Sony Mavica FD92 Review

Steve's Digicams

Sony MVC-FD92

Steve's Conclusions

Sony is the only manufacturer of still digital cameras that hasn't forgotten its roots. The other digicam companies have long since ceased making their early model cameras and moved on to other designs. In addition to more advanced cameras, Sony continues to produce their Mavica FD (Floppy Drive) series which are not that far removed from the ones they started with. The Mavicas have matured over the years and now feature improved CCD imagers with up to 2.11-megapixels of resolution, faster processors, and 4x-speed floppy drives, but on the outside they still look very much like their predecessors.

The Mavica MVC-FD92 is the year 2001 update of the MVC-FD90 and retains the 8X optical zoom lens, the big 2.5-inch color LCD, the floppy disk drive, the Sony InfoLITHIUM battery and the ease of use that has made them top sellers worldwide. New on the FD92 is a dedicated Memory Stick drive so you can now use Sony's reusable flash memory cards without the need of the floppy disk adapter. Besides offering increased storage the Memory Sticks can read/write the image data faster and use much less battery power than the floppy disk drive. Last year we tested a FD95 with a Memory Stick in the FD2M adapter but weren't very impressed with its speed. The time to write the image has been dramatically decreased thanks to the dedicated Memory Stick drive. Memory Sticks are currently available up to 64MB and soon 128MB and 256MB with capacities up to 1GB planned in the near future.

The floppy disk drive can still be used to store a limited number of images per diskette and images can be copied from the Memory Stick to the floppy drive or vice-versa. This maintains the camera's portability factor as image data can be read in the PC or Mac's disk drive without need of special cables or software. To aid in transfering large amounts of data to the computer the FD92 is now equipped with a high-speed USB port. The included software drivers for Windows and Mac PCs lets you "mount" the FD92's Memory Stick or floppy drive as a removeable drive resource. This means that you can use any file management programs you want to copy the image data, no special software is required or necessary.

The FD92 has a 1.3-megapixel CCD sensor that delivers 1280 x 960 images, it can also produce interpolated 1472 x 1104 (1.6-megapixel) images. Image quality has been greatly improved by using a new 12-bit A/D conversion that increases the dynamic range captured. The FD92 also captures motion JPEG clips with audio in 5-, 10- or 15-second lengths in 320 x 240 resolution. And for special applications the ClipMotion mode lets you capture up to ten 160x120 or 80x72 images and then store them as an animated GIF.

Framing and review is all done on the large 2.5-inch color LCD as there is no optical viewfinder. Most other digicams would quickly exhaust their battery power trying to keep a color LCD of this size running very long but thanks to that big InfoLITHIUM battery the FD92 can run for about 90 minutes in record mode. There is a solar window across the top of the LCD display that can be used in place of the power-hungry backlight when you're outdoors. It isn't perfect but it does help extend the battery runtime. The operation of the FD92 is similar to using a Sharp ViewCam, you hold the camera out in front of you, not up against your face. This is not familiar to some and does take a little practice to perfect, especially when trying to follow rapid moving subjects. Playback mode takes full advantage of that large LCD display, its high resolution is perfect for examining the details and color of your captured images.

The Mavica cameras are not small or "pocket size" by any means as they are basically a digicam built around a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. They are also not light in weight either and for some people they can be a real handful, especially the FD91, FD95, CD1000 and the new FD97 cameras that have the big 10x zoom lens on them. If you can live without an optical viewfinder and like the convenience of the floppy disk drive and the overall size of the camera then the FD92 (and other Mavicas) may be what you're looking for. They do take good pictures, take a look at my samples on the next page. And for year 2001 Sony has lowered the price on all of their new Mavica cameras by about $100 so they're not only technologically improved, they're also now a better buy.

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