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And whereas the original model took about 8 seconds to save a photo to a disk, this version averaged a more tolerable 4 seconds.
November 16, 2012 7:27 AM   Subscribe

"Sony has added some nifty new features. These include the ability to make copies of floppies using just the camera--very handy if you want to hand out extra disks on the spot. A new quarter-resolution (320 by 240) option also makes it faster to e-mail photographs. (The camera's full resolution is 640 by 480.) A built-in menu on the MVC-FD71's LCD screen permits you to easily take advantage of useful new options such as these."

Unsurprisingly, the camera which arguably first popularized consumer digital photography still has a following.
posted by 256 (40 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd like to see a side by side comparison with Sony's RX100, which is about the same price point (and supposedly the best compact camera on the market right now). I don't think it can copy floppy disks, though.
posted by justkevin at 7:39 AM on November 16, 2012


I believe we STILL HAVE one of these in the closet. At the time, it was groundbreaking. IT WRITES JPEGS TO FLOPPY DISKS! It was like Polaroids from FutureLand or something.

(edit)

Just looked, and YES, it's sitting right next to a Toshiba Libretto handheld PC, with a PCMCIA based floppy drive.
posted by mikelieman at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


My first project in my first production class in film school (Intro to Media Production) was shot on this camera. We watched La Jetee then shot stills, recorded audio and cut 1 minute films on Media 100. I'm pretty sure I would commit murder to prevent that project from seeing the light of day.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:45 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh man. My first job after dropping out of college was in an architect's office and against all my pleading and begging they bought one of these because "cables are complicated."

Never mind this was in 2000 when the death knell of the floppy had well since rung, and the fact that I had to go out on construction sites with several full boxes of floppies on hot South Carolina summer days to get "high" resolution images. No, this was the one way to be sure of cross compatibility. The camera of the future.

They passed over the sublime Nikon CoolPix 950, and surprisingly affordable Canon Powershot G1 and all the numerous Nikon, Canon, Agfa, Panasonic and Kodak point and shoot cameras to get that crappy lump of plastic with the hallowed Sony name on the side. Even the tired Apple QuickTake looked like a viable option compared to that cursed Mavica.

That camera is probably the number one reason I refused to buy any camera that used MemoryStick technology.

I'm glad people use and enjoy any sort of technology that works for them, but I can't even see an image of one without reflexively wanting to pick it up and smash it into a thousand pieces while laughing maniacally.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:47 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


We had one of these. The fact that it used reliable, standard 3.5" floppy disks instead of new-fangled (often proprietary) flash memory cartridges was a major selling point.

It was interesting to use. I remember it being more of a frame-grabber than a camera. The LCD constantly displayed a live video image and taking a picture pretty much just dumped whatever frame was currently being displayed to disk. There were no controls for time-based exposure--whatever you saw on the screen when you clicked the shutter was the image you got.

For years after we upgraded to a more sophisticated camera, my father hung on to this Mavica because he didn't like how "slow" newer point-and-shoot digital cameras were.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:58 AM on November 16, 2012


I still have my Mavica. On our honeymoon twelve years ago, my husband and I carried a giant plastic box of floppies around Ireland. Still have those floppies, too.
posted by candyland at 8:10 AM on November 16, 2012


Just glad it doesn't say "2.5 inches thin".
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:12 AM on November 16, 2012


My parents still used theirs until about 2006 when I got them an Olympus. Now it sits on a shelf, waiting, and contemplating a return to power where it can take its rightful place as The Chronicler of Memories. I don't think it will get its chance.
posted by euphorb at 8:13 AM on November 16, 2012


I miss the old Apple QuickTake 100. My high school newspaper managed to finagle one in 1994.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:19 AM on November 16, 2012


At least it wasn't a bloody Canon Ion, that basically captured a signle video frame on a weird analogue floppy.
posted by scruss at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2012


I've got a near mint FD-87 sitting behind me in a box.. What should I do with it?

