This page of examples of the output of the Sony Mavica FD88 camera may help people wanting to compare digital camera models.
Click on the thumbnail below to see the full size best quality output from the camera, a 1280x960 image. Be warned that this is a very long download.
This picture size/quality can easily be printed at A4 size with an excellent quality print. You can get 3-4 of these images on one floppy disc, depending on the images. I usually get 3, but have got 5 a couple of times. There are smaller size images and a standard quality available, which give more images on a disc, and unless you want to enlarge to A4 size, give good quality for smaller prints and website pictures. All of the pictures on this page are from the full size best quality ones, though I have resized most of them to keep the download time down.
I find it very difficult to hold the camera steady when using digital zoom. There is a facility for switching it off so that the zoom then will not go beyond 8 times and will use the optical zoom, and I keep it like that unless I really need to zoom in from a long distance. I think that to guarantee sharpness with full digital zoom, I should need to use a tripod. (There is a tripod bush, and my tripod fits it.)
In fact, when I wanted a picture of a distant squirrel running down a tree, I found I got a better picture by using optical zoom and cropping to the squirrel, than by trying to use digital zoom. The picture on the left shows the cropped picture. Click the thumbnail to see the full size picture - another huge one and long download.
Both of the pictures above were taken with the ordinary zoom features. There is a macro facility which lets you go as close as 1cm to the subject, so the effective focus zone of the camera is 1cm to infinity. I was about 2cm from the barcode in the picture below. Again, it would be advisable to use a tripod for macro work because it is almost impossible to hold the camera steady enough not to move it after the auto-focus has determined the distance. I did not have a tripod with this picture and it is out of focus because of this.
The camera can produce short mpg videos. In the size I have used here they are limited to 15 seconds. There is a smaller size which gives longer ones - the overall size of the file being limited to the 1.44MB a floppy disc can hold. I forgot when making these that there is a sound track, and on both of them I have called out to the dog - in the first one to try to persuade her, (unsuccessfully) to get back in the pond and give me a longer shot of her in the water, and in the second one, to get her to start walking. She was more co-operative over that. But it will give you an idea of the sound and picture quality in these little movies.
If you want to see the mpg videos, I think you will need to download the files and view them with a media player, though it is possible that some browsers may open and play them.
I am absolutely delighted with the Mavica FD88 camera. The picture quality is superb, and the video facility is fun. There are no cables or special software needed as it stores the pictures as ordinary .jpg and .mpg files and standard 2HD floppy discs. It can format them if you have unformatted ones, and it can copy a disc, not only jpgs, but spreadsheet or txt files and so on too. There was photo processing software with it, but I have not installed it as I use my existing PhotoImpact, Paint Shop Pro, and Photoshop to do any after work I need to do on the files. There has been very little needed on most of them, apart from correcting red eye from the flash. The flash lets you have it on auto so it fires only if the light is low, set to fire on every picture or not to fire at all. I turned it off while I was taking these pictures because it was a dull day and in the woods it was gloomy. Without the flash the camera adjusted for the gloom and took perfectly exposed pictures. There is an adjustment to make the pictures darker or lighter, and there are some special presets for moonlight and sunset pictures, pictures in the mountains, and so on.
The battery is supposed to give 120 minutes switch-on time when fully charged, but I have never managed to get more than 92 minutes on a full charge. It runs down surprisingly quickly if you leave the camera and screen switched on when you are not using it. I was out for about an hour taking these, and towards the end the time left was showing 21 minutes and the low battery warning was flashing. I should have at least switched the screen backlight off between pictures. If I had turned the whole camera off I should not have run the battery down nearly so quickly, but it takes a few seconds to come to life at switch on, and I might have missed a passing squirrel. But the screen comes back instantly, and turning that off between shots keeps the battery going much longer. But a spare battery seems a necessity to me, so I have ordered a rather more powerful one. The charger is provided with the camera can charge the more powerful battery.
It takes a bit of getting used to framing shots and keeping the camera steady when you are used to one that you put to your eye and brace against your cheek. But I think a little practice at handling this less familiar way of doing things will work wonders.
It is very easy to use - the dials and menus look daunting in the handbook, but seem entirely sensible and logical when you are using the camera. It has a self timer if you want to put yourself in the frame - I haven't tried that one yet.
It has all the things I was looking for - high resolution, easy and cheap storage, good zooming and plenty of ways of doing close-ups. The macro and the mpgs are icing on the cake for me. I love it, and I would thoroughly recommend it.
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