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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 ½ ft. and wide angle will focus as close as ½ in. I have found
that when standing position and taking the smallest brass plaque
you end up with a very readable image.
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 ½ 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.