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Old May 19, 2004, 12:11 AM   #1
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OK, I've had my Z1 about two months now and have used it quite a bit. Obviously there are some shortcomings to be expected with a camera in this price range, but I'm wondering if problems I've been experiencing are inherent with the design or signs of a bad particular camera.

1. White streaks on screen of EVF. I realize this has been discussed previously and seems to be a normal thing, but on even just a fairly bright day, my camera is just about impossible to use in manual mode. No matter where standing in relation to the sun, the screen has the usual white streaks but while pressing the shutter halfway down eliminates the problem in other modes, in manual the screen gets whited out--can't see anything.

2. Focusing issues. I do a lot of sports, so I tend to prefocus then switch to MF. First of all, making adjustments in MF does me no good since it just brings up a really fuzzy blob of an enlarged view. Even worse, I can have a spot prefocused but when I take pics and download them, they are consistently out of focus. They range from soft focusing to totally blurry. At a baseball Sunday, I focused on the 2nd baseman, then took pics of a player trying to steal second. Totally blurry pics. On Saturday I had big issues with the AF. Trying to get mugshots in the pits of the local short track during the day, more than once the camera couldn't focus. Again when doing trophy pics later in the evening, the camera couldn't focus at all.

3. Flash issues. At first I was able to do night trophy shots fine as the red eye reduction worked fine. The last couple weeks, however, the red eye has been junk and not worked at all. Happened again Saturday, even after I put fresh batteries in. Another flash problem: at my local dirt track a couple of weeks ago, I was literally inches away from the race cars, ISO maxed at 400, yet the pictures were exceedingly dark, noisy and blurry. This was while there was still a little bit of light yet, around 8:30 or so. Tried shutter speeds ranging from 1/90 to 1/200, same problems, even with pics taken during caution laps. Adjusting EV didn't seem to do any good, either.

4. When shooting cars during the day, I usually have it at ISO 400 and in shutter priority anywhere between 250 and 1000. This always worked fine with my Nikon N60 and yielded many good shots. With the Z1, when shooting like this the f stop reading will often be in red at 8.0, and usually doesn't go away even if I alter the shutter speed or refocus. Sometimes while I'm taking pics it will suddenly switch to 3.5 and have totally washed out pics.

So are these common things the Z1 does, or does my particular copy have issues? I hardly got any usable shots Sunday from the baseball game I was at, which sucked because I was taking pics for my newspaper.

Thanks in advance
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Old May 19, 2004, 7:51 AM   #2
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I have a Z1 and don't have problems to the extent you mentioned, but then most of my pictures are indoor flash and outdoor daylight landscapes or portraits.My only problem comes whentrying touse too much telephoto at too slow a shutter speed without a tripod. You seem to know what you are doing (not a novice point and shooter) so if I were you I'd send the camera in for warranty repair. With that many problemsI would not think theycould allbe your fault. The Z1 should do better than that! For your own piece of mind you should let Minolta check the camera out.
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Old May 19, 2004, 8:59 AM   #3
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I do not own your model. However, bear in mind, that any of the consumer cameras will have very high noise at ISO 400. This is because of the very tiny size of the sensors, and the photosites for each pixel. The smaller sensor allows manufacturers to build compact "super zoom" models, because they can use a much shorter focal length lens, to get the same "equivalent" focal length of a 35mm camera.

One of the tradeoffs is higher noise. Because the photosites for each pixel are very tiny, it takes more amplication of the signal, to get it up to the same equivalent ISO sensitivity of a camera with a larger sensor. As a result, many users consider these models to be virtually unusable at higher ISO speeds.

There are a couple of products that can help reduce it. One is Neat Image, and another is Noise Ninja. You can dowload trial versions of the software at these links:



Another thing that could be hurting you, is shooting using Shutter versus Aperture Priority. You may be better off trying to shoot in Aperture Priority, shooting "wide open" (your models largest aperture is F2.8 at wide angle, stopping down to the maximum aperture of F3.7 at full zoom). This would let the camera pick the fastest allowable shutter speed for proper exposure. Note that if your photos are underexposed, this will also cause more noise, so Aperture Priority may be a better way to go (versus shutter priority, where the maximum aperture may not allow adequate exposure, depending on how fast you set your shutter speed).

Also, bear in mind that what is bright to the human eye, is not to the camera's lens. Some of your problem could also be motion blur at longer focal lengths.

As a general rule, you want to use 1/focal length. In other words, if shooting at380mm equivalent, you'll want a shutter speed of around 1/380 second -- just to help reduce blur from camera shake (not counting the "stop action" part).

Note that your photos taken near sunset probably were in conditions with an EV Value of only around 10.So,at ISO 100, at 380mm, shooting "wide open" with an aperture of F3.7 (your model's maximum aperture at full zoom), you'd only be able to get shutter speeds of around 1/60th second (no where near fast enough to prevent motion blur from camera shake -- let alone "stop action).

You can increase ISO speed to help compensate (but this increases noise signficantly in the models with smaller sensors). For example: you could use ISO 400 to get a shutter speed of 1/240 second in these conditions (still too slow to prevent blur from camera shake at longer focal lengths).

See this chart for more details. It's based on ISO 100. So, each time you double ISO speeds, you can double the shutter speeds in the chart:


So, chances are, some of your problem is simply motion blur from shutter speeds being too slow; and using shutterprority mode, where the camera maynot be able to pick awide enough aperture to insure proper exposure.

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Old May 24, 2004, 3:03 AM   #4
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JimC, thanks for your detailed response. The main thing seems to be this focusing issue. When I first had it, the camera was able to take in focus sports pics. Now it can't, even under similar situations. No matter which focus mode (i.e. spot, center, etc.) or AF/MF, it's to the point I'm getting MAYBE 10% of action shots in focus. I'm almost afraid to use the camera because of the problem. Aperature priority, shutter priority, zoomed in all the way, not zoomed in much, low shutter speed, high shutter speed,fresh batteries, old batteries, it doesn't seem to make a difference--pics aren't in focus. Like I told a friend the other day, the paper I do work with is finally having me do more pics at the same time I'm having this camera issue. I'm very seriously looking at the funds and contemplating a jump to the D70 ASAP (I was going to make the jump eventually anyway, but this will likely push the decision up, plus the freelancing has been going well lately). That way I could have a good camera for assignments, then deal with Minolta about either getting a refund or getting a replacement, then selling that replacement.
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Old Jun 7, 2004, 8:48 PM   #5
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My D70 should be arriving Tuesday or Wednesday, if I have no problems with it I'll contact Minolta about fixing or replacing my Z1. Once it starts working right I'll decide if I will sell it or keep it as a backup. I'm disappointed with the problems I've been having, but I have a feeling it's my particular camera and not any design flaws.
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