Sony has unveiled a 10-million-pixel digital compact camera called the Cyber-shot DSC-R1 which sports an APS-C sized CMOS imaging sensor and is expected to cost around £700.

Claimed to offer the picture quality of a mid to high-end digital SLR at a ?consumer price? the R1 will be launched in the UK in November.

It is trumpeted as the new ?flagship? Cyber-shot and sports a non-interchangeable 5x Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/2.8 lens designed to deliver the 35mm equivalent of a 24-120mm optic.

The 10.3MP (effective) sensor measures 21.5×14.4mm and is claimed to deliver a wide dynamic range and ?low signal to noise ratio?.

Targeted at enthusiasts, professional and ?semi-professional? users the camera features a ?full-time live view? system for the camera?s electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor (2in free-angle LCD monitor located on top of the camera). This system is designed to allow the user to view a live preview of the shot in the frame while allowing the photographer to view settings such as current exposure and white balance, on both the LCD screen and viewfinder.

Features include RAW image format recording, PictBridge compatibility and ISO sensitivity selectable up to ISO 3200. The R1 supports Adobe RGB colour space.

Users will be able to extend the zoom using an optional 1.7x tele conversion lens (VCL-DEH17R), out in November and expected to cost £280-300. Sony will also launch a 0.8x wide conversion lens (VCL-DEH08R), out at the same time, also priced around £280. Each will require an adapter costing an additional £60.

Also on board the R1 is a pop-up flash, a claimed shooting burst rate of three frames per second and compatibility with Memory Stick, CompactFlash and Microdrive storage.

Sony UK?s business planning manager for Digital Imaging Hiroyuki Matsushita explained that Sony wanted to keep the camera compact and that if the lens carried a longer focal length it would not have been possible to keep the camera this small (139.4x156x97.7mm).

Matsushita said Sony hopes the R1 will appeal to ?semi-professional? photographers looking for a ?spare? camera to back-up their digital SLR.

Sony claims that the R1 consumes 27% less power than the Cyber-shot DSC-F828.

Before announcing the R1 the company drew on research which suggests that more than 70% of digital SLR sales are entry-level models.

As well as professional and semi-professionals Sony is aiming the R1 at those amateurs who cannot afford to spend more than ??1000? on a digital SLR.

? Sony confirmed that the digital SLR it is developing in a tie-up with Konica Minolta will be launched in ?summer 2006?