Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1
A 10.3-megapixel, all-in-one camera with an APS-C-sized image sensor and full-time live preview
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-R1 features an electronic eye-level viewfinder like those in high-end compact digital cameras, along with a swiveling/tilting two-inch external LCD monitor that shows the image live, just like the monitors on compact digital cameras. The big news is that this live image is produced by a huge (for an all-in-one camera) APS-C-sized, 10.3-megapixel, Sony-produced CMOS image sensor. This brings together, for the first time, the all-in-one convenience and live-view features of a compact digital camera with the imaging capabilities of a 10.3-megapixel image sensor some 12 times the size of the sensors found in most compact cameras.
It's sure nice to be able to swivel the monitor instead of one's body and neck for odd-angle shots, and to check exposure and approximate dynamic range before making a shot. The R1 can even display a histogram during live preview, on the LCD monitor or in the viewfinder, whichever you're using at the time. And while many SLRs provide depth-of-field previews, they often aren't practical because the stopped-down image is too dark to analyze—not a problem with the R1's Full-Time Live Preview.
Probably the first thing one wonders upon hearing "10.3 megapixels" is "How is the image quality?" My test images were strikingly sharp, with good colors and wide dynamic range. The R1 provides ISO settings from 160 to 3200—much higher than you're likely to find on other all-in-one digital cameras, thanks in part to that large image sensor. As is the case with all digital cameras, noise increases with the ISO setting. Above ISO 400, images exhibit more "grain-pattern" noise than the best D-SLRs, but image quality at all ISO settings is much better than with any other all-in-one digital camera I've used.