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Critical Evaluation of the Mavica FD71

This evaluation of the Mavica FD71 is based on my first serious use of it during the course of a self assigned project: photographing the Japanese Garden in Fort Worth Texas.

For me, from the point of view of a professional photographer, the camera has three serious flaws:

1) An extremely bad manual: While the camera has many modes, few, if any are adequately explained. The index is almost useless. The size, while handy to take along in the camera bag, limits the amount of information it can contain. Case in point: the difference between “fine” and “standard” modes is never explained.

2) LCD screen is very difficult to view in bright, sunlit conditions.

While this is the case with most digital cameras, the designers should have borrowed from all conventional cameras that use pop-up hoods for ground glass view finders. These have been around for more than 60 years (The Rolleiflex comes to mind.) It should not be necessary to use jerry-rigged light shields on a camera that costs around $700.00.

3) A sync outlet for external flash should have been included.

Overall, the camera could have benefited from the presence of an experienced professional photographer on the design team.

Having said that, the 10X zoom is VERY nice and I have a feeling that the AE modes will come in very handy.

The camera’s resolution is adequate for my purposes, which is display on web sites. In my surfing I have seen many pictures that were displayed so big that is was necessary to scroll them to see them in their entirety. In addition to being somewhat fuzzy, few of them merited a large display space at any rate.

It would be nice if one could expect the same quality that is delivered by conventional (film) cameras. The advantage of digital cameras, and this one in particular (because it stores on floppy disks,) is the ease of picture manipulation and alteration. Most of the pictures on these Mavica pages were so treated. In that way, the end product reflected what I intended it to be. Photoshop replaced the black and white dark room of old and, like it, provided an extension of the creative process.

Pluses.

The multiple exposure mode is a very nice feature, once one knows what to do with it. Although the manual does not mention it, it is clearly intended for the construction of animated GIFs; however : where does one find the software to separate the nine images from each other? The manual does not even go into this mode, other than that it is there. Fortunately I wandered onto the site of Paul Law of Hong Kong who not only created a freeware program that makes easy work of constructing an animated GIF but goes a step further by also animating the unprocessed JPG image on the web site, thereby avoiding having to download a very large GIF file.

For information about a useful, inexpensive viewing hood, click here.

For an inexpensive way to sync an external flash, click here.