With its 12x-zoom Cyber-shot DSC-H1, Sony joins the megazoom competition. Although slightly larger and heavier than its competitors, the H1 holds its own thanks to a broad feature set, speedy performance and a generally well thought-out design. We have a few quibbles and wish that the photos were sharper, but overall, the H1 may please enthusiasts hankering for a camera with an extended focal range.
Weighing 510g when loaded with a Memory Stick and two AA batteries, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1 marginally outweighs the rest of its 5-megapixel megazoom competition. But it's certainly not enough to be noticeable when lugging the camera around all day. In fact, this extra bit of volume and weight adds to the H1's solid and substantial feel -- a plus when you're working with long focal lengths. Overall, the H1 is well designed and works well in almost all shooting situations.
Just next to the microphone, the H1's power button sits almost too flush with the camera's top surface, making it difficult to find without looking. From here, you can also access the shutter, focus, and continuous/bracket buttons as well as the mode dial. The H1's large 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD occupies most of the camera's rear real estate and is complemented by a small electronic viewfinder (EVF). At the top of the LCD, you'll find the button that switches views between the LCD and the EVF, as well as an on/off button for the camera's Super SteadyShot optical image stabilisation feature.
The zoom lever sits above the four-way controller and central Set button. Three additional buttons access the menu, the display options, and an image-quality/delete key. We had to reference the camera's documentation to work out that resolution was controlled by an external button, while the H1's compression levels were accessed via the menu system. While the menus are easy to navigate, you should be able to set both of these options from the same place.
Bundled with a Read This First pamphlet, a printed manual and a helpful tutorial on CD, the H1 comes with a decent set of documentation. However, the information included in the pamphlet is not included in the manual, so you may need to jump back and forth between the two in order to find the help you need.