Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 Review
Timings & File Sizes
In use the DSC-R1 feels really rather 'snappy', startup times are good although not the 'instant on' you get from many digital SLR's, using Compact Flash cards the live view actually appears about half a second before you can take a shot (and if you press the shutter release before that point it will be ignored). Auto focus is a mixed bag, in good light it feels as fast as a similarly priced digital SLR, however as light levels dropped so did focus time and the chances of the camera not achieving AF lock. We also found that at shorter focus distances the orange AF assist lamp didn't always line up with where the camera was measuring AF. The DSC-R1's biggest disappointments must be its lack of decent continuous shooting capability, small buffer and slow media throughput. These factors combine to mean that it probably has the least impressive continuous shooting capability of any recent 'prosumer / D-SLR'.
Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3888 x 2592 JPEG Large/Fine (approx. 3,600 KB per image).
The media used for these tests were:
- 1 GB SanDisk Extreme MemoryStick Pro
- 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card
- 4 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card
(1 GB MS)
(1 GB CF)
(4 GB Lexar)
|Power Off to On *1||0.9||0.9||0.9|
|Power Off to Shot *2||0.9||1.2||1.5|
|Sleep to On||0.9||0.9||0.9|
|Power On to Off *3||1.0||1.8||1.9|
|Record Review RAW *4||0.4||0.4||0.4|
|Record Review JPEG *4||0.8||0.9||0.9|
|Play RAW *5||0.0/1.4||0.0/1.8||0.0/1.9|
|Play JPEG *5||0.0/1.4||0.0/1.8||0.0/1.9|
|Image to Image RAW||0.8||0.9||0.9|
|Image to Image JPEG||0.8||0.9||0.9|
|*1||The time from turning the power switch to the On position and the live view appearing. Note that at this point the camera displays 'Access', you can not use the shutter release until this message has disappeared.|
|*2||The time from turning the power switch to the On position and the camera being ready to take a shot, see *1.|
|*3||Between one and two seconds after turning the power switch to the Off position the camera accesses the storage card one final time, we would therefore only deem it safe to remove the card after this point.|
|*4||Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor. (Note that the DSC-R1's "RAW" mode actually writes a RAW and a JPEG).|
|*5||When entering play mode the camera shows a low resolution 'rough' version of the image while it loads the higher resolution detail (the second figure shown).|
Continuous Drive mode
To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/320 sec, F4), ISO 200. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above. The DSC-R1 does not allow continuous shooting mode to be used when the RAW file format is selected, hence we could only test JPEG.
The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG:
- Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was always 3.15 fps (+/- 0.01 fps)
- Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
- Next full burst - How soon after you can take another full burst
Burst of 10M JPEG Fine
1 GB SanDisk
1 GB SanDisk
Extreme III CF
4 GB Lexar
Pro 80x CF
|Frame rate||3.15 fps||3.15 fps||3.15 fps|
|Number of frames||3||3||3|
|Next full burst||4.0 sec||5.2 sec||7.7 sec|
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the DSC-R1 is its continuous shooting capability (or lack of), just three JPEG frames at just over three frames per second. The time to 'Next full burst' also equated to the storage compartment light going out, trying to shoot another burst before this will result in just one or two shots being captured. Which essentially means you can capture one second of action and then have to wait between four and eight seconds before you can capture any more. Digital SLR's have come along way, several budget digital SLR's can now shoot continuously until the storage card is full, and nearly all can shoot RAW in continuous mode.
File Flush Timing
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. Timing was taken from the instant the shutter release was pressed to the time the storage card activity indicator beside the storage compartment went out. Writing appears to begin over one second after the shutter release is pressed, writing continues 'in the background' and doesn't affect any camera function. Media used were the same as above.
(1 GB MS)
(1 GB CF)
(4 GB Lexar)
|3888 x 2592 RAW+JPEG Fine *1||6.2||8.7||9.3||24,140 KB|
|3888 x 2592 (10M) JPEG Fine||1.9||2.3||2.3||3,600 KB|
|3888 x 2592 (10M) JPEG Std||1.7||1.9||2.0||2,400 KB|
|3264 x 2176 (7M) JPEG Fine||1.9||2.1||2.1||2,600 KB|
|2748 x 1856 (5M) JPEG Fine||1.7||1.9||1.9||2,000 KB|
|*1||File size reported is the size of the RAW and JPEG files added together.|
|*2||The DSC-R1 begins writing approximately 1.2 seconds after shutter release (or 1.5 seconds in RAW mode), you must subtract this from the above timings to get the actual write time.|
High speed Memory Stick is the fastest option for the DSC-R1, that said a good Compact Flash card is only around half a second slower when shooting JPEG. Thanks in no small part to the DSC-R1's extremely inefficient RAW format write times for RAW files were disappointingly long, taking around nine seconds on a Compact Flash card, this combined with the R1's buffer means you can be left waiting for the camera when shooting RAW.
As you can see from the table below the DSC-R1's media throughput is pretty disappointing, only coming near to the optimum performance with high speed Memory Stick. Using Compact Flash cards the camera is writing at only a third of the cards optimum performance and about half what we've seen from competitive cameras (which are typically between 4.5 MB/sec and 9 MB/sec).
Card performance: JPEG Fine continuous burst write
|Card||Sony DSC-R1 write speed (10M JPEG Fine)|
|1 GB SanDisk Extreme MS Pro||3,732 KB/sec|
|1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF||2,576 KB/sec|
|4 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF||2,633 KB/sec|
Card performance: RAW sequential write (2 shots repeat presses)
|Card||Sony DSC-R1 write speed (10M RAW+JPEG)|
|1 GB SanDisk Extreme MS Pro||4,804 KB/sec|
|1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF||3,214 KB/sec|
|4 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF||3,075 KB/sec|
Cardbus 32-bit Adapter benchmark
|Card||Cardbus 32-bit Adapter, write speed (10M RAW+JPEG)|
|1 GB SanDisk Extreme MS Pro*1||5,385 KB/sec|
|1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF||10,000 KB/sec|
|4 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF||8,684 KB/sec|
|*1||Using Sony Vaio notebook built-in Memory Stick slot.|
USB transfer speed
To test the DSC-R1's USB transfer speed we used twelve standard images (six RAW, six JPEG) totaling 145 MB and transferred them from a SanDisk Extreme III 1 GB CF card via four different methods. Transferring directly from the R1 will be faster than USB 1.1 but isn't as quick as a fairly typical (and cheap) USB 2.0 card reader, which was a bit of a disappointment. Thankfully the R1 supports Mass Storage, PTP and PictBridge USB connectivity.
|Method||Time taken||Transfer rate|
|Sony DSC-R1 USB 2.0||66.7 sec||2.2 MB/sec|
|USB 2.0 Card reader||42.6 sec||3.4 MB/sec|
|Lexar Pro Firewire Card reader||20.7 sec||7.0 MB/sec|
|CardBus 32 PCMCIA adapter||13.1 sec||11.1 MB/sec|
The DSC-R1 uses the same NP-FM50 Lithium-Ion battery (1200 mAh at 7.2V / 8.5 Wh) used in several previous Sony digital cameras including the DSC-F828. This battery served those previous cameras well and appears to do the same in the DSC-R1, we didn't experience any shortness of life during a full days shooting and could go for several days without a charge. Because this is an 'Info Lithium' battery the estimated battery life in minutes is displayed on the LCD monitor.
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