This page started Summer 1997. This http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/dscf1.html is also mirrored at http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~mackay/dscf1.html. Last modified: Fri Jul 25 21:47:39 2003

Sony's DSC-F1 - FAQ | General | Hardware | Software |

I have not been able to find a FAQ on the net for this machine, so I started one. The dates against the items show roughly when they were last changed.


Note: From September 1998, I am not planning to update this page any more. Would someone else like to become FAQ maintainer? Please don't send me any more questions. If someone wants to take over maintaining this FAQ I can help them get started.
Obviously, the unmaintained nature of this page implies that it will contain some stale links. Sorry!



Note: From September 1998, I am not planning to update this page any more. Would someone else like to become FAQ maintainer? Please don't send me any more questions. If someone wants to take over maintaining this FAQ I can help them get started.
Obviously, the unmaintained nature of this page implies that it will contain some stale links. Sorry!

Example images:

I bought a DSC-F1 because it is a beautiful toy. Far better than the other digital still cameras I have seen. I used to take standard photos, and scanning them in was a big hassle, so a digital camera seemed perfect for me.

[Example images: swindon. cambridge. scotland and southampton. girton and cambridge 9801 (includes some outdoor flash). cambridge 9802 (includes some indoor flash). closeup pictures of psion 3a interior ]


How to automate the tedious process of taking pictures from the DSC album and turning them into standard jpg images? Surely there must be a way to convert the whole album in one operation?

Answer: Yes, a free utility called Pump converts Sony PMP files to standard JPEG format. Pump can batch-process entire folder trees full of PMPs, converts them with no loss of quality, and extracts all usable metadata attributes (shutter speed, lens orientation, flash, etc.), storing them in the output filename for easy reference.

Old Answer: there is now a new release of the software from Sony, which can download all images straight from camera to jpg files. See Sony software updates . This upgraded software will with a single click on the third icon from the left download all the images, retaining the correct numbering of the images, but losing the orientation information - so that pictures taken with the lens facing backwards look upside down.

An old workaround is available as follows: http://www.hamrick.com/

From: huber27@ibm.net (Mark Huber)
Subject: Re: SONY DSC-F1 FAQ?
To:  (David MacKay)

Download a program called VuePrint 5.1c.  Not only is it an excellent 
viewer, but it will convert Sony's .pmp files directly to a number of other 
formats including .jpg.  With this program you will be able to convert 
entire pic cam directories all at one time.  No more one by one.  
Download at http://www.hamrick.com/

       If you have any questions about using the program with the
Sony, drop me a note.  One point that will save you aggrevation, when you
open a pic cam directory in VuePrint, you have to select "all files" in the
file type box.  That is the only way you can view .pmp files.  By default,
it is set to view "image files".
This works! it costs $40, and I recommend it if you can't get the sony software upgrade mentioned above. You have to be careful when using it that it is doing what you want it to, but you can easily get it to make thumbnails of all images or convert all images to gif or whatever. Summary of procedure. Example images. Example 2.

The only disadvantage of viewing the sony albums this way is that vueprint does not know how to use the index files to put the images in order. So the order of the images tends to be jumbled. Similarly, pictures which are upside down (because of the swivel-head) remain upside-down.

       
       From: Jim Soriano jsoriano@sumbeach.com
>Dear Jim,
>       saw your post on the dsc-f1 and I wondered if you 
>had any further information about alternatives to the 
>clunky software?
No alternatives identified.  Sony apparently uses a proprietary format for
saving the images.  I'm hoping for Sony to issue an update to their
software someday soon...it's currently release 1.0.
soulhuntre@earthling.net writes:
a company called ixla as a piece of software they call digital camera 
suite that the so far seems to a decent job of managing image catalogs from 
digital cameras it supports the Sony cameras via the Twain interface. 
 While he would be nice if it can do it directly it seems to be worth the 
extra effort.  More information can be found at http://www.isrgroup.com.

ALSO) a company call a company called Fotonation markets piece of software 
that claims to add your digital cameras memory directly to the Windows 95 
desktop.  I haven't tried it yet with the Sony but a free download of the 
software is available at http://www.fotonation.com/.

Okay I just tried it in the software doesn't support the Sony DSC-F1 At 
this time perhaps if enough of us write a letter they will fix that.

