• Price: 595

  • Company: Sony

  • Pros: Rugged build, low noise, super-sharp wide-angle Carl Zeiss zoom, and great monitor.

  • Cons: All this quality doesn’t come cheap, and there’s no image stabilizer. But while the DSC-R1 can outclass entry-level digital SLRs, it can’t match the versatility afforded by interchangeable lenses.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

The Cyber-shot-R1 is something of a departure for Sony. Historically, the company’s focus in terms of sensors has been centred on CCD technology, but this is its first camera to feature a large, low-noise, CMOS chip. At 21.5-x-14.4mm, it’s larger than Kodak’s 4/3-type sensor found in the Olympus E-500, and only marginally smaller than the Sony chip found in Nikon’s D2X.

It boasts a 10.3-megapixel resolution and a top ISO setting of 3200, putting it ahead in terms of resolution of all the current entry-level digital SLRs as well as most semi-pro types too.

Then there’s the superlative Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-120mm f/2.8-4.8 manual zoom lens, and it’s a top-drawer multi-coated T* variant. Although it’s a classy piece of glass, with a wider field of view than usual, it’s permanently fixed to the polycarbonate body, so you don’t get the flexibility of interchangeable lenses.

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The body, though, is fantastic. It’s weightier and more solid than competing models, such as Samsung’s 8mp Pro815 and Panasonic’s DMC-FZ30. The build quality inspires confidence in the camera, and meets the standard set by its predecessor – Sony’s DSC-F828. The handling is similar too – there’s the same fast start-up and impressive five-point AF array.
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The body features a top-mounted LCD and a forward-mounted pop-up flash, which give the camera its bulbous head. The 1.8-inch screen feels a little on the small side, especially compared to Samsung’s giant 3.5-inch model on the Pro815. 
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However, the swivelling screen works well – you can twist it round and fold it flat to use it as a waist-level viewfinder, or tilt it up slightly to shoot action. It folds flat against the body for protection. The eye-level viewfinder isn’t as good as <BR>
an optical viewfinder, but it’s entirely usable – it’s bright and high-contrast and presents a reasonably large image. In any case, it’s just large enough to check focus. 
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<b>You’ve been framed</b>
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