Steve's Digicams

Sony Mavica FD-88

Menus & Playback


Sony Mavica FD-88

This is a typical Record mode screen with just about everything possible turned on. Starting in the upper left corner is the battery time remaining, the flower icon indicates that Macro mode is enabled. Image resolution is 640 x 480 and quality is set to Fine. There are 9 pictures stored on diskette already and about half of the diskette is left to store more pictures. The zoom is in about the 4x focal length position and the selftimer is enabled.

Across the bottom you see the Menu Bar which can be overlayed on the screen at any time by pressing the top part of the 4-way rocker switch.

Sony Mavica FD-88

This is the Setup Menu where you can set the Video Out format to NTSC or PAL. Menu language can be English or Japanese. Set the time and date and turn on the Beep sound.

Sony Mavica FD-88

The Camera menu lets you enable or disable the digital zoom feature. Set the White Balance for Auto or manually set it. The Flash output level can be Low, Normal or High. Exposure allows you to override the autoexposure system from -2 to +2EV.

Sony Mavica FD-88

The File Menu lets you Format or Copy the floppy diskette. You can have it reset the filenames every time a disk is put in or continue numbering them in a series fashion. Image size can be 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768 or 640 x480. Quality is Normal or Fine. Record Mode is Normal, Voice or Email.

Sony Mavica FD-88

This is a Record screen when in the MPEG movie mode. It displays the resolution for the movie file (320 x 240) and the selected recording time, in this case 10 seconds.  It is menu selectable for 5, 10 or 15 seconds.

An undocumented feature is that when set for the small 160 x 112 resolution MPEG, the user can hold the shutter button pressed and it will count up to 15 seconds and then keep on going up to about 60 seconds. The actual record time is based on the space left on the disk.

Sony Mavica FD-88

A typical Play mode screen with all overlay information enabled.

Sony Mavica FD-88

As with most digicams the FD-88 has a thumbnail Play mode where you can see multiple thumbnail pictures and quickly jump to any one desired to display it full screen.

Sony Mavica FD-88

This is the menu of options for setting up a slideshow on your TV.

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FD-88 Sample Pictures

Steve's Conclusion

The Mavica FD-88 is the highest resolution of all the Sony floppy diskette cameras at 1280 x 960. Shooting in this resolution you can only get about four pictures per diskette so plan on carrying a box of them around with you. The 8x optical / 16x digital zoom is very nice, surpassed only slightly by the 14x digital stabilized zoom found on the FD-91. Unlike other "digital' zooms on most digicams, the FD-88's digital zoom does not shrink the picture down to 640 x 480, it retains the full 1280 x 960 resolution which is amazing.

Besides the floppy diskette storage, the FD-88 also uses the same type of 7.2v InfoLITHIUM rechargable battery as the other Mavicas. This is a fantastic battery system and the user always knows how much battery time is left by simply glancing at the display on the LCD. Charge time is usually two hours or less to bring an exhausted pack back to full speed. Battery runtime is excellent but then it has to be as you use the LCD all the time.

Speaking of LCDs, the FD-88 sports the usual 2.5" color TFT LCD display that is common to the entire Mavica line. It also has a Solar Window along the top of the camera that captures the outdoor sunlight and allows you to turn off the battery-draining backlight. It works only so-so and is still not optimal for outdoor use which is not good because the LCD is the only viewfinder on this camera.

The FD-88 is very easy to use and makes an ideal point-n-shoot type of camera for novice users. The fact that it stores pictures on floppies means that as soon as you shoot them you can pop the diskette into your floppy drive and have instant access to them, PC or Mac computers. The only I/O port on the entire camera is the Video Out port to let you watch your pictures on the TV.

The image quality is the thing and the FD-88 has the best looking pictures I've seen from any Mavica so far. This is to be expected as the FD-88 has the largest CCD imager of all the Mavicas. This is a great camera although a little pricey. For anyone who wants the convenience of digital without the hassles of reading memory cards or hooking up cables, the Sony Mavicas are tough to beat.