What are the weaknesses of the DSC-F1?
My personal opinions, after two weeks of use.
  1. The "time-machine" mode, in which images are supposed to be captured from *prior* to the shutter's being pressed, does not seem to work. It seems to behave just like "continuous" mode.
    Aha, maybe that is because you have to hold down the shutter continuously *before* you want the pictures, then *release* the shutter in order to save the stored pictures.
  2. The "fine" resolution seems to take pictures that are indistinguishable in quality from the "standard" and "snap" resolutions.
  3. The lens is too wide-angle for many purposes. E.g. if you want to take a picture of someone's face, you have to shove the thing about one foot from their nose (or else waste a large border area). For sports photography it is only useful if the subjects are about 6 feet away.
  4. The battery runs down in 20 minutes, so you have to keep switching it off; fine for landscape photography, but no good for sports photography because the switch-on process takes about 3 seconds. (The battery is removable so can juggle 2 batteries)
  5. The ergonomics are such that when you lend the camera to a friend, they will, I guarantee, shove their greasy thumb print smack in the middle of the screen. There is not enough space to put your left thumb comfortably. They may also be fooled by the trigger's half-way-depressed position, so not only do you get their thumb print, but you don't get your picture taken!
  6. Because the lens is so wide-angle, you hold it close to get pictures of people; then the flash is too bright. Even if you stop it down -2, people's faces still come out overexposed.

How to get a longer lens (ie narrower angle)?
From: William Muirhead William_Muirhead@bourns.com
I looked at Raynox conversion lenses, MSS-200 (2x macro lens) Is only one available with a lens mounting ring for the DSC-F1. ring is 37 mm dia. so fits other handycam or digital cameras lenses. (e.g. 1.5X telephoto, or 0.65X wide angle for the QV-1000).
Conclusion: retro fit lenses work fine but are clumsy, Sony should have included a tele / wide zoom for the price. (William Muirhead)
The Simmons Monocular 1130 CP 8 x 21 from Walmart for $15.95 is doing a fine job. I do have to crop the photo to get rid of the blacked out corners, but the eye ring protrudes just enough to mate pretty good with the lens area of the Sony DSC-F1.

I (mackay@mrao) tried the monocular from Walmart. I find I have to keep a hand on the monocular to stop it falling off, or else tape it on with sticky tape which is awkward. I haven't yet found a reliable technique for getting the whole picture in focus. My impression is that when the centre is focussed, perhaps the periphery is not; but it's hard to be scientific about this. Still, for only 16 bucks, it's good fun.

this Sony site carries accessories for the DSC-F1. They have a Telephoto (1.5x) and Wide-Angle (/1.5) Lens Set ($100.00). Does anyone have experience with these lenses? 1.5x magnification doesn't sound very much to me. Sun shades DSAC-MF1 are $25.00,

http://www.ita.sel.sony.com/catalog/index2.html (Hamodi).


9 pin ports -- what if you haven't got a spare one?
I have only got one 9-pin port and my mouse lives in it. What shall I do?
ANSWER: you can get an adaptor which changes the 25 pin serial port into a 9 pin port.
Is an infrared link any faster?
ANSWER: No --- the images take ages with infrared too.
Problems with the Sony_dsc software. Are there known bugs and known fixes?
There are official software updates here. Updating is strongly recommended.
  1. An intermittent problem I have experienced (mackay) is that when I follow this standard procedure for copying all images off the camera, ...
      Start SonyDSC. Click on the top left camera icon. 
      When the album image appears, click on it once to select (yellow) it. 
      Pull down the File menu and select Copy to Disc Album, and click ok. 
           
    ... the camera icon blinks for about a minute only (instead of half an hour) and no images are transferred and there is no error message. I have not figured out why this happened. Could it be because I had deleted some files in the windoze pic_cam directory? I created a fresh pic_cam directory and the next transfer was successful.
  2. From: William Muirhead William_Muirhead@bourns.com
    Have you come across this problem: Unable to open any album files in a particular PIC CAM master directory. Symptom: After selecting the master directory and clicking OK, all except the last album cover downloaded will appear, program then stops responding. I tried opening a new master directory, selecting copy albums from the existing directory, however while copying the last album file the program will also hang. Therefore I can no longer access anything in this directory. None of the album or PIC CAM files were deleted, and only this master directory is affected? I suspect the last album I downloaded from camera initiated the problem.

    More From: William Muirhead
    SONY UK were able to explain the reason for my problem:
    The maximum number of albums per Master Directory is 16 albums. Opening more than 16, corrupts the indexing file and the albums are no longer accessible. That is very useful isn't it! Ed. They also mentioned, maximum 200 images can be copied to one album.


