Sony Cybershot DSC-V1 Review
Timings & File Sizes
The Sony DSC-V1 feels quick, operates quickly and feels noticeably faster than other cameras in this category. Its slowest performance is startup which takes 3.2 seconds, that's still about a second faster than Canon's G5 and Nikon's 5400. Where the DSC-V1 really shines is auto focus and shutter response. At wide angle the DSC-V1 is focused almost as quickly as you can half-press the shutter release (which is what you want really), at telephoto it's slightly slower but not much (still faster than other cameras at wide angle). Shutter response is also very fast, faster indeed than we can measure, in that respect it's probably one of the quickest prosumer digital cameras available.
Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,000 KB per image). The media used for these tests were both a 1 GB Memory Stick Pro and a standard 128 MB Memory Stick.
GB MS Pro
|Power: Off to Record||Lens extension||3.2||3.2|
|Power: Off to Play *1||Image displayed||2.9||2.9|
|Power: Record to Off||Lens extended||3.4||3.4|
|Power: Play to Off||Lens already retracted||0.1||0.1|
|Mode: Record to Play *1||Image displayed||0.7||0.7|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||0.1||0.1|
|Play: Magnify||To 6x magnification||5.6||5.6|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 image index||0.8||0.8|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||Full zoom from 34 mm to 136 mm (4 x)||2.5|
|Auto Focus LAG||Wide angle||0.3 - 0.5|
|Auto Focus LAG||Telephoto||0.5 - 1.3|
|Shutter Release LAG||Using Viewfinder||<0.1|
|Shutter Release LAG||Using LCD Monitor||0.1|
|Total LAG||Wide angle||~0.4|
|Off to Shot Taken||Wide angle||3.2|
|Shot to Shot||Wide angle||1.4|
|*1||The DSC-V1 uses a 'rough image' to provide the initial image display, this is replaced by a finer image once the camera has loaded all image data from the Memory Stick. For a five megapixel Fine quality JPEG this takes approximately 2.3 seconds.|
|*2||Monitor AF can help in situations where you are aimed at the scene for a second or so before taking the shot, this gives the camera's AF system a chance to get 'near to' the required AF point. That said Single AF was very fast in any case.|
Auto Focus LAG is (roughly) the amount of time it takes the camera to autofocus (a half-press and hold of the shutter release button), this timing is normally the most variable as its affected by the subject matter, current focus position, still or moving subject etc. This timing is an average.
Shutter Release LAG is the amount of time it takes to take the shot from the moment you fully depress the shutter release button, measured both as a time including auto focus and a time assuming you have already pre-focused by holding a half-press of the shutter release.
Burst 3 continuous mode
Just like the DSC-F717 the DSC-V1 has a single continuous shooting mode called 'Burst 3'. In this mode the camera takes three shots with just one press of the shutter release button. These three shots are taken over a period of 1.02 seconds, thus a frame rate of approximately 2 frames per second (the DSC-F717 managed 2.5 fps). The media used for these tests was a 1 GB Memory Stick Pro.
|Image Type||Frames per sec||Max no. of frames||
|2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG||1.96 fps||3||11.3 sec|
|2592 x 1944 Standard JPEG||1.96 fps||3||8.5 sec|
|2048 x 1536 Standard JPEG||1.96 fps||3||8.9 sec|
|1280 x 960 Standard JPEG||1.96 fps||3||6.1 sec|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release)|
|*2||You can take another burst as soon as the current burst has been written away.|
I am disappointed not to see Sony improving its continuous shooting offering, the idea of 'Burst 3' really is stuck in the past. Most owners want a genuine continuous shooting mode where they can decide the number of frames depending on the situation, I would also expect a larger buffer than j just three images and the ability to start shooting again as soon as the first image has been written away.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the MS card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator LED beside the viewfinder stopped blinking. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 1 GB Memory Stick Pro.
1 GB MS Pro *4
|2592 x 1944 TIFF||43.3||2.1||16,865 KB *5||56|
|2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG||3.5||2.6||2,100 KB||394|
|2592 x 1944 Standard JPEG||2.7||2.7||1,200 KB||740|
|2048 x 1536 Normal JPEG||3.2||1.9||800 KB||1125|
|1280 x 960 Normal JPEG||2.7||1.0||300 KB||2761|
|*1||Subtract approximately 1.7 seconds to reveal the actual write time, the camera doesn't begin to access the MS card until 1.7 seconds after the image has been taken. This gives the DSC-V1 a write speed of approximately 1.1 MB/sec for 2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG on a 1 GB MS Pro.|
|*2||The DSC-V1 displays a "rough image" almost immediately after moving to another image in play mode, the time here is the time for the camera to load the full resolution image which it then applies over the rough image. You can't magnify an image until the full resolution image has been loaded.|
|*3||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 (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.|
|*5||Just like previous Cybershot's the DSC-V1 creates both a TIFF and JPEG for each shot, thus the total size is 14765 KB + 2100 KB.|
Performance was better than expected and indeed quite a bit better than many of its Compact Flash based competitors, for instance the DSC-V1 is almost twice as fast at storing the same size image as the Coolpix 5400 and approximately one second faster than the Canon PowerShot G5. There certainly are no performance tradeoff's from using Memory Stick.
