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The Sony Mavica Experience

Hi, everyone. If you're interested in retro digicams, there's a good chance that you're already familiar with the Sony Mavica. In fact, I'd wager that if you're reading this post, you probably know what exactly makes a Mavica… well, a Mavica! For the uninitiated, though, the Mavica was one of the early successful digital cameras, utilizing the ubiquitous floppy disk for storing photos. Depending on the quality you shot at, you could fit anywhere from 5-45 photos on a single disk. Nowadays, the concept of shooting to floppy might seem absurd, but unlike its contemporaries, the Mavica didn't require any drivers or special software to view your photos. All you needed to do was to take your 3.5" floppy out of the Mavica, put it in your computer, and all of your shots were there to be copied, edited, or deleted. This simplicity was simply unheard of in the digital camera space until the Mavica debuted in 1997.

So, when I acquired two working Sony Mavica cameras, it likely won't come as a surprise that I was eager to try them out. After getting a charger, I took my FD88 (a fairly fancy little camera with 8x optical zoom and a resolution of 1.3 megapixels) to school, and I captured some interesting pictures throughout the day. Behold, the incredibly mediocre photos from this >20 year old point and shoot digicam!

At this point, you may be wondering what happened to the Mavica. After releasing about 16 models over the span of around 1997-2003, the rapidly decreasing cost of flash media more or less made the Mavica irrelevant. In its heyday, it was one of the most popular digital cameras in the US, but by 2003, even Sony had fully transitioned to its own Memory Stick format. In retrospect, unlike some other tech products I've written about, the Mavica didn't really go suddenly. It simply faded into the background of the digicam scene.

Today, the Mavica is hardly a sensible choice if what you're after is image quality. Even if you want that lo-fi look to your photos, there are an abundance of filters that will replicate that effect. HOWEVER, if the concept of using floppy disks in a portable camera is as entertaining to you as it is to me, the Mavica is an awesome device to add to your collection.

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