Sony DSC-R1 Review

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First Look posted 09/08/2005
Full review posted 12/21/2005

Click on the DSC-R1 to take a QuickTime VR tour

Sony's latest top of the line Cyber-shot camera, the R1 is encased in a black, body, and is the first to use Sony's new 10.3-megapixel CMOS imager. Its also the first "APS-C imager" digital camera to offer live preview. The R1 features a Carl Zeiss T* 5x wide angle zoom that is matched to the imager and covers a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24mm to 120mm and has both a manual zoom and focus ring on the lens barrel. The R1 has both a high resolution color viewfinder and a top-mounted 2.0" color LCD that tilts and swivels to nearly any angle.

Top-class image quality is guaranteed through the inclusion of an APS-class sized Sony CMOS image sensor (21.5mm x 14.4mm physically), uniquely designed to significantly improve dynamic range, sensitivity, and signal-to-noise ratio. The large Sony CMOS sensor is able to capture more light, reducing noise levels, allowing higher shutter speeds, and therefore reducing the effects of handshake for beautifully clear, true to life pictures.

The Real Imaging Processor at the heart of the Cyber-shot R1 has been enhanced further so in Preview mode the camera is ready to shoot a remarkable 0.68 seconds after it is switched on. The shutter time lag is only 0.29 seconds, shutter release lag is only 0.0075 seconds and the camera can take up to three photographs in quick succession at a speed of 3 fps in high speed burst mode.

Users now have a choice of three color modes on the Cyber-shot R1:

  • Standard (sRGB): a Sony-developed color arithmetic process used on all Cyber-shot cameras, giving natural and true color reproduction.

  • Vivid (sRGB): lowers brightness and emphasises primary color depth for impressive results with Reds, Greens and Blues, rather like a saturated slide film. Scenes like a deep blue sky, an intense red flower, and spectacular green scenery will be expressed with lively vivid color.

  • Adobe RGB: increased gamut (color range) for a larger color space and better reproduction, to meet professional and high quality picture environments such as desktop publishing with Adobe Photoshop.
RAW mode is available for the most demanding users, allowing the highest picture quality with no compression, and preserving the original RGB data and camera settings. The supplied RAW development software (Image Data Converter SR) is particularly versatile compared to competitors' software. It incorporates fast processing, display and development, with improved operability such as dual view and navigator windows. The software allows adjustment of the white balance and exposure, color modes such as Vivid or Standard, and provides high compatibility with Adobe Photoshop.

The Real Imaging Processor has been further enhanced for the Cyber-shot R1 to provide more detailed, purer and vivid colors. The white balance accuracy has also been improved to differentiate between indoor and outdoor shooting, producing more precise colour. The microprocessor has been further customised for the large CMOS image sensor, resulting in a much shorter response time and greatly reduced image noise. With its ultra-low power consumption, STAMINA power efficiency, and the use of an intelligent InfoLITHIUM battery, the Cyber-shot R1 can carry on shooting for an amazing 500 shots, without the need for recharging the battery.

Memory storage is provided by optional Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, and CompactFlash (Type I/II) cards or Micro Drive media. Connectivity options include Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and an enhanced PictBridge interface that allows the Cyber-shot R1 to connect directly to a compatible printer without the need for a PC.

Cyber-shot R1 Features:

  • APS-class sized 10.3-megapixel CMOS imager
  • 5x (24-120mm 35mm equiv.) Carl Zeiss T* wide angle zoom lens
  • Manual zoom and focus rings on lens barrel
  • Fast startup, AF and short shutter lag time
  • TTL 5-point autofocus with AF assist lamp
  • 5-zone Auto Focus area, auto or manual selection
  • File format: RAW and JPEG in Fine or Normal quality
  • Three color modes: sRGB, Vivid sRGB or Adobe RGB
  • 2.0" tilt/swivel top-mounted color LCD monitor
  • High-resolution eyelevel TTL color viewfinder
  • Program AE w/Shift and four Scene modes
  • Shutter speed priority (30 secs. to 1/2000 sec. in 49 steps)
  • Aperture priority (f/2.8 to f/16 in 15 steps)
  • Full Manual exposure with EV indicator and Bulb to 3 minutes
  • Advanced Gradation Control System (AGCS) - Enhances dynamic range, avoids crushed shadow detail and clipped highlights
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing with +/- 0.3, 0.7 or 1.0 steps
  • Multi-pattern, Center-weighted or Spot metering
  • Five white balance presets, one-push custom and WB fine tune
  • Selectable ISO sensitivity (Auto, 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200)
  • In-camera saturation, contrast and sharpening
  • 14-bit A/D conversion for wider dynamic range from highlight to shadow
  • Adjustable TTL flash with Red Eye reduction
  • Hot shoe for high power Sony HVL-F32X external flash
  • Memory Stick/MS Pro and CompactFlash Type I/II storage
  • Video output for displaying images on TV sets
  • USB 2.0 connectivity for fast downloading to PC
  • Rechargeable Sony InfoLITHIUM NP-FM50 battery
  • Exif 2.2 compatible and direct USB printing via PictBridge

The Cyber-shot DSC-R1 will be available in mid-November and comes with an InfoLithium M battery, AC adapter/in-camera charger, Video output cable, USB cable, lens hood, shoulder strap and lens cap. The MSRP is $999.00

Physical Views

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

The DSC-R1 compared in size to the Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D.

