Conclusion - Pros

  • Above average resolution, good tonal balance, good color response
  • Very low noise, even at higher ISO (best of the bunch)
  • Image processing parameter control (contrast, saturation and sharpening)
  • Very fast auto focus, the fastest we have seen to date
  • Relatively quick startup (just over 3 seconds)
  • Feels very responsive, always ready to shoot
  • Very fast write times to Memory Stick
  • Compact size, light weight
  • Silent focus and zoom motors
  • Good build quality
  • Unique Hologram AF, NightShot and NightFraming features
  • Supports Memory Stick Pro (currently up to 1 GB)
  • Sharp, high resolution LCD monitor with good anti-reflective coating
  • Battery charges in-camera, charger doubles as AC adapter
  • Fully wired flash hot-shoe (for Sony HVL-F32X flash)
  • Accessory lenses (tele conversion, wide angle, filter lenses)
  • Histogram in Live view, Record review and Playback modes
  • Monitor AF mode (just like Nikon's continuous AF)
  • USB 2.0

Conclusion - Cons

  • Poor auto white balance outdoors indirect sunlight
  • Some mild chromatic aberrations visible in extreme circumstances
  • Some 'halo' sharpening artifacts visible around dark detail
  • No manual focus magnification / confirmation
  • Menu system while functional is looking tired
  • Limited continuous shooting capability (always 3 frames)
  • TIFF file save locks camera during write operation
  • No RAW format
  • Average battery life (I'd recommend a second battery)
  • No user settings / memories
  • No highlight indication in record or playback modes

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Sony DSC-V1: (5 megapixel prosumer)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 8
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 8.5
Ease of use 8
Value for money 9

Sony have done it again, the DSC-V1 is a camera which can easily appeal to a wide range of buyers. It's small enough to be carried out more yet featured enough to still be attractive to the prosumer owner. It's notably smaller and lighter than the competition yet can still produce the goods from an image quality point of view and has the majority of the manual controls you could need.

While the DSC-V1 may not carry some of the extraneous features of Canon's PowerShot G5 or Nikon's Coolpix 5400 it is still more than capable of delivering excellent images. Sony have stepped away from their old image of 'Disney color' images and instead concentrated on quality, neutrality and balance. Resolution is as good as the best, although detail suffers because Sony's demosaic and sharpening algorithms still aren't quite as good as Canon's (they're getting close).

The DSC-V1 doesn't pretend to be anything more than a quality compact digital camera with a useful zoom range and high resolution sensor, and it gets the job done at $100 less than the competition. What more could you need, and how could I rate it any lower?

Highly Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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