Review: Sony Mavica MVC-CD1000
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2000
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2000
has always explored new storage formats since the inception of the
consumer digital camera. First, it was the floppy disk. Even with
the slow read/write speeds and small capacity, people bought up
Mavicas like crazy, making Sony the #1 manufacturer of digital cameras.
Next, it was the Memory Stick -- a small flash memory card the size
of a stick of gum -- that Sony hopes to share across all its products.
In the end, though, the Memory Stick is just another proprietary
cameras got better over the years, the floppy started to be less
appealing. When you could once fit 30 or more photos on a disc,
suddenly it was 4 or 5. What could Sony come up with to have the
portability and ease-of-use of a floppy, but with a higher storage
capacity? Well, the answer lies inside the Sony
Mavica MVC-CD1000 digital camera -- it's a CD-R drive! Yes,
this camera actually writes onto 156MB, 3" writeable CD's (CD-R).
While it isn't much faster (if at all) that a floppy, it sure holds
a lot more photos. It's also much cheaper than comparable flash
media. A 160MB CompactFlash card runs well over $350, whereas the
3" 156MB CD-Rs have been sighted for as little as $1 in bulk!
thing (which may not be so good) is that this is the first digital
camera that has consumables. That is, products you use once and
must replace. If you're saying "Gee, that's just like my film
camera", you're right! These CD-RS are write-once. Once they're
filled, they can't be used again -- you've got to buy more. Sony
sells 5 packs of these CD-RS for around $20 -- they're available
for less in bulk from other manufacturers. Do keep in mind that
the CD1000, with an already high price of entry, will cost you more
down the road that most other digital cameras.
in the Box?
MVC-CD1000 box contains everything you need to start shooting. It
2.1 Mpixel Sony Mavica MVC-CD1000 camera
3" (156MB) CD-R discs
rechargeable Li-ion battery
adapter / battery charger
to 5" CD adapter
including MGI PhotoSuite and VideoWave SE, and drivers
for camera and software
shown with 3" CD-R and NP-F550 battery
includes a nice rechargeable battery set with the CD1000. The NP-F550
looks and performs like a camcorder battery. It even knows how much
time is left before it runs out! Sony says that the battery should
last for about 100-120 minutes depending on usage. Recharging takes
between 150 and 210 minutes.
battery charges inside the camera, and when you turn the camera
on, you have an AC adapter too.
is the first camera in the Mavica line to include a USB port --
a nice touch, especially given the "finalization" process
that I will describe later in the review.
number of accessories are available, including the HVL-F1000 external
flash, both tele and wide-angle conversion lenses, as well as neutral
your computer's CD-ROM drive cannot hold 3" CD-R discs, Sony
has included an adapter which fits the 3" CD inside a 5"
my test camera didn't include a lens cap or strap, I'm told that
a normal, retail CD1000 will include both.
camera manuals are much like their VCR manuals -- confusing and
full of fine print. Of course, so are most other camera manuals.
you thought the Sony MVC-FD95
was big, wait until you see the CD1000. Not only does it have to
hold a CD-R drive, but it has a big ol' 10X zoom lens to boot. This
is the biggest digital camera out there, period. It's also one of
the heaviest. This is NOT the camera you're going to slip into your
pocket. The camera has a lot of plastic on it, so I'm not sure how
much wear and tear it can take. Don't forget also that the CD1000
has that CD-R drive in it -- so you'll want to be careful in real
(left) shown with Coolpix 950 (top right) and FinePix 4900 (bottom
CD1000's dimensions are 5.5 x 5.25 x 8.625 inches, and it weighs
in at a hefty 35 ounces (that's 2.25 pounds!!). Given so much real
estate, you'd expect that holding the camera is easy, and that is
the case. There's a nice grip for your right hand, and plenty of
lens to put your left hand around.
f2.8 lens of the CD1000 is one of its high points. With a 10X zoom
ratio of 6 - 60mm (equivalent to 39 - 390mm on a 35mm camera), you'll
find that you can fit even the most distant subjects into the full
frame. See below for a little example of how nice such a big zoom
telephoto (10X optical + 2X digital)
lens always stays inside the barrel, which both protects it, and
makes the camera "boot up" faster. The zoom is both exceptionally
smooth and quiet while operating.
back of the camera has most, but not all, of the camera controls.
