Steve's Digicams

Sony Mavica FD-95

User Review

First Look posted 5/20/00
Full Review posted 6/17/00


Click to take a QuickTime VR tour of the Sony Mavica FD-95
Click to take a QTVR tour of the FD-95

The Sony MVC-FD95 (Digital Mavica) has the longest focal length zoom lens of any digital camera, it's equivalent to a 400mm lens on a 35mm camera. Sony's SteadyShot image stabilization technology helps you get the best possible pictures even at extreme telephoto. The FD-95 is the highest resolution Mavica with a 2.1-million pixel imager that yields 1600 x 1200-pixel JPEG pictures.

Thanks to its camcorder-styled, eyelevel, high-resolution color viewfinder the FD-95 is functionally the same as a SLR camera. You see exactly what the lens sees. The big 2.5" color LCD can also be used for framing as well as reviewing your pictures.

Mavicas are unique in that they store their images on 1.44MB floppy diskettes. Floppies are relatively low capacity media but you can't beat the ease of transferring the data to your computer.   The year 2000 Mavicas can use the new, solid state Memory Stick modules with the MSAC-FD2M floppy disk adapter. 64MB Memory Sticks are already available and 128MB size modules are coming by year's end. All of the new Mavicas are also equipped with 4x quick access floppy disk drives.

You can operate the FD-95 in automatic exposure using one of five programmed modes or for complete control you can switch it into shutter speed- or aperture-priority mode. 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.

In addition to capturing still JPEG images the FD-95 also captures up to 60 seconds of MPEG video and audio.   There's two settings: Presentation Mode, up to 15 sec. (320 x 240) and Video Mail Mode, up to 60 sec. (160 x 112).

Jump to the FD-95 specifications.

Sony Mavica FD-95

On the back of the camera we find a big 2.5" color LCD and the controls to switch the video between it and the smaller color viewfinder.   There's also a power on/off switch, volume controls, mode control, flash control and the 4-way jog switch for navigating the onscreen menus.

Those familiar with last year's FD-91 model will notice that the color LCD panel no longer tilts up and away from the body. This is due to the changes made in the optical finder, the narrowing of the body and the addition of the flash shoe on top of the camera.

Sony Mavica FD-95

Like the FD-91, the FD-95 has a high-resolution eyelevel color viewfinder complete with dioptric adjustment.   New on the FD-95 is an autostart feature that turns on the viewfinder when your eye is pressed up against it.   Take it away from your face and it turns off again to conserve battery power.

Sony Mavica FD-95

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 right of it.

Sony Mavica FD-95

The only things on the bottom are a metal tripod socket and the battery access door. When mounted on a regular tripod the camera does not need to be removed to change the battery.

Sony Mavica FD-95

Looking at the camera from this side you'd probably figure that it's going to take a rocket scientist to operate.  You do need to read the manual to understand it all but the controls are clearly marked and whatever function you change or enable is displayed on the LCDs.

Sony Mavica FD-95

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

On the bottom we have the Macro control (flower icon). The focus control Autofocus or Manual. And the switch to turn the digital image stabilization system on or off.

Sony Mavica FD-95

This is what makes the Mavica cameras so popular, images are stored on regular 1.44MB floppy diskettes. Immediately after taking pictures all you do is pop the disk into your floppy drive and view the pictures. No fancy card reader or special software is required, the images are standard JPG format.

Sony Mavica FD-95

All of the year 2000 Mavicas have 4x-speed QuickAccess floppy disk drives and they can use the higher-capacity, solid state Memory Stick modules with the new MSAC-FD2M floppy disk adapter. The original MSAC-FD1A floppy adapter does not work and this info is wrong on the Sony web site (and yes, I did let them know about it.)

When using Memory Sticks you get the advantage of much greater storage capacity as you can use up to a 64MB stick. Sony promises 128MB and 256MB sticks in the coming year. Another advantage is that the JPEG images recorded on the stick now have full EXIF header information including shutter speed, aperture, focal length, flash mode and etc.

