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Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource.  All rights reserved. Sony announces DSC-V1 digital camera (UPDATED)
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, February 24, 2003 - 10:00 EST)

Sony Corp. has today announced the Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera - the replacement for its existing DSC-S85.

If you guessed from the change in model numbers that this was a major update, you wouldn't be wrong! The DSC-V1 follows the "rangefinder-like" format of the past model - and a category in which there are numerous models and intense competition - so Sony decided to concentrate on what it felt to be the most important features of the format and maximise those. Such cameras typically compete with SLR or EVF-based cameras such as Minolta's DiMAGE 5 / 7 series and Sony's own DSC-F717 (a model which the company is continuing for the foreseeable future, incidentally). The major advantage such cameras have over their competition is size and weight - and so the DSC-V1 has been designed to take this as far as possible.

The new model is, says Sony, 20 - 25% smaller by volume, and a whopping 30% lighter ready for use. Rangefinder cameras have to pack a punch feature-wise to compete with SLR / EVF cameras, though - so Sony has increased the resolution from 4 to 5 megapixels, and the lens from a 3x to a 4x Carl Zeiss optical zoom. Other important features for the camera's target market include an optional Continuous AF mode, a choice of Program / Shutter Priority / Aperture Priority / Manual modes, and the ability to adjust saturation, contrast and flash white balance. The DSC-V1 becomes the smallest camera to include Hologram AF (Sony's technology which projects a laser pattern on your subject to aid in focusing), and the first camera outside of the F-series to offer NightShot and NightFraming modes (which allow you to capture an infra-red illuminated image in total darkness, or frame a shot with the infra-red illuminator and then fire the flash for the actual photo).

Other new features in the DSC-V1 compared to the 'S85 are a program shift mode (which allows you to influence the choice of aperture / shutter speed to achieve the depth of field or shutter speed you require without leaving the auto mode), an InfoLithium FC battery in place of the larger M battery previously used, a bundled 32MB Memory Stick, and a hot-shoe for external flash. The hot-shoe has four new terminals on it which weren't on the DSC-F717 - and Sony tells us that a new flash called the HVL-F2000 will be forthcoming which will be able to obtain communicate with the camera - allowing things like preflash metering and modelling lights.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V1 will reach the US market at the very end of May 2003 - and should be widely available in June - with pricing set at $699. We're hoping to have a first-look review of the camera online before or during the PMA 2003 show, so stay tuned for more details. A list of feature highlights and full specifications of the camera, along with photos from numerous angles, follow below.


1/1.8" 5.0 Megapixel Effective Super HAD™ CCD
Super HAD (Hole Accumulation Diode) CCDs provide excellent image quality by allowing more light to pass to each pixel, increasing sensitivity and reducing noise.

Traditional, Yet Compact Design
A unique combination of performance and compactness, the DSC-V1 puts high performance imaging right in your hand!

Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar® Lens
Famous for sharpness & color accuracy, the Vario-Sonnar 4X Optical zoom lens features 8 elements in 7 groups with aspheric elements.

0 - 4.0 Smart Zoom (at VGA size)
Smart Zoom intelligently uses the full CCD to let you zoom into the portion of interest by cropping the image size—thus avoiding the image degradation of Digital Zooms.

5 Area Multi-Point Auto Focus
Evaluating 5 separate areas of the frame, Sony’s Multi- Point AF system intelligently focuses on the subject, and displays the selected focus point. Alternately, choose any of the 5 points for manual control.

Hologram AF™ Illuminator
Projecting a Class 1 laser pattern, Hologram AF reads the contrast between the pattern’s edge and the subject for precise focus, even in low or no light.

Continuous Auto Focus
To maintain accurate focus lock with fast moving subjects, Continuous AF keeps focusing until the moment of exposure.

Multi-Pattern Measuring
Independently light-metering 49 points of the frame, Multi-Pattern Measuring establishes the optimum exposure, even when highlight and shadow isn't centered in the frame.

