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Old Oct 21, 2003, 4:55 AM   #61
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Hi. I'm not disappointed with the test, I'm disappointed with Minolta Z1!!!! It will be difficult to sell it now.
Well, that was what I meant, maybe I didn't express it that well. I didn't mean there was incompetence on Jeff's part.
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Old Oct 27, 2003, 12:10 PM   #62
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Can you tell me what the Lens' are made of...Glass Plastic on the Z1?
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Old Oct 28, 2003, 11:46 PM   #63
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Well, I received the Minolta DiMage Z1 in the mail today and played with it quite a bit this evening. The end story is that it's being returned and I'll be happily keeping the Panasonic FZ1 until the newly released Panasonic FZ10 goes down to a more reasonable price (for me).

There are quite a few things that impressed me about the Minolta Z1:

1. Excellent ergonomics -- a camera was finally invented with the understanding that we have 3 joints on each finger and not just one.

2. Video mode -- WOW! 640x480x30fps is truly amazing (unfortunately, there is a "but" to this -- see below)

3. 60fps LCD/Viewfinder -- Another WOW! (and unfortunately, another "but")

4. Nice color/saturation.

5. Very nice onboard flash.

Unfortunately, there are also quite a few things that disappointed me:

1. Very noisy -- both in the images as well as the decibels. There was signficant noise in the Z1's pictures when compared side-by-side to the Panasonic FZ1's pictures of the same subject and under the same conditions. The zoom motor is VERY noisy, whereas my Panasonic FZ1 and my previous Sony Mavica FD91 have much, much quieter zoom motors. The zoom motor is so loud in the Minolta that if at a wedding or other "quiet" event, you're going to disturb some people.

2. No zoom is available during any resolution of video mode at 30fps. To be able to zoom, you have to drop down to 15fps, and that is only digital zoom. This is probably due to the noisy zoom motor. The sound (voices) are out of sync with the video in all modes and all resolutions. This is extremely disappointing to me, and I do not know why Minolta would produce a camera with video mode that performs like this. If they couldn't sync up the sound with the video, then they should've just left that function off.

3. Although Minolta boasts a 60fps LCD/EVF on the Z1, that's only true until you lock in the focus. From the time the focus locks until you snap the picture, it appears to drop back down to 30fps, and then returns to 60fps after the picture is taken. This just seems like false advertising to me.

4. The Z1 (and maybe all Minolta digicams) has a very convoluted menu system, and a lot of functions, buttons, etc., don't make sense when compared to what appears to be pretty much standard across the board with all other digicams. I've never owned a Minolta camera before, so maybe that's why it seems so confusing, but to select some menu options, you have to press the right arrow button, but then others you press the enter button...and there doesn't seem to be logic to it. It's almost like different people wrote different parts of the menu system. I've owned three different digicams (all different namebrands), and didn't have this much of a learning curve with any of their menu systems.

5. One of the main reasons I bought this camera (after the wonderful video mode) was manual focus. I'm a hobbyist and not a "pro" so I don't have much of a need for other manual functions, and I usually end up just screwing up my pictures when I try to do things manually. However, I really miss the manual focus on my Sony FD91, and it's something that my Panasonic FZ1 doesn't have. However, the Minolta Z1's manual focus is too layered in the menu system, and really should be just a good ol' fashion focus ring on the lens, like the FD91. I'm hoping the Panasonic FZ10 will have a ring as well.

Like I said, in the end, I'm making the choice between keeping my Panasonic FZ1 or keeping the Minolta Z1, and I think the Panasonic is the better camera. It's a shame, too, because I really liked the idea of the Minolta Z1, and liked the sound of the features it offered. However, they just didn't pan out to be as advertised, and it therefore doesn't satisfy my desire to have a very nice still camera that also takes very nice motion video.

This is all just my opinion and comparison with my other camera(s). Your opinions may vary!
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Old Oct 29, 2003, 3:03 AM   #64
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Hi. I read your opinion about Minolta Z1 and I agree with You in some point but... (as You say).

I have had this camera in two weeks with a lot of tests and:

1) Check the noise at ISO 50 or 100 and compare it with more cameras. Check at www.dpreview.com. DL some image a compare.
About "mechanical" zoom noise my "old" Fuji S602 was not better So I don't know how many cameras are quiet.

2) With "MY" Z1 if I put the sound to "OFF" I can use the zoom att 640/30, 640/15 ecc. Read the manual please and TRY but I have too problem with sync at 640/30.

