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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!

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

MVC-FD87 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 5/4/2001

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)


Outdoor portrait: (198 k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Sony Mavica FD87 performs pretty well. We shot samples of this image with the automatic (202 k) and daylight (204 k) white balance settings. The daylight setting produced a very cool image, with bluish skin tones and white values. Alternatively, the automatic setting resulted in a slightly warm image, with warmer skin tones and a yellowish white value. With neither white balance setting exactly accurate, we chose the automatic setting for our main series, as the skin tones look a little more natural (though still quite warm and orange). Still, the blues of the flowers and pants look about right, with only the faintest hint of a purple tint at the edges of the blue petals. (These blues are hard for many digicams to reproduce correctly.) The red flower appears a little oversaturated and bright, which causes a slight loss of detail in the petals, particularly those in the center of the flower. Resolution looks pretty typical of a 1.3 megapixel camera (perhaps slightly on the soft side, due to the higher JPEG compression required to fit a reasonable number of images onto the floppy disk), with good detail visible throughout the image. Details are reasonably sharp as well, particularly those of the flower bouquet. The shadow areas show a moderate amount of detail, with very low noise present. Our main image was taken with a no exposure adjustment, managing to properly expose the shadow areas while keeping the highlights in check. (This is unusual, most digicams require some exposure boost on this shot to get good tonal rendition.) The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.0 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
(198 k)
0.3 EV
(203 k)
0.7 EV
(201 k)
1.0 EV
(205 k)



 
Closer portrait: (209 k)
The MVC-FD87 performs well with this closer, portrait shot, thanks to its 3x zoom lens. (Shorter focal length lenses tend to distort facial features in close-up shots like this and the availability of longer focal lengths is a key feature if you're going to be shooting close-up people shots.) We again shot with the automatic white balance setting, which this time resulted in a slightly cooler color balance, with more of a greenish tint than a yellow one. As is typical with this shot, we noticed higher resolution and slightly sharper details, particularly in the model's face and hair. The FD87 appeared to overemphasize the tonal breaks in the smile lines in the model's face, making them more prominent than in real life. The more subtle texture of the house siding is also visible. Noise remains moderately low in the shadows, with only a trace visible in the house siding. We shot our main image with no exposure compensation at all. Though the image appears slightly dim, a minor adjustment to +0.3 EV (207 k) overexposed the highlights and slightly washed out the shadow areas. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.0 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
(209 k)
0.3 EV
(207 k)
0.7 EV
(205 k)
1.0 EV
(203 k)



 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (204 k)
The MVC-FD87's built-in flash illuminates the subject evenly with a good intensity level. In all of our flash test shots, we picked up a slight color cast from the household incandescent lighting, which showed up as an orange/magenta cast on the white wall background. We shot our first series of images in normal Program AE mode, with the flash intensity set to low (202 k), normal (207 k), and high (206 k) in turn. The low intensity setting results in a reasonably bright shot, brighter than we initially expected. Color is vibrant and reasonably accurate, though we noticed a few orange tints on the white shirt. Raising the flash intensity to the normal level brightens the image a fair bit more, decreasing the amount of orange in the white shirt. Color remains reasonably vibrant, though the skin tones begin to look washed out. Only a few orange tints remain on the white shirt at the high intensity setting. The brighter flash power washes out the color slightly, though the overall exposure looks good and the highlight areas maintain a nice level of detail. Next, we switched to the Twilight Plus exposure mode, and again shot with the low (207 k), normal (204 k), and high (202 k) intensity settings. Though the Twilight Plus mode works with a slower shutter speed, and therefore allows more ambient light into the image, we found very similar results to those obtained with the Program AE mode. Each of the flash intensity settings produces nearly identical shots to the Program AE series, with the Twilight Plus series appearing just a hair brighter. Overall color balance and accuracy look pretty good, with the higher flash intensity setting reducing the orange cast on the model's shirt.