Macintosh users' Problems with the Sony_dsc software. says:

  I use a DSC-F1 with a Macintosh and here's an interesting fact:

The ability to download edited (or any other) images back to the camera
is missing from the Macintosh version of the DSC-F1 Album Utility. I
contacted Sony and (eventually) got this reply:

>    I have made some enquiries regarding the option to upload images back 
>    to the camera.  Unfortunately I have been advised that currently there 
>    is no release date for any such add on for the Macintosh.
>    
>    I am sorry I am unable to give you better news, however,I will keep 
>    your information on file and if I hear of any updates which will 
>    enhance the Macintosh software I will let you know.
> Trudi.Bilke@ccmail.eu.sony.co.jp

If any other Mac users are equally pissed off about this missing
feature, then please e-mail  with your name &
address and any comments and I will keep forwarding the messages to as
many relevant people within Sony as I can.  Hopefully, as the PC
software is being updated they will update the Mac version too.

       While searching the internet for an updated Mac version of the
DSC-F1 Album Utility I did find a version 1.5 for the PC on Sony USA's
web-site and a version 2.02 on Sony Japan's site. The Mac version I
have is v1.0.0E R6.  If anyone has any later version - Japanese,
American or European - please let jools@nrg.source.co.uk know.

Subject: Macintosh Album Utility
From: Jools jools@nrg.source.co.uk

Good news for Macintosh owning DSC-F1 users.

You may remember that I commented on the Macintosh version of the
DSC-F1 Camera Utility's inability to download edited images back to
the camera. Trudi Bilke  - the UK technical support person replied
saying that there was currently no release date for a software update
to allow this.

I've just received an e-mail from the very same person with v1.5.0U
of the Album Utility attached - AND it DOES allow downloading of
images back to the camera!!

Proof indeed that e-mailing the right people can get results!

I assume that the update will be on "www.sony-cp.com" eventually or
on the US updates site, but it's not on there yet.
       
Thanks to Jools, you can download v1.5.0U of the Mac Album Utility which does allow downloading of images back to the camera. from http://www.source.co.uk/users/nrg/dsc-f1/.
More software tips.
What are the coordinates of the 9 images when you take the multiple pictures in one?

The following unix commands are right I think:

usage:
	    nine2one source_file animated
e.g.	    nine2one source.gif animated
reads source.gif and writes animated.gif
	    and animatedud.gif
	    
-------	    put this in a file called nine2one    ---------
#!/bin/csh

convert -crop 160x120+48+36    $1  $1.1.gif
convert -crop 160x120+240+36   $1  $1.2.gif
convert -crop 160x120+432+36   $1  $1.3.gif
convert -crop 160x120+48+180   $1  $1.4.gif
convert -crop 160x120+240+180  $1  $1.5.gif
convert -crop 160x120+432+180  $1  $1.6.gif
convert -crop 160x120+48+324   $1  $1.7.gif
convert -crop 160x120+240+324  $1  $1.8.gif
convert -crop 160x120+432+324  $1  $1.9.gif

convert -delay 10 -loop 0 \
 $1.1.gif \
 $1.2.gif \
 $1.3.gif \
 $1.4.gif \
 $1.5.gif \
 $1.6.gif \
 $1.7.gif \
 $1.8.gif \
 $1.9.gif \
 $2.gif
	   
convert -delay 10 -loop 0 \
 $1.1.gif \
 $1.2.gif \
 $1.3.gif \
 $1.4.gif \
 $1.5.gif \
 $1.6.gif \
 $1.7.gif \
 $1.8.gif \
 $1.9.gif \
 $1.8.gif \
 $1.7.gif \
 $1.6.gif \
 $1.5.gif \
 $1.4.gif \
 $1.3.gif \
 $1.2.gif \
 $1.1.gif \
 $2ud.gif
	   
	    

Recommended back-up format Creating a back-up copy of favorite images is always a good idea, Any suggestions as to which file type, e.g. .jpg, .gif, etc. provides the best all round image reproduction and smallest file size after conversion from Sony's .pmp?
David MacKay writes: I prefer to use gif, because gif (I think) retains the maximum information that can be displayed on a generic 256-colour display. jpg can give smaller files but only by irreversibly throwing away information, a step which one might later regret. To convert a whole album to gif, I recommend the VuePrint software described here. I then always delete the sony format because it is non-universal.
But now that the sony software has been upgraded to offer a `download to jpg' option, I now always do this and store the images as best quality jpg.
jools@nrg.source.co.uk writes: I really wouldn't suggest using GIF as a good quality back-up format. Save the images as a low compression JPEG. The reason being that, when you save as a GIF you are throwing away 99.9% of the colour information!! From 16.7 million colours down to just 256. A low compression JPEG will not produce any reduction in the visual quality and all the colour depth of the original image is retained.
soulhuntre@earthling.net writes: on the topic of making backup copies of your images in another file format humane wish to mention that JPEG even with a low compression setting will cause you problems if you intend to edit the images for their later date. These images have already been compressed once by the camera when they were taken indeed been a little compression JPEG will introduce errors because it will been the second compression. If you then edit the images and save them as JPEG again you will introduce a third level of errors. These images don't tend to look very good. If you use either the Windows bitmap (BMP) format or something like tiff (TIF) you can save a compressed version of the image with no loss at all and unlike GIF you will not lose any color information. Yes these files will be larger than the JPEG by if you don't want to lose information so you can edit them later you don't have much choice.
General advice
DSC-F1 users,

