Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 Review
Compared to... (value, features & specifications)
Here's where things start to get complicated. The DSC-R1 has cleared a space for itself in the market, there's no other fixed lens digital camera which is anywhere near it, thanks to its unique design. Its price puts it squarely in the affordable digital SLR market but its pixel count nudges it ahead of several of those. The only cameras on hand which we can use for comparison therefore are the eight megapixel Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT) and the eight megapixel Olympus E-500 EVOLT.
Price / Value comparison
It's fair to say that on a value comparison the DSC-R1 wins straight off the line, there isn't a single digital SLR kit available right now for $1,000 which will provide you with a lens as good as that found on the DSC-R1. The standard kit lenses sold with the EOS 350D and the E-500 provide a three times zoom range but start around 28 mm at F3.5 compared to the DSC-R1's 24 mm at F2.8. The $200 saving you would make buying a digital SLR kit could be put towards another lens but that still wouldn't get you near.
So we move on to designing our own kits, the EOS 350D can be combined with the EF-S 17-85 mm IS lens, you get image stabilization and a 5x optical zoom range (although not as wide as the R1), on the downside you're getting a slower lens which isn't as good as the R1's lens and having to pay a $320 premium.
To get the same kind of lens quality and approximate zoom range on the EOS 350D our best choice were two Sigma EX DG lenses, a bundle which comes in around $730 more than the DSC-R1. If you prefer Canon lenses expect to pay more than twice the price of the R1. With the E-500 the options are limited by available lenses, the excellent 14-54 mm lens is easily as good as the R1 lens but would provide only a 3.5x zoom range and the total bundle price would be around $200 more.
As you can see the R1 is very well priced, a fair comment would be that the lens alone is worth a large chunk of the $1000 asking price and that if you don't need the flexibility of separate lenses then on price alone its very attractive.
|Camera||Lenses||Max aperture||Equiv FOV.||
Total cost *
|Sony DSC-R1||14.3 - 71.5 mm (fixed)||F2.8 - F4.8||24 - 120 mm (5x)||$1,000|
|Canon EOS 350D
(Digital Rebel XT)
|EF-S 18 - 55 mm II (kit)||F3.5 - F5.6||28.8 - 88 mm (3x)||$790|
|EF-S 17 - 85 mm IS||F4.0 - F5.6||27 - 136 mm (5x)||$1,320|
|Sigma 17 - 35 mm EX DG
Sigma 24 - 70 mm EX DG
|F2.8 - F4
|27 - 112 mm (4.1x)||$1,730|
|EF 17 - 40 mm L
EF 24 - 70 mm L
|27 - 112 mm (4.1x)||$2,630|
|Olympus E-500||14 - 45 mm (kit)||F3.5 - F4.5||28 - 90 mm (3.2x)||$740|
|14 - 54 mm||F2.8 - F3.5||28 - 98 mm (3.5x)||$1,200|
* Prices correct at time of publication, rounded up to nearest $10
In favor of...
Next we approach the feature and usability advantages of each camera type. As you can see from the bullet point list below both camera types offer their own advantages. The annoying thing from our point of view is that several of the digital SLR advantages are due weaknesses in the R1's design, indicating clearly that it could have easily been a much stronger contender had these little niggles been addressed (continuous shooting capability, image parameter control, orientation sensor, RAW file size).
In favor of the DSC-R1
- Excellent wide angle zoom lens much better than any D-SLR kit lens
- All-in-one design, no need to carry other lenses
- No dust issues (as sensor is sealed)
- No mirror vibration issues (no need for mirror lock-up)
- Quiet shutter release
- 1/2000 flash x-sync (electronic shutter)
- LCD monitor live view / preview
- Manual focus magnification
- Value for money (taking lens into account)
In favor of a digital SLR
- Flexibility to use a wide range of lenses
- Much easier if you want more than 120 mm or less than 24 mm equiv.
- Better for macros
- Can add lenses with image stabilization
- Proper through-the-lens optical viewfinder (an EVF is no substitute)
- Mechanically linked manual focus
- Better continuous shooting capability
- More flexible image parameter control
- Orientation sensor in most current models
- Generally better low light auto focus
- Faster maximum shutter speed (typically 1/4000 sec)
- Smaller RAW files, better media write speeds
Feature and specification comparison
Finally our now standard feature and specification comparison table. As noted above the DSC-R1 compares favorably to these 'entry level' digital SLR's, but in equal terms disappoints with issues which were designed into the camera such as continuous shooting capability, size of RAW files, the lack of an orientation sensor, the inability to delete images in record review and the power-to-shot delay.