Continue on to
Features & Controls

Cyber-shot DSC-R1 Specifications

Imager 21.5 x 14.4mm (APS-class) color CMOS sensor.
5.49 µm pixel pitch
RGB color filter array
10,784,000 pixels Gross
10,286,000 pixels Effective
Image Resolution 10M - 3888 x 2592
7M - 3264 x 2176
5M - 2784 x 1856
3M- 2160 x 1440
1M - 1296 x 864
Still Image Modes JPEG Exif 2.2, RAW .SR2 format (stores JPEG/Fine also)
Image Aspect Ratio 3:2
A/D Conversion 14-bit
Image Compression Standard / Fine
Recording Media Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro
CompactFlash Type-I and Type-II and Microdrive compatible

Notes: Uses Memory Stick Pro parallel write feature.
FAT-16/32 compatible - tested to 4GB.

Lens 5x optical Carl Zeiss T* Vario Sonnar f=14.3 - 71.5mm
35mm Equivalent 24 - 120mm
Aperture f 2.8 / 4.8 - 16.0
Filter Diameter 67mm
Digital Zoom 2X Precision Digital / Smart Digital up to 15X
Auto Focus 5 Area Multi-point AF
Manual Focus Continuously Variable Manual Ring
Minimum Focus Distance 13.7" (35 cm) Macro Mode,
Normal Wide/Tele: 19.7" (50 cm)
Spot AF Yes, Flexible
Focus Assist Yes
Macro Yes, selectable
Shutter Speed Auto, 1/8 - 1/2000 sec,
Manual 30 sec - 1/2000 sec. - Bulb to 3 minutes
Noise Reduction on exposures from 1/25 to 30 sec.
Exposure Metering Multi-Pattern, Center-Weighted, Spot
Exposure Bracketing 3 frames ±0.3 EV, 0.7 EV or 1.0 EV steps
Manual Exposure ±2.0 EV, 1/3 EV steps
Noise Reduction Clear Color, Luminance NR, Slow Shutter (1/25 sec or slower)
Color LCD 2.0" 134K Pixels (560x240) Low Temperature Polysilicon TFT. Tilts 120° and swivels 270°
Eye-level LCD Finder Hi-speed TTL 0.44" 235K Pixels (980x240) Polysilicon TFT w/Diopter Adjust
Flash Modes Auto / Forced On / Forced Off, Red-eye Reduction On / Off
Flash Effective Range 1' 8" to 12' 10" (0.5 m to 3.9 m) Wide
1' 8" to 7' 10" (0.5 m to 2.4 m) Telephoto at ISO Auto
Flash Shoe / Terminal Advanced Hot Shoe (compatible with HVL-F32X, HVL-F1000), ACC Terminal (compatible with RM-DR1)
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash, Manual
White Balance adjustment -3 to +3 by step
Picture Effects Sepia, Black&White
ISO Auto, 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Scene Modes Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Portrait
Self Timer 2, 10 Seconds
Audio / Video Out No, NTSC / PAL selectable
Erase / Protect Yes
Date / Time Stamp Yes
Slide Show Mode Yes
Movie Modes None
Microphone/Speaker No / Yes
USB Terminal Yes (USB 2.0 Hi-Speed)
Supplied Software Picture Package™ for Sony v1.6 (Windows), Pixela™ ImageMixer VCD2 (Macintosh), Sony Image Data Converter SRF v1.0 (Windows & Macintosh), USB Driver
OS Compatibility Microsoft® Windows® 98, 98SE, 2000 Professional, ME, XP Home and Professional; Macintosh® OS X (v 10.1.5 or later). OS must be installed at the factory.
Supplied Accessories NP-FM50 InfoLithium® Rechargeable Battery, AC-L15A AC Adapter / In-Camera Charger, Lens Hood, Neck Strap, Software CD-ROM
Dimensions 5.5 x 3.8 x 6.6 inches
(139 x 97 x 168 mm)
Weight 2 lb 4.9 oz. (1047 g) with battery, Memory Stick and lens shade
(Specifications as represented by the manufacturer)

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Features & Controls

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