Sony Mavica CD-1000, June 2000
the alt.manual for a Multimedia innovator

This is a document from 2000, an important time in digital image tools development, and I’ve left it as I wrote it online. That’s the only way you’ll get the feel for what was happening at the time, and it reflects my position then as an ‘influencer’ because of my MultiMedia Magazine and print media days.

What’s hard to remember is that we had little option for portable digital image storage other than floppy disk, no SD memory cards although Sony did have a digital memory stick that you could use in parallel with the optical CD-R.

The Sony Mavica CD-1000

Boy, that’s an absolute dud of a manual for a near A$3000 camera. Especially for someone who wants to take more than snapshots. I’m finding great things about the CD-1000 that aren’t mentioned and faults that you should know about if you’re  planning to buy one. This might be useful stuff if you’ve bought a CD-1000 and are still confused. (I’ll add more experiences over time and welcome your comments as well).

There’s an assembled complete listing of the Specs for the CD-1000 (it was a pop-up window now just scroll down) but before I haul through the features, you really need to position this camera in its place in the digital imaging market.

If you’re just looking for a cool toy, or the cheapest digital storage format outside video tape then you’ll like the CD-1000 (and it’s later incarnations). If want to take high quality pictures for prints or publication with your camera, and you’ve used 35mm or larger format cameras, then you’ll probably skip this camera based on its specs, looking for higher resolutions. (The quoted 2.1 megapixels is a bit passè.)

If you are still sniffing around looking for a change to digital, then you might be impressed by the 36 bit colour depth, and with the uncompressed TIFF format and very low compressed JPEGs. But even some of the smaller Sony cameras have a better than 1600 x 1200 resolution. If, like me, you were attracted by the long zoom and the stabiliser that lets you use it handheld, it’s balanced by the average wide angle ability and you need the (expensive) wide angle adaptor to work inside smaller spaces.

What about the attraction of Stills and Movie and Sound in the one camera?
When you hear that the movie mode only records 15 secs in reasonable quality, the movie and sound seems just a novelty, (the internal RAM memory is too small to record longer sequences before writing to disk).

Then if you handle it, you find that operating it is slow, fiddly and quirky.

So what is it? I’m not sure Sony know. I think it’s another case of ‘build it and they will come’. For a start it’s labeled Mavica, and designed to fit in the range that includes the Sony large floppy disk storage cameras. Mavica is Sony’s mid user range and I’m sure they saw the recordable CD as only slightly more fiddly than floppy disks, and heaps more useful. This might have been seen as a useful snapshot camera for business use, but it’s far too bulky and fragile for most amateur use.

It’s a camera that will probably find a number of niche markets with people using just one or a few of it’s features. No, this isn’t point and shoot, it is a thinking persons camera, for static rather than action shooting and probably a tripod based one. If you’ve used any good digital video camera and you’ve gone past auto point-and-shoot to manipulate the manual controls, then you’ll be familiar with much on this camera and use it for the same reasons.

The CD-1000 has enough flexibility to adapt to many users needs and while I’m disappointed in many areas such as the resolution, I’m more than happy with my purchase and the way it has fitted into my ‘notetaking/diary’ use of images. And it seems to fit that use well. If you’re producing web based or screen resolution images there’s a lot you’ll like about this camera.

I’ve assembled some pros and cons and points that aren’t explained in the manual that I’ll add too in time. If you’ve comments I’d love to hear them.

 

Pro’s
Con’s

Exposure controls.
The Spot Meter is really the only way to work to control results. However
you’ll always want to let it use auto at some time.
The autofocus seems even worse
than on my Sony video camera (and I stopped using that feature the day I bought it). Low light throws it and moving into macro mode and back is a hit and miss affair. Sometimes it just sits and doesn’t refocus (which is probably better than hunting)
The buttons on the back are fiddly, I now know where they are but pressing is hard
Video out – works while shooting (use the external power supply) gives you a large monitor preview screen for studio use. You could even record it on VCR while shooting. Great for checking images while away from computer, most TVs have an AV input now days
The positioning of the neck strap doesn’t hold the camera against your body. You need to turn it
around upside down so that the lens hangs close to you. Then it’s not ready for immediate use.
It’s not eye glasses wearer friendly – especially for old guys like me with bifocals (whereas I can handle the Sony video camera just fine.)
LCD screen – terrific for checking back (especially when you can’t tell if the focus is correct, just zoom in on the replay), showing people their portraits,
making sure you’ve got the image before you leave the scene.
The LCD screen should tilt up. Then using it on the tripod would be like a Hasslblad etc. I’ve considered building a front surface mirror into a hood that
works. 

