Mavica Picture Perfect Disc Recorder
By Jim Bray
Sony's Digital Still
Camera MVC-CD1000 is definitely not for everyone.
At $1500, it's relatively
expensive for a consumer digital camera, and it's definitely bigger than
those models you can slip into your pocket or purse.
That said, however,
it isn't necessarily meant as a strictly consumer camera; it's meant more
for people or professionals whose needs go far beyond a simple "point
and shoot" camera.
The CD1000 uses a
156 Megabyte CD-R (Compact Disc Recordable) disc upon which to record
the shots rather than the more common flash memory card. This means that,
depending on the resolution you choose, you can record up to a whopping
1080 images before changing discs!
To get 1080 images
you'll have to record at 640x480 pixels, which is merely adequate at best.
Fortunately, the Sony will also record at resolutions of 1024x768 and
1600x1200, the latter of which cuts the number of shots per disc down
to about 160 - which is still pretty good.
There's a lot more
to the MVC-CD1000, however. It'll also record images suitable for e-mailing
(at a resolution of 320x240), audio files like a voice commentary or notation,
and even short video clips - for times when your photo session becomes
a moving experience.
It even gives you
modes for recording text documents, in a black and white "GIF" file format.
This is a wonderful way to electronically archive important documents,
and the CD1000 will store up to 1370 pages/images at 1600x1200 resolution.
There's even a mode
that records images in uncompressed TIFF and compressed JPEG formats at
the same time. You can only record about 20 shots per disc this way, but
if you're looking for really high quality pictures, this may be your best
bet. Sure, it eats up disc space, but so what?
Once you fill the
disc you can either dump the data into your computer or slide in another
disc (the camera is supposed to come with three in the box, though my
sample had only one).
And Holy Macro! You
can get some extreme close-ups with the Mavica's precision, 20x digital
zoom (there's Macro too, of course) and, in a nifty bit of technology
stolen - er, inspired by - consumer camcorders, a "steady shot" setting
helps keep the image from being bounced around in the viewfinder. This
is particularly useful on zoom shots, and it works pretty well, though
it's still no substitute for a good tripod.
An LCD (liquid crystal
display) on the back of the Mavica lets you audition shots and/or control
the camera's dizzying array of menu-driven functions. You could also use
it for lining up your shots, if absolutely necessary, but this is best
accomplished when you're using a tripod because the image in the LCD lags
behind reality so it's best to have the camera mounted as steadily as
possible to avoid confusion.
TTL (through the lens)
viewing ensures that what you see in the viewfinder is exactly what you
Using camera is quite
straightforward, and most of the controls are mounted comfortably at hand.
The zoom, for instance, falls right under your index finger when you're
holding the camera ready for shooting, and a slight upward movement of
your finger finds the shutter button.
Other controls aren't
as close at hand, like "menu," "autofocus" and "steady shot," but these
are controls you'd be more likely to set before you actually put the Mavica
up to your eye anyway.
Getting your masterpieces
out of the CD1000 can by done by "finalizing" the disc (which means you
won't be able to record on it again) or using the DirectCD software included
(which lets you record again later). An adapter ring makes the little
disc fit into front loading CD drives that don't have trays.
You also download
photos to the PC via a USB (Universal Serial Bus) connection, which is
the way I did it because those darn Sony people said I had to send the
camera back and I didn't want to permanently scar their disc.
An audio/video jack
lets you marvel at your work on a TV monitor. The audio outputs in mono,
but so what?
I "shutter" to think
of how many more features I could tell you about, space permitting; suffice
it to say that this Sony is one heck of a "prosumer" digital camera!
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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