review has been completed using a production-model DSC-T1.
All sample photos are from the production camera. Thank you
for your patience, as it took a long time to get a production
Cyber-shot DSC-T1 ($550) is an ultra-compact camera with
a 3X zoom lens, 5 Megapixel CCD, and large 2.5" LCD display.
It has many of the bells and whistles found on Sony's higher
end cameras, but it's still a (rather pricey) point-and-shoot
camera. It's also one of only two Sony models to use the tiny
Memory Stick Duo cards -- which are roughly the size of a Secure
Digital (SD) card.
to learn more about the T1? Then keep reading our review!
in the Box?
DSC-T1 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
5.1 effective Megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-T1 camera
Memory Stick Duo card
Stick Duo adapter
featuring Pixela ImageMixer software and USB drivers
page camera manual (printed)
I mentioned, the T1 uses the tiny Memory Stick Duo cards, and
a 32MB card is included, which is a good starting point, but
you'll definitely need a larger card right away. The camera can
use three types of Duo cards: regular, MagicGate, and Pro. The
Pro cards are a requirement for the MPEGMovie VX Fine mode that
I'll describe later. I do consider the use of the Duo card to
be a liability, as it's yet another proprietary format. Regardless
of what camera you had before, you'll have to buy all new memory
cards for the T1. Duo cards are pricey, too: Sony wants $300
for a 512MB card (you can buy the Sandisk version and save some
now you have a tiny memory card that isn't supported in other
devices, right? Thankfully, that's not the case. Sony includes
a Memory Stick adapter in the box, which lets you use the Duo
card in a regular Memory Stick slot. A PC Card adapter is also
cameras require small batteries, and the T1 is no exception.
Sony includes the new NP-FT1 lithium-ion battery, which has an
energy rating of 2.4 Wh. That'll get you about 85 minutes (170
photos) in record mode, or 130 minutes in playback mode. That's
pretty typical for cameras this small. Keep in mind that these
are pricey batteries, at around $60 a pop.
it's time to charge the battery, just put the camera into the
included cradle, or just plug the adapter directly into the camera.
Charging takes about 2.5 hours.
T1 is somewhat unique, in that it has no USB or A/V port on the
camera itself -- you are required to use the dock, or buy special
adapter cables separately ($20 each for A/V and USB). The USB
port here is USB 2.0 high speed.
wacky design of the DSC-T1 includes a big sliding lens cover.
To turn on the camera, you slide the door down (there's also
a power button on top). As you can see, this is a very small
already mentioned a few accessories for the T1 -- here are a
few more. The most interesting is the MPK-THA marine case ($200),
which lets you take the camera up to 40 meters underwater. Along
with the marine case, there's also an underwater filter pack
($100) and underwater light ($350). Other accessories include
a compact travel charger ($60) and two cases ($20 and $50).
includes the same, tired version of ImageMixer with the camera.
It's a very basic program for viewing your photos. Mac users
take note -- the software is not OS X native. Both Mac and Windows
users can find much better software products out there (Adobe
Photoshop Albums and Elements come to mind).
manual included with the camera is average, at best. Expect lots
of fine print and a cluttered layout.
you take a stack of credit cards and pile them up to about 0.8
inches tall, you'll have a good idea about the size of the DSC-T1.
Sony was able to create an ultra-thin, 3X zoom camera by doing
what Minolta has done for a few years now with their DiMAGE X-series
cameras. They place the lens elements down the body, rather than
directly behind the lens opening. A prism redirects the light
downward, which is where you'll find the moving lens elements
and the CCD sensor.
T1's body is all-metal, giving it a very solid feel. Do note
that metal cameras love to get scratched, so take good care of
it. The camera is also a little heavier than you'd expect (but
by no means is it heavy). The important controls are easy to
official dimensions of the T1 are 91 x 60 x 21 mm / 3.6 x 2.4
x 0.8 inches (W x H x D) and it weighs 180 grams / 6.3 ounces
with battery, memory card, and strap installed. The Minolta DiMAGE
Xg (similar design, 3 Megapixel) is about the same size, but
lighter: 3.4 x 2.6 x 0.8 inches and 120 grams.
begin our tour of this camera now.
the front of the camera, with that big lens cover moved downward.
The main event here is, of course, the T1's 3X Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar
lens. It's a pretty slow lens, with a maximum aperture of F3.5-4.4
(compare with F2.8-3.6 on the DiMAGE Xg). The focal length of
the lens is 6.7 - 20.1 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 114 mm.
