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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Sony DSC-V1 Cyber-shot

Sony Digital Cameras


Sony DSC-V1 Cyber-shot Review

Review Date: Aug 25, 2003

Category: Serious to Advanced Amateur

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Photoxels Award
OriGenial: Hologram AF Illuminator that really works

Image Quality

Would you dare to take pictures of a black column in a dark room? Or, how about a one second handheld picture of a dinosaur lighted by red light in very dark conditions? Both without flash and using auto everything? Can your digital camera do that? Well, it can if it's the Sony DSC-V1 Cyber-shot.

The Sony V1 gives consistently excellent images at 5 megapixels resolution thanks to its Carl Zeiss lens. It also has a couple of features that give it an advantage over other 5MP digital cameras when it comes to image quality: the Hologram AF for low-light focus really works; program shift to select different shutter speed/aperture combination on the fly (while maintaining the correct exposure) means better depth of field control; very fast focus and shot-to-shot operation mean you get a better chance of capturing "the moment."

The V1 is targeted to serious amateur photographers or prosumers who want a smaller, lighter, carry-anywhere camera but with still the type of image quality they are used to with their prosumer digital cameras. You can use the V1 strictly as a point-and-shoot digital camera (and that's how I used it mostly for this review), but it also has the flexible exposure you need for creative exposure control.

All the pictures on this and the other pages (including the navigation pictures at the top of each page) have been taken by the V1 for this review. Since one of the forte and distinguishable feature of the V1 is its hologram AF, I have concentrated on indoors low-light shots. The pictures on this page provide a good sample of what the V1 is capable of in the hands of a beginner amateur photographer -- for that is how I have approached this review: basically, point and shoot in Program AE mode, auto ISO, auto White Balance, auto Flash, and Multi-Pattern metering mode.

Unless otherwise specified, all pictures on this page are taken in SuperFine Large 2592x1944 pixels. All are original, direct from the DSC-V1 (except for the panorama pictures of the Dragon Mural which may have been automatically retouched in and by Photomerge, and the navigation background above which has had its level adjusted in Photoshop Elements to bring out the details in the shadows). I have provided the 800x600 version. Remember that this version is of slightly lesser quality than the original 2592x1944 version. Please open and download only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!

Clicking on a picture will display the 800x600 image in a separate window. Leave that separate window up for all the other original images will also display in that same separate window.

Wonder Mountain at Canada's Wonderland: 1/250 sec., F6.3 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.2 MB)Summer's here and that means Canada's Wonderland with its thrill rides, water park, shows and Kidzville® for a day of fun, fun, fun! As visitors enter the themed park, they are greeted with a spectacular sight of Wonder Mountain with its waterfall in the background, and a fountain and colourful flowerbed in the foreground. Above the din of excited shouts and laugter is the thunder of the runaway mine train coaster (Thunder Run™) and the cries of children happily scared out of their wits. As I said, fun! Focal length 19.7mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/250 sec., aperture F6.3 and ISO 100. [File size: 2.2 MB]

Architecture: 1/400 sec., F8 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.0 MB)Time for a pizza (food and drinks, by the way, cost an arm and a leg at Canada's Wonderland -- you have been forewarned) and we find a table under an umbrella. Glancing up, I see this beautiful architecture above the otherwise drab commercial banners of the different stores. The angle of the sun brings out the three dimensionality in the stonework. I stand under it, point the V1 straight up and let the auto everything take care of the exposure. The bright LCD allows precise composition. Dust and peeling paint are clearly visible in the captured image. Focal length 15.3mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/400 sec., aperture F8 and ISO 100. [File size: 2.0 MB]

All Aboard in Kidzville: 1/160 sec., F4 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.3 MB)The train ride is a popular one for the kids. Kid's friendly suggestion to Canada's Wonderland Train Station management: reds are favourite colours, so please have more red engines; also, where is the chain that makes a whistling sound when pulled (they've got it at Centre Island, another must-see attraction)? The colours in this picture are brighter than I remember them, and that is because I used Vivid and Sharpening +1. Focal length 7.6mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/160 sec., aperture F4 and ISO 100. [File size: 2.3 MB]

Six billion plus and counting...: 1/60 sec., F4 and ISO 100 with flash (File size: 1.5 MB)Six billion plus and counting... that's how many of us there are on this planet we call Home. This and other facts are posted on a tall black column at the entrance of one of the exhibit halls at the Ontario Science Centre, another popular and should-not-be-missed fun place. It's pretty high up so I zoom in to fill the screen. It's also quite dark in the hall and the flash automatically fires. Here's a good test of the V1's hologram AF: the V1 focuses in the dark and captures every scratch on the white letterings. Focal length 28mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/60 sec., aperture F4 and ISO 100 with flash. [File size: 1.5 MB]

Garbage History: 1/3 sec., F3.2 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.2 MB)Will garbage one day tell the story of humankind? Again, at the Ontario Science Centre, in front of a pile of compressed garbage towering up to the ceiling, "interesting" items recovered from the pile are displayed in a lighted glass enclosure: a pair of faded cutoff jeans, a discarded license plate, old newspapers, diverse bottles of different shapes and colours, etc. make for an eccletic collection. I turn flash off and use available light. White balance is on auto and does a pretty good job. Even at the slow shutter speed of 1/3 sec., this handheld picture comes out pretty much free of camera shake (just a hint), which demonstrates how well balanced the V1 is in my hands. Focal length 9.1mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/3 sec., aperture F3.2, ISO 100. [File size: 2.2 MB]

