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Sony Mavica CD1000

Sony packs a 156 megabyte CD-R into a 2 megapixel Mavica. (Wow!)

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 7/17/2000

Executive Overview
The arrival of Sony's new Mavica CD1000 is quite possibly one of the most exciting events in the digicam world and probably the biggest news we've heard over the past few months. Building on the already impressive design of the MVC-FD95, Sony simply substituted a three inch CD-R drive for the 3.5 inch floppy drive - vastly increasing the camera's image capacity. Picking up where the floppy-based Mavica line seemed about to leave off, Sony continued with the "no cables" appeal of the Mavicas while integrating the much more versatile CD-R technology. The new drive gives the CD1000 156 megabytes of removable (yet archivable) storage capacity, far surpassing the 1.44 megabyte capacity of the 3.5 inch floppies. Combine this with the abundant features, 2.1 megapixel CCD and 12 bit digitization, and you have what we consider the "Ultimate Mavica."

As with the previous Mavica camera designs, the CD1000 seems like quite a handful at first glance. But the larger size, which accommodates the 10x zoom lens and three inch CD-R drive, is actually lighter than you might think, weighing just 35 ounces (990g). With image storage on the three inch CDs, you're free from the hassles of cables, download software and compatibility issues (although an included USB cable and output jack give you the option of connecting to computers without compatible drives). As we mentioned earlier, the CD1000 comprises essentially the same camera design as the MVC-FD95 (but with a slight rearrangement in control layout to compensate for the hinged rear panel that accesses the CD-R drive), so we'll just give a brief rundown of the camera's features here.

Like the FD91 and the FD95, the MVC-CD1000's "optical" viewfinder is actually a smaller version of the rear LCD monitor, complete with information display and menus. The "optical" viewfinder uses a tiny (and lower-power) LCD screen to show you what the camera's seeing (a little like an "electronic SLR" or single-lens reflex). We like the idea of being able to see the exposure settings, flash, etc. in the viewfinder, but we continue to find it a little difficult to navigate the menu system with your face so close to the camera, preferring the larger LCD monitor for those tasks. The MVC-CD1000 offers a 10x optical zoom with its 6 to 60mm lens (equivalent to a 39 to 390mm lens on a 35mm camera). The lens also features Sony's remarkably effective "Steady Shot" system that helps you hold the image steady when you're shooting at such long focal lengths. Focus ranges from 9.8 inches (25 cm) to infinity in normal mode and from an amazing 0.8 to 9.8 inches (2.0 to 25 cm) in Macro mode. Apertures range from a very fast f/2.8 to f/11. There's even a manual focus mode, where you can focus the lens by hand, using the ridged focus ring on the end of the lens, just like traditional manual focus lenses for film-based cameras.

Although there's no full manual control, Sony does give you both Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority exposure modes. In both, you select one value while the camera chooses the most appropriate corresponding one. There's also a Twilight and Twilight Plus mode that extends low-light performance (although not to true night-photography levels: use Shutter Priority mode for that), and a full Program AE for when you want the camera to do all the work. Landscape mode sets the focus at infinity and Panfocus allows you to quickly change focus from far away to close-up subjects. Both modes are perfect for fast action shooting situations when you don't have time to wait for the autofocus system. We were glad to see the inclusion of a manual (One-Push, as they call it) white balance mode in addition to the standard Automatic, Indoors and Outdoors options. We also appreciated the spot metering option, which gives you greater flexibility over your exposure in those high contrast situations. The on-board pop-up flash gives you some added control as well, letting you set its intensity level. When combined with one of the semi-manual modes and the capability of connecting an external flash, you have a good bit of control over flash exposure. There's also a sharpness control and an entire menu of picture effects, which lets you shoot images in black and white or sepia monotones, with a solarized effect or as negative art.

Aside from the traditional still capture mode, the MVC-CD1000 has a movie option that lets you record up to 60 seconds of images and sound in a 160 x 112 pixel size and up to 15 seconds at a 320 x 240 size. (Sorry, movie length is limited by onboard memory, which means that the vast capacity of the CD-R doesn't increase the length of movie you can record. - You just get to store that many more of them on a single disk.) Movies are recorded as MPEG files and most of the same exposure options are available as with still images. Additionally, you can record up to 40 second sound bytes to accompany your still images. Under the capture mode menu, the MVC-CD1000 gives you the added option of recording still images as black and white GIFs (good for capturing text or white boards) or e-mail compliant images (320 x 240 size for easier e-mail transmission) at the same time as higher-resolution ones. There's even an uncompressed TIFF option for the 1600 x 1200 and 1600 (3:2) image sizes.

The most exciting feature of the CD1000 is its ability to store images to a three inch (77mm) CD, which offers up to 156 megabytes of image storage. This makes it really easy for users to transfer images to a computer. Simply "finish" the CD, pop it out of the camera, and insert it into your computer's CD drive. If your computer's CD drive won't accept the smaller CD-Rs the CD1000 uses, Sony includes an "adapter donut" that you can clip onto the CD to make it the same size as a normal one. There's no cabling to figure out and you don't have to worry about using the AC adapter while downloading to save battery power. The camera does come with a USB cable for downloading images directly from the camera when you don't want to lose the disk capacity associated with "finishing" the CD. Also packaged with the camera are Sony's Picture Gear Lite and MGI's PhotoSuite and VideoWave, all compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems (except for Picture Gear Lite, which is Windows based). Picture Gear Lite simply allows you to manage and organize images, while PhotoStudio provides image correction and manipulation tools (complete with fun templates and creative image enhancement filters). VideoWave provides similar utilities for your MPEG movies, with the added ability to perform minor editing and add titles or music.

For power, the MVC-CD1000 runs on Sony InfoLITHIUM NP-F550 rechargeable battery packs. What's great about the InfoLITHIUM system is that the battery communicates with the camera about its power consumption. This appears to you as remaining battery time in minutes displayed on the LCD next to a battery symbol. The camera has an auto power-off option which shuts down the camera after three minutes of inactivity. This is great from a battery conservation standpoint, but we'd like to be able to adjust the timer somehow.

We already heartily approved of the MVC-FD95's flexible and creative exposure options and very nice image quality. In the MVC-CD1000, we see all the features we loved about the MVC-FD95 with the very exciting bonus of a CD-R drive for image storage. This revolutionary camera now provides what seems like infinite amounts of image storage (when compared to the 1.44 megabyte floppy disk) while continuing the hassle-free, "no cables" popularity of the Mavica line. Even more significantly, the enormous capacity of the CD-R has allowed Sony to use much more conservative JPEG image compression, resulting in a significant improvement in sharpness and image quality. Considering the Mavica line's impressive dominance of the digital camera marketplace during the past couple of years, we're certain that the advancement of the CD1000 model will continue in the Mavica footsteps and spark a new trend in the ever-changing digicam world.

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