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A Look at One of the Coolest Cameras of Yesteryear

One of the neatest things about early digital photography was that because few things were really standardized, there were numerous interesting designs and experiments with features. Sony's Mavica line was one such example of this, and this awesome video takes a look at the camera 24 years after its release. 

Coming to you from Dino Bytes by Gordon Laing, this neat video takes a look at the Sony Mavica MVC-FD5. The FD5 had pretty standard capabilities for a camera of its day, offering 640 by 480 resolution with two levels of JPEG compression, a 4.8mm f/2.0 lens (47mm equivalent), a macro-range switch for as close as 3 inches, a 2.5-inch rear screen with a resolution of 124 by 165 pixels, and a rechargeable battery. What made it so interesting was that instead of a memory card, the FD5 recorded images directly to a floppy disk. It is hard to adequately emphasize just how convenient this was. 1997 was a time of ever-changing memory card formats as manufacturers battled for market space, but no storage format was more ubiquitous than the floppy disk, as practically every computer had a floppy drive, and disks were quite cheap compared to memory cards. Check out the video above for Laing's full thoughts. 

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Ryan Handt's picture

Yesteryear?!?! Fuck off. Guess I’m old now, cause I remember this camera. It was pretty rad. My father had it and I used to shoot skateboarding with it.

Ray Meyer's picture

"It is hard to adequately emphasize just how convenient this was."

Perhaps this belongs in the top ten underrated statements made on this site. The utility of taking pictures, having them nearly instantly on your computer to use, or handing off the "film" to someone else and not having to worry about getting the media back had (still has) monumental utility. Keep in mind, USB was still in its infancy at this point, with Windows 98SE just starting to offer support for the interface.
Yeah, the VGA resolution was lackluster, even for the day, but if you were taking pictures for function and not artistic reasons, it was a powerful tool. It got about 25-28 images to a disk, which was plenty if you stacked it up against the number of exposures you got out of a Polaroid cartridge, or even a 110 film cartridge for a point and shoot.

Loved this camera so much that I got the FD95 when it came out. 2.1Mpxl, 10x optical zoom with mechanical stabilization, and a 4x speed floppy drive. Though, the 3.5 inch floppies really began to show their limitations with these size images (4 JPEGs to a disk). The half-step remedy was the floppy memory stick adapter, which accepted up to a 128MB Sony memory stick and fit into a 3.5 drive. The downside is the data transfer rate fell back to standard speed, making it painfully slow.

I even managed to win a couple of public photo contests with images from this camera (FD95) . I managed to hone in my night photography abilities with this camera as well, including pictures of the aurora a few nights.

I still have the FD95 camera in my closet, though it has sat unused for a number of years now since moving on to DSLRs. Still have good memories of it as my second step into digital photography.

Michael Krueger's picture

Crazy how it only took another 5-7 years to get better digital cameras integrated into feature phones. Very early digital cameras were a joke to say the least.

Nicolas Thulliez's picture

I still have one FD mavica, I also have a CD mavica

Bjoern Lubetzki's picture

I still have 1 photo, shot with a Mavica, in my Portfolio (on my Website).

Jason P's picture

I used one of these in college. The library had several that students could check out. Awesome flashback.