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Sony MVC-CD1000 Review

September 2000 | By Phil Askey


Review based on a Production Model Sony Mavica CD1000

Sony have had a strong grip on the digital camera market for several years now. So, what's been the reason they've done so well? The decision to use floppy disks as the storage medium. Now ask any reviewer what storage medium he'd most like in a digital camera and floppy disk would probably be the last thing in the world. However for the average user the convenience of being able to store images on virtually cost-less floppies and just pop them into any standard 3.5" floppy drive has been the key to making digital cameras easy for them.

Sony, however, have faced a dilemma. The only way to get a decent number of images onto a floppy disk is to heavily compress the JPEG file, on the older Mavica's this was less of a problem (due to pixel count) but as things have progressed up to the FD-95 with 2.1 megapixels it's becoming increasingly difficult to maintain image quality at the same time as storing more than two or three images on a disk...

How to solve this dilemma? What's the next most common storage medium shared amongst many computers? CD-ROM... But to put a full size CD-R writer in a digital camera wouldn't be feasible (trust me, this camera is big enough already!)

So, 8 cm CD-R discs... Wacky, but it may just work. These little CD-R's offer 156 MB of storage per disc, are relatively cheap (and available if you know the suppliers). This would mean that Sony could boost the image quality by using a less aggressive compression yet still maintain the Mavica's convenience in being able to just pop the disc into a standard CD-ROM drive...

There have to be some drawbacks, right? Well, yes, first off there's the physical size of the camera. If you're used to the FD-91 or FD-95 then that probably won't bother you. If your other camera is a Canon S100 Digital ELPH / IXUS then you'll probably think the CD1000 is a little on the large size.

Secondly there's the inability to delete images (you can delete but you don't get any space back) or rewrite discs (though considering the price/MB it's a relatively small price to pay). Once you take a shot you can't delete it, you can't even preview it before it's written to the CD-R (which I'd mark down as a drawback). Lastly you can't use the disc in a standard CD-ROM drive until its been "finalised", the first finalise uses 13 MB of space, each following finalisation takes 4.5 MB

You can however read the discs without finalising on a CD-RW drive with DirectCD installed.


That Lens

The FD-91's 14 x optical zoom lens (equiv. to 518 mm on a 35 mm camera) became legendary amongst Mavica owners, an optical marvel in its zoom ability (if not in overall image quality) it was loved and hated almost equally amongst owners and reviewers. With the FD-95 and now the CD1000 Sony toned things down a little, just a 10 x optical (370 mm on a 35 mm camera), knowing that using a higher resolution CCD would but larger requirements on the quality of the image coming through the lens.

The FD-91's distinctive stablisation bulge is still there, offering great image stablisation essential for shooting at such long focal lengths.

It's interesting to note that in recent months other manufacturers have expressed an interest (or released) in digital cameras with long zooms. Canon recently announced an OEM 10 x stablised lens system which could be used in other cameras (and perhaps their own?), Olympus announced and are in the process of releasing the C-2100UZ which features a 10 x stablised lens and Fujifilm's new 4900Z features a 6 x optical zoom lens.

In a recent poll carried out on this site 12% of respondents placed a large zoom as the most important feature of a digital camera which came third to 22% who voted for pixel count and 50% who voted for a high quality lens. So most people would be looking for a 6 - 10 x optical zoom with very high quality glass... Not much to ask for ;-)

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this review (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Photographs of the camera were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 990, images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (normally 1024 x 768 or smaller if cropped) image in a new window.

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COPYRIGHT WARNING: This review (text, graphics and photographs) is Copyright 2000 Digital Photography Review, authored by Phil Askey, this review may NOT be reproduced in part or in whole in any electronic (website, PFD, CD-ROM etc.) or printed medium without prior explicit permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey.

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