The biggest attraction here is probably the very large 2.5"
LCD display. Sony has many, many years of LCD development under
their belts (from all those Handicams), and as a result, the CD1000's
LCD is probably the best out there. Not only is it big, but it's
also bright and fluid.
the Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom and Fuji FinePix 4900 Zoom, the CD1000's
optical viewfinder is actually a EVF, or Electronic Viewfinder.
Of the three cameras, the Sony EVF is definitely the best by a large
margin. It's very bright and sharp -- not at all grainy like the
other two cameras -- almost as good as the main LCD. And, by some
technical trick that I haven't yet figured out, the CD1000's EVF
only turns on when your eye is up to the viewfinder. Pretty neat
if you ask me. The EVF has diopter correction, for those of us with
the left of the main LCD is the Display button, used for toggling
on-screen info on the LCD. Above the LCD are buttons for flash,
macro, spot metering, volume, LCD on/off, as well as a four-way
switch for the menu system. To the right of the LCD you'll find
the power switch.
the top of the camera, there's not much going on. You can see the
"accessory shoe" in the lower part of the photo. I hesitate
to call this a "hot shoe" because there aren't any contacts
there -- it's more like a flash bracket. See below for more on using
an external flash.
simple switch to the right puts the camera in either Movie, Still,
or Playback mode.
above that is the shutter release, which is well placed and provides
good tactile feedback. Just in front of that (which is easier to
see in the first photo on this page) are the zoom controls.
around the corner a bit, you can see the CD-R drive opened up. How
long will such a device last in a digital camera that's always on
the go? After my own problems, I'm not so sure. I'll go into detail
about those problems later in the review.
onto the left side of the camera -- you can really get a feel for
how big this thing is from this side.
two buttons at the center of the photo are for focus and SteadyShot.
When you flip the focus button to Manual, you can use the focus
ring at the tip of the lens barrel to focus. Like with the FinePix
4900, this isn't a true mechanical process -- the ring electronically
tells the lens what to do. The SteadyShot function, also a feature
on Sony's camcorders, helps eliminate camera shake.
those buttons are those for Program AE and white balance. With Program
AE, you have the following modes:
mode (changes the focus quickly from a close subject to a distant
shutter priority mode, you can select from 17 values between 8 and
1/500 sec. In aperture priority mode, you have 9 choices between
f2.8 and f11.
are just a few choices for white balance - less than on most cameras
- but at least Sony included the important choice. You can choose
that important choice is, of course, manual white balance. Here,
you just put a white piece of paper (or whatever you want to be
white) in front of the camera and hit the appropriate buttons, and
you're set. So while the camera lacks white balance modes for incandescent
and fluorescent lighting, the manual white balance feature should
allow you to get around it.
button at the top of the photo pops up the flash, which has a range
of about 2 to 8 feet.
the flash button, under a rubber cover, is a nonstandard external
flash sync port. As I mentioned, Sony sells the HVL-F1000 external
flash. I'm not sure if other flashes are compatible, but I would
assume the answer is no.
final item on this very busy side of the camera is the release for
the CD-R cover.
not much happening on the right side of the camera either - just
the DC in port for that AC adapter.
but not least, here's the bottom of the camera. The only thing of
note here is the metal tripod mount at the center of the photo.
Oh, and there's the battery compartment, which has a nice spring-loaded
the Sony Mavica MVC-CD1000
CD1000 is a camera which does a very good job as both a point-and-shoot
camera as well as manually controlled camera. The amount of time
it takes the CD1000 depends on how many photos are already on the
CD. With a brand new CD-R, it takes about 3 seconds to start up,
whereas with a fully loaded disc, it's more like 13 seconds.
you depress the shutter release halfway, it takes the camera roughly
one second to lock focus. The delay between fully depressing the
shutter release and the actual picture being taken is negligible.