3) They are 4 different tests on Internet of this camera but You "feel" that 60 fps is not right I don't know how!!

4) If You use X for a long time and change to Y You always need a lot of time to learn it. If You look at the reviews which many people wrote about Z1 You are alone in this judgement. This is my 3th digital camera and EACH menus need a time to lern it.

4)About "manual focus" is AGAIN your personal judgement about what is easy or difficult. I'm shure You will find a lot a "problems" with FZ10 too!!!!

It's very strange that You didn't complain about the cheap quality of many mechanical details like push-buttons, batterydoor ecc.

But...(as You say) everyone has the right to complain!!!
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Old Oct 29, 2003, 9:51 AM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
1) Check the noise at ISO 50 or 100 and compare it with more cameras. Check at www.dpreview.com. DL some image a compare. About "mechanical" zoom noise my "old" Fuji S602 was not better So I don't know how many cameras are quiet.
I compared the two cameras side by side with the only thing different (other than the cameras) being the tripod they were each on. For "accurate" comparison of what would be "normal use" for me, I kept both cameras in full auto mode. I didn't want to mess with ISO settings, white balance, exposure, or other manual settings that both cameras have because that's not how I typical use a camera. I did take pictures at full 3.2 resolution on the Minolta and then also took pictures at 2.0 megapixel resolution for a more direct comparison to the Panasonic's 2.0 megapixel resolution. Whether at full resolution or not, there was a lot of noise in the Minolta, even in late afternoon daylight shots (albeit on a cloudy day). The difference between the FZ1's and Z1's output in full auto mode in all the scenarios was surprising to me. It made me at least a little disappointed in the Z1, but on the upside did make me happier with my the FZ1.

I guess I need to emphasize here that my purpose was definitely to find FLAWS in either the FZ1 or the Z1 (to make a decision on which to keep), so again, opinions will vary and the casual user of either camera may not notice any of the flaws that I noticed in picture quality. I was looking for them. My "test" were very user specific, not "lab quality", and purely based on opinion on the level of visible noise, both on the camera's LCD view and on my computer monitor.

My Panasonic FZ1 does make a similar (but quieter) zoom motor noise when starting up and extends the lens, but the zoom is pretty much silent. The same was true of my Sony Mavica FD91 -- very quiet zoom. However, my Kodak DX3600 had a very noisy 3x zoom lens. Even though my experiences prove different, I would have to estimate that MOST big zoom cameras do have somewhat noisy zoom motors, but I guess I'm spoiled by the Sony and Panasonic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
2) With "MY" Z1 if I put the sound to "OFF" I can use the zoom att 640/30, 640/15 ecc. Read the manual please and TRY but I have too problem with sync at 640/30.
Hmmph. I guess I won't be offended by the "Read the manual please" comment. I did read the manual, I always read the manual, and frequently refer back to the manuals if I get stuck or can't figure something out. I realize I'm a rarity in that, as most people don't read the manual at all or only when they get stuck. It's the first thing that I do. In my opinion (and for my requirements for a digicam), a video function without sound is about as worthless as a video function with sound that is out of sync. The question to Minolta is -- why include it if it's not going to work properly? I have a few software packages that can resync the sound, but unfortunately it seems to be variable (sometimes it's in sync and sometimes out of sync), especially at lower resolutions and lower framerate. At the highest resolution/framerate, it's out of sync all the time -- can't really tell if it's variable beyond the fact that it's always off sync. As for the zoom in video mode, again, it's only available with the sound off, and even then it's just a digital zoom so your quality can become very poor when trying to follow a subject. I think this goes back to the the zoom motor being too noisy to allow for optical zooming while in video mode.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
3) They are 4 different tests on Internet of this camera but You "feel" that 60 fps is not right I don't know how!!
Never said that I "feel" it's not right -- it's just flat out not 60fps when the focus is locked. It's VERY obvious that the camera switches to a lower framerate after focus lock. If you want to see it for yourself, just focus on a subject, get the lock box, and then pan around the room with subjects in the same range and watch how jerky the LCD/EVF gets. It IS 60fps at all times other than when the focus is locked, but I feel that when the focus is locked to be probably the most important time for 60fps -- otherwise you're no better off trying to follow your focussed subject than on any other camera with a 30fps LCD/EVF.

