Conclusion - Pros

  • Very sharp, high resolution images, very good colour accuracy and saturation, virtually identical image quality to the DSC-S75 (though very slightly more noise *)
  • Low media costs (8cm CD-R offer excellent $/MB ratio)
  • Relatively quick now with better buffering, decent shot-to-shot times
  • Ability to share images immediately with any computer fitted with a CD-ROM drive
  • Excellent colour reproduction (although a little cooler than its CD200 sibling)
  • Great 2.5" LCD (shame the sunlight hybrid bit of it doesn't work too well)
  • Good low light / night / twilight performance
  • Very little chromatic aberrations
  • Three image burst mode
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing
  • Good build quality
  • Good manual features, good range of "photographic" options, ISO selection
  • Addition of jog-dial
  • One-push manual white balance
  • AF assist lamp
  • Excellent battery & supplied AC adapter / charger
  • Relatively good macro ability
  • USB connectivity
  • EPSON Print Image Matching compliant

* Pre-production sample, could improve with final product (we'll update the review then)

Conclusion - Cons

  • Slow startup times (thanks to the extending lens)
  • Bulky, large in size and weight
  • Time taken to finalize / unfinalize / format can be a bit tedious (to recover ALL the space on a CD-RW you need to Format it)
  • Deleting images on a CD-RW will only restore space if they are deleted from the last to the first (example out of 10 deleting last 5 images restores space, first 5 wouldn't)
  • Battery life can be deceiving, a lot of disc access (initialize / finalize / unfinalize) will take a much larger toll
  • Slow image display / thumbnail display (which is due to disc spin up and seek times)
  • Zoom controller is too sensitive
  • Terribly positioned tripod mount
  • MPEG movies only 8 frames per second (except MPEG HQ)
  • Occasional "wandering white balance"
  • Barrel distortion at wide angle
  • Lack of preset white balance modes

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Sony MVC-CD300: (3 megapixel compact prosumer)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 8.5
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 9
Ease of use 8
Value for money 9

Sony answered the question I posed in my MVC-CD1000 review, "It'll be interesting to see how many more products Sony release using mini CD-R"... That comment was made in jest, however it's now clear that Sony are serious about the use of CD-R/RW in digital cameras. And it's easy to see why, they've dominated the digital camera market in North America with the Mavica brand, easy to use, easy to understand and most importantly easy to handle the images because they are on floppy disc.

Technology moves on, higher resolution requires larger storage, the floppy disc with its maximum capacity of 1.4 MB is definitely no match for a 3 megapixel digital camera. Solution? Use 156 MB 8cm CD-R's, once finalized these discs can be used in most modern CD-ROM drives. Another plus note, despite the write-once nature of CD-R's they do offer excellent $/MB, plus, now if you need them you can always buy CD-RW, more expensive but erasable.

Something else to consider is the "shoot to archive" ability of the camera, you're instantly taking a "digital negative" each time you press the shutter release (at least on CD-R discs), there's no way to accidentally delete them, you get a permanent record and don't have to worry about reorganising and re-archiving them later. (Note to Sony: perhaps in the future supply an application which can build thumbnail indexes of 'offline' CD-R's for easy access to your images at a later date).

The CD300 only just scraped a "Highly Recommended", I had considered it a "Recommended" because (a) it's relatively expensive, a DSC-S75 ($700) and a 64 MB Memory Stick ($100) would cost $200 less, then again just $80 would buy you 7.8 GB of 8cm CD-R's, (b) ownership of this camera incurs recurring costs, (c) it is bulky and relatively heavy. However all in all it offers excellent image quality and a great $/MB storage solution.

Highly Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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