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Sony MVC-FD92

Sony adds a Memory Stick slot to a popular 1.3/1.6 megapixel (interpolated) design, for increased storage and improved image quality!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 4/16/2001

Executive Overview
Like the other Sony Mavicas, the MVC-FD92 appears to be bulky at first sight, measuring a hefty 5.75 x 4.1 x 3.1 inches (143 x 103 x 79mm), but the larger size is a small price to pay for the convenience of floppy disk image storage. The boxy shape accommodates a 3.5-inch floppy diskette, which can be removed from the camera following image capture, plugged directly into your computer's floppy drive, and the photos dragged and dropped onto your hard drive with no software intervention (a feature that has made the Mavica line extremely popular with consumers). The MVC-FD92 also accepts Sony Memory Stick media, an added bonus that allows you to use both media types, and transfer images from one storage media to the other.

Despite its appearance, the camera weighs less than you'd expect, thanks to its sturdy, all-plastic body (1 lb. 7 oz., or 660 grams, with the battery, lens cap, floppy diskette, and Memory Stick installed). A shoulder / neck strap makes the camera easily portable, and an accessory camera bag is available to add protection to portability. Combine that with the 8x optical zoom, loads of features, and the MPEG movie capability, and you'll appreciate just how much Sony has packed into the FD92 camera body.

The MVC-FD92 provides a 2.5-inch, TFT color LCD monitor for composing images. (There is no optical viewfinder.) The monitor features a fairly detailed information display and on-screen menu system, though it does not report the shutter speed and aperture settings. The 8x optical zoom lens includes focal lengths from 4.75-38mm (equivalent to a 41-328mm zoom on a 35mm camera), with maximum apertures from f/2.8-f/3, depending on the zoom setting. The focal range extends from approximately 10 inches (0.25 meter) to infinity in normal mode (at the wide-angle setting), and from 1.18 to 19.2 inches (3 to 50 cm) in Macro mode, with a handful of fixed focus settings available as well.

Exposure is automatically controlled at all times (unfortunately the instruction manual doesn't report the complete range of apertures or shutter speeds). A variety of Program AE modes equip the camera for special shooting situations, with choices of Automatic exposure, Twilight, Twilight Plus, Landscape, Panfocus, and Spot Metering modes. Twilight and Twilight Plus modes extend low-light performance (although not to true night photography levels, the flash is required for dark scenes). Landscape mode locks the focus at infinity, and Panfocus allows you to quickly change focus from far away to close-up subjects. Both Landscape and Panfocus modes are perfect for fast-action shooting situations, when you don't have time to wait the second or so that the autofocus system requires to change focus. Spot Metering mode changes the default averaged metering system, to one that bases the exposure on the very center of the frame -- ideal for high-contrast subjects.

Though exposure is completely automatic, an exposure compensation adjustment allows you to "tweak" the exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance options include Automatic, Indoors, Outdoors, and Hold (which merely recalls the previously used setting). The onboard flash gives you some added control, providing four operating modes (Auto, Auto Red-Eye, Forced Flash, and No Flash) and allowing you to set its intensity to one of three levels (High, Normal, and Low). These features, combined with the capability of connecting an external flash, provide a good bit of control over flash exposure. There's also a sharpness control, ranging from +2 to -2, and a selection of menu-selected Picture Effects, which include Solarize, B&W, Sepia, and Negative Art.

Aside from the traditional still capture mode, the MVC-FD92 has a movie option that enables you to record MPEG files with sound for as long as 60 seconds in 160 x 112-pixel size, and as long as 15 seconds in 320 x 240-pixel size. (Movie captures have most of the same exposure options as still images.) A Clip Motion animation mode allows you to capture as many as 10 still image frames to be played back as a single animation. Clip Motion images are saved as GIF files and played back at a rate of approximately 0.5 frames per second. You can also record sound clips as long as 40 seconds to accompany still images.

Under the Record menu, the MVC-FD92 gives you the added option of recording still images as black-and-white GIFs (good for capturing text or white boards), or saving e-mail size images (320 x 240-pixel resolution for easier e-mail transmission) at the same time as the higher-resolution files. There's also an uncompressed TIFF mode that records TIFF files at 1,280 x 960-pixel resolution, in addition to a JPEG compression level established in the Record menu.

The MVC-FD92 stores images to either a 3.5-inch floppy diskette or a Sony Memory Stick. Floppy storage makes it exceptionally easy for users to transfer images to a computer. Simply pop out the disk and insert it into your computer's floppy drive. There's no cabling to figure out and you don't have to worry about using the AC adapter while downloading images to save battery power. The downside to floppy disk storage is that the 1.44MB capacity limits you to only five high-resolution images on a disk. The Memory Stick, however, offers storage capacities as high as 64MB on a single card. Of course, the Memory Stick does not have the same benefits as the 1.44MB floppies -- low cost and no special drivers needed -- but the Playback menu offers options for copying images from one medium to another.

MGI PhotoSuite SE and VideoWave come packaged with the camera's software CD. PhotoSuite SE provides organized image downloading, image correction capabilities, and a variety of creative templates for making greeting cards, calendars, and other novelties. VideoWave software provides movie playback and minor editing capabilities. A USB cable and USB drivers are supplied for quick connection to a PC or Macintosh. An NTSC A/V cable allows US and Japanese users (PAL for European models) to view captured images and movies on a television set, as well as record them to video tape.

For power, the MVC-FD92 runs on Sony InfoLITHIUM NP-F330 rechargeable battery packs. (NP-F550 packs can also be used.) What's great about the InfoLITHIUM system is that the battery communicates with the camera regarding power consumption. The camera displays remaining battery time in minutes on the LCD, next to a battery symbol. To conserve battery power, an auto power-off option shuts down the camera after three minutes of inactivity. This is great from an energy conservation standpoint, but we'd like to be able to adjust the shut-down time.

Throughout our testing, the MVC-FD92 performed reasonably well, with good color and detail. The lack of exposure controls limits the camera's low-light performance somewhat, but the available Program AE modes should handle a large variety of shooting situations. Throw in the 8x optical zoom, flexible media storage options, and variety of fun and creative effects, and the FD92 makes a welcome addition to the already popular Mavica line.


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