Original Source Press Release:
Sony announces Cyber-shot DSC-M1 digital camera|
(Thursday, September 9, 2004 - 00:00 EDT)
Sony has today announced a new digital camera model that has to be one of the most unconventional we've seen in a very long time.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M1, slated to ship in December at a price of US$600, aims to correct the deficiencies of existing digital cameras when it comes to digital video. The design is essentially based on the existing ultracompact Cyber-shot DSC-T1 model, but in a somewhat larger and heavier body (more akin to the DSC-P100) with a cellphone-like vertical form factor. Like many cell-phones, the camera is comprised of two halves - but rather than a clamshell or sliding design, the DSC-M1 opens with an unusual top-mounted swivel, whereby the back portion of the camera swings clockwise 90 degrees. The end result is a camera shaped like an inverted L, with the LCD jutting out from the left-hand side - itself able to swivel to point upwards, downwards or even forwards towards your subject. Like it or not, there's no question that this camera will attract attention when you use it.
Most features are actually fairly similar to the DSC-T1, but the movie mode has been reworked. For one thing, the DSC-M1 uses MPEG4 (dubbed MPEGMOVIE4TV by Sony), rather than the more common MPEG1 - which means the camera offers higher quality video with much lower bit-rates. According to Sony, you can expect 50% more vertical resolution, with 1/4 the bitrate of MPEG1. Also, the DSC-M1 is Sony's first digital camera to feature two microphones for stereo sound, rather than the more common (and slightly cheaper) single mono microphone. Also, the camera has not one, not two, not even three, but four shutter buttons (admittedly, two of them duplicates of the other two). One pair of shutter buttons controls still image recording, and the other pair controls movie recording.
Two other features of the DSC-M1 are particularly unusual. Thanks in part to its choice of MPEG4, the camera is actually capable of recording movies for as long as there is available battery and flash card space, but a switch on the camera's rear panel actually lets you deliberately limit this to just five seconds. Sony says that this is to promote the use of the device for recording short clips; if five seconds proves not to be long enough, you can extend the clip by pressing the Movie shutter button as often as you like, and the countdown is reset to five seconds each time. More unusual - and potentially much more useful - is the camera's Hybrid recording mode. This allows you to record a combination of video and still images with a single press of the shutter button, although in a rather limited way. In a nutshell, when you set the relevant switch to put the camera in Hybrid mode, it immediately begins recording video from the CCD to its internal buffer, and discarding anything older than five seconds. When you press the shutter button, the most recent five seconds of video are saved to the camera's Memory Stick PRO Duo card, followed (after about a second's pause) by a still image being captured. After another second's pause, the camera records three more seconds of video. The net result is that you get a still image surrounded by two brief video clips - one documenting what happened before you decided to take the photo, and one documenting what happened afterwards. An interesting concept, although we're not sure how popular it will prove to be in the real world.
Full specifications, product photos and press release for the Cyber-shot DSC-M1 courtesy of Sony follow below:
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M1 |
|Imaging Device ||1/2.4" 5.1 Megapixel Effective Super HAD™ CCD |
|Image Resolution ||2592 x 1944, 2592 x 1728, 2048 x 1536, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480 |
|Recording Media ||Memory Stick Duo™ Media, Memory Stick PRO Duo™ Media |
|Lens Construction ||11 Elements in 8 Groups (Including 3 Aspheric Elements, 1 Prism) |
|Zoom ||3X Optical, 2X Digital, 6X Total Zoom |
|Filter Diameter ||N/A |
|Focal Length ||6.7 – 20.1mm |
|35mm Equivalent ||38 – 114mm |
|Aperture ||f3.5 – 4.4 |
|Focus ||5 Area Multi-Point AF, 5 Step Manual Preset |
|Minimum Focus Distance ||19 5⁄8" (50cm) |
|Macro Focus Distance ||Selectable 3 1⁄16" (8cm), Magnifying Glass Mode 3⁄8" (1cm) |
|Shutter Speed ||Auto (1/8 – 1/1000 sec), Program Auto (1 – 1/1000 sec), High Speed (1/250 – 1/1000 sec) |
|Aperture Range ||f3.5 – f5.6 (W), f4.4 – f10.0 (T) |
|Exposure Compensation ||±2.0EV, 1/3EV steps |
|Color LCD ||2.5" 123K TFT Pixels Hybrid LCD Screen |
|Flash Modes ||Auto / Forced On / Forced Off / Slow Synchro |
|Red-Eye Reduction ||On / Off |
|Flash Effective Range ||11 7⁄8" – 4' 11 1⁄8" (0.3 – 1.5m) |
|White Balance ||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash |
|Speed Burst Mode ||4 Shot (5MP JPEG Fine) 3fps |
|Picture Effects ||Black & White, Sepia |
|ISO ||Auto, 100, 200, 400 |
|Scene Modes ||Beach, Candle, Fireworks, High Speed Shutter, Landscape, Magnifying Glass Mode, Snow, Twilight, Twilight Portrait |
|Self-Timer ||Yes, 10 Seconds |
|Audio/Video Output ||Yes, by Supplied Multi-connector Cable |
|Still Image Modes ||JPEG (Fine / Standard), Burst, Auto Bracketing |
|Hybrid Record Mode ||Continuously accumulates 320x240 15fps video with sound, and records 5 seconds before still image capture and 3 seconds after. Still image recorded at selected resolution. |
|MPEG Movie Mode1 || |
|MPEGMOVIE 4TV (MPEG4) with Stereo Audio (640 x 480, 30 fps / 2.88 Mbps Bit Rate) |
|MPEGMOVIE 4TV (MPEG4) with Stereo Audio (320 x 240, 30 fps / 975 kbps Bit Rate) |
|MPEGMOVIE 4TV (MPEG4) with Stereo Audio (320 x 240, 15 fps / 277 kbps Bit Rate) |
|Microphone / Speaker ||Yes / Yes |
