"Cyber-shot" T series digital cameras lead the market in slim, compact models with generous screens. The DSC-T700 and DSC-T77 epitomize these qualities, at nearly 15 mm thin including the sliding lens cover. Here, understated design highlights the slimness of these cameras.
Masamitsu: The history of the "Cyber-shot" T series begins in 2003, with the release of the DSC-T1. It was a big hit, and it made people aware of this Sony brand and its winning technology in the digital camera market.
One reason for its success was its svelte body —17.3 mm at its thinnest point. With the sliding lens cover, though, it was actually about 21 mm thick. The extra thickness was unavoidable because the sliding mechanism is built into the back of the lens cover. In the new models, we wanted to keep the sliding lens cover, both as an element of the design identity and as a feature that simplifies operation. And we wanted to trim the total thickness to 20 mm or less. This is something we had always keenly wished for, in T series development.
That's why this was the design project we had been looking forward to. The newly developed lens unit (which offers optical image stabilization) is extremely slim, and there's absolutely no wasted space in the internal layout. This freed us to approach design straight-on, without worrying about the tough task of making the cameras look thinner. I was sure that finally, we would see great examples of Sony design ideals in these products.
Sumii: The idea of a lens cover that wraps around the sides originally came from our designers several years ago, as an exploration of how the shape creates a particular look. Our engineers kept studying how to implement it, and their steady progress enabled us to create the DSC-T77. We initially wanted to incorporate the sliding mechanism in the parts that wrap around the sides to make the camera slimmer.
But there are two sides to thinness, and extreme thinness would be counterproductive and cheapen the overall image. So, while taking advantage of the smaller internal structure this time, we decided to focus on how the details are implemented, so that the product embodies higher values.
A sense of precision is the key aspect. Look at the lines on the top of the body where parts come together, for example. On top, the edge of the cover and the front and back panels fit together perfectly naturally on the same plane. This reflects the precision and solidity of the camera. It was much easier said than done. The body is constructed of stainless steel, and because it's very rigid, machining precision is difficult to ensure. Assuming there will be some inconsistency in precision, parts are not usually designed to fit together exactly this way. But our engineers worked extremely hard to make it happen.
The lens cover, which we were anxious about, is a mere 0.8 mm thin. What's more, we trimmed away any areas on the back of the cover that may have interfered with protrusions by the lens, and reduced the clearance between the cover and body to a minimum. All of this makes the camera feel well-integrated. Wrapping the left and right ends around the body and creating raised edges makes the cover sturdier.