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This was my first serious digital camera, well... after a sad start with a Mustek 3MP camera in the advent of digital cameras.
This was classified as a prosumer camera, aimed at those photography enthusiasts who wanted something more out of their camera they just point and shoot. It won a european prize in that category.
It certainly delivers with a hot-shoe, night vision and night shot modes (Sony exclusive?), manual controls including manual focusing (!).
The camera is "only" 5MP, which if you've been into photography any decent amount of time you know is perfectly adequate for most users.
The lens delivers 4x zoom which was a notch above the regular 3x zoom that predominated. Remember, this was before the now ubiquitous 5x, 6x 10x compact cameras.
The night vision abilities allowed you to see and focus before taking a shot in the dark (flashing) or to actually take a shot in that night vision goggles effect you see in the movies (IR).
The controls where good, although a bit tightly packed into this rather small body, although it is a bit "fat", meaning too broad too easily fit in your pocket.
The down side of this camera, and one of the reason I bought into a more modern camera was the fact that it took a bit to power down and power up. Actually its the lens engaging and retracting that is mostly to fault. I also wanted more zoom...
Another big plus is that is was mostly metal encased. I droped it hard onto the pavement twive (its got the dings to prove it) and it still kept on working fine.
Purcahse a Sony DSC V1 and you will not be disappointed.
If you want to have some control over your pictures the manual settings on the Sony give you plenty of scope being able to change shutter and aperture settings. Having said that the automatic settings are excellent and cope with most conditions from snow to night scenes.
Picture quality is excellent which you would expect from the Carl Zeiss lens.
The movie setting gives reasonable quality moving clips with sound although not the best i've seen when filming fast action such as sport, as the focus tends to drift.
The built in flash is excellent sensing when to fire and can also be manually controlled and provides really good fill in flash for scenes where shadows are a problem. The results are very natural.
The zoom provides a wide angle which makes landscapes more dramatic. The zoom is adequate for portraits but is limited if you are thinking of wildlife or bird photography.
Downloading images is easy with USB lead just plug in and away you go.
Memory sticks are getting cheaper. Well worth buying 128mb or even 256mb as you will be able to get more images especially when using the 'fine' quality setting which takes up a lot of memory.
The one major problem i found was that the battery life is quite short especially if you are reviewing and editing images while you are out taking pictures. If you are out all day and away from your charger i suggest you buy a spare battery. An in car battery charger is also available and this has been invaluable when on holiday as you can charge when on the move.
A final minor gripe is that the lens is slow to appear and retract when switching on and off. This is only really a problem when you are in a rush to get a quick shot of something as there is a few seconds wait.
All in all excellent picture quality and ability to manually overide and its compact design make this an excellent camera especially if you can pick one up second hand.
New , you can expect to pay around £290.