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Sony Mavica MVC-FD7

By Bob Stallman, March 17, 2000

With its floppy disk storage, this digital camera is gaining popularity among cemetery recordists.

Steve recently asked me if I would do a review on my Sony Digital Camera. Being a person of not a very descriptive vocabulary, I decided to use a Q&A type of format. I have been recording cemeteries for almost 2 years now, 4 in Washington, 1 in South Dakota and 1 in New York State where many of my ancestors are buried. One of the cemeteries that I am working on now, that is close to home has about 11,000 buried there. I started transcribing with pencil and notebooks, soon after I thought there has to be a better way. After much searching on the Internet for digital cameras and comparing all of the spec.'s, I decided to buy a Sony, if your question isn't answered below you may contact me at r.stallman@worldnet.att.net

Why a Sony versus some of the other top brands?
What really convinced me, was the use of standard computer floppy disks, that can store picture media. I get about 25 pictures per diskette in standard picture mode. Diskettes can be purchased almost anywhere and usually at a reasonable price and when you no longer need the information on them they can be erased and used again.

What about some of the other brands with memory cards?
Memory cards cost from $30.00 up to $200.00 depending on how much memory (usually 2mb, 4mb, or 8mb.) I figure that you get about 25 standard pictures per megabyte, so you would need at least 4 memory cards for a few hours of pictures.

Wet tombstone images do not pick up well on the MVC-FD7.

How well do the inscriptions show up on the images?
About 95% of the images are very readable. I have found that when you are standing and looking at the tombstone and you can clearly read it, the picture will look the same. Although if the stone is wet or partially wet, the contrast is greatly reduced and you end up, as you can see by the image on the left. Also if the stone is partially shaded the image does not show up well, it is best then to create some shade to eliminate this.

Should I take pictures in color or black & white?
You receive a more readable picture in the standard color mode, the camera is able to take it also in B&W as well as Pastel, Sepia and negative. It seems to make little difference on how many images you can get per disc regardless of mode. Of course the high quality image mode you only get about 12 per diskette.

Does it have zoom capabilities?
Yes, it has a 10X optical zoom lens, with macro capabilities. In the tele-photo position it will automatically focus as close as 3 ft. and wide angle will focus as close as in. I have found that when standing position and taking the smallest brass plaque you end up with a very readable image.

What about batteries?
The camera comes with a rechargeable Li-Ion battery, which lasts up to 140 minutes and also a charger that takes about 3 hours for a full re-charge. I purchased another battery for $60.00 that way, it gives me plenty of picture taking time. Battery time remaining shows on viewer screen.

What are some of the other features?

  • It will take flash pictures as well, although it has a tendency to over expose the image when using it.
  • The ability to use manually focus, I find that auto works best.
  • The exposure can also be adjusted for lighter and darker pictures.
  • Large 2 in. LCD display, other cameras have quite a bit smaller display screens. Also it can be made darker or brighter.
  • You may view the images that you have recorded by going to the play mode and are also able to delete an image if you want.
  • It comes with software to be installed in your computer so that you are able to edit and view your pictures.

How much did it cost?
The Mavica MVC-FD7 I purchased sold normally for $699.00, from CompUSA. But because a newer model had just come out with a 2X floppy drive and improved flash, I ended getting it for $499.00. I believe that the camera has since come down in price and can be purchased for the same price that I paid, but with the new features.

Sample image from the MVC-FD7. Click to enlarge.

What don't you like about the camera?
The slow record time is my biggest complaint, it takes about 10 seconds to record an image. You must wait before taking your next picture. Also while it is recording care must be taken not to jar camera. (A camera with a memory card would not have this problem.)

The camera is larger than other digital cameras and not quite as convenient for carrying around. It is about the size of a 35-mm reflex camera only lighter in weight. The larger size is because using floppy discs.

A digital camera will not take the place of a film type camera, when it comes to people pictures or a high quality photographs, you can't beat the film.

Would you buy another Sony camera?
Yes, for what I bought it for, I am completely satisfied.

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