Sony Cybershot DSC-V1 Review
The DSC-V1 could be seen a progression of the DSC-S85, although to me it's a totally new camera. Subcompact proportions, five megapixels, a relatively large diameter four times zoom lens system, flash hot-shoe and a wide range of manual controls put it firmly into prosumer territory. And with the DSC-V1 form certainly follows function, this is a camera which wears it 'all hanging out', the top and rear of the camera are liberally sprinkled with controls (no less than sixteen buttons / levers in total) which would be daunting to a new user, hardened digital photographers will be more than happy to see plenty of 'external button' control.
From the front the camera appears to be fairly conventional, although the lens does seem oversized for the camera body (large diameter lens elements normally means good). From the side the lens is even more dominant, extended it forms a cone protruding almost exactly from the top and bottom of the body. Around the back there is only limited space for your thumb to grip the rear where it rests naturally on the zoom lever.
Side by side
Here beside the Canon PowerShot G5 (5 mp, 4x zoom) and Nikon Coolpix 5400 (5 mp, 4x zoom) the difference is size is fairly clear, the G5 being the largest of the bunch, the V1 clearly the smallest. And the DSC-V1 is also the lightest, fully loaded it weighs in at 291 g (10.3 oz), the Coolpix 5400 at 380 g (13.4 oz) and the G5 at a hefty 487 g (17.2 oz). Pretty impressive stuff when you consider that these three cameras all have approximately the same level of functionality. Sony once again, the King of miniaturization.
In your hand
Here's where the DSC-V1 loses out to the PowerShot G5 and Coolpix 5400, its lack of a proper hand grip means that holding the camera is a 'less satisfying' experience than the other two, the Coolpix 5400 with the best grip of the three. The DSC-V1 does feel solid and 'cool to the touch'.
This is a Sony and we wouldn't expect anything less than an excellent LCD monitor, and that's exactly what we get. The DSC-V1 is fitted with a 1.5" 123,000 pixel LCD monitor which is not only detailed but bright and easy to see thanks to its anti-reflective coating. The setup menu provides control for LCD brightness (the gamma used for image display) and LCD backlight level (the brightness of the white LED's which light the display). The LCD monitor provides 100% frame coverage.
As with most compact digital cameras the DSC-V1 has the normal 'optical tunnel' style of viewfinder, in addition it has no dioptre adjustment, no parallax correction lines and no center cross / brackets. The viewfinder provides approximately 84% frame coverage.
The three lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:
|Red Steady||Self-timer / Memory Stick write|
|Green Steady||Auto Focus / Auto Exposure locked|
|Green Flashing||Auto Focus can not lock|
|Orange Steady||Flash charged and will fire|
|Orange Flashing||Flash charging, not ready|
Battery / Storage Compartment
In the base of the camera is the combined battery and storage compartment. The DSC-V1 is powered by the Sony InfoLithium NP-FC11 rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, it is rated at 3.6 V 2.8 Wh (777 mAh). The battery is charged in-camera by connecting the camera to the supplied AC adapter. Beside the battery slot is the Memory Stick slot, the DSC-V1 is one of the first new Sony digital cameras to support the new higher capacity Memory Stick Pro (available up to 1 GB per Stick) as well as existing Memory Stick media.
Memory Stick Pro
As noted above the DSC-V1 supports both Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro. The new 'Pro' cards are compatible only with recently released DSC models (all the cameras announced at PMA this year plus the DSC-F717). Memory Stick is available in capacities up to 128 MB, Memory Stick Pro in capacities up to 1 GB. Below you can see images of the front and back of a 1 GB Memory Stick Pro card and a 128 MB Memory Stick card. A word of warning if you currently use a Memory Stick reader, it probably won't work with Memory Stick Pro.
Other manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, HP etc.) please take note, Sony appear to be capable of designing and implementing a simple integral door over their connectors. When closed it blends nicely into the camera design (no tacky rubber covers here). The door itself is spring loaded so that it opens on its own once past the half-way point. Inside you will find a mini-USB connector, A/V output and DC-IN (for the supplied AC adapter).