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Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource.  All rights reserved. Sony announces Cyber-shot DSC-P31 digicam!
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, February 20, 2002 - 18:00 EST)

Latest model redefines low-cost digicams with tiny size, advanced features like multi-point AF...

Sony Corp. today announces five new digital cameras due for sale in the US marketplace over the next few months. In the first of three additions to its P-series lineup, the company describes its new ultra-compact Cyber-shot DSC-P31 digital camera. Featuring a 33mm-equivalent fixed focal length lens, the camera seems more closely related to the fixed focal-length DSC-P3 and DSC-P20 (36mm and 42mm respectively) than to the zoom-equipped DSC-P30 that the name might suggest. The camera is just slightly larger than the DSC-P3 and DSC-P5 models, and comes in as the fourth-lightest P-series camera behind both these and the DSC-P20.

Where the new P31 model definitely wins, however, is in its pricing (and the specifications available for your money) - it is far and away the cheapest P-series digicam yet with a targetted price of $220 (street). For this price, you get a 2.11 megapixel imager, 3-area autofocusing (with the area selected automatically by the camera) and both real-image and 1.6" LCD viewfinders. There's also ISO ratings from 100 to 400, shutter speeds from 2 to 1/1000 second, a choice of multi or spot metering, a built-in flash and MemoryStick storage. One further change of note is a switch from the MGI software bundles previous Sony cameras have included to a new package, Pixel ImageMixer v1.0.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P31 will ship in April 2002 at a price of $219 (street). Full specifications for the camera are in our database, and highlights follow:

Specification Highlights - full specifications here
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P31
Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Model Number: DSC-P31
Camera Format: Ultra Compact
Price: $219 (street)
Date Available: April 2002
Image Capture
Image Sensor: 2.11 megapixel
Image Resolution: 1600x1200, 1600x1072, 1280x960, 640x480, 320x240
Focal Length (effective): 33mm (fixed focal length)
Digital Zoom: 3x
Auto Focus: Yes (Auto 3-Area Contrast Detect)
Manual Focus: Yes (5 step)
Normal Focus Range: 10 cm to Infinity; 4.1 in to Infinity
Macro Focus Range: See notes
Aperture Range: f/2.8 - 8.0
Optical Viewfinder: Yes (Real Image type)
LCD Viewfinder: Yes (1.6 inch, 61000 pixel)
ISO Settings: Auto (100 - 400), 100, 200, 400
White Balance Settings: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent
Manual White Balance: No
Shutter Speeds: 2 - 1/1000 second
Exp Adj Range: +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV steps
Metering Modes: Multi-Pattern, Spot
Exposure Modes: Auto
Self Timer: Unknown
Internal Flash: Yes
Flash Modes: Auto, Auto w/ red-eye reduction, On, On w/ red-eye reduction, Off
Flash Range Description: 1.3 - 12.5 feet (0.4 - 3.8 meters)
Ext Flash: No
Image Storage
Flash Memory: MemoryStick
Memory Included: 8MB
File Formats: JPEG, MPEG, Animated GIF
More Information
Weight: 231 g; 8.1 oz
Weight With Batteries? Yes
Size: 106 x 58 x 40mm; 4.2 x 2.3 x 1.6in
Notes & Features: Has integrated automatic lens cover.

12-bit DXP. Manual focus has 5 steps, autofocus has three areas selected automatically by the camera. AF illuminator light can be turned on/off manually. Has "auto macro" mode, minimum focusing distance unspecified. Shutter speeds of 1/2 to 2 seconds available in Slow Shutter NR mode only. Shutter speeds in auto are 1/30 to 1/1000 second. Has Clear Color and Luminance NR modes (flatten noise in areas of uniform color/luminance). Sharpening level can be adjusted +/- 2 steps in 1-step increments. Flash level can be set to auto, high or low. LCD backlight can be turned on/off and is adjustable. Shows shots taken and remaining, and battery life remaining. Can capture a burst of 16 consecutive frames at 320x240 pixel mode, speed unspecified. Clip motion mode captures an animated GIF file at 160x120 or 80x72 pixel resolution. Playback zoom allows display of images at 1.1 to 5x zoom. Has in-camera MPEG cue review and divide features, as well as image trimming/resizing. Maximum MPEG file length is limited only by available flash memory.

Supplied battery charger is part number BC-CS1.
More Photos
Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's DSC-P31 digital camera. Copyright © 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!

