Steve's Digicams

User Review

Review posted 03/12/99

Sony first brought the DKC-ID 1PRO digital camera to market back in early 1996 and it sold for about $2,000. Sony put their extensive camcorder knowledge to work to build a feature-packed professional still camera.

The DKC-ID1 incorporates a 1/3-inch 450,000 pixel progressive-scan CCD, fast image processing, a 12x optical zoom lens, color TTL viewfinder, removeable PC Card storage and a lithium rechargeable battery. In this day of megapixel digicams the DKC-ID1 is a bit of a dinosaur with its lowly 768x576 pixel resolution but features a host of manual controls that most modern digicams still lack.

The DKC-ID1 has both a programmed AE mode (with ±3 stop override) and Shutter speed (1/15 to 1/4000 sec) priority mode, automatic or manual focus (with macro focus down to one inch!) The camera to computer I/O is done via a high-speed SCSI port.

Built-in color LCD viewfinder with playback capability

Whether shooting telephoto or macro shots the camcorder-styled TTL (through the lens) color LCD viewfinder shows you exactly what the lens sees. It's small, uses much less power than a big 2" LCD and is shielded so it can be used indoors or outside in the bright sunlight. It is also used for reviewing the pictures in Play mode where you can selectively delete images you don't want.

Superimposed over the viewfinder display is the current shutter speed, aperture, white balance mode, flash status, picture number and low-battery warning -- you always know exactly what the camera is doing.

Removable PC card storage

The DKC-ID1 uses industry standard PC ATA Type II flash memory cards or CompactFlash cards mounted in the PCMCIA adapter.

12X Optical Zoom

The DKC-ID1 has a 12x optical zoom that is equivalent to a 38-459mm zoom on a 35mm camera. The motorized zoom goes from wideangle to extreme telephoto quickly and quietly.

This is what a 12X Zoom can do !

Whimpy 3x zooms found on most of today's digital cameras do NOT let you get as close to things as the Sony's 12x lens!

Super Macro

Talk about close! The 12X zoom is capable of shooting closeup subjects at a distance of only one inch from the lens. Autofocus maintains a precise focus for maximum image resolution.

These are full-frame macro pictures!
(Click to download the BIG picture)

AutoFocus or Manual

In Auto Focus mode the DKC-ID1 quickly focuses on your subject when you half-press the shutter release. When the focus is locked a green light appears in the viewfinder. If it cannot lock the focus you get a red light. In some situations the autofocus cannot work but you can switch to manual mode and adjust the focus to your liking.

Programmed AE or Shutter Speed Priority

In Programmed Auto Exposure, the shutter speed and aperture settings are automatic. To eliminate motion blur you can use the Shutter Speed Priority mode and select whatever shutter speed you desire from 1/15 to 1/4000 sec. This mode can also be used to control the aperture setting for selective depth of field.

High-Speed SCSI Data Interface

Most digital cameras use a slow, serial port for data I/O. The DKC-ID1 features a high-speed SCSI interface that downloads 30X faster. The camera can be controlled by the computer via the SCSI interface. It is a hassle though because the connector is on the front of the camera -- what were those designers thinking?

Rechargeable Lithium Battery

The DKC-ID1 uses Sony's InfoLithium® NP-F550 (aka NP-F530) rechargeable battery which lasts as long as 120 minutes per charge. You can also use the higher-capacity NP-F750 or NPF-950 batteries. Because the battery is mounted externally on the side of the camera body its thickness is not a problem so any capacity pack can be used.  Lithium batteries can be charged even before they are fully discharged.

Sony BC-V500 charger

These are the same batteries used in all of Sony's Mavica line of still digital cameras and most of their 8mm camcorders. The DKC-ID1 shipped with the BC-V500 charger pictured above which can charge two battery packs simultaneously.

If you own a DKC-ID1 or any of Sony's Mavica cameras you might be interested in a great, new, rapid battery charger I recently found. The Sima SPM13 lithium charger is faster than Sony's BC-V500 or BC-V615 chargers, costs only $49 and can be used with 12vdc too!


Imager Sony 1/3" 450,000 pixel Progressive Scan CCD
Image Data 768 x 576 pixels, 24-bit color depth
Image Processing Time Approx. 3-5 secs (in Fine mode)
Picture Quality Modes Fine or Normal
Lens 12X optical zoom (f-5.4mm - 64.8mm)
with 1-inch Super Macro
(equivalent to 38 - 459mm on a 35mm camera)
Aperture F 2.0 to F 22
Filter Size 37mm (camcorder standard)
Shutter Electronic 1/15 to 1/4,000 second
Viewfinder TFT color LCD 113,000 pixels
Flash Built-In
Modes: On/Off/Auto
Guide Number 16
Sensitivity ISO 100
Focusing TTL Auto or Manual (selectable)
Exposure Control Programmed AE or
Shutter speed priority
White Balance Automatic or Manual lock
EV Compensation +3.0 to -3.0 in 0.5 stop increments
Battery NP-F530, NP-F550 or NP-F750 high-capacity
Lithium Ion rechargeable (camcorder standard)
Digital I/F SCSI-2
Memory Storage PCMCIA ATA type II flash cards
or CompactFlash cards w/adapter
Erasure System Single Picture Erase / All Erase
(card intialization system)
Data Compression System JPEG - JFIF standard
Number of Images 2MB PC Card (Fine 7, Normal 29)
20MB PC Card (Fine 81, Normal 303)
Dimensions 5-1/8"(w) x 7-1/8"(d) x 2-5/8"(h)

Steve's Conclusion

If you have a chance to get one these cameras on closeout or used then I would say "buy it!" The incredible 12x zoom lens, shutter priority and shielded LCD make this an excellent camera for shooting outdoor action pictures. I love Sony's lithium battery packs and wish more digicam manufacturers would adopt a similar power supply (Fuji and Toshiba have done this on a lot of their cameras).

The DKC-ID1's closeup/macro capabilities are nothing short of amazing (see my pictures above) and the camera is very easy to use. The technology may be several years old and the 768x576-pixel resolution is only slightly larger than VGA but...this is one excellent camera and a lot of fun to use! The only thing missing is video out capability but I can live without that ... and you'll probably have a hard time finding a computer with a SCSI interface that will "talk" to this camera so -- use a CF card and an external card reader.

All of the pictures in this review were taken by a Sony DKC-ID1 with the exception of the one of the color viewfinder which was scanned out of the DKC-ID1 promotional brochure.

Have a look "inside" the DKC-ID1. This one died on me so I performed surgery on it. Here's the pictures, it's a fairly impressive set of electronics - which today (2005) is replaced by one or two large chips ...


Return to the
Hardware Reviews Index


Copyright © 1999 Steve's Digicam Online, Inc.

Nothing on this page may be used, distributed or
copied without the author's prior permission.