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Sony MVC-FD87

Sony announces an affordable 1.3-megapixel digicam with basic features, good quality pictures, and a dual-media storage drive!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 5/4/2001

Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing only our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the MVC-FD87's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the FD87 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Overall, the FD87 produced great images, with accurate color and nice detail for a 1.3 megapixel camera. The camera's white balance system performed well during our testing, though it had some trouble with the difficult incandescent lighting of our Indoor Portrait, producing orange and sepia color casts. We used the automatic white balance setting during most of our testing, as it produced the most accurate results overall (though we noticed a tendency towards warmer images in a few cases). The FD87 handled the high-contrast lighting of our Outdoor Portrait reasonably well, but the blue flowers showed a slight purple tint at the edges. Color accuracy on our Davebox target looked pretty good, with nice saturation as well.

The MVC-FD87 did a bit better than average for a 1.3 megapixel camera in our resolution tests, producing clean detail to 600 lines per picture height horizontally, and 550 lines vertically. Strong detail was visible to 700 lines horizontally and 650 lines vertically. Color artifacts in finer detail are pretty well controlled.

Optical distortion on the MVC-FD87 is moderate at the wide angle end of the lens' range, where we measured an approximate 0.69 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared only slightly better, as we measured an approximate 0.5 percent pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is quite low, showing about two or three very faint pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Overall, a pretty good lens, although slightly prone to flare under very contrasty lighting situations, as seen in our Far-Field test shots.

The MVC-FD87 had a little trouble in the low-light category, as we were only able to obtain bright, usable images at the eight foot-candle (88 lux) light level, in both Program AE and Twilight exposure modes. With the Twilight exposure mode, images were still reasonably bright and clear as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), though with a magenta cast. The target was still visible as low as 1/16 of a foot-candle (0.67 lux) with the Twilight exposure mode, though very dim. With the Program AE mode, images were still reasonably bright and clear as low as four foot-candles (44 lux), but again with a magenta cast. Images became progressively darker as the light level decreased while shooting in Program AE mode, with the target barely visible at the 1/16 of a foot-candle (0.67 lux) light level. Noise is very low at the higher light levels in Twilight exposure mode, increasing to a moderate level as the light level decreases. With the Program AE mode, noise level remains moderately low. (We direct readers to Mike Chaney's excellent Qimage Pro program, for a tool with an amazing ability to remove image noise without significantly affecting detail.) To put the MVC-FD87's low-light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, so night exposures will most likely require use of the built-in flash. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

We found the MVC-FD87's LCD monitor to be just a little tight, showing approximately 91.6 percent of the final frame at wide angle and about 92.3 percent at telephoto. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the MVC-FD87 performs reasonably well here, although given a choice, we'd like to see it at 95% or so.

The MVC-FD87 did exceptionally well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 1.68 x 1.26 inches (42.79 x 32.09 mm). Detail and resolution both look great, with sharp, crisp details throughout the image, and very nice color (though overall color balance was a little cool). The printing details of the dollar bill were very sharp, as were some of the individual fibers in the paper. We noticed some slight corner softness from the lens and a little barrel distortion from the wide-angle lens setting. The MVC-FD87's built-in flash had some trouble throttling down for the macro area, probably due to the very close shooting range. The lens blocked some of the light, causing a shadow in the lower left corner. Still, the details of the dollar bill are clear and sharp in the flash shot.

Overall, we were pretty pleased with the MVC-FD87's performance. Though exposure control is limited to automatic control only, the FD87 provides a nice complement of preset shooting modes. The FD87 also produces good color accuracy and image quality, meaning you can trust the automatic adjustment in most shooting situations.


Conclusion
Following in the footsteps of the popular Mavica digicam line, the Sony MVC-FD87 offers many of our favorite Sony features, including the Picture Effects menu, InfoLITHIUM rechargeable battery, and floppy disk image storage. In most cases, limited exposure control keeps camera operation to a simple point-and-shoot level, while still delivering great color and good image quality. It's the perfect digicam for consumers who want to take great pictures without worrying about complicated exposure decisions, and who want to take advantage of low-cost floppy disk storage and the resulting ultra-simple process of copying the images to their computer. All in all, the MVC-FD87 is a worthy member of the hugely popular Mavica digicam line.


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