Sony DSC-L1 Review

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1

First Look posted 8/30/2004
Full Review posted 12/6/2004

Click on the L1 for a 360° QTVR tour

The Sony CyberShot DSC-L1 packs a 4.1-megapixel imager, 3X-optical zoom lens into a stylish little package just smaller than a candy bar. Measuring just 3.7" x 1.7" x 1.1" (95 x 44.3 x 25.7mm), the L1 is powered by a InfoLithium battery pack, and features Sony's Real Imaging Processor circuitry, delivering outstanding shot-to-shot speed, stamina and quick start-up time for catching the action when it happens.

Its Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 3X optical zoom lens, sets the stage for picture quality typically delivered by larger, more expensive digital cameras. For the first time in Sony's ultra-compact class of digital cameras, the Cyber-shot L1 employs a 1.5-inch transflective LCD, making it easier to see what's on the LCD even in bright sunlight.

Sony DSC-L1

Not only is its sized aimed at being slipped in one's purse or pocket, but it also allows users to be a little more unique with four unique color and finish choices to choose from (brushed silver, dark blue matte, black and a striking dark red piano gloss.)

When used with Memory Stick PRO Duo media, the L1's high-quality MPEG Movie VX Fine mode captures and plays back high-resolution full-motion videos with 640x480 pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. The length is limited only by the capacity of the memory card being used.

Like most of Sony's Cyber-shot cameras, the DSC-L1 model has speedy auto-focus and auto-exposure options to snap the best picture the first time. You can quickly select the best setting based on the shooting conditions by choosing from one of seven preset modes, including twilight, snow, beach and candle.

The DSC-L1 also features four newly developed technologies - including a linear focus drive and a compact high-resolution optical system - that combine to produce its ultra-small 3x optical lens. This lets you zoom in for crisp images of a flower or zoom out for a far-away shot of the game-winning goal, all the while staying in sharp focus.

The included InfoLithium battery provides for approximately 240 shots per charge with a to-the-minute, on-screen display of remaining battery life.

Cyber-shot L1 Major Features:

  • 4.1-Megapixel CCD image sensor for up to 2304x1728 pixels
  • Carl Zeiss 3x Zoom (32-96mm equivalent in 35mm photography)
  • Automatic Macro focus coverage down to 4.7-inches (12cm)
  • Sony Real Image Processor for fast start-up and shot-to-shot times
  • MPEG Movie: 640x480 VX Fine w/audio at 30fps,
    640x480 VX standard at 16fps, length limited only by media
  • Auto, Program AE, Full Manual plus 7 Scene modes
  • Live histogram display in capture and playback
  • 5 Area Multi-point AF; auto or selectable Spot AF point
  • 1.5" transreflective color LCD Screen with 78,000 pixels
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100, 200, 400
  • Adjustable color saturation, contrast and sharpness
  • 14bit A/D Conversion - allows a wider dynamic range from highlight to shadow
  • Built-in flash with Auto, Fill, Forced Off, and Slow Synchro (Red Eye reduction available)
  • USB 2.0 Auto-Connect to host computer
  • Rechargeable InfoLithium battery and charger included
  • Optional Cyber-shot Station camera dock and controller
  • Memory Stick Duo & Memory Stick Duo PRO compatible, 16MB included
  • DPOF and PictBridge direct-print USB compatible

The silver DSC-L1 will be available in mid-October (2004), and the blue, black and red models will follow in January (2005), each for about $300.

Physical Views

Sony DSC-L1

Sony DSC-L1

Sony DSC-L1Sony DSC-L1

Sony DSC-L1

Sony DSC-L1

Sony DSC-L1

The Cyber-shot L1 and a CD for size comparison.

Sony DSC-L1

The playing card deck-size Canon S410 Digital Elph and the diminutive DSC-L1.

Sony DSC-L1

The credit card-size Casio EX-Z40 and the diminutive DSC-L1.

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Features & Controls

Sony DSC-L1 Specifications

Image Device: 1/2.7" 4.1 Megapixel Effective Sony Super HAD™ CCD
Still Image Sizes: 4.1M 2304x1728
4.1M(3.2) 2304x1536 3M 2048x1536
1M 1280x960
VGA 640x480
Recording Media: Memory Stick DUO, Memory Stick DUO PRO Media
Zoom: Carl Zeiss 3X Optical, 5.1 - 15.3mm (32-96mm equivalent)
Smart Zoom™ Feature: 0 - 10X (at VGA Resolution)
Digital Zoom: Precision, 0 - 2.0X Range, 6X Total
Auto Focus: 5 Area Multi-Point AF, Center AF, 5-Step Manual
Minimum Focus Distance: 4.7" (12cm)
Automatic Macro Focus: 4.7" (12cm)
Shutter Speed: 1/8 - 1/2000 sec. (auto)
1 - 1/2000 sec. (program auto)
Aperture Range: F2.8/F5.1 (W/T)
Exposure Compensation: +/- 2.0 EV, 1/3 EV Steps
Color LCD: 1.5" 78K Pixel LCD Screen
Flash Modes: Auto/Forced On/Forced Off/Slow Synchro Red-Eye Reduction: On/Off
Flash Effective Range: 0.8 - 11.ft. (0.2 - 3.5 m) Wide
1.0 - 8.3 ft. (0.3 - 2.5 m) Tele
White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash
Burst Mode: 4 Shot (4MP), 4 Shot (3MP), 10 Shot (1MP), 30 Shot (VGA), 1.1fps
Picture Effects: Sepia, Black & White
ISO: Auto, 100, 200, 400
Scene Modes: Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Soft Snap, Candle, Beach, Snow
Self-Timer: 10 Seconds
Video Output: NTSC/PAL Selectable
Still Image Modes: Normal (JPEG Fine/Standard), Burst, Multi-Burst
MPEG Movie Mode: MPEG VX Fine with Audio (640 x 480 at 30fps),
(MPEG VX Fine requires Memory Stick DUO PRO media)
MPEG VX Standard with Audio (640 x 480 at 16fps),
Video Mail (160 x 112 at 8fps) with Audio
Microphone/Speaker: Yes/Yes
USB Terminal: Supports USB 2.0
Cradle Compatible: No
Media Compatibility: Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick DUO PRO
Compatible Battery: Sony InfoLithium NP-FT1 3.6v 2.4Wh
Supplied Software: Picture Package™ for Sony v1.1 (Windows), Pixela™ ImageMixer VCD2 (Macintosh), USB Driver, Cyber-shot Life tutorial (Windows)
OS Compatibility: Microsoft® Windows® 98/98SE/Me/ 2000/XP Home/XP Pro
Macintosh® OS 9.1/9.2/X (10.0, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3)
Supplied Accessories: NP-FT1 Rechargeable InfoLithium® Battery, AC-LS5 Battery Charger, Tripod Adaptor, USB Cable, Neck Strap, MSAM16A Memory Stick® Media, Memory Stick DUO Adaptor, Software CD-ROM
Dimensions: 3.7" x 1.7" x 1.1" (95 x 44.3 x 25.7mm)
Weight: 4.0 oz (122g) Body; 5.0 oz. (152g) Body w/Battery, Media, Neck Strap
NOTE: Specifications as represented by the manufacturer.

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