[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sony Digital Mavica FD-7

June 22nd, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Sony Digital Mavica FD-7 with Floppy Drive Ad - 1998“It’s as easy as a floppy.”

The Sony Digital Mavica FD-7 seemed so exciting back when it was new, and I wanted one. Its attractiveness stemmed from the cheap and familiar media it used for image storage: standard 3.5″ floppy disks. Most digital cameras of the day required expensive, obscure flash cards for storage and proprietary software to extract photos from the camera (through a painfully slow serial cable). With the FD-7, one needed only to insert the image disk into one’s computer floppy drive and copy the pictures off. But the technological price of this convenience was high: the camera’s maximum image resolution was 640×480 — anything bigger, and you’d only be able to fit a couple photos on a single 1.4 megabyte disk.

Funny enough, I recall ghost enthusiasts on the Internet circa 1998 picking the FD-7 as their camera of choice for its uncanny ability to capture vast flurries of out-of-focus dust (aka “ghost orbs”). That endorsement alone speaks volumes about the camera’s lackluster optical qualities. Also, this new breed of digital ghost hunters didn’t have to feel guilty about taking endless rolls of 35mm dust photos, which can get quite expensive to develop.

[ From Equip, September 1998 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Tell us about the first digital camera you ever used. What brand was it, and what image resolution could it capture?

23 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sony Digital Mavica FD-7”

  1. Kimi Says:

    I had a Fuji Finepix A203. It cost me $400 and I only got a 64mb card with it.

  2. Kimi Says:

    it was a 2mp, the highest you could get at the time. Surprisingly, the pictures weren’t all that bad.

  3. Gentlegamer Says:

    Fuji Finepix A210, 3.2 mp. Still use it!

  4. XCALIBR8 Says:

    My first digital camera was a centaur argus 1.2 (maybe) megapixel camera. sniped it on ebay back in 2003 for $50. It was a fun camera and worked quite well for selling some stuff on ebay and just messing around. I have the old centaur on reserve in case I want to take some bad photos :).

  5. Greg Says:

    Since I borrowed it from work, I don’t remember the model number exactly, but my first digital camera was a close decedent of this one. I borrowed it on weekend in October of 1999 (gotta love EXIF data), and have the pictures still. They’re bigger than 640×480, but noisy as all get-out.

    It’s a good thing we’ve moved past floppy-based cameras – my computer doesn’t have a floppy drive. 😉

  6. Multimedia Mike Says:

    So that’s what that beast was called. I knew someone who was using one of those as late as 2004. It was so painful to witness that I forcefully loaned the person my significantly more advanced CompactFlash-based digital camera. “PLEASE, use this instead.”

  7. Ben Says:

    I also wanted one of these, for that exact same reason. No BS software to deal with- insert disk, copy, done. (actually, I’d probably just leave them on the disk and put a new one in the camera). I didn’t care about 640×480 at the time, I was only running 800×600. I recall also considering an Apple QuickTake 150, mainly just because I thought it was interesting. (and it was already discontinued, and therefore relatively cheap)
    My first digital camera is a Kodak CX6330, 3.1MP. According to Kodak, it tops out at 2032 x 1524 (3.1 M) pixels , though I usually left it, until more recently, on 1200 x 900 (1.1 M) pixels. Still use it, because it’s a lot more portable then my Z612 6MP. The CX comes along for “fun” things (night-on-the-town, etc), the Z comes out for “important” things (vacation, kids’ birthday, etc)

  8. Jay Says:

    I had this exact camera. For a non-enthusiast who just needed it to take occasional pictures of gatherings and impress people with it, it was perfect. Simple to use, and if you weren’t concerned about super-high resolution (and at the time 640×480 was still pretty standard resolution on a lot of monitors), it was cool as all heck.

    Perhaps Sony could start considering getting off its super-proprietary high horse and make a follow-up to this using a USB flash drive, given how tiny they are too.

  9. Guy Says:

    A Kodak DC3200. I think it was 1.something megapixel. I had a card that had 32 mb of storage.

    I still have it.

  10. BDD Says:

    Polaroid PDC640, 640×480 VGA res, had a 2mb compactflash card that I upgraded to 128mb. Serial cable transfer. Bought it in 2001 for $250.

  11. daveg Says:

    My parents only just stopped using their’s at the end of last year when I bought them a new camera.

  12. Roger Says:

    I tested an Apple Quicktake 100 for use at the newspaper where I worked at the time. (They didn’t buy one) Various websites say it was released in ’94 but dealers must have had them sooner, because I took pictures of the ’93 flood, here in St. Louis, with it. The quicktake held only 8 photos and didn’t have removable media. It was fixed-focus, no zoom and was about the size of a pair of binoculars.

  13. Anachostic Says:

    My first digital camera was technically the “Snappy”. I would hook it up to my video camera and take pictures. As long as the photography subjects came to me, it was not a problem.

    Resolution? I have no idea.