Memory Stick® Media
Digital. Powerful.Transportable.™ Memory Stick media is compact, portable and rugged— connecting a variety of hardware and software applications.

Slow Shutter Noise Reduction
During long Twilight mode exposures, Slow Shutter NR captures the scene, and then the CCD noise pattern with a dark frame exposure. By subtracting the two, even long exposures can be clear.

14-Bit DXP A/D Conversion
Sony’s 14-bit Digital EXtended Processor captures the range between highlight and shadow with up to 16,384 values, for extended dynamic contrast and detail.

Manual Exposure Controls
Flexible Exposure control is provided with Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual Exposure modes. Program Shift lets you select aperture/shutter speed combinations for direct control of motion and depth of field, while still in Program AE mode.

Pre-Flash Metering
With a momentary pre-flash, the camera illuminates the subject and sets exposure through the lens for accurate flash metering. Adjustable flash level and redeye reduction insure great flash shots.

Auto Daylight Synchro Fill Flash
When the Multi-Pattern Measuring system determines the subject is backlit or in shadow, fill flash automatically fires to provide optimum exposure.

Dynamic Flash White Balance
By evaluating the Pre-flash, white balance can be set to the color temperature of the flash for greater color accuracy.

Live Histogram Display
The live histogram displays number of pixels at each luminosity making it easy to evaluate correct exposure.

5 Megapixel (2592 x 1944) Image Size
With its high resolution CCD, the DSC-V1 captures in 4 different image sizes, Fine or Standard JPEG compression.

NightShot® Infrared System
Capture infrared digital images in total darkness at up 15 feet. By illuminating the subject with infrared light and removing the CCD's IR cut filter, the NightShot® system makes infrared digital imaging a reality.

NightFraming System
To capture beautiful color images in low or no light, NightFraming illuminates the subject with the NightShot® system for proper framing, focuses with Hologram AF and lights the scene with flash.

1.5" LCD Monitor
High resolution 123K pixel design and anti-glare coating help provide excellent viewing and image playback clarity.

Multi-Burst Mode
Captures 16 320x240 frames as part of a single 1280x960 image which plays back sequentially in the camera. Selectable 1/7.5, 1/15, 1/30 second frame intervals provide convenient motion analysis.

MPEG Movie VX Mode
Captures VGA (640 x 480) high frame rate (16 frames per second) audio/video clips with length limited only by the capacity of the media. Video Mail mode captures smaller file sizes suitable for email.

Hot Shoe and ACC Terminal
Connect Sony's HVL-F32X flash or Remote Controls with ACC terminal, or synchronize other flash units or studio lighting with the Hot Shoe terminal.

