Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1


      In summary

      The DSC-H1 Cyber-shot is Sony’s first entry in the competitive, image-stabilised, ultra-zoom digicam market. Designed for photo enthusiasts, the 5-megapixel H1 provides a generous suite of controls and can record JPEG stills with 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratios plus MPEG movie clips at 30 frames/second with VGA quality. . . [more]

      Full review


      Quality rating (out of 10) Build: 9.0Ease of use: 8.5Image quality: 8.0Value for money: 8.0

      The DSC-H1 Cyber-shot is Sony’s first entry in the competitive, image-stabilised, ultra-zoom digicam market. Designed for photo enthusiasts, the 5-megapixel H1 provides a generous suite of controls and can record JPEG stills with 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratios, plus MPEG movie clips at 30 frames/second with VGA quality.

      The H1 sports a fixed, 2.5-inch LCD monitor and bright EVF, a comfortable grip, plus a sizeable lens barrel. Made by Sony (not Carl Zeiss, as is usual with Sony’s high-end cameras), the lens offers maximum apertures from f2.8-3.7 and has a threaded barrel. The camera comes with an adapter for adding accessories plus a clip-on lens hood. Built into the lens is Sony’s Super SteadyShot optical image stabiliser, which compensates for camera motion by shifting an element in the lens.

      The flash pops up from a plastic body shell that bristles with button controls. The shutter button sits naturally below the right index finger, while the zoom rocker lies under the thumb. A large, top-mounted mode dial has settings for auto, P, S, A and M exposure modes plus seven scene selections, movie and playback modes. You can reach all these controls with one hand!

      Directly below the shutter button is a ‘jog dial’ that is used for changing settings. You turn the dial to find the setting you want and press it in to make the selection. The process is simple and effective and you can keep your eye glued to the viewfinder while changing settings. Popping up the flash activates an AF illuminator that is powerful enough to let the camera focus in near darkness for distances up to about 2.5 metres.

      The H1 is powered by two AA NiMH batteries (supplied with charger) that slot into a clever housing in the camera’s base that also holds the Memory Stick slot. The cover on this housing is hinged so you can change memory cards without opening the battery compartment. No card is supplied but the camera has 32MB of internal memory. Sony recommends using Memory Stick Pro cards if video capture is desired.

      The H1’s menu system is an odd combination. Key functions like image size, resolution, ISO, white balance, effects and parameter adjustments are presented in the same way as Sony’s regular digicams, while the set-up menu looks as if it came from a digital SLR and covers five pages. It works well once you’re used to it but is initially non-intuitive. Users can opt for one of three display settings: minimal, advanced (with full shooting data) and advanced with histogram. However, the histogram is pretty small!

      The test camera produced images that were well-exposed, colourful and sharp – but also rather too contrasty in bright Australian sunshine, where clipped highlights were common. Edge-to-edge sharpness was excellent and distortion was low for a long zoom lens. We obtained some excellent MTF50 results with Imatest at mid-range apertures. However images were ‘soft’ at the widest and smallest aperture settings.

      Chromatic aberration was visible at both ends of the zoom range, particularly in shots taken with small apertures. Purple fringing was noticeable in some shots – although nowhere near as obvious as with Sony’s F828 camera. Fortunately, Imatest showed colour accuracy to be above average for a long zoom camera, while saturation was well-controlled. The white balance delivered accurate colours with the manual and custom settings but failed to correct colour casts in auto mode.

      Low light shots at ISO 100 were clean, noise-free and colour-accurate but noise was evident in long exposures at ISO 400, despite automatic noise reduction. The flash could illuminate an average-sized room at all ISO settings. The digital zoom performed very well, especially in the Smart Zoom mode.

      Capture lag times were low. Without pre-focusing, the H1 recorded shots in less than 0.4 seconds; actual shutter lag was less than 0.1 seconds on average. The burst mode captured nine JPEG/Fine shots at 0.8 second intervals, while the Multi-burst captured 16 shots within half a second and saved the result as a single file. The camera took approximately three seconds to activate and shut down. Shot to shot times without flash averaged two seconds.

      Movie quality was generally good, although compression artefacts were apparent (due to MPEG-1 processing). You can record just over 12 minutes of VGA video at 30fps on a 1GB card (Memory Stick Pro required). [26]





      Image sensor: 5.34 x 4.01mm Super HAD CCD with 5.255 million photosites (5.09 megapixels effective)Lens: Sony 6-72mm f2.8-3.7 zoom lens (36-432mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 12x optical, up to 24x digital
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 107.8 x 81.4 x 91.2mm
      Weight: 438g (without accessories)
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG; Movies – MPEG Movie VX (640×480, 30 fps using Memory Stick PRO)Shutter speed range: Auto (1/8-1/2000), P-Auto (1-1/2000), Shutter Priority (8-1/2000), Manual (30-1/1000)
      Focus system/range: Single AF, Monitoring AF, Continuous AF; range 50 cm to infinity; macro 2-90cm
      Exposure metering/control: Multi Pattern, Spot, Centre-weighted metering; Auto, P, A, S and M modes plus 7 scene modes
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash, One Push
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto/Forced Flash/No Flash/Slow Synchro; range 0.3-6.8 m (W) / 0.9-5.2 m (T)
      ISO range: Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400
      Sequence shooting: 9 Shots (5M/Fine) at approx. 0.8 sec intervals
      Storage Media: 32MB internal memory plus slot for Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO; internal memory holds 12 high-resolution images or up to 491 VGA shots.
      Viewfinder: Electrical Viewfinder
      LCD monitor: 2.5-inch 115,000 pixel colour LCD
      Power supply: 2x AA NiMH rechargeable batteries





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