I don't think I have to tell you that lens accessories are not
available for the T1.
else you need to know about the lens: watch your hands! More
specifically, the fingers on your left hand. It's easy to accidentally
put them into the picture.
to the left of the lens is the T1's tiny flash. If you're thinking "I
bet this camera will have a lot of redeye", well, so am
I (we'll find out later in the review). The working range of
the flash is especially poor -- 0.3 - 1.5 m at wide-angle, and
0.5 - 1.5 at telephoto. Compare that with the Xt's ranges of
0.15 - 3.2 m and 0.15 - 2.5 m, respectively.
below the flash is the AF-assist lamp. Yes, even on this little
camera, Sony still manages to include one of these. And to think
that some other manufacturers don't include them on their high
other big feature on the DSC-T1 is its large 2.5" LCD display.
Not only it this a large screen, but it's also a high resolution
one, with 211,000 pixels (though it didn't really seem that sharp).
Images on the screen are sharp, and motion is fluid. The screen
brightness is adjustable in the setup menu. You can also turn
off the backlight (by pressing the display button) when you're
in bright outdoor light, to help conserve battery life.
of the tradeoffs on the T1 is that it lacks an optical viewfinder.
For me personally, that's a deal breaker. Others may not be bothered.
Since I've been comparing the T1 to the DiMAGE Xg for a while,
I will mention that the Xg has an optical viewfinder, but has
a much smaller 1.6" LCD display.
other LCD/optical viewfinder issue has to do with shooting in
dim lighting. Like most cameras, the T1 doesn't amplify the brightness
of the screen in low light. That means that you may not be able
to see what you're shooting at. Here is where that optical viewfinder
would've come in handy.
the right of the LCD are a whole mess of buttons. The menu button
activates the menu, while the display button below it toggles
the LCD on and off, as well as the information shown on it.
to those buttons is the four-way controller. You'll use this
not only for menu navigation, but for changing shooting settings
as well. These include:
- Flash (Auto, forced flash, slow synchro, no flash)
- Quick Review (jumps to playback mode)
the upper-right of the four-way controller is the image size
/ delete photo button. Slightly above that is the microphone.
hard to see here, but on the far right is the mode switch, which
moves the camera between movie, record, and playback mode.
final item on the back of the camera is the zoom controller.
It silently moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about
2.2 seconds. The lens can be moved with precision by quickly
pressing the buttons. Speaking of buttons, I wish that the zoom
buttons were a little larger.
only things to see on the top of the DSC-T1 are the microphone,
power button, and shutter release button. You use this power
button when you want to enter playback mode (so you don't have
to uncover the lens).
to see here, other than the T1's very thin profile.
the other side of the camera, you can get a better look at the
mode switch that I mentioned earlier.
the bottom of the camera, you'll find the battery and memory
card compartment, as well as the dock connector. The battery/memory
card compartment is covered by a flimsy plastic door.
DSC-T1 does not have a tripod mount.
on the left, you can see the NP-FT1 battery. On the opposite
site is the included 32MB Memory Stick Duo card, along with the
Memory Stick adapter I discussed earlier.
the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T1
took just over two seconds for the T1 to "warm up" before
I could take a picture. Very nice.
A histogram is shown on the LCD in record
camera was much faster in the autofocus speed department. It
took about 1/2 second to lock focus in most cases, slightly longer
if it had to "hunt" a bit. Low light focusing was very
good, thanks to the T1's AF-assist lamp. Do note that shooting
in low light can be very difficult, since you often cannot see
anything on the LCD.
lag was very low, even at slower shutter speeds.
speed was excellent, with a delay of around a second between
shots (assuming the post-shot review feature is turned off).
cannot delete a photo right after it's taken -- you must use
the Quick Review feature.
here's a look at the image size/quality choices on the T1:
photos on included 32MB Memory Stick Duo
(2592 x 1944)
(2592 x 1728)
(2048 x 1536)
(1280 x 960)
(640 x 480)
no TIFF or RAW mode on the T1.
file numbering system used by Sony is quite simple. Files are
named DSC0####.JPG, where #### = 0001 - 9999. The numbering is
maintained as you erase and swap Memory Sticks.
T1 uses the new Sony menu system that I first saw on the DSC-F828.
