The Cybershot DSC M1 is a 5.1 megapixel digital still camera that has a new shooting mode that combines high quality stills with video in an easy-to-use way.
The camera, a slim, matte-black device about the size of a deck of cards, is held vertically, and its 2.5-inch articulated LCD swivels upward and rotates a full 270 degrees. This new shooting orientation provides more surface area to access both the menu navigation buttons and two hot buttons for direct access to recording stills and video.
The outer edge of the LCD also has buttons serving two functions. While the LCD is extended and the camera is in record mode, the buttons can be used to record, and toggle back and forth between stills and video. When the LCD is facing outward, but flush with the camera's body, the buttons can be used to playback stills and video, turning the camera into a personal media viewer.
A new hybrid record mode makes the most of the scene being captured by automatically recording five seconds of QVGA video before and three seconds after the still image is snapped, creating a more complete record of the sights and sounds of the moment. The video and still images are stored as two separate files, but played back as one in the camera.
"This hybrid recording mode serves as something of a safety net for unanticipated moments that you'll later be glad you caught," Haber said. "Think of what happens immediately before and after the guest of honor walks into a surprise party. A photo may have been taken at just right moment, but the M1 can be a time machine that tells others what it was like to be there."
The Cybershot DSC M1 camera's enhanced video functions include recording with the new MPEGMovie 4TV feature, the MPEG-4 compression format that significantly increases picture quality and resolution while dramatically reducing file size. Employing a reduced bit rate (from 11Mpbs to 2.5 Mpbs), MPEGMovie 4TV mode enables the recording of up to 27 minutes of VGA-resolution, 30-frames-per-second video with stereo sound on an optional 512 MB Memory Stick PRO Duo media card, or up to 54 minutes with the optional 1GB card, available soon.
The camera uses a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 3X optical zoom lens, and the zoom operates even while capturing video. The M1 model also uses Sony's Real Imaging Processor circuit, an ultra-fast processor that enables quick start-up and rapid shot-to-shot times. It also enhances the speed of advanced features that help the user get the picture right the first time, including sophisticated auto-exposure, auto-white balance and five-area, multi-point auto-focus features.
The M1 camera operates using Sony's Info Lithium rechargeable battery system, displaying approximate to-the-minute remaining battery life on the LCD. It comes bundled with a custom-sized Cybershot Station USB cradle for keeping the battery charged and the camera connected to your PC for easy downloading. The Cybershot Station also connects to a TV for playing back videos and stills on the big screen.
Bundled software includes the Picture Package 1.2 application, which includes a function for converting MPEG-4 video clips into the AVI format, allowing for easy editing.
The new Cybershot will be available in December for about $600.