Conclusion - Pros

  • Good, comfortable ergonimics
  • Fast, responsive operating system
  • Manual everything controls: Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual white balance, Manual focus
  • Fast (if sometimes a little inaccurate) auto-focus
  • Short startup / shutter lag / cycle times
  • Hold-last-image after taking a shot by holding the shutter release down
  • Average-to-good LCD and with a fairly good flip-out range
  • Excellent InfoLithium battery and battery life
  • Convenience of floppy disks (good in a social environment, cheap otherwise)
  • Steady shot image stabilization (very useful at 14 x...)
  • Amazing 14 x zoom

Conclusion - Cons

  • Floppy disks (having to change disks and carry boxes of disks around is a huge let-down)
  • High JPEG compression as a concequence of using floppy disks
  • Only 1024 x 768 resolution
  • Video quality (not photographic quality) lens system
  • Inferior CCD leading to high noise at low/medium light
  • Images always have that "video capture" softness and fuzzy resolution
  • Longest exposure only 1/60s
  • Flash only effective to 2.5m
  • Size, this camera is quite bulky
  • Pointless "uncompressed" mode as it's only 640 x 480 (maximum you could store on a floppy)
  • No TV Out (unusual for a Sony...)
  • 1970's design (I *had* to put that one under Cons)

The Final Word

This camera always generates a lot of interest because of it's similarities with traditional SLR cameras, the flexilibity of it's controls promise such a good camera, but it is I'm afraid to say let down by a poor optical and CCD system. I can imagine this camera being so much to so many people, and if you only take photographs in bright daylight or love to take real close ups of nature or sports events then this camera may be for you.

I suspect that if Sony had instead put a high quality (but less adventurous zoom) lens system and a more up-to-date CCD in this camera they would have been onto a true winner in every sense, unfortunately the FD-91 is not that camera (roll on DSC-D700).

At the end of the day, make up your own mind, which side of the trade off between functionality / features and image quality do you stand?

UPDATE: As pointed out to me by several FD-91 owners the FD-91 is not suitable for low light photography and is NOT designed for that purpose.

Sony Mavica FD-91 NOW!