Price When Reviewed: 595
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.
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.