Another thing I didn't mention in my first message is the quality of the EVF. I realize it's using the same LCD panel as the rear display, but the EVF is exceptionally grainy and "dotty" compared to the exceptionally clear view of the LCD display mode. And yes, I messed with the optic correction on the EVF, but it didn't help but to make the dots more pronounced. Also the optic adjustment knob is an absolute BEAR to get a hold of to turn -- I pitty anyone who is sharing this camera with someone with different eyesight. All-in-all, the EVF is VERY poor when compared to the FZ1 or even the Sony FD91 (which is a rather old digicam). The "switch finder" is a pretty cool idea, and unlike most reviewers, I don't look at as "something that's just going to break". However, they need to get some better opticals for the EVF "periscope"/mirror because there's too much of a difference between the quality of EVF and LCD display modes, especially when they do share the same LCD panel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
4) If You use X for a long time and change to Y You always need a lot of time to learn it. If You look at the reviews which many people wrote about Z1 You are alone in this judgement. This is my 3th digital camera and EACH menus need a time to lern it.
I agree that it would take me a while to get used to the Minolta, because the menu system is so different from any others I've used. However, the learning curve on the menu systems of my Kodak DX3600, then Sony FD91, then Panasonic FZ1 was virtually instanteous. I am a network engineer of over a dozen years and you could pretty much name a piece of electronics that has a menu system on it and I've probably used it. The Minolta menu system (at least what's in the Z1) is not as intuitive as others that I've used. Again, this is an opinion thing, and I can only go on my experience with three other namebrands of digicam.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
4)About "manual focus" is AGAIN your personal judgement about what is easy or difficult. I'm shure You will find a lot a "problems" with FZ10 too!!!!
I will only have problems with the manual focus on the FZ10 if it is a software setting/button based focus versus focus ring. I believe the FZ10 has a focus ring like the Sony FD91. If it turns out that it does not, that would be a BIG deciding factor on whether or not I buy the FZ10, just like it was a big factor on not keeping the Z1. I agree that this a personal judgement, but all opinions are allowed and should be valued, even if you don't agree with them. I know there are people like me who prefer a focus ring, and they would appreciate knowing that the Z1 does not have this. Personally, I find the convenience of a manual focus ring to be better than having to go through a menu system to turn on manual focus and then use three different buttons to adjust the focus manually. It just seems to be a lot more inconvenient than flicking a switch on the side of the lens to put it manual mode and then turning a focus ring. I guess it also depends on how much you use manual focus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
It's very strange that You didn't complain about the cheap quality of many mechanical details like push-buttons, batterydoor ecc.

But...(as You say) everyone has the right to complain!!!
I didn't have a problem with the construction of the camera (other than the quality of the EVF). This is why I bought the camera even after reading several reviews about "cheap feel" to the construction and the whining over the "flimsy" battery door (yes, I've read all of them). There are basically two different types of camera construction: metal and plastic. A plastic camera is a plastic camera. In my opinion, there's no such thing as a "sturdy" plastic camera. If it's plastic, it's going to feel like plastic. The Z1's construction isn't any different than the construction of my plastic Kodak, plastic Sony, or even my favorite plastic Panasonic. What I "love" the most is when the professional reviews say something to the effect of, "With its flimsy plastic construction, you wouldn't want to drop this camera." Um...exactly what camera is out there that you WOULD want to drop, whether metal or plastic? I don't base my purchase of a camera on, "Cool...I could drop this one and it probably woudn't get very damaged..." I've always thought that was a funny thing to have in a professional review.

And you're right -- everyone has a right to complain and to their own opinion of a product. If I did not have the Panasonic (or previously own the Sony FD91) to compare it to the Z1, I probably would've been satisfied with it (the Z1) and kept it. About the only thing that would've made me question whether or not to keep it (without comparing it to previous cameras) would be the out of sync video/audio. To me, for how I use digital cameras, that's a pretty glaring flaw. So, I guess I should summarize that it's just not a good camera for me, but it is still a good camera. It takes very good pictures, nice color, etc. You also can't beat the price/performance/feature ratios. I'm really not trying to convince anyone of anything -- just reporting my experiences with the camera.

-- Chris
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Old Oct 29, 2003, 10:52 AM   #66
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New replay:
1) If You need a camera with only "Auto", as You say, I don't understand why You are looking at more complex cameras. No one should made a comparison with ONLY auto mode. The autosetting of ISO can be different with different noise. The Z1, as many other cameras, has a high noise at 300 or 400 ISO. Check the result of more expensive cameras.

2) Sorry but if You shut off the sound, the zoom will be 10 x OPTICAL and not digital. At 320 will be digital. As I just told the sync is not good, but as somebody wrote "this is a camera, not a digicam". I agree with You that is not a good reason for a bad solution.

