by Rick Smith (November 19, 2000)
The Sanyo IDC-1000Z iDshot is the world's first digital camera to use a 730 MB magneto-optical disk, one of the largest capacity removable media cartridges, convenient for digicam use. This is astounding. This Sanyo camera is capable of storing 11,000 full frame VGA (640x480) still images or 120 minutes of video clips at 15 fps (160x120 resolution) without requiring any computer download. By simply replacing this iD Format MO (magneto optical) media cartridge with another one, you’re ready for another 11,000 pictures! Since this miniature drive is capable of transferring data at a quick 20 Mbps, it should be able to keep up with even the most avid picture taker.
The most dramatic feature is that the Sanyo 1000Z can capture FULL frame VGA MOVIES at 30 frames per second. The internal Sanyo Hyper RISC Graphic processor can also capture high speed consecutive still shots. With a pocketful of iD Format MO media cartridges and this camera, you could go to Europe for several weeks and leave the laptop home, since you won’t have to download at all!
To move the massive 730 megabytes of images off the camera quickly, the IDC-1000Z uses an IEEE 1394 port, which can transfer data at up to 400 megabits per second. Since this Sanyo digicam acts like a hard disk drive to the host computer, downloading the pictures becomes an easy “drag and drop” affair. Since you can also reverse the process and store files on the camera, you can use this digicam as a back up device for your PC or laptop. If you need an excuse to ask your boss for one of these, just tell him it’s your new high-speed “backup” device.
This camera also has many features generally found in film movie cameras such as its ability to easily create time-lapse movies by taking still images at fixed intervals. The 1000Z can be used creatively as a still animation camera, so you could try your hand at your own version of Claymation or a Gumby cartoon. Any budding animators out there? Here’s your camera.
The Sanyo IDC-1000Z iDshot digital camera also:
can playback its own video clips through the viewfinder. All video clips are motion JPEG compressed and are directly compatible with Apple QuickTime format. This is a feature I miss on the Olympus 3000 because I have to download the clips and can only watch them on a PC.
uses shutter speed priority auto exposure for moving objects. Many of today’s digicams lower their shutter speed (make them slower) and if you are not ready for it, you end up with blurred, streaky images. This is caused by your movement, however slight, while the picture was being taken. This automated feature should help to eliminate that.
has an automatic exposure lock. While I prefer a fully manual mode, if you want to take several pictures at the same exposure level, for consistency, this feature is critical.
has an automatic exposure “slide” feature - this is called bracketing in other cameras. In the Sanyo, seven pictures at differing exposure levels are taken with a single click of the shutter. At the incredible speed of this camera and the vast storage size, if I wasn’t sure of the correct exposure, I would use this feature. Why not, what’s 6 extra pictures in 10,000?
has a 1/2 inch, 1.5 megapixel CCD. While this is reasonable, I feel that the best use of 730 meg removable media cartridges is in 3 and 4 megapixel cameras. If this drive was connected to an Olympus 3000, I could shoot over 80 UNCOMPRESSED, 9 megabyte TIFF images or nearly 500 high resolution, high quality JPEG images. Downloading would NEVER be an issue, especially on a trip.
uses a half inch electronic viewfinder. This feature serves to keep the overall cost down and helps to eliminate the problem of not being able to see the LCD in bright surroundings. Unfortunately, this feature will make picture sharing more difficult, since each person would have to peer into the viewfinder to see each picture, one at a time, since there wouldn’t be any group viewing.
has a 3X optical lens. About average, but wish it were higher, like the Sony Mavica 10X and 14X, Casio’s 8X and the new Olympus 10X zooms.
has a 35mm zoom equivalent of 11 to 38 mm. If these figures are used in the production version, this camera is designed for wide-angle “landscape vista” pictures only. Wide angle cameras are great for trips to the Grand Canyon, but aren't too practical for people photography.
has a shutter speed range of 16 seconds to 1/500 second in still photography mode.
records still images in both TIFF and JPEG modes
records sound in WAV format
transfers data via either a USB or IEEE1394 port. Since the camera can be used as a hard drive, you must use the camera to transfer images. This precludes sending only the cartridge off to someone else to view the images, unless they have a Sanyo IDC-1000Z. The data backup capability is very handy.
runs on Lithium Ion batteries or AC adapter
The estimated price will be $1,299 and won’t be shipping until early 2001. Since the camera is a prototype at this point, there are still several unknowns about the camera such as:
its final weight with lens
if it has a built-in flash
what the camera ISO equivalent will be and if it is adjustable.
what the F-stop range will be
if the given zoom range will be increased or changed
Overall, it seems like a reasonable set of features for a mid range (only 1.5 megapixels) camera with an ENORMOUS capacity, which is the most compelling reason to buy this camera. There are times, especially during long events, that I would have gladly reduced my 3 megapixel resolution half, for the ability not to have to download images for an entire week. If my Sony Mavica, that I bought in late 1997, used this media instead of floppy disks, I would only be using my second media cartridge after taking over 14,000 pictures!
© 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.