Low Light Auto Focus
This test is designed to measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.
Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).
This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), you should consider the results below the best you could expect to achieve.
|Lens position||Aperture||Lowest light focus|
|Wide angle (34 mm)||F2.8||Complete darkness|
|Telephoto (136 mm)||F5.0||Complete darkness|
Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)
Thanks to its laser based 'Hologram AF' assist system (first seen on the DSC-F707) the DSC-V1 manages accurate and fast focus even in complete darkness. Hologram AF works by illuminating the subject with a laser pattern which the video AF system can use to gauge the sharpness of the image and thus the focus position. This system seems to work well with subjects up to 3 m away (at which distance the pattern is approximately 0.6 m wide), further than this and it depends on the size of the subject. For more detail see my DSC-F717 review.
We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:
- Take 4 shots without flash
- Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
- Take 1 shot with flash
- Wait 1 minute
Batteries are fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
Prosumer / SLR-Like
|Battery||Power||Battery life||Number of shots|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 14 mins||125|
|Minolta DiMAGE 5||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 56 mins||195|
|Nikon Coolpix 5700||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 08 mins||215|
|Canon PowerShot S40||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 13 mins||225|
|Minolta DiMAGE S304||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 18 mins||235|
|Canon PowerShot S45||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 28 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 4500||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 27 mins||250|
|Fujifilm FinePix 6900Z||NP-80||4.1 Wh||2 hr 29 mins||250|
|Nikon Coolpix 990||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 995||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 5000||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 32 mins||260|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Canon PowerShot Pro1||BP-511A||10.2 Wh||2 hr 36 mins||265|
|Canon PowerShot S50||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Minolta DiMAGE S404||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Sony DSC-V1||NP-FC11||2.8 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Olympus C-7000 Zoom||LI-12B||4.5 Wh||2 hr 44 mins||280|
|Nikon Coolpix 8700||EN-EL1||5.0 Wh||2 hr 45 mins||280|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7i||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 46 mins||270|
|Olympus E-20||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Canon PowerShot G1||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 00 mins||300|
|Nikon Coolpix 5400||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||3 hr 06 mins||315|
|HP Photosmart 850||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 12 mins||325|
|Sony DSC-S75||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 15 mins||330|
|Nikon Coolpix 8800||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||3 hr 27 mins||350|
|Fujifilm FinePix S602Z||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 29 mins||350|
|Canon PowerShot G2||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 32 mins||355|
|Casio QV-4000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 38 mins||365|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||380|
|Casio EXILIM EX-P700||NP-40||4.5 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||385|
|Sony DSC-S85||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 50 mins||400|
|Sony DSC-F717||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 02 mins||405|
|Pentax Optio 750Z||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 03 mins||415|
|Sony DSC-V3||NP-FR1||4.4 Wh||4 hr 05 mins||415|
|Nikon Coolpix 8400||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||4 hr 09 mins||420|
|Sony DSC-F707||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 20 mins||440|
|Fujifilm S7000 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||4 hr 23 mins||445|
|Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2||NP-400||11.1 Wh||4 hr 26 mins||450|
|Canon PowerShot G3||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 32 mins||455|
|Canon PowerShot G5||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 33 mins||460|
|Pentax Optio 550||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 36 mins||465|
|Minolta DiMAGE A1||NP-400||11.1 Wh||5 hr 02 mins||515|
|Leica Digilux 2||BP-DC1-E||10.1 Wh||5 hr 05 mins||515|
|Sony DSC-F828||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||5 hr 28 mins||540|
|Fujifilm FinePix S5000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||5 hr 31 mins||555|
|Canon PowerShot G6||BP-511A||10.3 Wh||5 hr 38 mins||570|
|Olympus C-8080 WZ||BLM-1||10.8 Wh||5 hr 52 mins||595|
|Other test notes:|
| LCD monitor is left on during
the battery test
The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set
We didn't expect big things of the V1's battery life, especially considering its relatively tiny capacity (it's the lowest capacity battery here). Even so the camera managed a very respectable 2.5 hours and just over 250 shots, better than many cameras with much more capacity. If you're a hard shooting shutterbug I would recommend a second battery (they don't occupy much space in any case).
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