The menu is overlay-style, meaning that its shown on top of the
image you're preparing to shoot. Here are the menu options on
- point-and-shoot, most menu items locked up
- still point-and-shoot, but with full menu access
glass mode - explained below
speed shutter mode - for action shots
compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
(Multi AF, center AF, spot AF, 0.5/1.0/3.0/7.0 m, infinity)
- more below
mode (Multi, spot)
balance (Auto, sunlight, cloudy, fluorescent, tungsten, flash)
- no manual white balance to be found
(Auto, 100, 200, 400)
Quality (Fine, standard)
- regular shooting
burst - takes up to 4 shots in a row at a 0.33 sec interval;
images not shown on LCD while shooting
burst - same as above, but images are shown on LCD; slower
(0.36 sec) interval
bracketing - take 3 shots in a row, each with different
exposure; choose interval in following menu item
burst - takes 16 shots in a row (at interval selected
in menu) and compiles them into one 1 Megapixel image
(like a collage)
- saves a 320 x 240 image along with your regular-sized
- record up to 40 seconds of audio with each image
- Bracket step (±0.3EV, ±0.7EV, ±1.0EV)
- for exposure bracketing
interval (1/30, 1/15, 1/7.5 sec) - for the multi-burst feature
Level (Low, normal, high)
Effects (Off, negative art, sepia, solarize)
(Low, normal, high)
(Low, normal, high)
(Low, normal, high)
magnifying glass option is a little bizarre -- I've never seen
anything like it before. Basically, the closer you get to the
subject, the more the image is magnified. 5 cm / 2 in from the
subject, it's only 1X, but get to 1 cm / 0.4 in, and it's up
to 3.3X. Great for reading the fine print in the manual!
T1 has a pseudo-manual focus feature, where you can choose a
preset focus distance. It's not as nice as real manual focus,
but it's still useful. The three focus modes in the same menu
control which autofocus mode the camera uses. The multi AF mode
automatically selects one of five points to focus on.
also a setup menu, which has the following options:
mode (Single, monitor, continuous) - see below
zoom (Off, smart, precision) - see below
(Day & Time, Date, Off) - whether date/time is printed
on your photos
Review (on/off) - shows images on LCD after it is taken
rec folder - manage folders on the memory card
brightness (Bright, normal, dark)
backlight (Bright, normal)
(Shutter only, on, off)
(English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese)
number (Series, reset)
connect (PTP, normal) - you may need to change this depending
on the operating system on your computer
out (NTSC, PAL)
AF is just like you're used to: press the shutter release halfway
and the camera locks focus. Monitor AF (called continuous on
other cameras) lets the camera focus constantly, even without
the shutter release pressed. This helps reduce the time required
to take a picture. Continuous AF will focus before the shot and
will continue to focus, even with the shutter release halfway
pressed. Continuous AF is especially good for action shots, where
your subject is constantly moving.
T1 has two types of digital zoom. Precision digital zoom is the
same old "enlarge the center" system that you should
avoid. Smart Zoom lets you enlarge image without a loss in quality,
with the catch being that you can't use much of it unless you're
at a low resolution. For example, at 3M, you can only use about
1.2X -- but at VGA, you can use 4X.
move on to photo tests now. Since the T1 lacks a tripod mount,
I was unable to do the night shot test.
the DSC-T1 lacks a custom white balance feature, I was a little
worried about how it would perform under my quartz studio lamps.
Thankfully, the tungsten WB setting worked just fine. The resulting
image seems a little "fuzzy" to me, but it's otherwise
good in the color and exposure department.
can get as close to your subject as 8 cm at wide-angle, and 25
cm at telephoto.
predicted, the DSC-T1 has a serious redeye problem. This is not
surprising, considering just how close the flash is to the lens.
Expect to spend time cleaning this up in software.
distortion test shows some very noticeable barrel distortion
at the wide-angle setting. I don't see any vignetting (dark corners)
here or in the real world photos that I took.
the image quality on the DSC-T1 is quite good, especially for
a camera with an unusual lens design. Color and exposure were
both good, and purple fringing was not a problem. If I had one
complaint, it would be that noise levels were a bit high, giving
some images a fuzzy, "video capture look" (example).
If you're downsizing or making prints of reasonable size, I would
not be concerned about this. For folks who do huge prints or
want perfection at 100%, the noise may bug you a little.
you can decide if the DSC-T1's image quality meets your expectations.
So please have a look at the photo gallery where
you can judge for yourself!
