Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-L1: test and review

The Cyber-Shot DSC-L1 is an ultra-compact Sony signed. In the spirit and design, L1 is the successor of the DSC-U40, but the similarities end there. The resolution, zoom, screen size … are some of the parameters that distinguish these two devices. The L1 chooses the form “stick” so dear to the manufacturer and is found on the DSC-P series. It is opposed to the flat design of the T1 and T3 or Dimage X50, Xg, X31 Konica Minolta. With a dress entirely of brushed metal, except few buttons and access doors at the ends (connectors, battery and memory card), the L1 has a 4.1 megapixel sensor associated with an optical system Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar . It also offers a 3x optical zoom.

Despite its small size, 2/3 of a cigarette packet, the L1 is very well thought. The various controls are well placed and prove functional. The menu system is similar to other Sony devices, but has been reduced to keep only the necessary controls. It represents an ideal compromise between ease of use and functionality. Although changes in various parameters of the EI program, the most complete mode of the device is via a menu, it is accessed by a single button press. The changes are then performed to quickly and clearly with a Four-way joystick on the right of the screen. The only caveat stems directly from the size of the device. Its handling and manipulation can prove difficult for large hands. One aspect to evaluate by trying in a store before buying.

The L1 is available in three colors.

As its size suggests, the L1 is destined for a while automatic use. Beginners and users who want to take pictures without worrying about settings will appreciate the automatic exposure control and the seven presets (Twilight Portrait, Soft snap, Landscape, Beach, Snow, and Candle). With the presence of an AE mode, Sony leaves the door open for a little more demanding photographers by giving them hands on exposure compensation, the choice of focus, white balance, sensitivity, chroma , contrast and sharpness. Do not expect not to have full manual control. Program AE allows at most to choose from a limited number of proposals, such as two for the development (central or multispot) or five white balance (Auto, bright, cloudy, fluorescent and incandescent).

In use, the L1 impressed us. Its speed in all areas is truly breathtaking. The power-on time has never exceeded two seconds and a half. The latency between the trigger pressure and the actual taking of the cliché is almost nonexistent. Recording images to the memory card is much more noticeable, it varies between a second and a half and two seconds, depending on whether you use the flash. Excellent values ​​for this type of device. Even the burst mode offers a good pace, with an average of one frame per second regardless of the selected resolution and compression quality. The L1 also offers five resolutions with two compression ratio. The speed of operation extends to the focus. Autofocus is fast and precise even in the worst lighting conditions. The device has an assist lamp that is automatically activated when the illumination is too low. Although it perfectly fulfills its role, it lacks a little power. In operation, it projects an orange light to several meters. This light beam highly dazzles (the pain threshold) if the picture is taken closely. The connector complements the good performance chart this Sony. With a port USB 2.0, transfer images from the camera to a machine is done in record time thirty seconds is enough to copy fifty pictures.

The image quality is excellent provided you select the lowest compression, that is to say, the Fine mode. In good lighting conditions, the shots are sharp with nuanced tones and accurate color. The noise appears and increases gradually as the light becomes more and more low, as with most models. As now all the cameras, the L1 captures videos. The three formats (640×480 at 30 frames / s, 640×480 at 16 f / s and 160×112 8 i / s) provide good sequences. The sound is poor, but the microphone is really too anecdotal to expect anything.

The LCD screen of the L1 is a smaller present on devices in this range.

Large defects of L1 are the screen and flash. Both are in the image of the camera: very small. But what is a quality of a global viewpoint for a compact, turned disadvantage to both. The screen of 3.8 cm (1.5 inch) is one of the smallest on the market. Fortunately, the quality is once again with go: all information remains visible even in bright light and responsiveness is very good despite some afterglow. direct consequence of the small size of flash, power is insufficient for it to fully play its role. Unable to illuminate a subject several meters. These choices certainly stem from a power saving concern. A larger screen and a more powerful flash constitute a drain on battery life. During testing, the battery held on average time to make 100 to 150 pictures.

In the niche of the ultra-compact “design” and compared to the μ-mini Digital from Olympus, the L1 even if it is somewhat less attractive (and again this is a matter of taste) provides better picture quality . A choice to consider when looking for a visual notebook to put in his pocket.