Mastermind: 1/30 sec., F3.2 and ISO 320 (File size: 2.2 MB)In this picture of the Mastermind gift store, shot from outside through glass, and without flash, the V1 boosts the ISO to 320 to eventually obtain proper exposure. At this high ISO, we should expect to see quite a bit of noise. Noise is evident in the original image, but at the other sizes, you wouldn't be able to tell, which is quite good. Focal length 12.9mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/30 sec, aperture F3.2 and ISO 320. [File size: 2.2 MB]

Converging lines: 1/60 sec., F4 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.0 MB)Just outside the Mastermind gift store on the second floor, while I wait for my family to contribute its part to the recovery of the Ontario economy, the geometric patterns formed by the floor to ceiling front window catch my attention. The converging horizontal lines lead the eyes to the window at the far end for a satisfying view of the outside park. When architects take time to design little surprises like that, you feel visually fed to the full. Focal length 28mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/60 sec., aperture F4, ISO 100. [File size: 2.0 MB]

Black-Eyed Susan: 1/60 sec., F8 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.2 MB)Black-Eyed Susan in my neighbor's front yard soak in the Sun. Macro is at 10 cm (3.9 in.), so that's about as close as you'll get. Of course, you can always crop and enlarge for more dramatic effect. Taken handheld and using program shift to ensure I get maximum depth of field (small F8 aperture) and a shutter speed fast enough to avoid camera shake (1/60 sec.). Focal length 7mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/60 sec., aperture F8 and ISO 100. [File size: 2.2 MB]

Repeating Elements: 1/250 sec., F4 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.2 MB)I return to the Richmond Hill Library for more hidden surprises. Here, the vertical colonnades, the diagonal steel awnings, the criss-cross of the stones on the floor are broken up by the natural arrangement of flowers and leaves. Repeating elements (colonnades) and the juxtaposition of different textures (concrete, steel, stones, glass, and leaves) somehow have a calming effect on the soul -- and are always a good photo opportunity. Focal length 16.5mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/250 sec., aperture F4, ISO 100. [File size: 2.2 MB]

Richmond Hill Library: 1/250 sec., F7.1 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.3 MB)A head-on view of the Richmond Hill Library with the simple, yet quite beautiful, landscape garden up front. I tilt the camera up slightly to include the top of the lamp post at the left, and that explains the slight convergence of the vertical lines. Focal length 7mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/250 sec., aperture F7.1, ISO 100. [File size: 2.3 MB]

Light Wells: 1/60 sec., F2.8 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.1 MB)Once inside the Richmond Hill Library, I take the circular staircase up to the second floor. That's about the only time a person would probably look up to the ceiling and it's an interesting arrangement of natural light wells and hanging lamps. I only wish I had a wider wide-angle for a more spectacular shot. White balance is on auto and does a good job of balancing between the natural light streaming through the light wells and the tungsten hanging lamps. Auto focus locks with no problem. Focal length 7mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/60 sec., aperture F2.8 and ISO 100. [File size: 2.1 MB]

Bathurst Clark Reference Library: 1/30 sec., F2.8 and ISO 100 (File size: 2.0 MB)Here's an inside shot of my favorite library, the Bathurst Clark Reference Library. Even though this library's exterior (an elegant simplicity) is not as fancy as that of the Richmond Hill Library, I have to admit it's got one of the most professional, the friendliest, and the most helpful staff I've ever seen. Everyone on staff -- from the people behind the desk to security -- go out of their way to help. The interior is roomy, comfy, with semi-private window alcoves, and the high ceiling adds to the incredible atmosphere. This is what a library should be, how it should be run. Excellent white balance on auto. It just needs a little tweaking in Photoshop to bring out the details in the shadows. Focal length 7mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/30 sec., aperture F2.8 and ISO 100. [File size: 2.0 MB]

The Nine Dragon Wall mural depicted below is supposed to be the only one outside Asia. The mural is located in the Mississauga Chinese Centre, on a wall which, unfortunately, now stands in front of parking spots (due to parking shortage).

Taking that picture is quite difficult, especially trying to avoid the roofs of the cars parked in front of it. (I should go back when the place is empty.)

Moving parallel to the mural, I take 5 landscape shots being careful to keep the camera as horizontal as possible. Shots are handheld, focal length 7mm, shutter speed varies between 1/60 sec. to 1/125 sec. (oops, I forgot to switch to manual to ensure the same exposure throughout), aperture steady at F4, exposure compensation +0.3EV and ISO 100.

I use the PhotoMerge function in Photoshop Elements to merge the 5 shots, but it does not quite work out. So, I merge them two at a time, making slight adjustment to match the seams as best as I can.

The thumbnail below shows only part of the mural and only the original version shows the whole mural. I think the Sony V1 has done a great job in capturing the details in this mural. [File size: 3.7 MB]

Dragon Mural (File size: 3.7 MB)

Need a place to upload your photos? Free photo sharing and photo hosting web site at cassepoze.

A Personal Word

The Sony DSC-V1 Cyber-shot inspires confidence. I shoot almost exclusively in Program AE mode, taking full advantage of the program shift function (which basically makes having Shutter-Priority mode and Aperture-Priority mode kind of redundant). The autofocus is fast and works in all lighting conditions.

The Sony DSC-V1 Cyber-shot is a serious contender to the top place of the best digital camera for serious amateur photographers. Its unique combination of features set it apart from its competitors. With the V1, Sony has signaled it is staking a claim not only in the point-and-shoot category, but it is also firmly committed to earn its rightful place among the traditional camera manufacturers.

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