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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 3:Design

Review First Posted: 2/28/2001

The Mavica MVC-CD300 features an updated user interface, introduced with the new Cyber-Shot DSC-S75 model (reviewed February 2001), plus CD-R image storage, a concept Sony pioneered with its MVC-CD1000 model almost a year ago. Conforming to the round, three-inch storage media, the MVC-CD300 body is smoother and more curved than other Mavica models, losing the boxy shape necessary to accommodate floppy disk media. Although it's still a handful, the CD300 is surprisingly compact given its large media size. At 5.70 x 3.74 x 3.66 inches (145 x 95 x 93mm), it doesn't offer pocket portability, but it does come with a neck strap and is easily carried in a small accessory camera bag (highly recommended to protect the camera). At 21.7 ounces (620 grams), including the battery, the CD300 is reasonably lightweight, with a hard, plastic body that gives it a strong, solid feel.

The telescoping Carl Zeiss lens dominates the left side of the camera's front panel, sharing its space with a small self-timer / autofocus assist lamp. A rubberized finger grip protrudes from the right front side, providing a comfortable hold for your right hand, which should fit comfortably around the curve of the understated hand grip. When the camera is powered on, the 7-21mm lens extends an additional 3/4 inch beyond the fixed lens barrel. When the camera is powered off, or the Mode dial is set on the Playback or Setup positions, the lens retracts into the barrel. A set of filter threads just inside the lip of the barrel accommodates Sony's line of accessory lens adapter kits.

The hand grip (right) side of the camera has only a neckstrap attachment eyelet, and the Command dial nearby, for adjusting exposure settings on the camera's LCD monitor.

The left side of the camera has the second neckstrap eyelet on top, and a CD-R compartment "Open" lever, external flash connection jack, and connector compartment below. A small, plastic cover protects the connector compartment, which houses the USB and A/V Out connection jacks. The external flash connection jack, labeled "ACC," hosts Sony's HVL-F1000 flash unit, as well as a handful of Sony flash-related accessories.

The CD300's top panel features an external flash "cold shoe" (no electrical contacts, it's intended for mounting only), a pop-up flash compartment, microphone, Shutter button, Mode dial, and power switch. There's also a small, green LED lamp next to the power switch that glows steadily whenever the camera is powered on. The pop-up flash unit curves ingeniously along the top of the CD-R compartment, extending its rounded shape.

The remaining features and controls are on the CD300's back panel. These include the color LCD monitor, speaker, control buttons, and a DC In jack in the lower right corner. A small, orange LED above the LCD monitor lights when the flash is charging or when the camera is powered off and the battery is charging via the AC adapter. We appreciated the addition of a Command wheel on the S75 model (visible here in the extreme upper right-hand corner of the camera's back), and are glad to see it repeated on the CD300. This tiny wheel allows you to quickly change camera settings such as shutter speed and aperture, by pressing down and turning the dial, to scroll through selections in the LCD menu system. In addition to serving as a navigational tool in the LCD menu system, the four-way Arrow Rocker Pad controls several camera functions through its four arrow keys, including Flash mode, Macro, Self-timer, and Quick Review. We applaud Sony's decision to bring more feature controls to the back panel, including six dedicated buttons to control such features as Menu, Display, Exposure Compensation, Spot Metering, Focus mode, and AE lock.

The CD-R compartment takes up the entire left side of the back panel, with the compartment door holding several camera control buttons and the LCD monitor. The compartment door flips open when the release lever is opened, but does not deactivate the LCD monitor. Instead a message on the LCD monitor reads "Cover Open." A tiny, red LED lamp beneath the LCD monitor lights whenever the camera is accessing the CD-R. We also appreciated the small window over the CD-R compartment, which allows you to quickly check whether a CD is in the compartment, without having to open it.

Finally, the CD300 features a fairly flat bottom panel with a battery compartment door and tripod mount. We were pleased to note that the distance between the compartment door and tripod mount is large enough to allow for quick battery changes while working with a tripod. A sliding, plastic door protects the battery slot, and a small button locks the battery into place and releases it when you're ready to recharge or replace the battery cell. The tripod mount itself is metal, a detail we always appreciate, especially on heavier models like the CD300. Also on the bottom panel (beneath the LCD monitor) is a tiny Reset button, which resets all the camera's settings to their factory defaults.

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