Yep, that’s how to hold it.
This is Sony’s feature list from the sonystyle
site
(long gone)

 

– Records Images to a 3″ 8cm Mavica CD-R Disc (156 MB)
– Pennies Per Shot (About 2 U.S.) at High Resolution (Only if you don’t pay Sony’s price for the 8cm CDRs. I quickly found a generic brand)
– Up to 1600 x 1200 Image Resolution
– 10X Optical / 20X Precision Digital Zoom Lens with Manual Focus Ring
– Professional Quality CCD with 2.1 Million Pixels
– Optical SteadyShot™ Picture Stabilization
– MPEG HQ Movie Mode
– 2.5″ Advanced Color LCD with Brightness Control (123K Pixels)
– TTL (Through The Lens) Color LCD Viewfinder (180K Pixels)
– JPEG, GIF, TIFF or MPEG File formats (TIFF was ).
– Intelligent Pop-Up Flash with Red Eye Reduction
– 12 Bit A/D Conversion
– External Flash Connection (for Sony HVL-F1000)
– USB Connection Interface
– A/V Output
– Text Mode (GIF) only black and white , meant for documents
– Sharpness Setting +/- 2, 1 Step
– Spot Metering System
– 6 Mode Program AE
– Auto, Indoor, Outdoor or One Push (Hold) White Balance
– InfoLithium™ Battery System with AccuPower™ Meter
– 8 Seconds to 1/500 Second 17 Step Adjustable Shutter Speed
– F2.8 to F11 9 Step Adjustable Aperture
– Expanded Focus Indicator LCD Magnifier
– Playback Zoom, Trim with Resize
– Auto Orientation Mode

 

From Imaging Resource review

  • 2.1 megapixel, 1/3 inch CCD delivering up to 1600 x 1200
    resolution images.
  • 2.5 inch, color, TFT LCD monitor.
  • Smaller, LCD optical viewfinder with data display.
  • 10x, 6 to 60mm optical zoom lens (equivalent to a 39 to 390mm lens
    on a 35mm camera).
  • 2x digital telephoto.
  • Steady Shot function to (dramatically) decrease camera shake.
  • Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Twilight,
    Twilight Plus, Landscape and Panfocus capture modes.
  • Shutter speeds from 8 to 1/500 seconds.
  • Automatic, Outdoor, Indoor and One-Push white balance settings.
  • Built-in, popup flash with Automatic, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced
    and Suppressed modes and manually controlled intensity settings.
  • Spot metering option.
  • 10 second self-timer.
  • MPEG movie record mode.
  • Voice Memo record mode.
  • E-Mail and Text (GIF) still image record modes.
  • Manual focus option.
  • InfoLITHIUM battery system.
  • 156 Megabyte removable storage on three inch (77mm) CD-R media.
  • Fast, ~3.5 second cycle time at full resolution.
  • Average JPEG compression of only 7:1 (MVC-FD95 average was 18:1.
  • Optional uncompressed TIFF file format! (A Mavica first!)
  • USB computer connection for high-speed downloads without
    “finalizing” disks.
  • Higher-capacity NP-550 InfoLITHIUM battery, to handle higher peak
    power drain of CD-R.
  •  Links Dan Rutter’s review of the CD-1000 in DansData was good, but he missed a few things probably given the short
    time he played with the camera. He also pointed to the review on Imaging
    Resource
    which convinced me to buy it


Need Windows 2000 drivers?   Windows ME?