Steve's Digicams

Sony Mavica

First Look posted 6/14/00
Review finished 7/3/00


Click to take a QuickTime VR tour of the Sony Mavica CD-1000
Click to take a QTVR tour of the CD-1000

The new $1299 Sony MVC-CD1000 (Digital Mavica) shares the same basic "look and feel" of its Mavica MVC-FD95 sibling.   It has the same incredible 10x optical / 20x digital SteadyShot stabilized zoom lens, a high-resolution color viewfinder plus a 2.5" color LCD, the "smart" lithium rechargeable battery system and the same 2.1-megapixel CCD imager. The big difference is that it stores its images on a builtin CD-Recorder drive that uses 3.5-inch 156MB discs.

The CD-1000 features automatic exposure using one of five programmed modes (Auto, Night, Night+, Landscape, Portrait) or you can switch it into shutter speed-priority (18-steps, 8 - 1/500 secs) or aperture-priority mode (F2.8, 3.4, 4, 4.8, 5.6, 6.8, 8, 9.6, 11.)   Lock in a fast shutter speed to freeze even the fastest moving subjects easily.   Or open up the aperture to blur the background or close it down for maximum depth of field.

Sony Mavica CD-1000
Mavica FD95 on the left, CD1000 on the right

Still image capture modes include 1600 x 1200, a 3:2 aspect ratio mode of 1600 x 1072, 1024 x 768 and 640 x 480 image sizes. It also captures 5, 10 or 15 second full motion video clips with sound in 320 x 240 HQ, 320 x 240 or 160 x 112 pixel modes.

The CD1000 uses much less compression than the FD95 (about 7:1 vs 18:1) in the JPEG modes and delivers a 1600 x 1200 image with a file size of about 900KB vs the FD95 at 330KB.  The difference is immediately noticeable, especially when printing.   For the ultimate quality there is now an uncompressed TIFF (~6MB!) mode.

156MB Optical CD-R vs 1.44MB Floppy Disks

Sony Mavica CD-1000

The key to the success of the earlier Mavicas was the use of standard 1.44MB floppy disks for a storage medium. As the resolution of the newer Mavicas passed a million pixels, the file size also increased. Through the use of (too much) JPEG compression the Sony engineers managed to squeeze four 1600 x 1200 images onto each disk in the FD95. The end of the floppy drive was clearly in sight.

To keep the Mavica line viable a higher capacity but still convenient form of media had to be used. A quick look around tells you that nearly every computer nowadays is equipped with a CD-ROM drive. But you can't stick a full-sized 5-1/4" CD-Recorder into a digital camera, the size, weight and power consumption of these drives are just too great.

Those engineering wizards at Sony created an entirely new CD-Recordable drive that writes to the smaller 3-inch (8cm) discs. These discs have a capacity of 156MB and that will hold hundreds of still pictures and movies at a cost of about $4.00 each.

The benefits:

  • 156MB of storage capacity per $4 (or less) disc
  • Much lower cost per megabyte than flash memory
  • Portability between computer platforms
  • Archival properties of optical media
  • Write-once data storage. Digital equivalent of film negatives.
  • Impossible to erase. You always have your original pictures on the disc.

The tradeoffs:

  • Time will tell if the incredibly well engineered CD-R drive will be able to take the day to day rigors of consumer use. This isn't in a desktop computer sitting on a table, this is a camera and it's going to be toted everywhere.
  • Once you take a picture and it's stored on the disc it cannot be erased. This isn't much of a problem considering the high capacity and low cost of the discs. Just be careful what you photograph, consider it to be forever!
  • The CD-R discs are like multi-session CD-R drive in a desktop computer. If you want to read the disc outside of the camera the open session must be "finalized" first. This consumes available disc space (~13.5MB) each time you close it. You can initialize and finalize discs until all of the space is consumed.

Option:  If you have a fairly new CD-R or CD-RW you may be able to read the "unfinalized" Sony discs if you install Adaptec's DirectCD software which is supplied with the camera accessories. Or you can download image data to your computer using the new USB port without finalizing the disc first.

Sony Mavica CD-1000

The mini-CD discs can be read in most CD-ROM drives once they are finalized and if you look at your drive's tray you will see that it has a smaller 3" position for the disc to sit in. If you have an older CD-ROM drive, Sony includes a 5" adapter disc ring included with the MVC-CD1000 accessories.

Sony Mavica CD-1000

On the back is a 2.5" color LCD mounted on the door of the CD-Recorder. That angled window just to the left of the LCD screen lets you see the disc as it spins. The controls are all clearly labeled and include buttons to turn the LCD on/off, determine the amount of data overlayed on the display, the main power on/off switch, volume controls, flash mode control, macro focus, spot metering, and the 4-way jog switch for navigating menus and making selections.

