Sony Cyber Shot DSC-M1 review: Sony Cyber Shot DSC-M1

The collection of preset scene modes isn't exhaustive, though the M1's set of nine includes such standbys as Landscape, Fireworks, and High-Speed Shutter. A nice slate of manual focusing options rounds out the package, allowing you to select your own focal point if you don't want to let the M1's five-point autofocus do the work for you.

The M1 sports an internal 3X optical zoom lens, with a protrusion-free design that should be familiar to anyone who coveted Sony's popular DSC-T1 . The lens has a focal-length range of 38mm to 114mm (35mm equivalent); we normally consider 38mm to be a bit narrow for a wide-angle focal length, but given the M1's one-handed design and its versatile LCD screen, you shouldn't have trouble composing even tricky indoor shots. Zooming with the M1's lens can be a bit slow, so in sudden photographic situations, you'll have to settle for a wide-angle picture or risk losing your shot while creeping toward maximum telephoto.

With one notable exception, the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-M1's performance was excellent for a point-and-shoot digital camera. Its 1.6-second time to first shot places it in the upper echelon of cameras we've tested, and its solid continuous-shooting mode can grab four full-resolution frames in a bit more than a second. Out of the box, the M1 posts lackluster shot-to-shot times of 3.2 seconds without a flash and 3.5 seconds with flash enabled. But disabling the M1's default autoreview feature dramatically improves shot-to-shot performance: without autoreview, the M1's speed improves to 1.2 seconds between shots without a flash and an impressive 1.5 seconds between shots with a flash.

Though the M1's shutter lag comes in at an impressive 0.2 second under bright conditions, it takes a significant performance hit under dim light, dipping to 1.3 seconds. That's slow enough that you may catch some trailing feet if you plan on shooting lots of moving subjects in the dark. The camera's proprietary InfoLithium battery held up quite well in our battery tests, powering the M1 for more than 1,000 shots before it died. You should expect significantly lower performance out of the battery if you're taking lots of videos, though at maximum resolutions most photographers will run out of media space before they run out of battery power.


Shooting speed
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Time to first shot  
Sony Cyber Shot DSC-M1
1.2 
0.2 
1.6 
Kodak EasyShare LS753
1.4 
0.6 
3.9 
Sony Cyber Shot DSC-F88
3.5 
0.6 
3.0 
Nikon Coolpix 5200
1.8 
0.7 
4.6 
Canon PowerShot SD20
2.8 
0.8 
3.0 
Pentax Optio SV
4.5 
0.9 
6.2 
Note: Seconds.


Continuous-shooting speed
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Note: Frames per second.


Note: Number of shots.

Overall, the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-M1 produced pleasing images with good color and few significant flaws. Sony's postprocessing algorithms did smear some of our images' more intricate details, but we noticed the smudges only after magnification and generating letter-size prints. Noise predictably became an issue at the M1's highest ISO setting of 400, but at lower sensitivities, the camera performed quite well. The majority of our shots exhibited good dynamic range, with detailed highlights and shadows; furthermore, in high-contrast situations, we didn't see a lot of the purple fringing that sometimes plagues highly compact cameras. The camera's white balance tended toward the warm side of the spectrum, and the lack of a manual white-balance setting will frustrate those who are used to getting their whites just right. The M1 also did a nice job when we challenged its macro capabilities; our test shots looked sharp in the foreground and appropriately blurred in the background.




The M1's photos look very good when scaled down (top), but at actual size, you can see problems with blooming on out-of-focus edges (above left), or detail-obscuring artifacts (above right).

In an increasingly crowded field of cameras with the ability to take VGA-quality (640x480) videos at 30fps, the M1 stands out with the best MPEG-4 movies we've seen so far. We noted occasional hiccups and dropped frames, but by and large, playback was crisp, and the movies themselves had the same good color as the M1's images.

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Sony Cyber Shot DSC-M1

Part Number: DSCM1 Released: Dec 15, 2004
MSRP: $499.95 Low Price: $545.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Dec 15, 2004
  • Digital camera type Compact
  • Optical Zoom 3 x
  • Optical Sensor Type Super HAD CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 5.1 Megapixel
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.4"