For some strange reason I don't want to throw it in the garbage.
posted by davey_darling at 8:25 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Floppies! Man, you guys are living in the past!

You need to upgrade to one of those Sony cameras that records to 3-inch CDs.
posted by box at 8:25 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The key thing here was the floppy interface. A standard storage medium that just gave you image files. No weird cable, no funky broken drivers, no custom image software, no proprietary file formats. Just copy the JPG file over and you're done. It took a long time for other camera manufacturers to match that.
posted by Nelson at 8:26 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


They passed over the sublime Nikon CoolPix 950, and surprisingly affordable Canon Powershot G1
I had a G1. A friend borrowed a 950, and ultimately bought a G2. There was never anything sublime about the coolpix 9x0 series.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:29 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


We had two of these at work. Somebody stole thew first one, I hope they're happy with it.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:32 AM on November 16, 2012


My department at work had one of these back in the 90s. It made perfect sense, given the resolution and the fact that everyone had a computer with a floppy drive on them (even if they never used them anymore). Later on I had access to a Coolpix 950 and it was a hassle to deal with because I needed a CF card reader and accompanying software. But it was fun to play with. My current cameras are just tools, fun isn't part of the equation anymore.
posted by tommasz at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2012


My current cameras are just tools, fun isn't part of the equation anymore.

I dunno, the Instax Polaroids are pretty amazing. Polaroid isn't dead (thanks Impossible Film Project) and I love those dorky cameras half to death.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 8:42 AM on November 16, 2012


There was never anything sublime about the coolpix 9x0 series.

Really? I rather enjoyed mine. The access to manual settings and the lens are the main things I remember fondly. The screen and interface sucked, but those things still suck. I couldn't even tell you the names or manufacturers of the last few digital cameras I've owned, but I still think fondly of running around shooting with the 900 and 950. *shug* To me, at least, they were the first cameras I had that felt like real cameras, digital or no.

As far as the hassle of software, I don't remember it ever being an issue, but I spent most of the 90s working with scanners, plotters, large format printers and other imaging hardware so it was all pretty much the usual to me.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:48 AM on November 16, 2012


The FD-71 was loads of fun. I too schlepped around boxes of floppies on holiday -- and "film" was easy to come by in those days.

About 8 months ago I made a blog post about the Mavica & photos of defaced album covers. After copying off all the pix and wiping the 200+ disks, I found a local band that uses floppies to store programs on their ancient sequencer. Stuff out!
posted by omnidrew at 8:50 AM on November 16, 2012


Left my month-old Apple QuickTake in the backseat while downtown running errands. Returned to see the window busted out, glass all over the place and there in my back seat were two Apple QuickTakes.

I know, I know but that joke just works in this instance.
posted by hal9k at 8:52 AM on November 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Some of the best pics I ever took were with the FD51 Mavica. Low resolution, but it had a *great* image sensor, and used easily-available Sony camcorder batteries.
posted by mrbill at 9:01 AM on November 16, 2012


Really? I rather enjoyed mine. The access to manual settings and the lens are the main things I remember fondly. The screen and interface sucked, but those things still suck. I couldn't even tell you the names or manufacturers of the last few digital cameras I've owned, but I still think fondly of running around shooting with the 900 and 950. *shug* To me, at least, they were the first cameras I had that felt like real cameras, digital or no.
I'm not saying that you couldn't have enjoyed a 9x0-series CoolPix, just that you would have had a lot more fun with a powershot. And I say this as a person who owned (and still owns) a bunch of Nikon glass and a few Nikon SLRs at the time.

My biggest problem with the CoolPixes was that they didn't have continuous focus. Instead, they had four or five focus positions, and that was it. But that didn't matter much, since the lenses were so slow, almost everything was going to be in focus anyway.

The G-series was the first consumer-priced digital camera series with a really high quality lens. The CoolPix was a fine and functional camera, but the G1 was really an excellent camera.


