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Customer Review

on 19 September 2006
I've used a film SLR for most of my photographic life. Then a few years ago I got into digital, and have had two Nikon Coolpix (including the splendid twisty-bodied 4500) and then an Olympus semi-SLR (the 8080 wide zoom, with bend-out LCD screen). Someone stole the Olympus. What should I do?

I was very tempted by the Sony DSC-R1, with it's live twisty LCD and excellent lens. And there is tremendous competition now amongst SLR suppliers, with new announcments from all the majors. But I chose the Sony, and after five days and many hundreds of pictures I'm very pleased with the camera.

You can read about its technical performance at [...] What I can add is that this excellent performance is easy and inviting to make use of.

The focussing screen is clear, crisp, and bright. I find I often want to use manual focus, and can switch back and forth from manual to auto by simply moving a switch. And there's a depth-of-field preview easy to hand.

These controls are typical- what you want is to hand, and works logically (at least, as I expect). With the Olympus after a year's use I was still going back to the manual to find how to do things. The Sony feels familiar after five days.

The camera feels good to hold- a good grip is a huge help with avoiding camera shake, which this camera helped further by an antishake system that works with all lenses.

And then there are the twiddly bits- for example the fact that the autofocus switches on and the LCD switches off when I bring the camera to my eye (although I find the camera can mistake my chest for my eye when I have it round my neck), and that the LCD image stays upright whether you have the camera horizontal or vertical.

These as well as the advantages you expect from this generation of DSLR- instant start-up, very quick reaction to pressing the button, and if you want it three frames a second until you've run out of space on the card (in .jpg).

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the standard kit zoom gets you pretty close up to a flower or an insect, and does this at maximum zoom so that you don't find your shadow is interfering with the picture. My first "extra" has been a secondhand Minolta AF 1.7 50mm standard lens, which I have found excellent for snapping people indoors by available light (find your way round Minolta lenses for the Sony at [...]

I miss the infra-red remote control supplied with the Olympus (there's a long and a short wired control for the Sony, but at large additional cost). And I'm sure I'll miss the ability to sight a picture down low or up high using a twisty LCD screen. And in some quiet "candid camera" situations the clunk of the mirror which is part of a true SLR can draw attention. But for me the advantages, starting with composing pictures on that fine focussing screen, far outweigh these losses.
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