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Sony MVC-CD500

Sony further expands its CD-equipped camera line, adding a five megapixel CCD and a host of other features to last year's top-of-the-line CD Mavica model.

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 06/09/2003

CD-RW provides 156 megabytes of write-once or rewritable storage!
5-megapixel CCD delivers up to 2,592 x 1,944 pixel images
Surprisingly compact for a disc-media camera
Excellent image sharpness, color, and low light shooting capability

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Manufacturer Overview

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The year 2003 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.

The improvements in this year's CD-Mavica lineup are less sweeping than those implemented in 2002, but the CD500 continues the tradition of the CD400 before it, of offering true "enthusiast" features in a CD-based digicam.

With introductory list prices of $499 and $699 for the MVC-CD350 and CD500 respectively, the new models once again reduce the cost of entry for CD-R(W) technology in a digicam, 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 other top models in their respective resolution categories. Given the low cost of the (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. - The long battery life afforded by Sony's InfoLithium battery technology is also most welcome on extended outings. If you're planning a long trip, you'd do well to seriously consider one of these new CD-Mavica cameras!

High Points

  • 5-megapixel CCD delivering up to 2,592 x 1,944-pixel resolution images.
  • 3x, 7-21mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens (equivalent to a 34-102mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • "Smart Zoom" digital magnification, up to 3.8x at 3.1M, 6.1x at 1.2M and 12x at VGA resolutions.
  • 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/2.0 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.

Enhancements over last year's CD400:
For readers familiar with last year's MVC-CD400 model, here's a concise list of feature enhancements that have been added to the CD500:

  • 5 megapixel CCD (increased from 4 megapixel on the CD400)
  • Much (!) faster autofocus and reduced shutter delay
  • AF Mode enhancements: Options for Single, Monitor or Continuous autofocus operation.
  • New Spot AF mode.
  • Center-weighted metering mode
  • Contrast and saturation adjustments
  • MPEGMovie VX for 640x480 continuous-recording capability
  • Support for wide/tele conversion lenses
  • Support for new HVL-F32X flash unit (with TTL flash metering)
  • Smart Zoom: New "Smart Zoom" digital telephoto implementation avoids image resampling for improved image quality.
  • Enhanced user interface
  • Support for multiple recording folders, to help manage your photos
  • Print Image Matching II support (CD400 was PIM-I compatible)
  • Lower price! ($200 lower street price at introduction.)

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