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Old Nov 3, 2003, 5:08 PM   #1
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Default Is this NOISE?... horrible, horrible

I just purchased my Z1 - after reviewing pretty much everything ever written about digcams....

Now, I know I'm asking a LOT of this camera - but I have been using a Sony DSC-032 for 2 years and it has been able to handle things great.

I began testing the camera Saturday Night. I shoot at an indoor race track - it isn't too brightly lit, so auto-focus is tough. I used both auto and manual focus - 90% of the time the autofocus didn't work.

I used the built in flash to illuminate the scenes - but it has a limited range .... I stand between 6 and 20 feet from the Karts... so I have always used a large SunPak 550 to supplement the lighting - I fire it off with a peanut slave.

How I used to shoot compared with how I was testing. With my Nikon I would use the 1024 x with a setting of Fine - everything else in auto mode (forced Flash on high) - and I got some GREAT images. With the Z1 I used Auto - EEEEEK - Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Sports Mode, Vivid Color. As I only have a 256 card and I shoot between 200-500 shots an event, I kept it at the 1280x960 at Fine quality - which should be a CONSIDERABLY better photo than the 1.3 megapixel sony.....right?

I'm posting a bunch of photos from the sony and the minolta on my site so you can see the difference.... I have tried really hard to compare apples to apples - searching fro images that were taken under the same conditions and from the same locations.....

The karts move very fast - about 70-mph - and as you can imagine there is a horrendous amount of dust and smoke in the air and often times dust and flying dirt appear as "Ghosts Orbs" and the smoke will tend too wash out a photo.... so I can live with all of this.

The first thing I noticed (aside from not being able to autofocus) was the incredible amount of artifacting that the camera creates. Even in large color fields using the flash makes the camera go berserk and try to add colors and pixels to the field?... Why?

Link...
http://www.jwwebs.com/minoltatest.htm
Does ANYONE have any idea what I'm doing wrong here?

btw... I have a AA, BA, and BFA in photography and Photo science.... so go ahead and talk tech...


Thanks !
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Old Nov 4, 2003, 5:12 AM   #2
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I SUPPOSE that your problem with noise depends on ISO-setting.
Almost cameras has noise-problem with ISO over 200. Minolta is not better or, right, worse. I'm trying to avoid Auto and using 50 or 100 ISO (when I can). You can adjust Ev to +2 on "flash setup" and/or +2 EV in normal way. "Continuos or progressive" are just tought for daylight and, of course, the Auto will use highest ISO to get the best shutter or/and aperture. I don't think that Z1 can do better in low-lights conditions.
Remember that all "reviewers" recommend to use at least +1 EV when using the flash indoor to get a correct picture.
I don't know if my "supposing" is right but I got same results in these conditions. You can correct noise with a good program (try "PhotoBrush" cheap and good) but it's not the same as an original.
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Old Nov 4, 2003, 4:53 PM   #3
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low light objects need long shutter speed. So the problem is you wan't to take pictures of low light - high speed objects - there are 2 ways: big flash (and not the build in which goes about 4 feet) or high iso settings which gives noise. You can take these pictures with a 2.000$ camera, a camera that can handle a noise free iso800. Budget cams will always choose between the available light condition (will give unsharp images) or the speeding carts (will be underexposed). even in manual with iso 400 - aparture 2.8, you will need shutterspeed 1/45 to 1/60 for your pictures not to be underexposed without flash. But it's still to slow for those high speed carts - and forget the build-in flash, they are perfect for portraits and familyshots indoor but don't expect more. To obtain a good shutterspeed of 1/1000 /1500 (for the carts) you will need an external flash, and then you can lower the iso settings to a more low-noise value like the iso200.

And since you just got your cam: try try try! and don't panic with the first bad pictures you take.
The Z1 is a great cam. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise - on the other hand don't expect miracles from a 500$ cam.

LeCheF.
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Old Nov 6, 2003, 12:09 AM   #4
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I had similar grainy issues when comparing the Minolta Z1 side by side with the Panasonic FZ1. Although the Minolta has full manual capabilities, the Panasonic does not, so I compared them both in full auto. The Panasonic outperformed the Minolta easily, which was disappointing to me because I really wanted to replace my Panasonic with the better featured Minolta.

Now, my comparison could be considered slanted a bit because I was comparing performance only in full auto mode. However, even though I was looking for a few more manual features in the Minolta, my primary use of a digicam is in full auto, and it needed to perform. If the Minolta is an excellent camera like it has been reviewed, then it will probably take you getting used to it and learning the best manual settings for it. Full auto just doesn't seem to cut the mustard.
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Old Nov 25, 2003, 6:13 PM   #5
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I accept that pointing two cameras at the same subject with both in auto will prove which camera has better features or algorithms. It doesn't however prove the better featured camera gives the best pics in the most varied situations.

In Auto mode there are many variables including ISO speed. If you are using flash, then one camera may have more flash power, or it may change aperture, whereas another may change ISO setting or both. Most cameras will auto ISO to 200, but another may hit the ceiling at 400. So a noise comparison is a little bit unfair if conditions are so different and you don't know this, unless the EXIF is both the same.

For comparisons in the Go-Kart scenario, I'd set a high manual shutter up to 1/1000th+ (this is even ok for the internal flash), open the aperture to max and shoot flash with ISO 200 - 400. An under exposed shot at ISO 200 may be better to correct afterwards, than a correctly exposed pic at ISO 400. If you're not happy with noise at ISO 400, then you need to reduce ISO and put in more light with a bigger flash.

The problem with any auto mode is it's often the beginners first setting for holiday shots on the beach or indoor party. Each manufacturer will aim to profile 'auto' to the most common shot situation - sales could be won or lost on this - the first test shots may be outside the shop. I wouldn't expect indoor Karting to be high up the list! VOX
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Old Nov 26, 2003, 10:07 AM   #6
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The third shot from the top - the action shot - looks like the Sunpak was not synchronized with the Minolta. If the Minolta was on auto its flash puts out two burst in rapid succession. The first to measure exposure and the second to make the actual image. The peanut slave fires the SUnpak on the first burst and the actual exposure gets only the Minolta's built in flash. Were you using manual flash setting on the Z1?
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Old Nov 26, 2003, 12:36 PM   #7
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Of course, the way to find out is to slow the shutter right down in a darkish room. If it's long enough to see both flashes, then the slave should be captured and the exposed pic should be OK. If you push the shutter to 1/1000th and the pics are dark, then the slave fired on the first pre-flash. Haven't tried it, but is that logical?VOX
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Old Nov 26, 2003, 1:29 PM   #8
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The shutter doesn't open until after the pre-flash, so no matter how slow the shutter is the pre-flash and the slave have gone off before the shutter opens.
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Old Nov 26, 2003, 7:29 PM   #9
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Yes that's a good point dugh! So you need one of those gizmo circuits I've seen somewhere that allows you to dial in the number of pre-flashes which are ignored, before enabling the light sensor to fire the slave? I'm sure this has been posted in the Flash section here.

I guess small cams without a hotshoe, assume you won't be using a slave - but often the internal flash is so puny you've no choice.

I think I've discovered something on my S414, there's no flash power adjust, but with a fixed ISO setting I'm sure I can give the flash more bang by increasing the EV., I can't be sure but I don't think the ISO is being changed, the aperture is already maxed for flash, the shutter couldn't care less - but peak white exposure level goes up. VOX
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