The new Sony DSC-T1 offers a no-compromise option for photographers who are looking for an easily pocketed digital camera. Though only the length and width of a credit card, and 21mm wide, the 200g, all-metal T1 packs a 5-megapixel sensor that delivers image quality that should satisfy even serious photographers.
Most tiny digital cameras feature lenses that extend outward when the camera is powered up. The T1 employs a radically different design that packs the camera’s 3x lens vertically inside the camera’s body. Because there’s no lens protruding from the front, the camera feels particularly small. What’s more, since you don’t have to wait for the lens to extend, startup times are quick: open the door on the front of the camera, and the T1 is ready to shoot in about a second.
After its size, the T1’s most notable feature is the beautiful 2.5-inch LCD screen that fills most of its back. The T1 lacks an optical viewfinder, but you probably won’t miss it thanks to the LCD’s exceptional quality. Bright and clear, the screen is clearly viewable in even direct sunlight.
Our biggest complaint with the design is that it’s so small that one-handed use can be a bit uncomfortable if you have large hands; you’ll definitely want to use the included wrist strap with this camera.
Though it’s tiny, the T1’s 3x lens is excellent. Offering a 35mm equivalent range of 38-114 (f3.5-f4.4), the T1 produces 2,592-x-1,944-pixel images of startlingly good quality with very low noise, even at ISO 400. Sharpness and detail are very good, though at wide angles you’ll notice barrel distortion and softness in the corners.
The T1 offers only a fully automatic mode – no program or priority modes – but it does provide a full assortment of preset scene modes including Landscape, Slow Shutter and Snow and Sand.
You’re somewhat limited with the T1 when it comes to flash photography. Because the flash is so tiny, it can barely illuminate a mid-sized room, making it suitable only for individuals and small groups. Unfortunately, because the flash is positioned directly next to the lens, the camera almost always produces red-eye. Tell your subjects to not look directly into the camera and things will improve.
The T1 isn’t perfect – it lacks a tripod mount, could use some manual overrides, and can be difficult to use one-handed, but these are minor complaints in the face of the camera’s tiny size and excellent, high-resolution images.