It's kind of scary. Manufacturers of the superzoom cameras (the sort of camera I favor) have gotten into a marketing war, trying to prove that bigger is better. More megapixels? No problem. Bigger zoom ratio? No problem. So, with the latest round of new models pushing the bounds of good taste, I decided it was time to get off this bus.
What to do? I decided to see how far I could go in the opposite direction -- moderate, high-quality zoom lens, large, uncrowded image sensor, and a package that ties the whole thing together with an interesting interface.
Enter the Sony DSC-R1, introduced about six years ago, then sold for a year before being taken off the market. Unappreciated at the time, in the quest for bigger and longer, the R1 is now considered a classic, perhaps the best fixed-lens digital camera ever made. You can only buy one used, but there are plenty around on Amazon and Ebay. And that's how I got my new old R1, just six weeks ago.
In person, the R1 was a bit smaller than I thought it would be, and a lot heavier. At over two pounds, it brought back the days when camera bodies and lenses were made from real metal. The zoom is only about 5x (24mm to 120mm), and it boasts a large image sensor with a modest 10 megapixels. More than enough if you know what you're doing.
I'll be writing more about the R1 in future posts, but first let's go take some pictures. The bad news is that this has been a nasty winter here in Northern Virginia. Between the snows, the freezing temperatures, and the high winds, there have been only a few days suitable for outdoor shooting. So a lot of my early R1 shots were in the house, through the windows, and a brief trip to the stream at the end of our road.
Notes: All pictures were shot as JPEG Fine, processed in LightZone 3
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