Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G1 Review

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The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G1 is a behemoth of a point-and-shoot, due in part to its beautiful 3.5-inch LCD. And with 2GB of internal storage and a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar f/3.5-4.3 38mm-114mm 3x zoom lens and quality 6-megapixel sensor, you’d be hard pressed not to give the G1 a fighting chance in a crowded market. However, its steep $600 price and sucky built-in Wi-Fi feature nearly negate all of the G1’s positive attributes.

Before delving into the Wi-Fi functionality that first attracted me to the G1, let’s go over the nitty gritty. The first thing you’ll notice about the G1 is its size. It certainly isn’t a dainty little thing that you can carry around in your pocket unless you’re wearing MC Hammer pants or you want the Jaws Of Life near your junk. I’m not exaggerating the least bit on this either, folks; the G1 is 3.7×2.8×1 inches (about 4.5-inches when it’s open) of Sony hardware.

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I originally liked the fact that the G1 had a sliding form factor; it added to its robust design. I’m sure most of you are used to one simple act to fire up your digital camera and that is to push the on/off button. I want my camera to start up quick, so I can capture those special moments that only occur when lots of alcohol and/or drugs are being consumed. The G1 makes it a little hard to do since you are now required to initiate the process by releasing a clasp and then pulling the camera apart. That’s a pain in the ass and the four to five seconds for total start up before you’re firing off photos doesn’t help.

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Once the G1 is up and running and you’ve acclimated yourself to the layout of the buttons, which I found to be quite cumbersome in the beginning, it’s a breeze navigating through the UI. It’s essentially the same one you’d see on a PSP or PS3. The nicest UI I’ve seen on any point-and-shoot. Kudos to you, Sony. The Camera section allows you to take photos or shoot video with audio (640×480 or 320×240 @ 30fps), but you don’t need me to figure that one out. I really liked the Viewer menu as the sub-menus allow you to view your whole album, what’s stored on the external memory (Memory Stick Duo supporting up to 8GB cards), the last image you took, the last image you viewed and a slide show. You can also listen to some tunes via the audio player. There’s a Communication sub-menu that I’ll go over a little later, so hold tight. The Toolbox lets you print pics directly via PictBridge and the Media Tools keeps tabs on how much memory you have left as well as a standard Settings sub-menu for all the usual stuff.

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As for picture quality you won’t be disappointed. There are 10 different scene modes that should, in essence, cover you for any situation you come across. The Super SteadyShot Image Stabilization compensates for your twitch and/or Tourette’s outbreaks. You also have the ability to adjust the exposure, white balance, and a handful of shooting modes ranging from continuous bursts to 3 shots per push at 3 exposure levels, 1.0 EV apart. The only thing I noticed and truly disliked about the G1 was the amount of ISO noise that starts to rear its ugly head at 200. The higher you go the worse it gets, but advanced photogs shouldn’t have too much of a problem relieving the situation.

Let’s move onto the super-cool-fantastic-awesome feature that is Wi-Fi. This is the second ‘Wi-Fi’ enabled digital camera I’ve gotten my paws on in the last month. Does it live up to my expectations? No, not even a little bit. Unlike the Nikon S50c, you can only send pictures to another DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance)-enabled device and that really blows. If you’re looking to upload those nudie pics from the party immediately onto your MySpace then look elsewhere. Unless of course your buddies also have a G1, which I’m thinking is highly unlikely considering its price tag.

You can sync up to three G1s together so that everyone knows what you’re taking pictures of the moment your shutter does its thing. Or you can send particular photos because you might not want your friends knowing about EVERYTHING you do.

This was a rather disappointing feature that I was looking forward to trying, but sadly it’s not the only shortcoming. I’m not fond of the external memory choices you have, which is only one, but 2GB of internal memory makes up for it. I suppose you can just use the external slot for all your music, so the cup is half-full in this situation. The thing is large and you have to dock it to charge. That means you have a lot of crap to carry around just to pull pics off of it, but the rechargeable lithium-ion battery is in it for the long haul lasting about 260+ shots.

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It’s big, beefy and rather expensive, but a fine convergence device considering what it can do. Fortunately the pros outweigh the cons for this Cyber-shot…barely.

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