The low light capabilities are greatly enhanced by setting the "M" position on the on off button, and adjusting shutter speed to 1/7.5. When shooting low light pics in Auto and the use flash icon appears, move on off button to "M", and shoot. I was able to take clear pics in a darkened room with the 1/7.5 shutter speed at "M" that would normally be taken by many camera using a flash.

The DSC-F1 has a flash, but the occasions to use it are rare.

-- Anthony Romao


Mavica
did you ever use Mavica ? which is better? use? Please send me an email : pyang@vuse.vanderbilt.edu

??


video conferencing
Do you know if Sony DSC-F1 can be used as a video conferencing camera?

jools@nrg.source.co.uk said: There is no reason why you can't use the DSC-F1 as the source video input for video conferencing. As long as the camera input on your computer accepts a PAL (or NTSC) image just plug the VIDEO OUT wire into it. It's no different to using any other video camera. As long as your software and video input supports it. Certainly on the Macintosh this is no problem whatsoever. You can also use it as a video source for digitizing video for CD-ROM or Web playback. The resolution is definately high enough, its just the frame rate thats a little slow, but for 15fps CD-ROM playback it's perfectly adequate.


Picture capture to PCs
Is it possible to remote the camera with a PC to acquire pictures like a scanner do ? hense@col.bsf.alcatel.fr

send your reply to me and hense@col.bsf.alcatel.fr


Sony software for Linux
I have the Sony DSCF-1 Camera, and I'd like to be able to use it with Linux. I have a Toshiba Laptop running Linux, because it's too slow for Windoze95, and that would be PERFECT if I could take it along. I know there is qvplay to work with the Casio QV-10 cameras and LOTS of documentation about the QV-10's serial protocol. Is there anything like this for the Sony? If there's no software, are there at least guides to the protocol so I can try to toss something together? I'm sick of having to go to my friend's computer and copy the files to disk to get them. Almost makes me wish I had saved $200 and got the Casio.

a generic unix (requires a reasonably sane serial port, X11, and libjpeg) utility that supports this camera can be found at http://www.ishiboo.com/~nirva/Projects/stillgrab/

       Example usage, if the camera is plugged in COM1: (as root)
       cli -T /dev/ttyS0
OR       
       cli -T /dev/ttyd0
It will save files in the current directory called grab0.jpg, grab1.jpg, etc.. If you specify -f tmp, it will name the files tmp0.jpg, tmp1.jpg, etc..

You may find that you have to be root in order to run cli and access the /dev/tty; what is the fix for this?

Once when I used version 1.0 of this software I had this message

[root@mull stillgrab]# cli -T /dev/ttyS0
retrieving pictures 1 - 89 out of total 89
picture 1, 58005 bytes - 100% done             <--- (takes about 30 seconds)
tty not respond. time up.
tty not respond. time up.
tty not respond. time up.
tty not respond. time up.
readtty: Success
Caught signal 1
Quitting...
                            Another time I also got the error
F1fopen fail
F1fopen() failure
F1finfo() failure
       
I don't know what caused this intermittent problem. Later versions are said to be better.

Restarting is easy with a command like

cli -T /dev/ttyS0 -s 24

I made version 2.0 using the commands

./configure
make cli
cli -h
su
chmod g+x cli
chown root.other cli
chmod a-w cli
chmod u+s cli
exit
cli -I -T /dev/ttyS0 -S h
With version 2 I still often get messages like
Camera not responding
tty not responding.
Switching to low speed (-S l) and switching down speed on the camera appears to help with this.

Ken recommends solving read/write permission problems by making sure that the files are written in a dir. where the group s and w bit is set.

