Video: a Retro Review of Sony's 24-year-old Mavica FD5 camera, which used floppy discs for storage
Gordon Laing has shared another episode of Retro Reviews, this time reviewing the 24-year-old Sony Mavica FD5, one of Sony’s earliest digital cameras that recorded cameras directly to 3.5” floppy discs.
The Mavica FD5 was released in 1997 and retailed for around $600. While not the first Mavica camera, it was the first digital Mavica camera. As Gordon explains in the 13-minute video, the selling point of the FD5 was its use of the ubiquitous 3.5” floppy disc as a storage medium. Whereas most other digital cameras in the mid-to-late 1990s either used built-in storage or more expensive (and sometimes proprietary) storage solutions, Sony opted to go for a solution that didn’t require most consumers to go out and purchase additional hardware.
Naturally, this solution made for a rather large, square-shaped camera. But, aside from its brick-like ergonomics [insert Sony ergonomics joke here], Gordon suggests the camera is fairly intuitive and straightforward due to its almost entirely auto nature (the only adjustable setting was exposure compensation +/- 1.5EV in .5EV increments). However, there are a few user experience quirks, such as the camera displaying only the numbers of images captured, not how many remain until your 1.4MB of storage is used up.
Below is a collection of sample photographs captured by Gordon with the Mavica FD5, used with his permission:
At the heart of the FD5 was a CCD sensor that was carried over from Sony’s line of digital video cameras and offered a whopping .3MP (640 x 480 pixels) of resolution. Gordon notes the camera applies rather aggressive JPEG compression to the images in order to fit 20–40 60KB photographs onto a single 3.5” 1.4MP floppy disc. The fixed focal length lens on the FD5 is a 47mm equivalent with a slider on the front of the camera for activating a macro lens that popped in front of the main lens.
The FD5 uses Sony’s FP-530 batteries, which were rated for up to 500 shots per charge. However, reviewing images and keeping the rear LCD display on for extended periods of time dramatically cuts into that shot count.
As always, Gordon’s video coincides with a written Retro Review of the camera, which you can read over on CameraLabs. You can find more of his Retro Reviews on Gordon’s DinoBytes YouTube channel and find his other photography work on his camera review website, CameraLabs.
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