If you don't need the 1280 x 960 resolution or the 16x zoom lens then you might want to look at the next model down which is the FD-83. The FD- 83 has a 3x/6x zoom and maximum (interpolated) image size of 1216 x 912 and is a little bit lighter.

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The following information comes via Don Wetzel:
    Shortly after I got my FD88 I noticed that occasionally the record time was very long. In many cases the record time exceeded 30 seconds. It took a while to define the circumstances under which this occured. After several weeks, the parameters were defined. The long record always occured on new preformatted disks. If the first picture on a disk was a problem, then all further pictures would also be long record times. Disks fully formatted in a PC or MAC (PC format) never had a problem. Disks formatted in the LS120 drive always had a problem.

    On rare occasions where somebody was trying to do a 60 second MPG record on a bad disk, the camera would freeze and you had to wait for the camera OS to time out. Once the camera shut down, you could restart with no problem.

    Also noted but assumed unrelated, the camera got very warm on the front panel just above the word digital. In some cases, this was hot enough to be uncomfortable to hold. Another issue wass the strange way the battery would go from 5-60 minutes remaining to change battery during a single picture record. However the battery wasn't actually drained that bad. It might actually only loose 50% of the remaining power.

    Back in July I started a long series of phone conversations with Sony's Mavica Customer service center (1-888-449-7669). I was told that there was no problem and that my camera was operating properly. Eventually they told me about the FULL format in the PC as a work arround to a problem that didn't exist. Of course they knew that because I had told them. After 5-7 calls I suggested that I would have to turn the problem over to my attorney for further action.

    Enter Todd Thomas from Sony (now in the training department). He was a supervisor in the group. He acknowledged that there might be a problem in a couple of cameras and offered to trade cameras with me. We arranged a FEDEX trade arrangement and He sent a new FD88. I had by this time accumulated a set of test disks that I knew cause problems. When the new one arrived, I knew within minutes that it also had the problem. Todd was a bit disappointed in this information. He would call back in a few days.

    About a week later, Todd called to say that Sony's technical department now acknowledged that there was a problem and were looking for a solution. Another 10 days went by and I waited for a call. The new FD88 was actually a bit worse than the original. Finally Todd called to say that there was a correction and would I send my FD88 to Atlanta for the upgrade.

    The camera went FEDEX to Atlanta and was followed up with several calls to Todd and Atlanta to assure speedy repair. It came back in about 6 days and everything worked perfectly. I was told the upgrade resolved the long record, the heat issue and the battery drain. In fact, all are OK now.

    Subsequently I have learned that the fix is a software upgrade that is applied via the disk drive. However Sony won't confirm this information.

    During the whole process, I regularly posted the result of every conversation on the Mavica Information Exchange. This was done with Sony's knowledge and approval. Included was the final information to call Sony for the correction. Now comes the problem. Virtually everybody that calls Sony gets a long run arround before they admit the problem and agree to make the change. Sony takes great pains even now to refuse to openly admit the problem. IF you continue to bug them they will finally fix the problem for no cost to the owner.

    According to Sony service national, all service centers in the USA had the necessary information to make the upgrade. Several people went directly to a service center for the repair and had to convince them to look through their records to find the information. Finally everybody that has persisted has gotten the correction. Many times they had to use Todd's name to get things off dead center and get an admission of the problem.

    Recently several new buyers have gotten unts with a CUSA designation. Nobody that has units with the CUSA designation has reported any problem. However the current supply pipeline appears to be filled with both units.

    Many Mavicans with FD88s have just elected to continue to format their disks and go on without the correction. This is OK but there is still a power drain and heat issue that they have to deal with.

    Long story covering 2+ months, but I'm satisfied with the end result. The FD88 has worked fine for me since the trip to Atlanta.

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