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Sony MVC-CD1000

Sony 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 shoot.

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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Updated May 13, 2006