Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1 Review
Timing & Performance
The L1 feels very, very fast in use, and the test results bear this out. Shot to shot times and shutter lag are outstanding, as is playback speed, whilst focusing is not only incredibly fast, but also very reliable (especially at the wide end of the zoom). Zooming is slow (as it always is with Sony cameras), but this is more to do with Sony's desire to make the zoom both super-smooth and silent than a performance issue. Overall you cannot help but be impressed with the performance of the camera in everyday snapping. Burst mode (continuous shooting) is nothing special, but then this isn't the kind of camera you'd buy for sports action!
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2304 x 1728 Fine JPEG image (approx. 1,615 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 128MB Sony Memory Stick Duo.
|Power: Off to Record||2.0|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||2.4|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.8|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens retracted||~0.0|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~0.8|
|Mode: Record to Play||<0.2|
|Mode: Play to Record||<0.2|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (5x)||2.9|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||<0.2|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||~0.7|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||35 to 420 mm (3 x)||2.2|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle||~0.4|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto||~0.5|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view||<0.1|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.4|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~2.5|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||1.5|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (with red eye reduction on)||2.5|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (with red eye reduction off)||1.7|
Lag Timing Definitions
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)
The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. The media used for these tests was a 128MB Sony Memory Stick Duo card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
The L1 has a single burst mode plus a 'multi burst' setting, which produces a single 1280x960 pixel image containing a grid of 16 consecutive exposures in around 0.5 seconds. The burst mode is nothing special - at best managing around 1.1 frames per second (1MP, fine JPEG). You can only take a limited number of shots in a single burst - 4 at the 4MP/fine setting, rising to 10 at 1MP/fine.
Frames in a burst *1
|2304 x 1728 JPEG Fine||Burst||1.0 fps||4||~10s delay *3|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard||Burst||1.0 fps||6||~9.5s delay|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||Burst||1.0 fps||4||~8s delay|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Standard||Burst||1.0 fps||7||~9s delay|
|1280 x 960 JPEG Fine||Burst||1.1 fps||10||~10s delay|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||Once the buffer is full the L1 stops for around 8-10 seconds, displaying the word 'recording' as the images are saved to the Memory Stick.|
|*3||We would expect this figure to be reduced by the use of a Memory Stick Duo PRO card, which unfortunately we did not have available for this test.|
Not a terrible performance, but nothing to write home about, especially given the lightning fast responses the L1 has in just about every other department. Clearing the buffer is obviously a bottleneck, and though there are cameras that will make you wait longer, it's still a shame.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 128MB Sony Memory Stick Duo card.
Time to store
Time to display
File size *1
Images on a *2
|2304 x 1728 JPEG Fine||~2.9||<0.2||1,615 KB||65|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard||~2.9||<0.2||930 KB||121|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||~2.9||<0.2||1,245 KB||82|
|1280 x 960 JPEG Fine||~2.9||<0.2||520 KBS||203|
|*1||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).|
Write times - around 3 seconds per image - are the same whatever file size/setting you use, indicating that most of this time is down to processing. The L1 obviously uses thumbnails and caching for image playback, as it really is lightning-fast (almost instantaneous for all image sizes). File processing/writing for 4MP/Fine images works out at around 810 Kb/Sec, which is fairly standard for this class of camera.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Holding down the top position is none other than the Nikon D850 – by a landslide.
It's been twenty years since Jeff Keller founded the Digital Camera Resource Page, one of the first websites dedicated to digital photography. Jeff, who has been at DPReview for nearly five years, looks back at the rise and fall of consumer digital cameras and his website.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At #2 we have another staff favorite – the Sony Alpha a9.
Rotolight has released the Anova Pro 2 circular LED for stills and video, boasting a 70% increase in brightness and what the company describes as "unrivaled battery performance."
Designer Vinicius Araújo has imagined what he believes the perfect Adobe software keyboard might look like. From customizable touch pads, to a scroll wheel, to a little display that shows the tool in use, his design is pretty compelling.
Peak Design has teamed up with Leica to release a limited-edition backpack made special for fans of the Red Dot.
A portrait of an android woman has beaten over 5,700 pictures of humans to take third place in this year’s prestigious Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. The judges were not told the subject was an 'android' until after the winning images were chosen.
Hauling around C-Stands just got a whole lot less annoying thanks to these new Matthews shoulder and roller bags, which can hold two or three C-stand (respectively) plus accessories.
Neal Preston has shot timeless photos of everyone from Led Zeppelin, to Whitney Houston, to Michael Jackson. In this interview, he offers insights into his craft to up-and-comer Elijah Dominique.
Future prosumer Canon DSLRs might feature light-up buttons, if this newly published patent is any indication of the camera company's plans.
Sony's a7R Mark III shoots 42.4MP files at 10fps and incorporates a robust video feature set, large battery, refined ergonomics and more. It certainly looks impressive, but what is it like to use, and how does it stack up against the rest of the market? Find out in our full review.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017 – the Fujifilm X100F takes the bronze and the #3 spot.
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.