Source: Sony Corp.

Original Source Press Release:


Models Include Built-in Technologies to Ensure Better Pictures Every Time

PARK RIDGE, N.J., Feb. 20, 2002 - The need to delete out-of-focus or improperly exposed pictures is almost a thing of the past with the powerful hidden capabilities of Sony's new Cyber-shot digital still camera models (DSC-P31, DSC-P51 and DSC-P71), unveiled at a press conference today.

Rather than focus only on pixels and price, the three new models possess behind-the-scenes technology that eliminates the frustration and disappointment of having to retake pictures due to camera limitations, making the switch from film to digital photography more compelling than ever.

Back to Basics

Sony's new Cyber-shot P Series cameras concentrate on the essentials of good picture-taking - sharp focus and accurate exposure. Technologies like multi-point auto focus, multi-pattern and pre-flash exposure metering, and scene modes work transparently to give amateur photographers the headstart they need.

"This is the next step in the development of digital cameras," said Takashi Kondo, senior vice president of Sony Electronics' Digital Imaging Product Division. "After all, the real benefit of improved digital imaging technology is obtaining better pictures with less hassle."

Better Focus and Exposure - Automatically

Sony's newly developed multi-point auto focus is one feature that takes the guesswork away from the picture-taker. It allows the camera to intelligently evaluate three different focus areas and select the best focus setting for the subject instead of the background. This ensures that the star of the photo is always the clearest, crispest part of the picture - even if they aren't in the center of the frame.

For greater exposure accuracy, Sony's pre-flash exposure metering calculates exposure with light from the flash itself. When the picture is taken, the flash fires twice ? once to illuminate the subject and determine the correct exposure, then a second time to record the image with the best exposure possible. All of this is done effortlessly in less than a blink of an eye.

To provide accurate exposure in uneven lighting, multi-pattern metering divides the scene into a matrix of 49 separate cells, each of which can be metered independently. This stealth feature calculates exposure when highlights and shadows exist outside the center of the frame, like a beach scene with the sun in one corner and a shaded hammock in the other.

Special Lighting Problems Solved

It's difficult for most amateur photographers to take a picture that correctly exposes both the subject and the background. So, for example, nighttime pictures of people standing in the middle of New York's Time's Square can lose the exciting backdrop details.

When selecting the new Twilight Portrait scene mode, a pre-figured exposure control steps in to invisibly handle the challenging shooting situation. To best capture the light and image from the background, it slows the shutter speed for a long exposure and, to properly illuminate the person in the foreground, it adds the flexibility of a flash.

To make the picture even more clear and "frameable," Sony has added a mechanism that was previously found only in more expensive, professional-grade cameras ? slow shutter noise reduction. It eliminates the "visual noise" that often appears in long exposure time digital camera images as grain, by capturing two successive pictures. The first captures what the photographer sees. The second closes the iris and captures the noise. The camera then subtracts the noise pattern from the picture, resulting in a beautiful lowlight photograph that is virtually noise-free.

Useful Recording Options

In addition to taking high-resolution digital images, the three new Cyber-shot models offer modes that extend their usefulness.

Multi-frame burst mode is a recording option that captures action by taking 16 rapid-fire sequential pictures at any of three selected intervals. Saved as a single digital file, these images can be beneficial in analyzing a golf, tennis or baseball swing.

All three cameras also feature the new MPEG Movie HQX video mode that allows users to capture nonstop, full-screen, high-resolution MPEG videos to the capacity of the Memory Stick media.

Tools for Added Convenience

In low light situations, advanced LCD auto bright monitoring automatically increases the brightness of an image on the LCD display so photographers can see and frame objects.

For reliable, long-lasting operation, all three models are supplied with rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries and a charger.

Lastly - Resolution, Zoom and Price

The new DSC-P31 and DSC-P51 models offer 2.0 megapixels (effective) of resolution, while the top-of the-line DSC-P71 provides 3.2 megapixels (effective) from its CCD imager.

The 8.5-ounce DSC-P31 is smaller than the other two Cyber-shot models and features a 3X digital zoom. The DSC-P51 and DSC-P71 both weigh about 10 ounces. The DSC-P51 has a 2X optical / 3X digital zoom and the DSC-P71 has a 3X optical / 2X digital zoom.

The DSC-P31 and DSC P71 Cyber-shot cameras will be available at the end of March for about $220 and $400, respectively. The DSC-P51 will be available at the end of April for about $300.

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