  14. Battra92 Says:

    It was a 2MP Nikon CoolPix 2500. I used the thing till it died. Later on I upgraded to a 35mm film camera and I’ve left digital in the dust.

  15. tommog4 Says:

    2MP vintage? please…. 😛 my first digital camera was an Apple Quicktake 150. Bought it off a friend at work for $150 or so. It was a few years old at the time. Captured 16 images in it’s built in memory at 640×480 and 24 pics, i think, if you used low quality 320×240. All the images were stored as Apple PICT files and transferred from the camera using a Mac serial cable. i loved that think. Took 4 AA batteries and was quite odd looking, google it. Still have it, although i haven’t used it for years. might go grab it down and have a play with it. I’ve still got my old PowerBook to use with it =)

  16. Pedro C Says:

    We have a couple of the newer 2MP models at work. They take both floppies and Sony’s Memory Sticks. They even can shoot video. I really like these cameras for Ebay and quickie art show shots; a friend of mine used to use his for snapping shots of his street art and then giving the floppies away with his contact info on the floppy label.

    My first digital was the Canon QV-10a. 320×240, serial based. Very very slow.

  17. Rockin' Kat Says:

    My first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix 4300 at about $450. It was nice while it worked. It died one year and one week after I bought it. It had a one year warranty. I was told it would cost at least $150 to get it fixed because it was 7 days out of warranty. So I put it away and forgot about it… more or less decided I wasn’t going to buy another Nikon ever again no matter the reviews and in general, I probably was going to go a while without buying another digital camera.

    About a week later I was at a thrift store and found a Sony Mavica FD-71 with battery for a couple bucks so I bought it. I figured it’d be good for taking pictures of crap to post online. I found a cheap no-name battery charger online and had a working digital camera. I found I could get acceptable enough prints at a local print shop at two to a 4×6 sheet so I ended up using it for more than just online stuff for a while there.

    A couple years ago I bought a Sony DSC-H5. This thing pisses me off so much… I hate it. I’m never buying another digital camera new online. If I get one new, I’m getting one local, so it’ll be easier to return when I find out how much it sucks. The autofocus sucks and often I end up pushing the shutter button numerous times before the thing will actually take a picture period. It will autofocus, then I will push the button the rest of the way and it will just say “@#$ you, I don’t like this picture, so I won’t take it”

    Lately I’ve been using my Mavica for the few times I want to put a picture of something online…

    I’ve also got two Mavica FD-88’s.. 1.3MP cameras… They don’t support Memory sticks though so it’s about 4 pictures to a disk at full resolutions… but at least it has a 4x speed floppy drive. I found them at thrift stores too

    ..other than that I’ve actually been alternating between a 110 film camera, a Polaroid Spectra, and a Polaroid onestep SLR.(I bought a bunch of film on clearance when Polaroid discontinued production, have a bunch in the fridge)….

    .. I do like my Parent’s new Nikon D5000. I like how fast it works… and how not annoying it is to use. .. I’ll probably end up with a DSLR of some sort eventually… but I can’t afford to buy something like that right now.

    I have some pictures taken with my Mavica fd-71 when I went to Vancouver BC a few years ago up here:


  18. Sellam Ismail Says:

    Vintage!? I still use mine! It’s the only digital camera I have that always works and is reliable.

    Now, finding reliable 3.5″ disks is another issue…

  19. Rockin' Kat Says:


    If you have a Rite Aid near you they carry 10 packs… they also have a 25 pack… though the 25 pack is being clearanced out… in some stores it’s 75% while other’s it’s 50% off… when I bought out the ones at the store with 75% off they got more in a week later.. so they’re clearing their distrobution centers. At 75% off they’re only $2.50 a box and they’re fairly new…. not bad for 25 disks… Rite Aid’s computer supplies selection is a little cut up… be sure to check both their regular(not seasonal back to school!) office supply and electronics isles… as it will either be in their office section or their blank media section with the blank VHS, CD-R, and DVD-Rs.

    Other than that I get unopend 3.5″ floppies at thrifts from time to time… I havn’t had too bad a luck with those.

    I’ve got one FD-71, two FD-88’s and some other one that has a huge lense that I can’t remember the model number off the top of my head…

  20. the-topdog Says:

    I actually owned (and still do) the next model up, the MVC-FD91 which had a 14x optical zoom and a 2x speed floppy drive and pop-up flash. It is a great unit for the reasons you have already discussed… nothing beat just putting the floppy into my PC and accessing the pictures.

    The MPEG movie feature was also a nice touch, we had used it at the Long Beach Aquarium while on vacation and I was quite surprised by the results.

  21. Rob Says:

    I remember having seen that ad when it was current and being struck then, as now, that the floppy is backwards in the camera.

  22. Cody Says:

    Amazingly, I used to sell these cameras (well, specifically we distributed many Sony products and other brands, and these were one of them). They were a hot though expensive item at the time specifically because of the floppy disk; I think this was a little before USB.

  23. james Says:

    thanks for this photo i own lots of the Mavica cameras and love them

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