Sony Digital Mavica FD-81  –  Vintage Camera

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (three quarters)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (three quarters)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (three quarters)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (three quarters)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (front view)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (front view)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (rear view)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (rear view)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (top view)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (top view)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (three quarters)Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (three quarters)Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (front view)Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (rear view)Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (top view)Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 Specifications

Manufacturer: Sony Corporation
   
Country of Origin: Japan
   
Made in: Japan
   
Introduced: 1998
   
Camera Type: Live Preview
   
Format: Digital (3.5″ Floppy Disk)
   
Dimensions (cm): 13.8 x 10.5 x 6

Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 Review

The Sony Digital Mavica FD-81 is an early consumer-grade digital camera that was released by Sony at the dawn of the megapixel wars for a whopping $899 (roughly $1,275 in today’s dollars). The Mavica series—which is short for Magnetic Video Camera—is notable for its use of removable disks to store images, starting with bespoke Video Floppies before graduating to 3.5″ floppy disks (like this FD-81), and eventually mini CD-Rs and mini CD-RWs.

The FD-81 is relatively advanced for its time, boasting XGA (1024 x 768 pixels) still image resolution and the capability of recording up to 60 seconds of video with sound. On paper, it has unexpectedly good specifications such as a 37-112mm equivalent lens with a constant aperture of f/2.0 and a minimum focus distance of 2 cm coupled with an electronic shutter capable of speeds ranging from 1/60 to 1/4000 seconds. Unfortunately, all that is ultimately let down by its dismal 1/3″ CCD sensor which is stuck at an impractical ISO 100.

Flip the Mavica over and you’ll find a 2.5″ LCD which is decently sized even by today’s standards along with a satisfying number of switches and buttons that control everything from the zoom range to the video volume. The 3.5″ floppy disks go into the grip side of the camera while I was pleasantly surprised to find a switch on the lens side that enabled manual focus, a much-appreciated feature that was notably absent on my first digital camera, the Sony DSC-P50.

I don’t remember which specific model it was, but one of the first digital cameras I ever used was a 3.5″ floppy disk Mavica. It was amazing to be able to record images without film and even more amazing that I could record it directly onto a floppy and then be able to retrieve it shortly afterward from a computer. My mind was properly and thoroughly blown. All that wonder came flooding back to me when I spotted this FD-81 at a thrift store. It only cost a couple bucks and I didn’t know when I’d see another one so I snatched it up.

References:

“Sony Mavica FD-81,” Digital Photography Review, http://www.dpreview.com/products/sony/compacts/sony_fd81

SITEMAP
Top