Rechargeable Infolithium® Battery
Provides reliable, long-lasting power for continuous shooting, without "memory effect". AC-LS5 adapter/ charger provides stable power for USB transfer.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V1
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Imaging Device 1/1.8" 5.0 Megapixel Effective Super HAD™ CCD
Recording Media Memory Stick® Media, Memory Stick PRO™ Media
Zoom 4X Optical, 4X Smart Zoom (at VGA size), 16X Total
Filter Diameter 52mm w/Adaptor
Focal Length 7 - 28mm
35mm Equivalent 34 - 136mm
Aperture f2.8 - 4.0
Focus 5 Area Multi-Point AF with Manual select, 13-step Manual Preset
Minimum Focus Distance 15.7" (40 cm)
Macro Focus Distance 3.9" (10 cm)
Shutter Speed Auto, 1/8 - 1/2000 sec, Manual 30 sec - 1/1000
Manual Exposure ±2.0 EV, 1/3 EV Steps
Color LCD 1.5" 123K Pixels Low Temperature Polysilicon TFT
Flash Modes Auto / Forced On / Forced Off / Slow Synchro
Red-Eye Reduction On / Off
Flash Effective Range 1.6 - 11.5 ft (0.5 - 3.5m)
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, One-push Manual
Picture Effects Black & White, Solarize, Sepia, Negative Art
ISO Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800
Scene Modes Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Portrait, Landscape, Beach, Snow, Fast Shutter, Fireworks
Self Timer Yes, 10 Seconds
Video Output Yes NTSC / PAL Selectable
Still Image Modes JPEG (Fine/Std.), TIFF, Burst, Auto Bracketing, Email, Voice Memo
MPEG Movie Modes
MPEG VX (640x480, 16fps, with audio)
MPEG Video Mail (160x112, 8 fps with audio)
Clip Motion Normal (160x120), Mobile (80x72)
Microphone / Speaker Yes / Yes
USB Terminal Yes, Supports USB 2.0
Memory Stick PRO™ Media Compatibility Tested to support up to 1GB media capacity; does not support high speed transfer function; does not support Access Control security function
Battery Type / Capacity InfoLithium® NP-FC11 780 mAh Rated
Supplied Software Pixela™ Image Mixer Software for Sony v1.5, USB Driver SPVD-008
OS Compatibility Microsoft® Windows® 98 / 98SE / Me / 2000 Professional / XP Home / Pro; Macintosh OS 8.5.1 / 8.6 / 9.0 / 9.1 / 9.2
Supplied Accessories NP-FC11 InfoLithium® Rechargeable Battery, AC-LS5 AC Adaptor/In-camera Charger, A/V and USB Cables, Wrist Strap, MSA-32A 32MB Memory Stick® Media; Software CD-ROM
Dimensions (W / H / D) 3 15/16" x 2 9/16" x 2 1/5" (99 x 65.2 x 56.9 mm)
Weight 10.9 oz (298g) (w/Battery, Memory Stick® Media, Strap)
Additional Features
  • 3 Shot Burst Mode
  • 3 Shot Auto Exposure Bracketing
  • Spot Auto Focus
  • Adjustable Color Saturation / Contrast
  • Clear Color / Clear Luminance NR
  • MPEG1 Cue, Review and Divide
  • 3:2 Aspect Ratio mode
  • Video Output
  • 4 Mode In-Camera Picture Effects
  • 13 Step Manual Preset Focus
Optional Accessories
  • ACC-CSFC Starter Kit (LCS-CSFC, NP-FC11, MSAC-A8)
  • NP-FC11 InfoLithium® Battery
  • AC-LS5 AC Adaptor/In-camera Charger
  • LCS-VHA Deluxe Soft Leather Carrying Case
  • LCS-VHB Deluxe Semi-Soft Carrying Case
  • LCS-CSB Sport Style Carrying Case
  • LCS-CP2 General Carrying Case
  • HVL-F32X External Auto-Programmable Flash
  • HVL-F1000 External Flash
  • VAD-VHA Conversion Lens Adaptor Ring
  • VCL-DEH07V Hi-grade Wide End Conversion Lens
  • VCL-DEH17V Hi-grade Tele end Conversion Lens
  • VF-58CPKS Polarizing Filter Kit*
  • VF-58M Neutral Density Filter Kit*
  • VF-58SC Special Effects Filter Kit*
  • MSA-32A, MSA-64A, MSA-128A Memory Stick® Media
  • MSA-128S2 Memory Stick® Media with Select Function (256MB total)
  • MSX-256, MSX-512, MSX-1G Memory Stick PRO™ Media
  • MSAC-HGA8 Memory Stick® Media Carrying Case
  • MSAC-US70 Memory Stick PRO™ Media USB Adaptor / Mouse
  • MSAC-US20 Memory Stick PRO™ Media USB Adaptor
  • MSAC-PC3 Memory Stick PRO™ Media PC Card Adaptor
  • VMC-14UMB Replacement USB Cable
  • RM-VD1 Multi-Function Wired Remote Control
  • VCT-D680RM Remote Control Tripod
  • VCT-R640 Lightweight Tripod
  • VCT-MTK Travel Tripod

* VAD-VHA Conversion Lens Adaptor Ring Required

More Photos
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-V1 digital camera. Copyright © 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
.

