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Sony MVC-CD400

Sony expands its CD-equipped camera line, adding a four megapixel CCD, a huge buffer memory, Hologram Autofocus, and a standard hot shoe!

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 2/20/2002

CD-RW provides 156 megabytes of write-once or rewritable storage!
4-megapixel CCD delivers up to 2,272 x 1,704 pixel images
Surprisingly compact for a disc-media camera
Excellent image sharpness, color, and low light shooting capability

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Manufacturer Overview
The year 2002 brings important new capabilities to Sony's revolutionary CD-Mavica digital camera line, which first began in late Spring 2000 with the introduction of the Mavica CD1000. Storing their images on CD-R (and now CD-RW) discs, the CD-Mavicas are a logical extension to Sony's original and enormously popular floppy-disk-based Mavica design. With each 80mm CD-R/RW disc storing 156 MB of data for well under a dollar at retail, the CD-Mavicas make nearly perfect traveling companions, since you can fit gigabytes of permanent storage into less space than that occupied by one paperback novel.

Sony seems to be making a habit of practically flooding the digicam market with new models each year at the Spring PMA show. (At least I certainly feel flooded with new models here, needing review! ;-) This year, in addition to three new P-series Cyber-shot units, Sony has also introduced a pair of new CD-Mavicas, the MVC-CD250, and the MVC-CD400 that's the subject of this review.

As with last year's CD-Mavica introductions, Sony has again updated the technology to improve performance and enhance features. The biggest news of this year's Mavica announcements is the addition of large buffer memories to both cameras. The buffer memory not only reduces shot to shot cycle times, but also allows a "confirm before write" option, that lets you preview photos before deciding whether to keep them or not. In the case of the CD400 though, Sony has gone quite a bit further, adding the Hologram AF autofocus-assist technology (adapted from the ground breaking DSC-F707 Cyber-shot model), as well as a hot shoe flash mount to allow connecting third-party external flash units, and even studio strobes through an adapter. (Big kudos on the hot shoe addition, I've personally been beating Sony about the head and shoulders for years now, asking for just this feature. - Let's hope it shows up on some top-end Cyber-shot models in the near future too!)

With introductory list prices of $599 and $899 for the MVC-CD250 and CD400 respectively, the new models also bring CD-R(W) technology down market, 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), my tests indicate that the new cameras perform very well indeed, on a par with 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 you're planning a long trip, you'd do well to seriously consider one of these new CD-Mavica cameras!

High Points

  • 4-megapixel CCD delivering up to 2,272 x 1,704-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, with Hologram AF focus assistance.
  • Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, and Scene exposure modes.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to eight seconds.
  • Apertures from f/2.1 to f/8.0.
  • Movie mode with sound, as well as Clip Motion, and Multi Burst recording modes.
  • Burst 3 and Auto-Exposure Bracketing shooting modes, plus 10-second self-timer.
  • Spot metering and AE Lock functions.
  • Built-in, pop-up flash with four operating modes.
  • External flash hot shoe and external flash sync socket.
  • Adjustable white balance with six modes, including "One-Push" manual adjustment.
  • Automatic ISO or 100, 200, and 400 equivalent settings.
  • Picture Effects menu and sharpness adjustment.
  • JPEG, GIF, and uncompressed TIFF file formats.
  • Images saved to three-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 Pixel ImageMixer, and USB drivers, appear to be Windows only.
  • Power from NP-FM50 rechargeable InfoLITHIUM battery pack or included AC adapter.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.

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