In the second half of the ’90s, digital cameras for home use began to be available on the market. By this time the main “living space” of the digital photoes in households was the personal computer’s hard drive. At that time, few people had (mostly slow) internet access, so it was not typical for network transmission of images and photo-quality prints couldn’t been prepared by these pictures (for this not just the available printers, but the camera resolutions also weren’t be appropriate).
So there was a technology that was still difficult to find a natural environment and areas of use. It has been mentioned that the pictures of the early electronic (analog) cameras could be seen mostly on the TV screen. In order to transfer them into picture files, it had to digitize the video signal. In digital cameras it happens directly after exposure and the camera save this digital image file. When it set on the internal memory or to a specific media, a separate cable, software or other target devices needed to copy files onto a computer.
Sony found a solution with its digital cameras which recorded on the 3,5”floppy disk. These data sources were available from the mid-’80s, the most popular 1.44-inch HD DS version in the ‘90s was available from 1987. 1 Instead of one network the data exchange often worked with the help of magnetic disks, so one had a computer, most likely had a 3.5 “floppy drive and floppies. The use of inexpensive and easily available floppy disks, greatly contributed to the success of these cameras.
Sony Mavica 2 MVC-2 FD7 that appeared at the end of 1997, out of the media, had a number of properties, which could made it popular easily: the about $ 800 machine had 10x optical zoom, that as 35mm film meant 40-400 mm objective (MVC-FD5 version had a fix, focal length lens equivalent to a 47mm objective). 3 A Lithium-ion 4 battery used in Sony camcorders gave the power supply, that allowed to prepare much more pictures, than AA batteries used in other machines. Viewfinder could be seen in a large TFT, 2.5 “diameter screen, where the various modifying image settings (negative, sepia, black & white, etc.) effects could be followed.
This machine was designed to be simple to use, which meant that it allowed just a few manual control options (those who had professional purposes with the digital camera, Sony DKC-ID1 gave an option). The image recording speed was not too fast. 5 6 Later models has significantly faster disk management, VGA resolution MVC-FD71 type machine that came out in 1998 and scan images twice as fast. The manual focusing was simplified by a lens ring placed around the objective, and the whole machine became smaller and lighter.
These two machine’s most important common feature is the resolution: both have low, 640 × 480 pixel image capture. So like this 25 normal size jpeg image fit in a drive. This resolution was sufficient to enjoy the images in proper quality on the monitor/screen (they were correct for web use), but only very small prints could be printed out of them in right quality. Unfortunately, the machines have not provided a video signal, so it was not possible to view images on a TV screen with them. This is especially surprising when you consider that many of these devices in terms of their parts are closer to the video cameras, than digital cameras (we could choose between whole frame and interlaced field mode in case of MVC-FD7). For the higher resolution Mavica (the last VGA resolution Mavica was the FD75 7 in 2001), there wasn’t enough space in the 1.44MB floppy disk, so such models were made that can hold floppy disk and Memory Stick 8 card – however, they have marked the end of the era of the digital cameras that record in floppy disks.
© Bor Balázs, 2013
- Floppy disk == Wikipedia <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floppy_disk> ↩
- Sony Mavica == Wikipedia [en] <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Mavica> ↩
- 1997 R-S == Digicamhistory.com <http://www.digicamhistory.com/1997%20R-S.html> ↩
- Lithium-ion battery == Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery> ↩
- Sony Mavica MVC-FD7 : Do I like it or not? / Rick Smith == Reviews OnLine <http://www.reviewsonline.com/mavica.htm> ↩
- Sony Mavica MVC-FD7 / Bob Stallman == Interment.net <http://www.interment.net/column/review/mavica/> ↩
- Sony Mavica FD75 Review == Steves-Digicams.com <http://www.steves-digicams.com/camera-reviews/sony/mavica-fd75/sony-mavica-fd75-review.html> ↩
- Memory Stick == Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_Stick> ↩