You could even argue that the G1 was the beginning of the end for Leica. After all, the famous Leica rangefinders were essentially point-and-shoot cameras in the days before auto-focus and auto-exposure mechanisms. The Leica magic was largely due to the lens, but also due to the fact that you could use the focus scale to achieve rough focus, use the sunny-16 rule for exposure, and then just shoot away. As Leica evolved into a luxury brand, the Japanese SLRs attempted to track their image quality. Consumer P&S cameras fell behind, except for a few boutique jewelry cameras. Then came along digital. Canon started the trend of really high quality optics combined with a good sensor. Later Panasonic (aided by Leica) joined in with their LX series. And now we've got a bunch of mirrorless camera systems. The great pro-quality pocketable cameras we have today trace their lineage back to the G1, not the coolpix.

Anyway, how about those floppy-disk cameras?
posted by b1tr0t at 9:23 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember it being more of a frame-grabber than a camera.

Well, the Mavica name originally stood for MAgnetic VIdeo CAmera. I'm not surprised they kept that technological lineage when they took the line digital.

At least it wasn't a bloody Canon Ion, that basically captured a signle video frame on a weird analogue floppy.

In school I used a Canon XapShot. It felt like the friggin' future using that thing. So unlike any camera I'd used before. Shame about the image "quality" though.
posted by zsazsa at 9:33 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man. My first job after dropping out of college was in an architect's office and against all my pleading and begging they bought one of these because "cables are complicated."

Never mind this was in 2000 when the death knell of the floppy had well since rung, and the fact that I had to go out on construction sites with several full boxes of floppies on hot South Carolina summer days to get "high" resolution images. No, this was the one way to be sure of cross compatibility. The camera of the future.


This is nearly my experience exactly. At relatively high resolution, we'd be lucky to get 10 images on one disc, so if we were going out to a site and documenting existing conditions and being really thorough, I'd have to bring almost our whole supply of discs. And then there would be people who wouldn't fully delete the discs after finishing them (for some reason the camera needs to create a bunch of "hidden" files on each disc)....argh!

But, my office also relied heavily on Zip drives.
posted by LionIndex at 9:33 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. I had an FD71. The day before I got it was the last time I regularly had a working floppy drive. I think the 'magicgate' cards were still Vaio only.

I've still got stacks of floppies - somewhere - with 8 or so shots each on them. Or 15s of video.

A friend had the CD version, which was badass, but always struck me as a dangerous technology marriage. I happened on one of the newer models recently, but it just seems so outdated - all the hassle of film for worse than useless quality.

Thanks for the explanation of the name, zsazsa - never knew that. Magnetic - not Digital. Divica never had a chance.
posted by davemee at 9:37 AM on November 16, 2012


You need to upgrade to one of those Sony cameras that records to 3-inch CDs.


I had one of these! I ADORED it. It was so easy to get the pictures onto almost any computer and that was a big, big deal at that time. The little CDs could hold a ton of pictures and you could get rewritable CDs. I remember getting some great shots with them.

I also did a huge photography project based on digital images with low resolution, emphasizing the impressionistic effect that occurs (avoiding the pixellation--I wanted them to have an almost painted quality). It's especially captivating when there's great color and light.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:09 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those were the days. Worked for a company that had one. Ended up getting a G1 for myself after that sony experience. The cool part was the G1 could handle an IBM microdrive. 340mb of spinning hard drive awesomeness. I think I still have it somewheres...
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 10:10 AM on November 16, 2012


I'd take one of Sony's floppy or CD-based cameras over one of their stupid MemoryStick cameras any day of the week. Ugh.

Though I can't say that MemoryStick was the worst digital camera storage medium... no, that dubious honor goes to SmartMedia. Stupidly expensive, fragile in a multitude of ways -- thin enough so you could snap it in half accidentally, with exposed contacts you could tear off -- and with a maximum capacity of 128MB, there was just so much to dislike about it. The sad part was that Fuji and Olympus both produced really nice cameras that used the format, and were sadly crippled as a result. (They both jumped to xD cards, which weren't a whole lot better; why they couldn't just switch to MMC/SD cards like everyone else I have no clue.)

