithium battery, it gives you a precise readout of the minutes remaining on charge.
Higher ISO performance is usable, surprisingly clean at ISO200 and still usable at ISO400...with fairly even noise and decent noise control algorithms. Flash is weak, but performs well within range and does not produce bad redeye. Transreflective screen is great, allowing LCD backlighting to be switched off in bright sunlight to save battery while still seeing the shot.
I've now used this camera very extensively, and have found it to be an excellent companion to my 717, and a wonderful trip and travel camera!
Typical ultra-compact issues - no viewfinder (not a big deal to me), some lens flare when shooting towards light sources (common for small-lensed cameras), very minor fringe (less than most competitors I looked at and surprisingly well controlled), weak flash (typical and not surprising), some softness (but rather than boosting in-camera sharpness, better to use USM in editing software - pics sharpen and clean up very nicely).
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