Latest advice for linux people (from dugsong)

this patch seems to clear up a lot of the problems i've encountered with
stillgrab bailing:

ftp://ftp.monkey.org/pub/users/dugsong/stillgrab2.patch

also, i've been using a japanese program similar to stillgrab. it seems to
be somewhat more reliable.

http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/%7Exg2k-hys/dscf1/chotplay-0.06.tar.gz

Camera switches itself off
from pkmorey@ntic.qc.ca: this problem can happen with the camera (and happens to mine sometimes). sometimes, the camera just shuts off for no reason and I have to take out the batteries and put them back again, resetting the camera. This problem has been seen in a review by PC Magazine(please go see it at: http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/features/digicam2/rev14.htm) and is referred in the troubleshooting section off the booklet that came with the camera("The camera does not work"-The built-in micro-computer does not work properly...Does that means that the camera is defective???).

Could you please, if you know about that problem, give me more info or your impressions on it.


Can camera icons be turned off?
From: Monty Barlow mfb20@hermes.cam.ac.uk
Is there a key combination to turn off on-screen icons? The Ricoh for example can do this (a hidden 3 key combination...) It's a pain when recording from the video out if the flash symbol appears, and video close-ups are wrecked by the 'plant' symbol.

Anyone know? Answers to me and Monty please.


Is there a new DSC-F1 coming?
Christian Oliff P29520@exchange.sihe.ac.uk says: I am planning on buying a Sony DSC-F1 camera soon after wanting it for more than a year. It is a stunning piece of technology. I've just read in a digital camera magazine that Sony are releasing an update to this camera, the DSC-F1. The only thing I know is that it will feature 8mb of RAM (instead of 4mb). I'm unsure of any other details.
How do the pictures look on a TV?
What does the output look like on to TV? Is it full screen.

I don't know. Please reply to Christian Oliff P29520@exchange.sihe.ac.uk


How many pictures can be stored on the DSCF1?
How many photos can be stored on the Mavica's 1.44Mb disk? How many on DSCF1? Does DSCF1 have flash?

I think you can get about 20 pictures on the Mavica's floppy; obviously you can take a little wallet full of floppies and take hundreds of pictures. In contrast, the DSCF1 has a capacity of 108 pictures tops. If you take high quality pictures, then you can only fit about 40 or 80 depending on the quality you choose. Actually, I usually can't see much difference between the different qualities. Once you have taken those 108 pictures, you can't take any more, unless you pick some to delete.

Yes, the DSCF1 has a flash. There is a tendency for pictures with flash to be overexposed or underexposed; this is probably a problem with all digital cameras since the dynamic range isn't as big as film.


Is there any news about software problems with Windows 98?
       One problem and its solution:
       -----------------------------
I had a DSCF1 for about 14 months, and I lent it
to my sister who uses Windows 98. 
She has found that the software isn't working,
and we are wondering if this is a Win98 problem
or something else:

(1) the camera is connected by cable to Com-1;
(2) SonyDSC version 1.0 is running, we click on the 
	camera icon to download the album, and get 
	a windoze error message:

A Fatal exception 0E has occured at 0028:C1828128
The current application will be terminated.

Solution:           switch off windoze 98, and switch on again - then
        the software works OK!

       plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!
       

does the software upgrade from 1.0 to 1.5 work on UK models?
The web site says that the upgrade only works on US versions of the software. Is this true? Do you have the upgrade installed?

I upgraded my UK software fine using an upgrade from the sony web site given above.


new faq here

is there already a FAQ for the DSC-F1?
There is a general discussion at http://www.hyperzine.com/news/dnewsweb?cmd=xover&group=HyperZine.DigitalCameras, see also http://www.photoshopper.com/forum/digital.html and http://www.photoshopper.com/forum/digital/272.html and the general newsgroup, rec.photo.digital. There's always http://www.sony.com too. And software updates here. However, Sony are incredibly unhelpful. See below their response to a message which I typed into their web form.
As much as I would like to assist you personally, I feel your inquiry 
would be more effectively answered if directed to the Computer 
Peripheral Products Group in your country.  Unfortunately our U.S. 
Division does not provide email support.
So why do they have an email enquiry feature on their web pages? Stupid twits.

UK help is here: Sony Computer Peripherals UK

 Technical Enquiry line
 Mo - Fr, 09:00 - 17:00 h 
     Tel :    01932 / 816699
     Fax :    01932 / 817001

Note: From September 1998, I am not planning to update this page any more. Would someone else like to become FAQ maintainer? Please don't send me any more questions. If someone wants to take over maintaining this FAQ I can help them get started.
Obviously, the unmaintained nature of this page implies that it will contain some stale links. Sorry!

David MacKay