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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 4:Viewfinder

Review First Posted: 2/28/2001

For composing images, the CD300 features a color LCD monitor that automatically activates when the camera is powered on. The Display button just below the LCD monitor controls both the information and image display. Pressing the button once activates the LCD backlight (if it was previously turned off), and turns on the information display. A second press cancels the information display, and the third press turns the backlight off again. (The LCD itself is always active.)

The LCD on the CD300 incorporates a "Solar Assist" (tm) feature, which we've seen on other manufacturers' cameras, and which was actually introduced by Sony fully three years ago, on the MVC-FD81 camera. It consists of a small translucent window at the top of the LCD (visible in the photo above as the very bright bar on top of the LCD), which lets in ambient light behind the LCD screen to boost the effective brightness of the backlight. This feature works only in very bright surrounding, and the effectiveness will vary, depending on the orientation of the camera relative to the primary light source. (It works best when the sun is directly overhead.) Overall, we found the "assist" window to be quite helpful when using the LCD outdoors on a sunny day, making the CD300's LCD one of the most usable we've encountered for outdoor shooting.

Just after the first version of this review "went to press", Sony emailed to inform us of yet another innovation they have slated for the CD200/300: A clip-on eyelevel viewfinder/magnifier. Called the DSAC-MVC, this gadget has a complete optical system in it, including a diopter adjustment, and purportedly provides enough magnification of the high-quality TFT LCD that it's quite usable for manual focusing. Estimated selling price is $79.95 US, and it should be available here by sometime in May, 2001. (At the same time as the cameras.)

In Record mode, the LCD monitor's information display reports a bounty of information, including image resolution, JPEG compression level, number of remaining images (plus available CD-R space), exposure compensation, f/stop, shutter speed, flash mode, and an excellent feature unique to Sony cameras -- the number of minutes remaining on the battery! In Automatic and Scene modes, a half press of the shutter button is necessary to display the current shutter speed and aperture settings, and in some capture modes, only applicable readings will be displayed.

We liked the Manual Focus display, which eschews the usual focus bar and instead reports the current distance setting in a single, numeric reading, which can be changed by turning the Command wheel (when the focus distance is highlighted on the LCD screen). The ability to set lens focus to a specific (numeric) distance can be invaluable when setting up for shots in low-light conditions. We also noticed that when you manually adjust the focus, the LCD monitor snaps into focus as soon as you select the right distance. (We first noticed this on the DSC-S75 camera.) We're not sure how Sony managed to make focus changes so dramatically visible on the LCD, but whatever they did seems to work well, and makes the Manual Focus option much more useful than those we've seen on other cameras.

In Playback mode, the LCD monitor offers an Index display mode as well as a 1.1 - 5x Playback Zoom, which enlarges captured images for closer inspection. Once enlarged, the Arrow buttons enable you to scroll around inside the image. The Display button controls the information and image display in Playback mode, cycling through three modes: No display, image with information, and image without information. The Playback image information includes the file type (movie or still), image size, where the image falls in the Playback index, remaining CD-R capacity, file name, date and time the image was taken, and the remaining battery power. The CD300 provides an LCD brightness adjustment through its Setup menu, which changes the display to Bright, Normal, or Dark, depending on the shooting situation.

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