Everything is not an advantage however, the write time to the floppy adapter is slower than a regular diskette. The 1600 x 1200 images take between 9 and 15 seconds to record versus about 4 to 5 seconds on a floppy disk. During the write process the viewfinder is frozen and you cannot take another picture until it's finished.

Sony Mavica FD-95

The business end of the Mavica FD-95 proves that "size does matter." This is a 10X optical f=6.0-60mm (40-400mm 35mm equivalent) zoom lens that can be further enhanced to 20X with the digital zoom feature.

It's the 3rd longest focal length zoom lens ever put on a digicam. The other two cameras are also Sony's -- the BIGGEST is the Mavica FD-91 with a 14x stabilized zoom. The second biggest lens is the 12x optical zoom on the early DKC-ID1 Pro. The FD95's lens is quite fast with a F2.8 maximum aperture. Filters and other add-ons can be attached via the 52mm threads.

Using their many years of video camera experience, Sony has equipped this monster lens with their patented SteadyShot image stabilization technology. This helps you get the sharpest, blur-free images even when zoomed out to the maximum telephoto position.

Sony Mavica FD-95

Another feature that makes this a Sony camera is the battery. The infamous Sony InfoLITHIUM rechargeable 7.2v "battery with a brain" -- it tells you on the LCD exactly how many minutes of runtime is left. The FD-95 comes with the NP-F330 but it can also use the higher capacity NP-F550 battery as well.

Unlike earlier Mavicas, the FD-95 does not need an external charger. It comes with a combination battery charger and AC power adapter that plugs into the underside of the zoom lens.

Continue on to
Page Two

FD-95 Specifications

  • Imager 1/2.7" CCD 2.1 Megapixels
  • Image Sizes
    • Still (JPEG): 1600 x 1200, 1600 x 1072 (3:2),
      1024 x 768 and 640 x 480
    • Movie (MPEG): 15sec @ 320 x 240, 60sec @ 160 x 112
  • Sharpness 4 step adjustable
  • 12 Bit A to D Conversion Yes
  • Zoom Lens 10X optical f=6.0-60mm (40-400mm 35mm equivalent)
  • Digital Zoom 20X with SteadyShot image stabilizer
  • Filter Threads yes, 52mm
  • Focus High-speed AF or Manual with focus ring and digital readout on display
  • Shutter Speed 17-step, 8 - 1/500 secs
  • Apertures F2.8, 3.4, 4, 4.8, 5.6, 6.8, 8, 9.6, 11
  • AE Modes 5 Program modes (Auto, Night, Night+, Landscape, Portrait)
  • Shutter Speed Priority Yes
  • Aperture Priority Yes
  • LCD Display 2-1/2" TFT 123,000 Pixels
  • Color Viewfinder 180,000 Pixels w/auto on/off
  • Storage Media 1.44MB floppy discs or Memory StickŪ w/optional MSAC-FD2M adaptor
  • Floppy Drive 4X Quick Access 3.5" disk drive
  • Power Source 7.2v InfoLITHIUM NP-F330 or NP-F550, AC adaptor and battery charger is supplied
  • A/V Out NTSC or PAL video plus mono audio
  • Built-in Microphone Yes
  • Built-in Speaker Yes
  • Intelligent Flash Yes, redeye reduction, on, off and an external connector for the optional HVL-F1000 flash
  • Picture Effects Sepia, Solarize, B&W, Negative Art
  • Protect/Delete Images Yes
  • Remaining Battery Time Indicator Yes
  • Self Timer 10 Sec
  • Playback Normal, up to 5x Zoom, Trim, Resize
  • Slide Show Mode Yes
  • Voice Memo Yes
  • Whole Disc Copy Yes
  • Bundled Software ArcSoft Photo Studio
  • Dimensions 126 x 124 x 184 mm (5 x 5 7-1/4 inches) (w/h/d)
  • Weight 970 g (2 lb 2 oz.) (incl. battery & floppy disk)

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