The only advantage SmartMedia had, and this is sort of related to the Sony FD series, was that you could stick the card into a weird floppy-disk adapter and then put it in your computer's disk drive. So the horror of cables was again avoided. But once the USB Mass Storage business got worked out, that stopped being much of a selling point.


I worked in a camera store during much of the late 90s / early 2000s and in retrospect got to see a very interesting watershed moment in the history of photography happen right in front of me. When I first started working there, we'd regularly get people in to look at digital cameras -- which had a single 4-foot wide display case out of 6 or 8 total behind the counter. Almost to a one, they'd take a look at a few, balk at the price and sub-megapixel quality, perform some mental arithmetic about how many rolls of film and processing you could get for the price of one, and buy a perfectly good film P&S instead. (Which was fine by me; the film cameras had better sales incentives on them anyway.)

And at the time, I think they were making a pretty reasonable decision. Up until the inexpensive 2-3MP digital P&Ses came out, it was a lot more cost effective to just shoot on film for the amount of photos most people took. If you wanted digital versions to send via email or something, you could get your film scanned and put on a CD at the time of processing for a few extra bucks. Most consumers still thought of prints as the "end product" of photography anyway. It was a pretty big shift, and I think has gone mostly underappreciated, that people now think of a "photo" as something you view on a computer and not a physical print.

That particular objection disappeared when camera shops started getting the digital "lightjet" systems, like the Fuji Frontier. Suddenly it became possible to take a digital camera card (or floppy!) and run off prints even more easily than you could from 35mm negs. Once people realized they could get high-quality prints at the same cost as 35mm reprints, it removed a big disadvantage to digital photography, at least in the minds of customers I worked with at the time. Now most of those stores are closed, and I suspect many of the people who held off on digital cameras because of the lack of prints don't even get more than a few prints made every year. But that was a significant psychological barrier for a few years during the transition.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:28 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Though I can't say that MemoryStick was the worst digital camera storage medium... no, that dubious honor goes to SmartMedia. Stupidly expensive, fragile in a multitude of ways -- thin enough so you could snap it in half accidentally, with exposed contacts you could tear off -- and with a maximum capacity of 128MB, there was just so much to dislike about it.
You forgot that it came in mutually-incompatible 3.3v and 5v variations. And it isn't a thing of the past - there is Korg and Roland electronic music gear that is still useful that uses those stupid things. Ironically, older gear that used PCMCIA-based storage is easier to deal with. Just grab a PCMCIA-CF adapter, and you are done. Though it can be amusing when you realize that your 512MB CF card is being used to store 64k of synthesizer patch data.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:24 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I finally switched from a Canon S3 IS (high-end P&S) to a dSLR about a year and a half ago when a friend was selling off his original Digital Rebel for a steal. Most of the time it sits in its fancy camera backpack with a few lenses and all the supplies I bought, because the "sucky" (as reported by some people) five-megapixel camera in my Galaxy Nexus phone is always with me and is "good enough" and overkill for most things I want to take pictures of. That camera (and phone) is about to be replaced with an EIGHT-megapixel unit in a Nexus 4 when my order arrives.

The dSLR only gets to come out now when I need to take pictures at fancy/important events (Masonic lodge functions and so forth) or I want to improve my picture-taking skills by doing more "manually".

The best picture I've ever taken, that's been used as magazine covers and won a photo contest? Taken with that Canon point-and-shoot and a lot of luck.

We might laugh at the Mavica now, but it was awesome at the time.
posted by mrbill at 11:39 AM on November 16, 2012


My aunt used to have one of these for work, so my brother and I got to play around with it when the whole family got together for Christmas. It was pretty good for that small window where digital cameras were getting useful but USB wasn't common yet. It was around the time I was starting to use Linux seriously, so the universal compatibility was great. Of course, I never had to deal with more than just a few pictures, so I never dealt with capacity issues.