3) I agree about the quality of the EVF. The knob is just terrible, I must use a rubber holder to turn it. But I need to do it just once or so.

4) Just a question. How many cameras do You know are working with a ring for manual focus, and how are the other cameras working if not with the pushbuttons?

5) About mechanical quality. I don't know how long the EVF-switch will work or how many times I can open the battery without get it on my hands ecc.

At the end what I want to be said is that there isn't "black or white" just a lot of gray nuance
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Old Oct 29, 2003, 1:43 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
New replay:
1) If You need a camera with only "Auto", as You say, I don't understand why You are looking at more complex cameras. No one should made a comparison with ONLY auto mode. The autosetting of ISO can be different with different noise. The Z1, as many other cameras, has a high noise at 300 or 400 ISO. Check the result of more expensive cameras.
The vast majority of my pictures are spontaneous subjects or candid shots of my family, etc. In most case, I do not have the time to go through several layers of a menu system, manually adjusting aperature, shutter, ISO, exposure compensation, etc. Unfortunately, there aren't many full-auto cameras that have nice video modes, external flash shoes, etc. When manufacturers start putting higher end features and extras in a digicam, the price typically goes up with it. When the price goes up, consumers expect the cameras to have "everything", which includes full manual mode, raw image recording, etc. So, because I want things like manual focus, an external flash shoe, and a really good video mode, I'm usually stuck in the higher end cameras. Trust me, if Panasonic would've made the FZ1 with a manual focus ring, an external flash shoe, and a 30fps video mode, I'd be a happy clam.

I think it was very fair to compare the Panasonic to the Minolta with both in full auto mode. The Panasonic had minimal noise in pictures of the same subject under the same conditions. Since I (and I would venture to say most other consumer camera owners) typically take pictures in full-auto mode, I wanted to see what the Z1 could do in full-auto compared to the FZ1 in full-auto mode. I found out what I needed to know. I don't want a camera where I have to manually set the ISO, especially not if there is another camera right next to it that doesn't require me to do that under the same circumstances. If I am doing a planned portrait shot, I will set the ISO on my Panasonic to 50, and will also change the exposure compensation to account for using a slave flash for the portrait, but I think I would have to do this more often with the Z1 for all types of shots (planned or spontaneous), and that's not something I want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
New replay:2) Sorry but if You shut off the sound, the zoom will be 10 x OPTICAL and not digital. At 320 will be digital. As I just told the sync is not good, but as somebody wrote "this is a camera, not a digicam". I agree with You that is not a good reason for a bad solution.
I could not get the zoom to work at all in video mode unless I reduced the fps to 15fps and turned the sound recording off. When the fps was set to 30fps, even with the sound off, the zoom function would not work. Again, the video mode was a very important factor in my decision to not keep this camera, so out of all the features of this camera, I experimented with this one the most. At 640x480x15fps with the sound off, the zoom looked to me to be digital. If it's not, then the autofocus and/or pixelization is very poor. In 320x200x15fps with the audio off, the zoom was definitely digital and not optical. Maybe I didn't set somthing right (this goes back to the rather strange Minolta menu system where sometimes you press the right button to select and sometimes you press the enter button, etc.), but whether or not the zoom is digital or optical may be arguable, but it isn't relevant to my not liking the camera -- the fact that you have to turn the audio recording off to get any zoom at all is a big drawback, and the I've already discussed my views on the out-of-sync audio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foffodc
New replay:4) Just a question. How many cameras do You know are working with a ring for manual focus, and how are the other cameras working if not with the pushbuttons?
I only know the cameras I've owned (mentioned previously) and a few others that I've looked at or looking into. Most of the "SLR" style cameras seem to be showing up with a focus ring. The Sony FD91, FD95, FD97, and CD1000 all have a focus ring. I'm pretty sure the FZ10 has a focus ring. A ring for focussing is a much better design because you're not limited to the "step" adjustments usually associated with button controlled manual focus. Plus, you can only put so many buttons on a camera, so the buttons are going to have to be multi-functional (like the Z1's), which means that going into manual focus mode is always going to be a several step process (if not more), which is just not convenient when you're trying to take a spontaneous shot that just won't focus properly, or you have some foreground interferance (like a tree branch/leaves partially blocking a bird). Again, if the FZ10 has a push-button manual focus, I probably will not buy it. I'm a picky consumer -- I won't buy something just because "that's all they have". I want what I want, and I'm willing to wait until a manufacturer wises up and puts it out on the market.