 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (206 k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the MVC-FD87's white balance system struggled with this difficult light source. We shot samples of this image with the automatic (210 k) and incandescent (208 k) white balance settings, noticing that neither setting produced very accurate results. The automatic setting resulted in a pinkish color cast, while the incandescent setting produced a brownish, slightly sepia image. In the end, we settled on the automatic white balance setting for our main series, despite the pink color cast. Color in the flower bouquet is reasonably bright and somewhat representative, though the blue flowers now appear violet. Details are fairly sharp, with a hint of softness, and overall resolution looks about moderate. We chose an exposure adjustment of +1.0 EV for our main image, which brightened the pink cast slightly without losing detail in the white highlight areas. Increasing the exposure compensation all the way to +1.7 EV (202 k) dramatically reduces the pink color cast, though the entire image appears very washed out with faded color. Noise is a little high throughout the image, particularly noticeable in the model's face and hair. The table below shows a range of exposures from zero to +1.7 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
(208 k)
0.3 EV
(211 k)
0.7 EV
(210 k)
1.0 EV
(206 k)
1.3 EV
(205 k)
1.7 EV
(202 k)



 
House shot: (215 k)
We shot samples of this image with the daylight (213 k) and automatic (213 k) white balance settings, which both produced similar results. The automatic setting produced a slightly cool image, while the daylight setting resulted in a slightly warmer, more accurate image. We chose the daylight setting for our main series, because the overall color balance looked more natural and the white value appeared more accurate. Color looks good throughout the image, with a nice saturation level (though the blue sky appears a little weak). Resolution is again fairly high, appropriate for a 1.3 megapixel camera, with a nice amount of fine detail visible in the bricks and shrubbery, and in the tree limbs above the roof. Details are also fairly sharp, particularly those in the leaves surrounding the house and in the linear house details. A tiny halo along the light and dark edges of the white trim along the roof gives away the in-camera sharpening. Noise is very low in the roof shingles and shadows, and we can see some small artifacts around the highest peak of the roof trim and on the copper awning of the bay window. The table below shows our standard range of resolution and quality settings.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
(215 k)
Medium/Fine
(134 k)
Small/Fine
(39 k)


Sharpness Series
We also shot with the MVC-FD87's adjustable sharpness setting, which increases or decreases the sharpness level in arbitrary increments from -2 to +2. Each sharpness adjustment is very subtle and appears to minutely adjust the contrast to suggest a sharper or softer image. Overall brightness remains about the same with each setting.

Very Sharp
(214 k)
Sharp
(213 k)
Normal
(213 k)
Soft
(212 k)
Very Soft
(213 k)



 
 
Far-Field Test (218 k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

We shot this image with the automatic white balance setting, which produced a good overall color balance with a fairly accurate white value. This shot is a strong test of detail, given the practically infinite range of fine detail in a natural scene like this, viewed from a distance. Resolution looks good, with a moderately high level of fine detail visible in the tree branches above the house, as well as in the bricks and house front details. The stronger details of the wooden fence and wood pile behind the house (on the driveway side) are also faintly visible. Details are somewhat soft, though still reasonably sharp throughout the image. We also judge a camera's dynamic range in this shot, comparing how well the camera holds detail in both the shadow and highlight areas. The MVC-FD87 does a good job with the bright, white paint of the bay window area, capturing the stronger details and hinting at the more subtle ones. We did notice a slight "glow" surrounding all of the bright, white trim areas, apparently caused by flare within the lens. The shadow area under the porch fares well also, as the brick pattern and porch light details are just visible and the reflections in the glass panes above the door show good detail. Noise is about moderate in the roof shingles and shadow areas. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
(215 k)
Medium/Fine
(134 k)
Small/Fine
(39 k)



 
 
Lens Zoom Range
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 3x telephoto, and at full telephoto with the 2x Precision Digital Zoom enabled. The MVC-FD87's wide angle setting captures a very wide field of view, with good detail, and only a hint of barrel distortion along the street curb. We generally shoot this image at a smaller size than the others to save on bandwidth - We're interested in the coverage of the lens more than details. In the case of the FD-87, it appears that the camera also uses more JPEG compression at this size setting, as we more JPEG artifacts in details on the front of the house. Resolution and detail increase with the 3x telephoto setting, with increased image sharpness and clarity as well. The JPEG artifacts have nearly all disappeared, though we detected a few in the window panes. We've always been impressed with Sony's Precision Digital Zoom, which does a great job of preserving resolution as it digitally enlarges the image. Though details are slightly softer, the overall resolution looks pretty good at the 2x digital zoom setting and noise levels appear to remain the same. A very nice job!