My desktop computer still has a floppy drive on it (the only original part, everything else has been replaced several times over the course of about 20 years now). I'm not sure if the drive actually still works, the last time I used it was in college where our lab oscilloscopes had floppy drives in them for capturing traces (I hear the new ones use USB sticks now).
posted by ckape at 11:52 AM on November 16, 2012


When these first came out I thought it was most amazing thing of all time.

My Inlaws got one and I couldn't believe they could make a camera that could write to a floppy.
posted by microm3gas at 12:00 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


My dad had one he got from the school system (he's an elementary school principal) for documenting student events. I thought it was really neat at the time, but the longer he had it the less sense it made. Especially when the school started having him use a Mac, which didn't have a floppy drive.

He eventually got his own point-and-shoot, so he could use the USB connection to move images over. And he still uses a Mac from his school. (He only uses it to run Windows, never OS X - which kills me - but hey at least the hardware is nice.)

Camera phones have gotten good enough to be useful in most spontaneous cases, but we still carry our point-and-shoot Canon or my 7D when we know we'll be taking photos.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:40 PM on November 16, 2012


Sony's FD71 was the first disposable camera.
posted by hal9k at 12:55 PM on November 16, 2012


For some reason I expected this to shoot animated GIFs, has no-one invented a camera for that yet?
posted by Lanark at 4:03 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The floppy Mavica was at the time the ideal student loaner camera. It required essentially zero training. You'd hand a computer savvy student the camera; they'd be able to turn it on, snap pics and then get pictures onto a computer all without any manual or instruction. And then they'd bring it back unharmed. They were incredibly durable.

We had several of the last floppy version that would get 3-4 highest resolution images per disk. Then we had a couple of the CD burning version but they were both harder to use and much more fiddly. Still better than trying to explain the intricacies of CF storage options.

I was kind of sad to see the image state of the art surpass the storage capabilities of the floppy.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 PM on November 16, 2012


Such fond memories of my first cameras - AGFA CL20 and Coolpix 995.
The Agfa was amazingly liberating - the ability to take as many photos as you want without having to do the whole darkroom process! Mind blowing. (Compact Flash card and USB interface - pick and choose!)

After several years upgrading to Coolpix with which I took my most popular photograph. (it's the one copied/reused/avatar-ed the most). Let alone several other great photos that firmly put me onto making photography my long term hobby.

Side note - I think that people didn't give the Coolpix 9** split body idea enough credit - it was terrific for getting unusual or tricky shots - high above a crowd, or very low to the ground - without shooting blindly. A rotating screen never felt as comfortable as having a nice grip and rotating the lens case. And 2cm macro! And wideangle adaptors! And manual controls! It really was a favorite camera and I shot with it until it happily until the last day.

I liked CF cards - sturdy, and as they grew in size they were highly backwards compatible . Anyone remembers them becoming miniature hardrives? With moving parts? That you couldn't shake because it'd corrupt the writing process....
posted by olya at 4:35 AM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The cards themselves were OK but with heavy use the groove would wear and then you risked bending the pins in the camera if you weren't careful. SD is a vast improvement in all ways but coolness factor of a CF sized HD.
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 AM on November 18, 2012


If anyone's interested, the Goodwill by Lloyd Center had one of these for sale for $4.99 yesterday. (floppy disc not included)
posted by blueberry at 6:41 AM on November 19, 2012


A non-member lurker friend of mine just sent me the following on Facebook:

Friend: I read this the other week http://www.metafilter.com/121912/And-whereas-the-original-model-took-about-8-seconds-to-save-a-photo-to-a-disk-this-version-averaged-a-more-tolerable-4-seconds and thought 'wonder if they have any for sale on gumtree' and there was and one guy was selling one for $30 so I thought 'cool' and fired off a text it turned out to be Dave Graney. OMGWTFBBQ

Me: Ha! Did you buy it from him?
Friend: Totally.
Me: Awesome!
Friend: Christmas was saved!

So, between MetaFilter, Gumtree & Australian Rock Legend, Dave Graney, Christmas has apparently been saved!
posted by goshling at 6:52 PM on November 22, 2012


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