T1 has the same, top-notch movie mode as Sony's top of the line
DSC-F828 camera. The MPEG Movie VX Fine mode takes VGA resolution
video (that's 640 x 480) at 30 frames/sec, until the memory card
is full. This mode requires a Memory Stick Pro Duo card. A 512MB
Pro card can hold about 6 minutes of video at this quality.
you don't have the Pro memory card, don't fret. You can still
use the very nice VX Standard mode, which is still VGA, just
at 16 frames/second. The included 32MB card holds about 1.5
mins in VX Standard. A low resolution "video mail" mode is also
available -- it records at 160 x 112.
is recorded along with the video. Just watch your fingers --
it's easy to cover the microphone (not to mention the lens).
cannot use the zoom lens during filming.
is a sample movie for your enjoyment (be warned, it's big). I
wasn't thrilled about the video quality. And sorry about the
wind noise -- it's always breezy here.
to play movie (15.7 MB, 640 x 480 Fine, QuickTime format)
play it? Download QuickTime.
DSC-T1 has a pretty standard (though well-implemented) playback
mode. Basic features include slide shows, DPOF print marking,
image protection, thumbnail mode, and "zoom & scroll".
The T1 is PictBridge-enabled, allowing direct printing to compatible
photo printers (note: your T1 may need a firmware
upgrade to add this feature).
zoom and scroll feature (my term) allows you to zoom up to 5X
into your photo, and then scroll around in it.You press the little
magnifying glass button to enlarge, use the selector dial to
zoom in further, and then use the four-way controller to move
around. When zoomed in, you can also use the trimming feature
I'll describe in a second.
of the more advanced playback features include:
- change an image's size. The original image is not deleted.
- cut sections of movies
- when zoomed into an image, you can crop the image down to
the selected area. You choose the resolution of the new image
(the old one is kept).
do appreciate how the T1 lets you delete a group of photos, instead
of just one or all of them. (To do this, you must be in thumbnail
T1 gives you quite a bit of information about your photos, including
T1 moves between images extremely quickly in playback mode --
showing a low res version instantly, with the high res image
showing up a second later.
Does it Compare
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T1 is an impressive camera that packs a 5
Megapixel CCD, robust performance, VGA movie mode, large LCD,
and even an AF-assist lamp into an ultra-compact metal body.
It does so at a hefty (list) price, though: $550. That's a lot
of bucks for a point-and-shoot camera.
T1's photos are quite good for a compact camera, though they
had a slight "video capture look" to them. The camera
is responsive in all areas: startup, focusing, shot-to-shot performance,
and playing back photos. The T1's support for USB 2.0 high speed
makes transferring photos quick and painless. The camera has
an enormous 2.5" LCD, which is bright and fluid. I found
it very difficult to see anything in low light conditions, which
becomes an issue when there's no optical viewfinder. The T1's
VGA movie mode is big (in terms of resolution and frame rate),
smooth (30 frames/second), and just so-so in terms of quality.
In terms of ease-of-use, it doesn't get much easier that this.
The camera has zero manual controls, so you just point and shoot.
already mentioned three downsides to the T1, namely price, the
inability to see anything on the LCD in low light, and the lack
of an optical viewfinder. Here are some more things that irked
me. Given its price, some manual controls would've been nice.
Redeye is a real issue, but it comes with the territory. Along
those lines, the flash is very weak, with a limited range. And
finally, I'm not thrilled with the idea of having to buy all
new, expensive Memory Stick Duo cards.
things considered, though, the DSC-T1 is a heck of a gadget.
Its ultra-compact, stylish, go-anywhere body will make you the
envy of your friends. It's not perfect, but the DSC-T1 is a pretty
cool toy -- just bring your Visa card, as it's an expensive one.
good photo quality for an ultra-compact
design; ultra-thin body packs 3X zoom lens
2.5" LCD display
30 fps movie mode
2.0 high speed support
in record and playback mode
I didn't care for:
another memory card format to invest in
often have fuzzy, "video capture look"
manual controls -- not even white balance
nearly impossible to see in low light
ultra-compact cameras worth checking out include the Canon
PowerShot S500, Casio
Exilim EX-Z40, Kyocera
Finecam SL400R, Minolta
DiMAGE Xg, Nikon
Coolpix 5200, Olympus
Stylus 410, and the Pentax
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try
out the DSC-T1 and its competitors before you buy!
out the photo
quality in our gallery!
a second opinion?
another review at Steve's
Feedback & Discussion
you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking
for a personal recommendation.
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