Sony Mavica FD97 Review

Steve's Digicams

Sony MVC-FD97

Features & Controls

This is a 10X optical f=6.0-60mm (39-390mm 35mm equivalent) zoom lens that can be further enhanced to 20X with the digital zoom feature. This lens is quite fast with a F2.8 maximum aperture. Filters and other add-ons can be attached via the 52mm threads.

When the autofocus is disabled you can manually focus the lens by rotating the ring at the end of the lens barrel. The viewfinder image is enlarged during manual focus operations to aid in critical focusing.

Sony MVC-FD97Sony MVC-FD97

Controls on the side of the lens barrel let you enable or disable the autofocus and macro focus modes and the zoom lens stabilizer. Sony's patented SteadyShot image stabilization technology insures sharp and blur-free images even when zoomed out to the maximum telephoto position.

The zoom control lever is located on the front of the handgrip and is actuated with your index finger.

Sony MVC-FD97

The eyelevel finder (EVF) is actually a high-resolution (180,000 pixels) color LCD with a magnified eyepiece complete with diopter adjustment. You can frame, review or access the menus using either the EVF or the 2.5-inch color LCD on the back.

The EVF is powered up whenever you place the camera up to your face. Take it away from your eye and a few seconds later it turns off automatically.

Sony MVC-FD97

On top of the EVF is an accessory shoe for attaching the optional HVL-F1000 flash unit. Also located on the top is the ACC port where the flash plugs in.

Sony MVC-FD97

Controls on the side of the camera let you pop up the built in flash. Enable or disable the spot metering function. Change white balance presets or use the "one push" custom white balance feature. The Program button used with its "-" and "+" buttons cycles through the auto exposure modes; Auto, Night, Night+, Landscape and Portrait plus Shutter speed and Aperture priority.

Sony MVC-FD97

Controls on the back - LCD On/Off turns the large color LCD display on and off. The VOL buttons control the playback volume. The lightning bolt button changes the built in flash mode (Auto, On, Off, Redeye), Power switch turns the camera On and Off. The DISPLAY button controls the amount of overlay information that is shown on the LCD or the EVF. The 4-way selector switch calls up the Menu and allows you to navigate it and make selections.

Sony MVC-FD97

The FD97 is equipped with a Memory Stick card slot in addition to the floppy disk drive. Last year's FD95 allowed the use of Memory Sticks with the FD2M floppy adapter but the read/write speed was slow and the adapter added another $80 or so to the cost. I'm happy to report that the 1600x1200 high quality images are now written to the Memory Stick in about 1.5 seconds versus the 5 seconds it took in the adapter.

You can copy images back and forth between the Memory Stick and the 3.5-inch floppy diskettes while in Play mode. Any size Memory stick module can be used in the FD97.

Sony MVC-FD97

Also new on the FD97 is a USB port for high-speed image downloading to the computer. Using the latest USB driver software supplied with the camera both the Memory Stick and the floppy drive mount like any other removeable drive resource.

Sony MVC-FD97

The FD97 is powered by the Sony InfoLITHIUM rechargeable 7.2v "battery with a brain" -- it tells you on the LCD exactly how many minutes of runtime is left. The camera comes with the NP-F330 pack and can also use the higher capacity NP-F550 pack.

The battery is charged in the camera and comes with a combination battery charger and AC power adapter that plugs into the underside of the zoom lens.

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