The possibilities that the photographer can create with the Sony Cybershot R1 are pretty much the same to those of the average digital reflex camera. The comparison, however, still remains somewhat restricted. The Sony R1 is not a digital camera that replaces a system camera, there are simply too many substantial differences for this. The limited image processing speed for instance, is a weak point when compared to the digital reflex camera, and the absence of a possibility to change the lens naturally remains the most prominent distinction. On the other hand, the Sony Cybershot R1 offers the user a wide array of features, including a considerable share of innovative technique.
Sony R1 - Aperture & Focus
The Sony R1 is equipped with a lens that has a truly magnificent range; 24mm to start with, a feature that will undoubtedly please the landscape photographer. On the opposite there is a telephoto of 120mm, perfect for shooting a portrait. It is most pleasant to work with a zoom lens that can be set manually via the zoom ring. Accuracy and speed are entirely controllable by the user. Aperture allows both manual and fully automatic setting, starting from a bright aperture of f/2.8 in wide-angle and f/4.8 in telephoto. Focussing happens effortlessly, both automatically via the auto focus system and manually via the focus ring on the lens. The Sony R1 has several focus possibilities: single, monitor AF and continuous AF. In addition, it provides several focal areas: Multipoint, Centre and Flexible Spot AF. The focus area is standard set to Multipoint, Centre puts more emphasis on the centre of the composition and Spot AF is a handy feature that will primarily come in handy with images taken in a studio environment such as product photography. One no longer needs to adjust the camera, and thus the composition, when the focus point falls just outside the focus area. A specific area can easily be selected by using the multi-controller on the back of the camera.
Sony Cybershot R1 lens - Precision & Smart zoom
Zooming in goes effortlessly. The zoom ring with which the lens comes equipped, allows you to zoom in on your subject with accuracy. Besides this, the 5x optical zoom (24 - 120mm on a 35mm camera) has two digital zoom functions: Precision and Smart zoom. In combination with the 5x optical zoom, the latter function makes it possible to create a maximum of 15x zoom (incl. 3x digital zoom). This does take its toll on the maximum resolution; the mode leaves only 1 Megapixel in resolution. More functional, yet less in quality, is the Precision zoom. This function has a 2x digital zoom, which offers a total of 10x when including the 5x optical zoom, and can be used with all settable resolutions. Those of you who want to enhance the focal range can also invest in optional converters, which vary in quality and are available from various manufacturers.
Sony DSC R1 zoom lens - Stunning quality
The optical quality of the 5x zoom lens is superb, no flaws found there! The sharpness with various aperture values and focal points is of undisputed top quality. Some distortion at wide angle is not worth mentioning. Chromatic aberration only rarely occurs with wide-angle images, and should not at all be looked at as severe. The Sony Cybershot R1 is without a doubt supplied with a fantastic lens, one of a truly stunning quality, very impressive! In fact, the Sony R1 offers a very strong combination when compared with the digital reflex camera kits with standard lenses as offered by the competition. A digital reflex equipped with a lens such as that of the Cybershot R1 would cost a whole lot more indeed!
Cybershot R1 camera - Taking a series of images
The Sony R1 is far from a race horse when it comes to taking a series of images. Shooting 2-3 images in the high resolution does not present any problems, but when you desire more, you will need to have a few seconds of patience to allow the camera's internal buffer to empty.
Although this should certainly not be seen as dramatic, I must say I did expect more of the R1. The speed will suffice in most situations, but it certainly wouldn't do any harm if the camera was a little more "all-round", and could for instance be used at sporting events. For now however, we have to go with the facts and this means the Sony R1 is able to capture a series with a speed of approximately 3.5 images per second with a maximum of 3 images (JPEG - 10 Megapixels).
Sony Cybershot DSC R1 - White balance
The white balance of the Sony Cybershot R1 comes with a total of 7 settings, including automatic and manual. The automatic white balance does very well in many situations, the images tend to lean a little to the warm side. In situations with dominant candescent light the manual white balance is the best option to eliminate colour cast. Overall, the colour reproduction is good and reasonably true to nature.
Sony Cybershot R1 - Preset scenes
Besides the auto mode and aperture and shutter speed priority, the Cybershot R1 is equipped with 4 preset scenes. The mentioned programs can be found on the commend dial, on the left side below the electronic viewfinder. Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait and Evening Scene are the most common modes and should be seen as standard. Even though the challenge is of course at its best when you choose your own aperture and shutter speed to make your shot, the ease and comfort of a preset scene is a feature that comes in very handy indeed.
Sony Cybershot DSC R1 - Multi light metering
The Sony R1 makes standard use of a so-called Multi light metering, which divides the subject into several parts, each of which undergoes a light metering. The R1 uses the obtained data to calculate a balanced light metering. This way of metering functions very well for most images. Besides this method, which is often used, it is possible to set the camera to more centre weighted metering, or even very accurately as spot metering.
Sony R1 digital camera - ISO values
According to the specifications, the Cybershot R1 has a large ISO range of 160 up to 3200 ISO. In practice, it shows that the low ISO values up to 400 ISO offer good to superb results. Noise is limited and the 400 ISO images can still very well be used. Although 800 ISO shows more noise, even the 1600 ISO images are quite decent. 3200 ISO unfortunately is no longer suited to be shown on the monitor. This however, turns around completely when the very same images are printed. Here we once again see that there are large differences between digital noise shown on the screen and in a print. De ISO 800 and 1600 images are fine up to a format of 10x15 / 13x18 cm. Even the 3200 ISO images are adequate, although the effects on the edges as a result of colour shifting, does mean the quality has decreased somewhat. Overall however, this is a decent result and a definite advantage for the photographer, that will be able to use the Sony Cybershot R1 in many different light situations.