I hope you're not getting insulted from my opinions of the Z1. I think it is a very nice camera, but it has its flaws (like all digicams). For MY situation where I already own the Panasonic FZ1 and would have to sell it, etc., to keep the Minolta Z1, it's just not a practical decision to keep the Z1 when it doesn't really get me anything over the the Panasonic FZ1, and in some areas I would be losing. However, if someone didn't like the FZ1 or wanted manual functions, etc., I could sincerely recommend the Minolta Z1 to someone. Sure there are some things I don't like about it, and there are some things that I think are better on the FZ1, but if someone has different requirements of a camera that the FZ1 cannot provide, then Z1 is a good choice.

-- Chris
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Old Oct 29, 2003, 2:48 PM   #68
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Hello Chris, I'm not getting insulted from your opinion about Z1. I'm not selling Minolta and You can find some of MY complain about this camera in this and other sites. I'm just worry about the different opinions about this camera. It seems that the "average quality" is too low. I read about many complains that I didn't find on my ex. and some of mine didn't get response. So I don't know. I'm no young and I've taken picture in many years and my dream is a pocket digital camera with 10x zoom, 5 m-pixell, with just a knob for different shoots ecc. But I don't believe I will see this one.
Have You read the test of FZ1 at http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/pa...w/index.shtml?
As I wrote I accept all opinions but I like argue too.
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Old Oct 29, 2003, 4:51 PM   #69
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Yes, I read Jeff Keller's review on the Panasonic FZ1, but I don't agree with most of his negatives on the camera. He stated the following as his dislikes:

Quote:
- No manual controls, except for white balance
- Vignetting, noise, purple fringing in some images
- Poor low light focusing
- Redeye
- EVF impossible to see in low light
- Only 2 Megapixel
I think you know where I stand on manual controls -- 99% of the time, most consumer level camera users don't need them. Other manual settings the FZ1 has includes flash, ISO, and exposure compensation.

I've never encountered any vignetting with my FZ1, and I'm pretty picky about that. Noise is minimal unless you're taking a picture in too dark of an environment, which is not the FZ1's (or most other consumer digicams') forte' anyway. I've never had purple fringing or chromatic aberations, etc., in my pictures either. Remember, I typically take pictures in full auto mode -- not sure what Keller was doing, but that could be his problem is he was trying to change the few manual features the camera offers.

I've yet to own a digicam (including the Minolta Z1) that didn't have some problems focussing in low light. I don't take many pictures in the dark, so I've just never felt the need to pay the big bucks for a consumer camera with a laser focus, etc. I've always been able to find a way to get around any low light focussing problems, but I admit that's why I'd like to have the manual focus ring!

I've never had redeye in any of my pictures either, and I've seldom used the flash in redeye mode. That picture he shows in his review of the redeye is just a plain lousey picture. I don't know what he did there, but I've never had any picture on my FZ1 turn out so grainy and with such a redeye issue. He needs to do a re-take.

I've posted this elsewhere about the EVF in low light complaint. You're not going to be able to take a low light picture with the ISO set at 50...it's just not happening. However, if you just put the ISO on auto, you'll be able to see just fine through the EVF (even in low light), your picture will turn out better, and even the autofocus will work better. I don't understand why this is so complicated for "professional" reviewers to comprehend. I mean, forget about it solving the EVF problem, who in their right mind would try to take a picture in low light on a 2.0 megapixel consumer digicam with a huge 12x optical zoom lens with the ISO set at 50? Or even 100? Why not just set the thing on auto (or fi you feel the need to be "manual" set it at the max of 400) and take better pictures in low light?

As for it only being 2 megapixel, resolution isn't everything. A 2 megapixel camera with a superb Leica 12x optical zoom lens at f2.8 throughout the range is going to outperform cameras with the usual lowly 3x optical zoom lens at twice or even three times the resolution. There are entire websites dedicated to the "math" associated with whether or not optical lenses are better than higher resolution and post-processing (cropping). It always turns out that opticals are better. 2 megapixel is plenty for printing a crisp 8x10 anyway, so why waste the space on your storage media? There is definitely a Law of Diminishing Returns here when it comes to how much resolution is enough for the typical consumer.
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Old Oct 30, 2003, 1:39 AM   #70
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You see what I mean?
You read Jeff's test but You don't agree "with most of his negatives on the camera".
Jeff is a professional photographer so I suppose, as with You, that you got a defect ex of camera!!!
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