Sony's Cybershot DSC-R1 is the company's first high-end all-in-one camera
since the DSC-F828 back in August 2003. The F828, despite coming from a strong
line of predecessors and sporting excellent design and features, infamously
suffered from pronounced purple fringing.
Not only must the new R1 banish this spectre while improving
the specification, but do so in a marketplace where a raft of budget digital
SLRs have pretty much wiped-out the demand for high-end all-in-ones. Sony
itself even recently announced a partnership with Konica Minolta to develop
its own digital SLR in 2006. In this light, what chance does a new all-in-one
have which actually costs slightly more than most budget digital SLRs?
You'd be forgiven for thinking it wouldn't stand a chance, but
the R1 is unlike any all-in-one so far released. It's the first to employ
a large APS-sized CMOS sensor which is roughly the same size as those found
in budget digital SLRs. This means the R1 should enjoy low noise levels and
high sensitivities even with its high resolution of 10.8 Megapixels.
It's also first CMOS sensor to deliver live video to the display,
unlike conventional digital SLRs which normally only use their screens for
menus and playback. The live view has also allowed Sony to do away with the
mirror and prism of a traditional SLR optical path and position the lens close
to the sensor where optical aberrations are easier to correct.
The result is a camera with 10.8 Megapixel resolution, wide
sensitivity rating of 160 to 3200 ISO, flip-out LCD screen with live view,
an optically fast f2.8~4.8 lens with a 35mm-equivalent range of 24 to 120mm
and the potential to capture highly detailed, low noise images. Sure the lens
doesn't come off, but the 5X range is sufficient for most and there's no worries
of dust on the sensor. Are you sure a traditional budget or even mid-range
SLR is a better bet?