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Sony have this to say about the camera:
"The DSC-L1 is the full featured Cyber-shot® digital camera that is small enough to take anywhere. With a 4.1 Megapixel Super HAD CCD, a Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® lens with 3X optical zoom and Sonys own Real Imaging Processor, the DSC-L1 features image capture quality on par with a camera twice its size. Other features include PictBridge compatibility for easy printing without a personal computer and MPEG Movie VX Fine video recording when used with Memory Stick PRO Duo media (not included)."
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: It's
very compact and made out of shiney silver metal.
Size Comparison: Compared to a Casio Exilim EX-S100.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents - a large memory card, and a case would have been nice.
The Camera in Use:
The camera manual states that you should be able to get on average
240 shots using the provided battery. This is very good for an ultra compact
Speed: The camera is quick to switch on and take photos. The screen updates are quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is also fairly quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 5x. The camera has a quick continuous shooting mode, and a quick shot to shot time (this can be made quicker by switching off review). The camera shutter response seemed fairly quick. Focusing was also quite quite.
Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, although the camera does have a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use. The camera is ultra-compact although not as compact as other ultra-compact cameras. The menus are responsive, easy to use, and the options are easy enough to see clearly - although some may find them too small, due to the small screen. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a fully automatic mode as well as various scene modes for simple point and shoot operation.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well. I thought the camera felt good ergonomically. Some people may find the buttons too small. I found the 4-way joypad to be a bit spikey, especially when in pockets.
Screen / Viewfinder: The 1.5" screen, although small, is clear with accurate colours, and updates smoothly. There is no optical viewfinder - luckily the screen is visible in bright sunlight as well as indoors.
Image quality generally: Outside image quality was good, colour was rich and saturated, and noise seemed quite low, the pictures had good contrast, although images were soft and as a result detail was average - it was also very easy to produce lens flare which you may like, although you may not. Indoors - image quality was good - and focusing was good thanks to the focus-assist lamp. Images were generally fairly soft, and may benefit from sharpening. The maco mode was fairly poor as the closest you can get to the subject is 12cm away.
Image quality issues: There was very minor purple fringing, although noise was occassionaly high - especially if the ISO level was above ISO200, or the camera was set to black and white mode.
Zoom: The camera's
3x optical zoom is quite noisy when you switch the camera on/off, but
in use it's very quiet. It has 8 steps between wide and telephoto. The
camera also has a 2x "precision" digital zoom that enlarges
the image degrading image quality, and a 3.3x "smart" zoom that
you can use in VGA mode - the smart zoom allows you to zoom into the image
but doesn't degrade image quality.
Movie: The movie mode offers 640x480 / 30fps when using a PRO memory card. The camera also has a 160x120 video mode, and no 320x240 video mode unfortunately. The movie mode is very good, although you'll need a large memory card, as the camera does not use MPEG4, and a 128mb card will only fit 1 minute 36 seconds at the highest video quality!
Size + Compression options: The choices are 4mp, 3:2, 3mp, 1mp, VGA. Compression options are Fine or Standard. There's quite a good choice here, with the 3:2 aspect ratio being especially useful for people wanting to print their images at the traditional 6"x4" size.
The flash performed quite well in the photos I took and performed better
when the subject was closer to the camera - however I wouldn't expect
the camera to light up large rooms. The flash can be adjusted in camera
to +1 or -1.
Conclusion: The Sony Cybershot DSC-L1 is a very compact 4 megapixel digital camera packed into a solid metal body. The camera produces rich vibrant saturated colours and is capable of producing some very pleasing images. The camera gives you good control by allowing you to change the saturation, sharpness, and contrast of the picture. The camera features a very good movie mode, focuses well in low light, is quick in use and has a good screen that's usable in low-light as well as in sunshine. There are some problems, such as the expensive proprietry memory format, the slightly soft images, small screen, and tripod adapter, however the ease of use, speed of use, and high pocketability make up for most problems. I enjoyed using this camera, and took it nearly everywhere I went so that I had a camera with me at all times - Recommended!
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.