The recycle time on this camera is about three seconds (in Normal
mode, 1600 x 1200), which isn't too bad at all.
you see on the main LCD, you'll also see on the EVF
I mentioned earlier, the CD1000 has an electronic, rather than optical
viewfinder. The good news is that you get to see much more information
in the EVF than you would on an optical viewfinder. The bad news
is that an EVF just isn't the same as looking through glass (or
plastic as the case may be).
already mentioned many of the options you can choose from on the
CD1000 -- but there's more inside the menu system in record mode.
effect (solarize, B&W, sepia, negative art, off) - sets
the image special effects
(day & time, date, off) - sets whether to insert the data
and time into the image
Tool (initialize, finalize, cancel) - more on this in next
Sensor (on/off) - orientates pictures correctly
size - see below
Mode (TIFF, text, voice clip, e-mail, normal) - see below
Time Set (5/10/15 sec) - recording time for movies
zoom (on/off) - 2X digital zoom
(+2 to -2)
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV)
(beep + shutter, shutter only, none)
few notes on some of the above choices now. First, here's a chart
describing the image size options on the CD1000:
of images per CD-R
the Rec. Mode portion of the menu, there are additional choices,
- saves a 320 x 240 image in addition to the regular sized photo
- save up to a 40 second sound clip with each photo
- Recorded as a black & white GIF image
- uncompressed image format
keep in mind that these other modes will decrease the total number
of photos per CD. You can store around 20 TIFF files per CD-R disc.
how about some photos?
initial attempts with the macro test gave me an image that was just
too dark. Even bumping up the exposure compensation didn't help.
So I tried longer exposures, and got the shot you see above with
a 1 second exposure. With that out of the way, the CD1000 took a
pretty nice macro shot. You can shoot as close as 2cm in macro mode
on the CD1000!
story behind why I don't have a nightshot illustrates my big problem
with the CD1000. There I was: Monday night at Treasure Island. No,
I wasn't in Las Vegas -- I was on an island in the middle of San
Francisco Bay. If you've been on the Bay Bridge, you've gone right
through it. I setup the CD1000 on a tripod and was all ready to
take my pictures, when I saw a message on the LCD: Disc Full!
with any other camera, I'd delete a photo or two, and then have
room to take the photos I needed. Not so with the CD1000. The CD-R
drive on this camera is write-once, not rewriteable. You can "delete"
photos via the camera interface, but they're never really gone --
they still take up space on the disc. Suddenly the CD1000 doesn't
seem quite as "digital" as other digital cameras, at least
in my eyes.
was able to lower the resolution to 640 x 480, and I took one picture
-- which turned out blurry since the camera vibrated when I hit
the shutter release button. I can tell you that, although very blurry,
it did take in a lot of light, and probably would've been an acceptable
picture (if you really want to see the photo, I'll put it up).
story continues: So I was stuck without any extra CDs on a Monday
night on a mostly deserted island with a camera that was already
supposed to be back at Sony. I couldn't finish my tests since I
couldn't take anymore photos, so I delayed the review one day while
I bought another CD-R. And here's where I got "taken to the
cleaners". After returning empty handed from CompUSA, I ventured
into the SonyStyle store at the Metreon in San Francisco, where
I was sold a single CD-R for -- brace yourselves -- $12.95. And
that ends the story...
though, photo quality was most impressive. The CD1000s photos are
much less compressed than those on the FD95 camera I tested a few
months ago, and it shows. If you really want the highest quality,
you can use TIFF mode. Take a look at the gallery
to see some sample photos.
the CD1000, Sony continues to have what I feel is the best movie
mode in the business. You can take movies at 320 x 240 (HQ), 320
x 240 (Std.), and 160 x 112. For the 320 x 240 modes, you can record
up o 15 seconds; for 160 x 112, up to a full minute. Of course,
the CD1000 records sound, and even lets you use that nice zoom lens
to play movie
(MPEG format, 15 secs, 5.2MB, 320 x 240 HQ mode)
it's not going to win any awards, the sample movie above should
give you an idea about the quality of the CD1000's movies.
the CD-R technology comes some new procedures to go through to use
it. When you first insert a new CD-R into the camera, the LCD will
say "Not initialized". So, you initialize it. This takes
a few seconds, and then you can take pictures.
say now you want to put the CD-R into your computer. You can't just
stick it in and expect it to read it. You have to finalize it first.