Sony Mavica CD-1000

The CD-1000 has a high-resolution eyelevel color viewfinder just like those found on Sony's camcorders.  It has an autostart feature that turns on the viewfinder when your eye is pressed up against it.   Take it away from your eye and it automatically turns off.  Underneath is a diopter adjustment control lever.

You can use the eyelevel viewfinder to frame and record, playback and even navigate the menus and change camera settings, all without using the power-hungry color LCD, this really extends the battery runtime.

Sony Mavica CD-1000

There's an accessory shoe mount on the top but it is not a hot shoe. The optional HVL-F1000 flash can be mounted on it, the sync cord plugs in to the connector just to the left of it.

Sony Mavica CD-1000

On the bottom is a metal tripod socket (with a rather small mounting foot) and the battery access door. When mounted on most tripods the camera does not need to be removed to change the battery.

Sony Mavica CD-1000

On the left side is where you find the majority of the camera and lens controls. These buttons and switches are clearly marked and whatever function they change is displayed on the LCDs.

Above the latch switch to open the CD-R drive is the external flash sync connector (hidden behind a small cover.)

Sony Mavica CD-1000

Here's a closeup of the controls. Starting at the top is the button to pop up the builtin flash. Then we have the Program AE button which cycles you through the 5 AE modes or puts the camera into shutter speed or aperture priority mode. The White Balance can be set for one of the presets or you can manually set the white point.

Below is the focus control for Autofocus or Manual and the switch to turn the SteadyShot digital image stabilization system on or off.

Continue on to
Page Two

Download the
Mavica MVC-CD1000 User Manual
(Adobe PDF document 2.5MB)

CD-1000 Specifications


Imaging Device: 1/2.7" Super HAD CCD, 2.1 Million Pixels (gross)
Image Size: 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768 or 640 x 480.
Optical Zoom Lens: 10X Optical Zoom Lens
Digital Zoom: 20X Precision
White Balance: Automatic, Indoor, Outdoor and One-Push
Automatic Exposure: 6 mode AE (Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Twilight, Twilight+, Landscape and Pan Focus)
Focus: Auto, Manual Focus Ring
Shutter Speed: 8-1/500sec.
Flash: Built-In Pop-Up (Auto/Forced/Red Eye Reduction and Disable)
Self-Timer: Built-in, 10 sec. delay
Focal Distance: f=6.0-60mm (35mm Equivalent: 39-390mm)
Filter Diameter: 52mm
Output: Audio/Video out (NTSC/PAL)
Flash Connection: Yes (HVL-F1000 Only)
Date/Time Stamp: Yes
Date/Time Impose: Yes
Disk/Battery Remaining Indicator: Yes/Yes
Recording Media: 3" CD-R (156 Megabyte)
Drive Read Speed: 8X Maximum
Drive Write Speed: 4X
3-inch 156 MB Mavica CD-R Disc
Viewfinder: TTL LCD Color
Color LCD: 2.5" Diagonal, 123K
Battery (Supplied): NP-F550
Battery Life: Shooting: Approx. 1.5 Hours/1100 Shots
Power Consumption: During Shooting 4.9 W (W/LCD) 4.5 W (W/Viewfinder)
USB OS Compatibility: Windows 98/98SE
Software OS: Windows 95/98/98SE and MAC
Image Write Time: (1600 x 1200), Approx 3 sec.
Dimensions (WxHxD): 5-1/2 x 5-1/4 x 8-3/8 (137 x 131 x 212mm)
Weight: 2lbs 4oz. (990 grams)


- AC-L10 AC Power
- NP-F550 InfoLithium Battery
- AC Cord
- A/V Cable
- USB Cable
- Shoulder Strap
- Lens Cap
- Mavica CD-R Discs (x5)
- 8cm CD Adapter


- Disc 1: Photo Suite 8.06 for Windows,
      Video Wave SE+ for Windows,
      PhotoSuite SE1.0 for MAC
- Disc 2: Picture Gear 4.1 Lite for Windows
- Disc 3: Adaptec DirectCD V3.0 for Windows,
      USB driver for Windows 98/98SE,
      Adaptec UDF Volume Access for MAC

 Normal CD-R (156MB: supplied)
1600 x 1200 160
1600 (3:2) 170
1024 x 768 350
640 x 480 1080
 E-Mail (E-Mail 320 x 240 +
 Normal JPEG)
1600 x 1200 140
1600 (3:2) 150
1024 x 768 300
640 x 480 730
 Voice Memo (Voice Memo
 320 x 240 + Normal JPEG)
1600 x 1200 130
1600 (3:2) 150
1024 x 768 270
640 x 480 620
TEXT (TEXT + Normal JPEG)  
1600 x 1200 1370
1600 (3:2) 1450
1024 x 768 1510
640 x 480 1570
TIFF (TIFF + Normal JPEG)  
1600 x 1200 20
1600 (3:2) 22
MPEG Movie  
HQ** (320x240) 370sec
Presentation** (320x240) 1400sec
Video Mail** (160x112) 5100sec

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