Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 Review
In August 2003 Sony revealed the latest in a long line of split body swivel design prosumer digital cameras, the eight megapixel DSC-F828. Two long years have passed and it's time for the new Sony prosumer digital camera; the unique and radical Cyber-shot DSC-R1. The R1 drops the split body design of its predecessors in favor of an SLR-like fixed body which is remarkably similar to that of the then ground-breaking and some consider legendary DSC-D700.
However it's not the body design which makes this camera unique (many have copied the DSC-D700), it is the camera's sensor and lens. This is the first all-in-one digital camera to utilize a large (APS size) sensor, to be precise a 10.3 megapixel CMOS unit measuring 21.5 x 14.4 mm which is essentially a slightly smaller version of the sensor used in the Nikon D2X. It's also the first APS size sensor to provide full time live preview to the camera's LCD monitor or EVF (electronic viewfinder). This means that there's no mirror box or prism making the camera more compact and allowing the lens to be positioned much closer to the sensor. Equally as important and interesting is the lens which provides a 24 - 120 mm (equivalent) five times zoom with a maximum aperture of F2.8 - F4.8.
What makes the DSC-R1 unique
- First non-SLR (fixed lens digital) camera to feature a large format sensor (APS-C size)
- First use of a CMOS sensor in a non-removable-lens digital camera
- First large format sensor to provide full-time live preview
- Widest range of ISO sensitivity for a non-SLR camera; ISO 160 - 3200
- First digital camera to provide a top-mounted LCD screen
- First Sony digital camera to support Adobe RGB
- First implementation of 'Auto Gamma Control' on a Sony digital camera
Sony's "flagship" prosumer line
As I've already mentioned the DSC-R1's body design is very reminiscent of the DSC-D700, a 1.5 megapixel SLR-like digital camera introduced in May 1999. Around six years ago the DSC-D700 would have cost you $1,699, today Sony are pitching the DSC-R1 at the $999 price point.
- Sony DSC-D700: July 1998
- Sony DSC-D770: June 1999
- Sony DSC-F505: August 1999
- Sony DSC-F505V: April 2000
- Sony DSC-F707: August 2001
- Sony DSC-F717: September 2002
- Sony DSC-F828: August 2003
- Sony DSC-R1: September 2005
Advantages of a larger sensor
As noted above the DSC-R1 utilizes an APS size CMOS sensor which is considerably larger than that used in previous compact / prosumer digital cameras. The DSC-F828 for example had a 2/3" CCD which had effective capture area of 8.8 x 6.6 mm, the DSC-R1's sensor is approximately 2.4x wider and 2.2x taller. This larger sensor facilitates larger photosite's, the F828 had a 2.7 µm pixel pitch, the DSC-R1 has a 5.49 µm pixel pitch (and hence has lower lens resolution requirements).
Key technical advantages of the large CMOS sensor (supplied by Sony)
- Five times the sensitivity compared to the DSC-F828
- 2.5 times the dynamic range compared to the DSC-F828
- No smear effect
- Simpler imaging system for live view
- Lower power consumption (200 mW vs. 750 mW)
Sony DSC-R1 vs. DSC-F828 specification differences
|Sensor||• 21.5 x 14.4 mm CMOS
• 10.3 million effective pixels
• RGB color filter array
• 5.49 µm pixel pitch
• 3:2 aspect ratio
|• 2/3" type (8.8 x 6.6 mm) CCD
• 8.0 million effective pixels
• RGBE color filter array
• 2.7 µm pixel pitch
• 4:3 aspect ratio
|Lens||• 24 - 120 mm equiv. (5x zoom)
• F2.8 - F4.8
• Carl Zeiss T*
• Mechanical linked zoom
• 67 mm thread
|• 28 - 200 mm equiv. (7x zoom)
• F2.0 - F2.8
• Carl Zeiss T*
• Mechanical linked zoom
• 58 mm thread
|Image sizes||• 3888 x 2592
• 3264 x 2176
• 2748 x 1856
• 2160 x 1440
• 1296 x 864
|• 3264 x 2448 (plus a 3:2 setting)
• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480
|Image formats||• RAW (.SR2)
|• RAW (.SRF)
|AF Illumination||Orange lamp||Hologram AF (laser pattern)|
• Auto ISO
|• Auto ISO
• ISO 64
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
|Aperture range||• Wide: F2.8 - F16
• Tele: F4.8 - F16
|• Wide: F2.0 - F8
• Tele: F2.8 - F8
|Continuous||3 fps, up to 3 images||2.5 fps, up to 7 images|
|Color space||• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
|Image parameters||• Color mode: Std, Vivid, Adobe RGB
• Saturation: -, 0, +
• Contrast: -, 0, +, AGCS
• Sharpness: -, 0, +
|• Color mode: Real, Standard
• Saturation: -, 0, +
• Contrast: -, 0, +
• Sharpness: -, 0, +
|WB Fine Tune||Yes, +/-3 levels||No|
|Movies||None||640 x 480, 30 fps, no limit *
640 x 480, 16 fps, no limit
160 x 112, 8 fps, no limit
* Can only be used with MS Pro
|Flash compensation|| +/- 2 EV
0.3 EV steps
|Flash sync|| Front
|Electronic viewfinder||235,000 pixels||235,000 pixels|
|LCD monitor||• 2.0"
• ???,000 pixels
• Top mounted, flip-up and twist
• 134,000 pixels
• Rear mounted, fixed
|Grid line display||Yes (option)||No|
|Zebra display||Yes (option)||No|
|Weight (inc. batt)||995 g (2.2 lb)||906 g (2.0 lb)|
|Dimensions||139 x 168 x 97 mm
(5.5 x 6.6 x 3.8 in)
|134 x 156 x 91 mm
(5.3 x 6.1 x 3.6 in)
|Play mode||Shooting priority via button||On mode dial and 'Image Review'|
|Control dials||• Thumb dial
• Rear control wheel
|ISO button||Top of camera||None|
|WB button||Left of camera||Top of camera|
|Power save option||Yes||No|
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