Pre-PMA 2002: Having just received a pre-production CD400 in the last few days I haven't had time to put together a full review. Instead I've put together a simple 'quick preview' article and some samples for you to take a look at. The CD400 appears to be a very promising digital camera for those who are looking for an alternative to flash storage. It figures as an improved DSC-S85 with the 'CD Mavica' backend for storage directly onto 8 cm CD-R or CD-RW.

Sony MVC-CD400 Quick Preview

"Chunky" would be a good word to describe the CD400. It's a thick design with a wide and deep hand grip, which if you have big hands like me is quite comfortable. At the front we find that F2.0 - F2.5 "Carl Zeiss" lens behind which lurks the four megapixel sensor. Around the back almost the entire rear of the camera is hinged, inside fits the 8 cm CD-R or CD-RW disc. The CD400 takes the almost infamous InfoLithium NP-FM50 which fits diagonally into the base of the hand grip.

Click here for full details and specifications of the MVC-CD400

New features

Here's a brief summary of some of the new features found in the MVC-CD400 (compared to previous 'CD Mavica' models and also the DSC-S85):

  • F2.0 - F2.5 "Carl Zeiss" 3x optical zoom lens
  • 5 area Multi-Point AF, you can manually select AF points or leave the camera in automatic
  • Slow shutter noise reduction (dark frame subtraction - again first seen on the F707)
  • New updated white balance options: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Manual preset
  • New noise reduction algorithm (based on that first implemented on the F707, but improved)
  • Multi-pattern metering
  • Flash hot-shoe (accepts third party flash units)
  • Hologram AF (laser pattern projected onto the subject - first seen on the F707)
  • "Confirm before write" option, pauses the write process until you confirm the image
  • MPEG HQX movie (320 x 240 unlimited @ 8 fps, includes audio)
  • Multi-burst continuous mode (16 frames on a single JPEG - 30 / 15 / 8 fps)
  • Bundle includes 6 x CD-R and 1 x CD-RW disc (almost 1 GB of storage supplied)

A DSC-S85 with a CD-R/RW drive?

Yes, but better. The CD400 does have all of the features of the excellent DSC-S85 but also includes all of the 'current' improvements (multi-pattern metering, new white balance) as well as selectable AF points, a flash hot-shoe (a first for Sony) and the Holgram AF system from the F707. The CD400 should definetly be viewed as one of Sony's premium cameras (if you can handle its bulkiness).

Resolution

As we'd hoped the CD400 exhibits the same excellent resolution performance as its older brother the DSC-S85. That means it's at the top of what we'd expect from a consumer level four megapixel digital camera. Bear in mind that this shot is from a pre-production camera and will be updated when a production camera is made available.

Sample images

Note the samples below are from a pre-production MVC-CD400. Look out for our full review of a production MVC-CD400 sometime in March or April.