UPDATED 2003-02-25 02:29ET: IR reader YS Lee wrote in with the following message:
"I find the description of the V1 as a rangefinder somewhat off the mark. For starters a proper rangfinder camera is one with a rangefinder coupled to the lens focusing system, such that you use the rangefinder to focus. The rangefinder need not act as a viewfinder (Leica screw mount, Cosina- Voigtlander Bessa T for instance), but it usually is for most newer rangefinders (Leica M, compact rangefinders of the '70s). The DSC-V1 is more of a Canon G series type camera, in which they're just viewfinder equipped compact cameras with manual features."
YS, you're quite correct of course - rangefinder cameras are technically those which offer an assessment of subject distance in the viewfinder, and can indeed be couple to the focusing system. The term is beginning to be used by some digicam manufacturers to refer to what are really viewfinder cameras, generally for models that are aimed at the more advanced enthusiast photographers. We'd guess the reason for the (incorrect) usage is that the word is perceived to have an appeal for this group...

This isn't the only example of such a misusage of photographic terminology - we've seen certain digital cameras incorrectly referred to as SLRs. To be a "single lens reflex" camera, they obviously need to feature a reflex mirror - yet the cameras we're thinking of have used other methods such as beam-splitting prisms or electronic viewfinders. Since most people seem comfortable with the term "SLR-style" in that instance, we've amended this news item to strike a similar medium between the terminology used by the camera manufacturers, and the real meaning - "rangefinder-like".

Thanks for the email!

Source: Sony Corp.

Original Source Press Release:

SONY'S CYBER-SHOT DSC-V1 DIGITAL STILL CAMERA: FOR WHEN PHOTOGRAPHY CROSSES OVER FROM HOBBY TO PASSION

PARK RIDGE, N.J., Feb. 24, 2003 – For all those digital photographers who spend time on web sites or with magazines obsessing about the trade off between features and pocketability, Sony is introducing the Cyber-shot® DSC-V1 digital still camera.

“A signature of Sony design is an ergonomically comfortable device small enough to become part of everyday personal gear, but powerful enough to satisfy sophisticated needs,” said Steve Haber, senior vice president for Sony Electronic’s Digital Imaging Products Division. “The Cyber-shot V1 camera is just this combination.”

Available in May for about $700, and barely larger than a deck and a half of cards, the Cyber-shot V1 camera will offer a 5-megapixel imager and a Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar® lens with 4x optical zoom sharpness and color accuracy. It will also feature a hot shoe and accessory terminal. Plus, there are several Sony-only features, including a rechargeable Infolithium® battery system, with to-the-minute awareness of remaining battery life, along with Nightshot® and NightFraming features for taking crisp pictures in no or low-light conditions.

Let the User Experiment

This model was built for a special class of photographer who wants ultimate control over the picture-taking process, but who also wants the option to call upon automatic features to help balance light and exposure. Among the features that will appeal to the purist are:

Manual Exposure Controls: Flexible exposure control is provided with aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure modes for better command over motion and depth of field.

Program-Shift Dial: Situated next to the LCD for easy access, this dial allows the user to select from a range of available combinations of aperture and shutter settings for control over motion and depth of field while remaining in an automatic exposure mode.

Five-area Multi-Point Auto Focus: The camera evaluates five separate areas of the frame and intelligently focuses on the subject, displaying the selected focus point, or the user can choose any of the five points for manual control.

Hologram AF™ Illuminator: Projects a laser pattern on the subject to create contrast for precise focus, even in low or no light.

Multi-Pattern Measuring: Independently meters the light in 49 points of the frame to establish the optimum exposure, even when highlight and shadow aren’t centered in the frame.

Auto Fill Flash: When the subject is backlit or in shadow, the fill flash automatically fires to provide optimum exposure.

NightShot Infrared System: Captures infrared images in total darkness at a distance of up to 15 feet.

NightFraming System: To capture crisp images in low or no light, this feature illuminates the subject with the NightShot system for proper framing, focuses with Hologram AF illuminator and lights the scene with the appropriate amount of flash.

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