|USB Terminal ||Yes, by Supplied Multi-connector Cable, Supports USB 2.0 Hi-speed |
|Memory Stick PRO Duo™ Media Compatibility* ||Tested to support up to 512MB media capacity; does not support Access Control security function |
|Battery Type / Capacity ||InfoLithium® NP-FT1, 2.4W (680mAh) |
|Supplied Software ||Picture Package™ for Sony v1.2 (Windows), USB Driver |
|OS Compatibility ||Microsoft® Windows® 98, 98SE, 2000 Professional, Me, XP Home and Professional |
|USB OS Driver Support || |
|Microsoft® Windows® 98, 98SE, 2000 Professional, Me, XP Home and Professional |
|Macintosh® OS 9.1, 9.2/X (v10.0 - 10.3) |
|Supplied Accessories ||NP-FT1 Rechargeable InfoLithium® Battery, AC-LM5 Battery Charger, UC-MA Cyber-shot® Station, Stereo A/V Connecting Cable, USB Cable, Wrist Strap, MSA-32A 32MB Memory Stick® Media, Memory Stick Duo Adapter, Software CD-ROM |
|Dimensions ||2" x 4 1⁄2" x 1 1⁄16" (51 x 114 x 27.8mm) |
|Weight ||6.5 oz (185g) Body; 7.5 oz (215g) Body w/ Battery, Media & Wrist Strap |
|More Photos |
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|SONY'S CYBER-SHOT M1 CAMERA EXTENDS THE MEMORY TO MORE THAN JUST AN INSTANT IN TIME |
New Cyber-shot Shooting Mode Sandwiches Quality Stills Between Video Clips
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 8 2004 — A picture may say a thousand words, but with Sony's futuristic new Cyber-shot® DSC-M1 digital camera and its extraordinary video features, it's what happens before and after the picture is taken that says the most.
“Capturing that one special moment in time is, of course, the reason why cameras exist,” said Steve Haber, senior vice president for Sony Electronics' Personal Mobile and Imaging Division. “But what led up to that moment, and what happened just after is an important story to tell too.”
Enter, the Cyber-shot DSC-M1, a 5.1-megapixel digital still camera that also pays particular attention to the role moving images play in preserving memories, and even more attention to making it easy to use. It will be available in December for about $600.
The camera, a slim, matte-black device about the size of a deck of cards, is held vertically, and its 2.5-inch articulated LCD swivels upward and rotates a full 270 degrees. This new shooting orientation provides more surface area to access both the menu navigation buttons and two “hot” buttons to for direct access to recording stills and video.
The outer edge of the LCD also has buttons serving two functions. While the LCD is extended and the camera is in record mode, the buttons can be used to record, and toggle back and forth between stills and video. When the LCD is facing outward, but flush with the camera's body, the buttons can be used to playback stills and video, turning the camera into a personal media viewer.
A Revolution in Short-Clip Video Capture and Compression
A new hybrid record mode makes the most of the scene being captured by automatically recording five seconds of QVGA video before and three seconds after the still image is snapped, creating a more complete record of the sights and sounds of the moment. The video and still images are stored as two separate files, but played back as one in the camera.
“This hybrid recording mode serves as something of a safety net for unanticipated moments that you'll later be glad you caught,” Haber said. “Think of what happens immediately before and after the guest of honor walks into a surprise party. A photo may have been taken at just right moment, but the M1 can be a time machine that tells others what it was like to be there.”
The Cyber-shot DSC-M1 camera's enhanced video functions include recording with the new MPEGMovie 4TV feature, the MPEG-4 compression format that significantly increases picture quality and resolution while dramatically reducing file size. Employing a reduced bit rate (from 11Mpbs to 2.5 Mpbs), MPEGMovie 4TV mode enables the recording of up to 27 minutes of VGA-resolution, 30-frames-per-second video with stereo sound on an optional 512 MB Memory Stick PRO Duo™ media card, or up to 54 minutes with the optional 1GB card, available soon.
The camera uses a Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® 3X optical zoom lens, and the zoom operates even while capturing video. The M1 model also uses Sony's Real Imaging Processor™ circuit, an ultra-fast processor that enables quick start-up and rapid shot-to-shot times. It also enhances the speed of advanced features that help the user get the picture right the first time, including sophisticated auto-exposure, auto-white balance and five-area, multi-point auto-focus features.
The M1 camera operates using Sony's InfoLithium® rechargeable battery system, displaying approximate to-the-minute remaining battery life on the LCD. It comes bundled with a custom-sized Cyber-shot Station USB cradle for keeping the battery charged and the camera connected to your PC for easy downloading. The Cyber-shot Station also connects to a TV for playing back videos and stills on the big screen.
Bundled software includes the PicturePackage™ 1.2 application, which includes a function for converting MPEG-4 video clips into the AVI format, allowing for easy editing.
Editor's Notes: Sony Electronics' Personal, Mobile and Imaging Products Division markets Cyber-shot® digital still cameras, Handycam® camcorders and related imaging accessories. In addition, the division markets personal audio products, such as the new Network Walkman digital music player, along with the Hi-MD™ , Net MD™ and CD Walkman® player s . It also markets a variety of mobile electronics for enjoyment in the car. For additional information about Sony products, your readers can call (888) 222-SONY, or visit Sony's web site at: www.sony.com/di . Press releases and digital images are available for the media at Sony Electronics' news and information web site at: www.sony.com/news