Sony has launched two new versions of its CD-R Mavica - a digital stills camera that can record images onto CD-R or CD-RW (CD recordable or CD rewritable) disks.

Compared to its previous model, which looked more like a video camcorder, the new camera is a lot smaller and looks much more like a conventional compact camera.

The MVC-CD 300 will be sold for around £565 and the MVC-CD 200 £450 in Japan from 8 June. Sales in Europe are expected to begin at the same time.

Images are stored on an 8cm CD-R/CD-RW disc which can hold 156MB of data. The biggest advantage of using the disc instead of memory cards, like SmartMedia or CompactFlash, is the cost/performance ratio. Flash memory is, compared to the price of CDs, astronomically expensive.

One of the main differences between the two cameras, the MVC-CD 300 and MVC-CD 200, is the CCD (charge-coupled device) image pickup. The former has a 3.34 million pixel resolution and the latter has a 2.11 million pixel resolution.

On an 8cm CD-R disc, MVC-CD 300 buyers would be able to store 81 images in fine mode and 141 images in standard mode at the highest resolution. MVC-CD 200 buyers would get 132 images in fine mode and 237 images in standard mode. In movie recording mode, which is popular on many recent digital still cameras, up to 90 minutes of video at low resolution can be stored on the disc, a major improvement on Flash-based cameras.

The new cameras have a 3x optical zoom, which is shorter than the previous MVC-CD 1000's 10x optical zoom, due to the reduction in the size of the camera. A longer zoom means a physically longer lens.