Wide Angle
(126 k)
3x Telephoto
(135 k)
2x Digital Telephoto
(125 k)



 
 
Musicians Poster (204 k)
For this test, we shot with the automatic (210 k) and daylight (210 k) white balance settings, choosing the daylight setting for our main series. The large amount of blue in the image often tricks digicams into overcompensating, and we noticed that the FD87 fell into this trap, though not too badly. The automatic setting resulted in a very cool image, with very pale, bluish skin tones, and a milky haze over the red vest. Alternatively, the daylight setting produced a slightly warmer image, but the skin tones and overall color balance appear more natural and accurate. There's just a hint of a purplish tint in the blue background, but overall color still looks very nice. The blue of the Oriental model's robe is about right (this is a difficult blue for digicams to reproduce, so the FD87 does well here). Resolution is pretty good, with a lot of fine detail visible in the bird wings and silver threads of the blue robe (though the details of the smaller bird are only faintly visible). Overall, image details appear reasonably sharp, with good definition in the violin strings and beaded necklaces, as well as in the flower garland. Noise is moderately low and mostly visible in the blue background and in the shadow areas of the models' faces (some noise could be from the poster itself). The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
(204 k)
Medium/Fine
(126 k)
Small/Fine
(39 k)



 
Macro Shot (201 k)
The MVC-FD87 did exceptionally well in the macro category, capturing a very tiny minimum area of just 1.68 x 1.26 inches (42.79 x 32.09mm). Detail and resolution both look great, with sharp, crisp details throughout the image, and very nice color (though overall color balance is slightly cool). The printing details of the dollar bill are very sharp, as are some of the individual fibers in the paper. We noticed some corner softness from the lens and a little barrel distortion from the wide angle lens setting. The gray background shows a very low noise level. The MVC-FD87's built-in flash (204 k) has some trouble throttling down for the macro area, probably due to the very close shooting range. The lens blocks 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.


"Davebox" Test Target (206 k)
We shot samples of this target using the automatic (202 k) and daylight (202 k) white balance settings, choosing the automatic setting as the most accurate for our main series. The daylight setting produced a very similar image to the automatic setting, though with just a hint of warmth. Color balance looks pretty accurate with the automatic white balance setting, without any strong color casts. The large color blocks look about right, with good saturation (though the red block is a little bright). A slight halo exists on the inside of the black lines surrounding the brighter green, orange, and yellow color blocks. The MVC-FD87 does a great job distinguishing the subtle difference between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart (which is a common problem area for many digicams), with good color accuracy. Exposure is pretty accurate, as the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 chart are just faintly visible at the "B" range (this is another common problem area for digicams). The tonal gradations of the smaller, vertical gray scales also look good, though the darkest two blocks blend together slightly. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows good detail, with only moderately low noise, though the white gauze area loses some detail in the brighter highlights. Resolution is good overall, with a large amount of fine detail visible in the box hinges and silver disk, and the mini resolution target appears reasonably sharp as well. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
(206 k)
Medium/Fine
(124 k)
Small/Fine
(35 k)



 
Low-Light Tests
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.

8fc
10EV
88lux
4fc
9EV
44lux
2fc
8EV
22lux
1fc
7EV
11lux
1/2fc
6EV
5.5lux
1/4fc
5EV
2.7lux
1/8fc
4EV
1.3lux
1/16fc
3EV
0.67lx
Program AE Click to see F87L00.JPG
218 KB
Click to see F87L01.JPG
218 KB
Click to see F87L02.JPG
217 KB
Click to see F87L03.JPG
202 KB
Click to see F87L04.JPG
207 KB
Click to see F87L05.JPG
219 KB
Click to see F87L06.JPG
217 KB
Click to see F87L07.JPG
214 KB
Twilight Click to see F87LT00.JPG
212 KB
Click to see F87LT01.JPG
204 KB
Click to see F87LT02.JPG
205 KB
Click to see F87LT03.JPG
199 KB
Click to see F87LT04.JPG
205 KB
Click to see F87LT05.JPG
199 KB
Click to see F87LT06.JPG
198 KB
Click to see F87LT07.JPG
201 KB



 
Flash Range Test
Sorry, missed this test with this camera!

 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (197 k)
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.

Resolution/Quality series, Wide Angle
Large/Fine
(197 k)
Medium/Fine
(116 k)
Small/Fine
(36 k)


Sharpness Series
Very Sharp
(198 k)
Sharp
(197 k)
Normal
(198 k)
Soft
(196 k)
Very Soft
(197 k)


Resolution Series, Telephoto
Large/Fine
(194 k)
Medium/Fine
(120 k)
Small/Fine
(37 k)


Sharpness Series
Very Sharp
(194 k)
Sharp
(196 k)
Normal
(194 k)
Soft
(195 k)
Very Soft
(195 k)



 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
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 (200 k) and about 92.3 percent at telephoto (204 k). 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. Flash distribution is even at the telephoto setting, with just a hint of falloff at the corners. At the wide angle setting, flash distribution also looks good, with slightly more falloff at the corners and the brightest spot at the center of the target.

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.

 

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<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

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