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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 3:Design

Review First Posted: 06/09/2003

The Mavica CD500's body design conforms to its round, three-inch storage media, giving the camera a smooth, curved appearance similar to the CD400 model. Although it's still a handful, the CD500 is surprisingly compact given its large media size. At 5.5 x 3.825 x 4.128 inches (138.5 x 95.7 x 103mm), it definitely won't fit into most pockets, 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 21.2 ounces (601 grams), including the battery, the CD500 is reasonably lightweight, with a hard, plastic body that gives it a fairly strong, solid feel.

The telescoping Carl Zeiss lens dominates the left side (as viewed from the rear) of the camera's front panel, sharing its space with a small self-timer lamp and the Hologram AF laser emitter. 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 substantial hand grip. When the camera is powered on, the 7-21mm lens extends an additional 5/8-inch beyond the fixed lens barrel. When the camera is powered off, or the Mode dial is set on the Playback or Setup positions for more than a short time, the lens retracts into the barrel. A plastic, spring-lock lens cap protects the lens surface, tethered to the camera body via a small strap. 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 a neckstrap attachment eyelet, and the Command dial nearby (barely visible at the upper left corner, facing the rear or the camera), for adjusting exposure settings on the camera's LCD monitor. Just adjacent to the eyelet is the DC In connector jack, covered by a soft, plastic flap that remains attached to the camera when opened.

The left side of the camera has the second neckstrap eyelet on top (which also tethers the lens cap), and a CD-R compartment "Open" latch, external accessory connection jack , and connector compartment below. A small, hard 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 accessories. (The HVL-F32X flash unit couples directly via the contacts in the camera's hot shoe.)

The CD500's top panel features an external flash hot shoe (hooray!) with five contacts, a pop-up built-in flash head, 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 sits well forward on the camera body, most likely in an effort to prevent the lens from blocking the flash on close-up subjects.

The remaining features and controls are on the CD500's back panel. These include the color LCD monitor, speaker, control buttons, and a small Command dial. An orange LED lamp 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. The tiny Command wheel at upper right lets you quickly change camera settings such as shutter speed and aperture, by turning the dial to scroll and pressing in to select options in editable exposure settings displayed on the LCD viewfinder. In addition to serving as a navigational tool in the LCD menu system, the Four-Way Arrow pad controls several camera functions directly through its four arrow keys, including Flash mode, Macro, Self-timer, and Quick Review. A Menu button sits below the Arrow pad. Five dedicated buttons across the bottom of the back panel control such features as Display/Backlight, AE lock, Focus mode, Exposure Compensation, and Resolution. A small, red LED to the left of these buttons indicates when the internal CD reader/writer is accessing the disc.

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 drive.

Finally, the CD500 features a fairly flat bottom panel with a battery compartment door and tripod mount. The angled battery compartment and the distance between the compartment door and tripod mount allow for quick battery changes while working with a tripod (something I always notice, given the amount of studio shooting I do with the cameras I test). A sliding, plastic door protects the battery compartment, and a small catch inside 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 I always appreciate, especially on heavier units like the CD500. Also on the bottom panel (beneath the LCD monitor) is a tiny Reset button for use by service technicians, and a hidden compartment for a button battery to maintain the CD500's clock and calendar when the main battery is removed.

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