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Sony MVC-CD300

Sony expands its CD-equipped camera line, adding erasability, buffer memory, a 3-megapixel CCD, and a more compact case!

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 2/28/2001

CD-RW provides 156 megabytes of write-once or rewritable storage!
3.3 megapixel CCD delivers up to 2048 x 1536 pixel images
Surprisingly compact for a disc-media camera
Excellent image sharpness, color, and low light shooting capability

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Manufacturer Overview
A little less than a year ago (this is being written in late February 2001), Sony rocked the digital camera world with the introduction of the first CD-R-based digicam technology. An extension of Sony's floppy-disk-based Mavica design, the CD1000 incorporated a CD-R drive as its image recording mechanism, storing 156MB of data on each 80mm (roughly 3-inch) CD-R disc. The CD1000 freed the Mavica line from the space constraints imposed by floppy disks, yet still offered the ubiquitous compatibility and low media costs that had made the Mavica cameras such runaway best sellers.

This year, when Sony announced no fewer than six new digicam models at the PMA show in Orlando, we wondered what might have become of its CD aspirations. But just as the CD1000 was announced a few months after PMA last year, we supposed that a single new CD model might be forthcoming in the spring. We were surprised, then, to receive a call just barely a week after PMA, with news that Sony would be announcing not one, but two new CD Mavica models in another week!

When we received the new CD Mavicas, we quickly discovered that Sony had addressed two of the primary objections to the CD1000 -- namely erasability and image capture cycle times. The 3-megapixel CD300 (the subject of this review) and the 2-megapixel CD200 introduced Sony's new rewriteable CD technology to its Mavica line. While the CD-RW approach has some limitations (compared to what you are accustomed to on your home PC), the net impact is that it eliminates most of the objections raised by the original CD1000's non-eraseable CD-R media. On another front, the addition of a hefty buffer memory to the new designs means you no longer have to wait for the camera to finish writing one image to the disc before you can capture the next one. Capping it all off is a much more compact case design (thanks in part to a 3x zoom lens, rather than the 10x zoom of the CD1000), and the much-improved user interface design we saw on the new DSC-S75 introduced last month.

With introductory list prices of $799 and $999 for the MVC-CD200 and CD300 respectively, the new models also bring CD-R(W) technology downmarket, competing with conventional digicams at fairly modest price premiums. Of course, all the whizzy CD technology would be meaningless if the cameras didn't perform up to par with other non-CD models on the market. Fortunately (for Sony and our readers alike), our tests indicate that the new cameras perform very well indeed, easily among the top models in their respective resolution categories. Given the low cost of the (very high capacity) media and their relatively compact sizes, these new cameras could be the ideal "vacation cameras," perfectly suited for extended trips without a computer to offload images. If Sony can get production ramped up in time for the 2001 summer vacation season, we think they're going to sell a lot of these!

We had both the CD200 and CD300 in for testing, and will have a full review dedicated to the CD200 posted soon. For now though, reading this report on the CD300 will tell you most of what you need to know about the CD200 as well: Other than the CCD resolution, the two models operate identically.

High Points
  • 3.3-megapixel CCD delivering up to 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution images.
  • 3x, 7-21mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens (equivalent to a 34-102mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • 2x precision digital zoom.
  • Color LCD monitor with "sunlight assist" backlight feature.
  • Auto and manual focus control.
  • Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, and Scene exposure modes.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to eight seconds.
  • Apertures from f/2.0 to f/8.0.
  • Movie mode with sound and Clip Motion recording.
  • Spot metering and AE Lock functions.
  • Built-in, pop-up flash with four operating modes.
  • External flash connection jack and mounting shoe.
  • Adjustable white balance with four modes, including "one-push" manual.
  • Automatic ISO or 100, 200, and 400 equivalent settings.
  • JPEG, GIF, and uncompressed TIFF file formats.
  • Images saved to 3-3/16 inch (80mm) CD-R or CD-RW media. (156MB per disc)
  • USB cable for high-speed connection to a PC or Mac.
  • Software CD containing MGI PhotoSuite, MGI VideoWave, and USB drivers.
  • Power from NP-FM50 rechargeable InfoLITHIUM battery pack or included AC adapter.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.

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