Canon EOS 350D
Olympus E-500 EVOLT
|Announced||8 Sep 05||17 Feb 05||26 Sep 05|
|Review||You are here||Click here||Click here|
|Sensor type||10 megapixel CMOS||8 megapixel CMOS||8 megapixel CCD|
|Sensor size||21.5 x 14.4 mm||22.2 x 14.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Dust protection||None||None||Supersonic Wave Filter|
|Lens mount||n/a (non-removable lens)||Canon EF / EF-S||Four Thirds|
|FOV crop||n/a||1.6x||2.0x (Four Thirds)|
|Shading comp.||No||No||Yes, optional|
|Modes||Auto, P, S, A, M, 4 preset scene||Auto, P, A, S, M, A-DEP, 6 preset scene||Auto, P, S, A, M, 5 preset scene (15 via menu)|
|Image formats||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, TIFF, RAW|
|RAW+JPEG||One RAW, One JPEG||One RAW, One JPEG||One RAW, One JPEG|
Sharpness (3 settings)
Tone (4 settings)
Saturation (3 settings)
|Contrast (5 settings)
Sharpness (5 settings)
Saturation (5 settings)
Color tone (5 settings)
3 preset parameter sets
|Gradation (3 settings)
Saturation (5 settings)
Contrast (5 settings)
Sharpness (5 settings)
5 preset parameter sets
|Color space||sRGB (2), Adobe RGB||sRGB, Adobe RGB||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|ISO||160 - 3200 (1 EV steps)||100 - 1600 (1 EV steps)||100 - 400 (1/3 EV steps)
800, 1600 via boost
|EV steps||1/3 EV||1/3 or 1/2 EV||1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV|
|Exp. compen.||+/- 2.0 EV||+/- 2.0 EV||+/- 5.0 EV|
|Flash exp compen.||+/- 2.0 EV||+/- 2.0 EV||+/- 2.0 EV|
|Metering||Unknown||35 area sensor||49 area sensor|
|Metering modes||Multi-pat, CW Avg, Spot||35 zone, Partial, CW Avg||ESP, CW Avg, Spot|
|Shutter||30 - 1/2000 sec||30 - 1/4000 sec||60 - 1/4000 sec|
|Flash X-sync||1/2000 sec||1/200 sec||1/180 sec|
|AF system||5 area
TTL CMOS sensor
TTL CMOS sensor
TTL Phase Differential
|AF mode||Auto, Single, Continuous||One shot, AI Servo, Auto||Single, Continuous|
|AF area mode||Auto, Center, Spot flex||Single, Dynamic||Auto, Single|
|AF assist||Orange lamp||Flash strobe, must be up||Flash strobe, must be up|
|Continuous *1||JPEG: 3.1 fps, 3 images
|JPEG: 2.9 fps, 27 images
RAW: 2.9 fps, 6 images
|JPEG: 2.7 fps, 15/∞ images
RAW: 2.7 fps, 4 images
|Self-timer||10 sec||10 sec
(3 sec with mirror lock-up)
|2 or 12 sec|
|Mirror lock-up||n/a||Yes, custom function||Yes, with custom delay|
|WB||Auto, 5 preset, Manual||Auto, 6 preset, Manual||Auto, 7 preset, Manual, Kelvin|
|WB fine tuning||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Bracketing||AE||AE, White Balance||AE, White Balance, Manual Focus|
|Flash release||Electronic (manual / auto)||Electronic (manual / auto)||Electronic (manual / auto)|
|Flash sync||Front or Rear curtain||Front or Rear curtain||Front or Rear curtain, Manual control (4 levels)|
0.44" TFT LCD
(Unspecified dioptre adj.)
Eyepoint: 21 mm
(-3.0 to +1.0 m-1 diopter)
Eyepoint: 16 mm
(-3.0 to +1.0 m-1 dioptre)
|LCD||2.0", 134,000 pixels||1.8", 115,000 pixels||2.5", 215,250 pixels|
|LCD live view||Yes||No||No|
|Custom functions||n/a, 4 setup menus||9 functions with 24 settings||n/a, 2 setup menus|
|Storage||CF FAT16 / FAT32
MS / MS Pro
|CF FAT16 / FAT32||CF
FAT16 / FAT32
|Power||Lithium-Ion NP-FM50||Lithium-Ion NB-2LH||Lithium-Ion BLM-1|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0 (Hi-speed)||USB 2.0 (Hi-speed)||USB 1.1|
|Play modes||3 display modes||3 display modes||7 display modes|
|Play edit||Resize (copy), Rotate||No||RAW development|
|Text comment||No||Yes (set via PC software)||No|
|Dimensions||139 x 168 x 97 mm||127 x 94 x 64 mm||130 x 95 x 66 mm|
|Weight (w/lens)||995 g||724 g (w/kit lens)||814 g (w/kit lens)|
|Remote release||Wired (optional)||Wired (optional)
|Vertical grip||No||Yes, optional||No|
|Status LCD||No (uses LCD/EVF)||Rear of camera, backlit||No (uses LCD monitor)|
|Command dials||One top rear, One back||One top||One top|
|Power on||0.9 - 1.5 sec||Virtually instant||1.6 - 1.7 sec|
|Shutter release||Very fast||Fast||Very fast|
|Build quality||Very good||Good||Very good|
*1 Results of our own tests
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