I'm assuming it closes the session on the disc during finalization,
but what I know for sure is that it takes up 13.5MB of the CD-R
each time you do it. It also takes about one minute to do this.
pretend you still have a decent amount of room on the CD-R, and
you want to take more pictures on it. You've got to initialize the
disc AGAIN. When you're ready to put it back on the computer, you've
got to finalize it AGAIN.
most things, there are workarounds to these issues:
you have a CD-R or CD-RW drive, you may be able to mount the disc
without finalizing it first
can avoid all this finalizing if you hook the camera to your Mac
or PC via the included USB cable (maybe save finalizing for the
thing that concerns me about the CD-R on this camera is how it can
handle all the jostling around during real world photography. A
CD burner is a very sensitive device that must be precise in order
to "burn" the tiny pits on the CD-R disc which ends up
holding your photos. The slightest bump could damage the data on
could just be the camera I was sent, but I'm already having trouble
with the CD-R drive. When you finalize or initialize a disc, you're
supposed to put the camera down flat. Well, when I did this, midway
through the finalization process, I'd hear a horrible vibrating
noise from the drive, which would stop the process in its tracks.
If I waited long enough, I got a disc error.
cursing away at the camera, I found the workaround for this problem.
When this happens, I'd tilt the camera about 45 degrees to the left,
and it magically stopped grinding and started writing again. That
trick works like a charm.
course, this could all be my review camera... but who knows if it
will crop up in others?
CD1000 has a nice playback mode, with plenty of features.
usual features are here -- slideshows, DPOF print marking, protection,
thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll.
few nice bonuses include the ability to rotate your photos, as well
as resize them.
can also playback those movies, complete with sound -- there's even
volume buttons on the back of the camera.
between high res thumbnails takes about 5 seconds, which is higher
than average. No additional information is available about your
photos, such as the exposure settings used to take the picture.
zoom and scroll feature lets you zoom in as much as 5 times, and
then move around inside the photo. Both zooming and scrolling are
not perfectly smooth, but still very good.
I mentioned earlier, you can delete photos in playback mode, but
you won't get that space back on the disc like with most cameras.
Does it Compare?
want to say up front that I very much like the Sony Mavica MVC-CD1000
for its "camera features". It's got a great 10X optical
zoom, nice manual controls, good photo quality, and it's easy to
use. What I'm not sold on is the CD-R technology itself, as you've
probably noticed throughout the review. While it's the cheapest
storage out there per megabyte, you lose a lot of the "digital
camera features" such as the ability to truly delete photos,
as well as to reuse the storage media. Isn't that why you bought
a digicam in the first place? Plus, based on my own problems with
the CD-R mechanism, I wonder how long these will last before they
really start to have problems. If you're absolutely sold on the
CD-R technology, then my concerns probably don't bother you. But
it was me shopping for a camera, I'd choose a more traditional camera
-- and save some money while I'm at it.
10X optical zoom
good photo quality
movie mode with sound
support (at last)
for (proprietary) external flash
& useable LCD and EVF
I didn't care for:
sold on CD-R technology
you really want a big zoom lens, check out the Olympus
C-2100 Ultra Zoom and Fuji
FinePix 4900 Zoom. Otherwise, there are tons of nice cameras
for less money that you can find in our Reviews & Info section.
always, I recommend a trip out to your local reseller to try out
the MVC-CD1000 and it's competitors before you buy!