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Old Dec 26, 2003, 12:29 AM   #1
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Default New Z1 - Pls convince me to keep it

For weeks I have been struggling to decide between a Dimage Z1, Kodak DX6490, or Olympus C750... Santa brought me the Z1 with the guarantee that I can return it by Jan 5 for a full refund, or by Jan 25 for a full value trade in.

I have taken about 150 pictures with it today, and so far, my review is mixed. I have been running FULL AUTO - some of the pictures are really good, some the focus is way off, some the focus is dead on, but on the wall behind the person, etc.. All of the pix were inside, normal interior lighting, most with flash. I am sure I will have several questions over the next few days while I "hammer away" at this thing, so please bear with me. Until those questions are posted, help convince me that this is a better camera than the Kodak or the Olympus- or, if you feel one of them is better, please let me know that as well, but I realize I am in the Minolta forum.

Yes, I am concerned about the lens rattle, but I can get over that if it is the only problem.

Thanks!
Jeff (in a hurry in B'Ham)
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Old Dec 27, 2003, 11:32 AM   #2
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If you are having focusing problems with your monolta make sure you have read and understood the users manual, there may be settings for "fine tuning" the focus zone.

I would think at this point Minolta would have or should have worked out the severe focusing problems (in my opinion) of some earlier models.
I would never try to convince anyone that minoltas are better than any other brand. If I was in your situation I would go to a local camera dealer and try out the other brands that you are interested in and see if they experience the same type of problems you are having with your minolta. Nothing beats out a hands on evaluation when considering a new camera.
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Old Dec 27, 2003, 11:45 AM   #3
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Harleyguy,

I have had the Z1 for a week now. I had the Minolta S414 first, but the low optical zoom and the power button turning on easily when placing in my coat pocket was a pain ( dangerous chance of damaging the lens motor ). Being a Minolta fan from my SLR days, I decided to give the Z1 a try.

First, the 10x optical zoom is great. The 4x digit zoom is realy just a commercial selling feature. Sure, it works, but the average person doesnt carry a tripod around, and without one the digital zoom is about useless. An image stabilizer might have helped this some. Of course using any zoom ( 3x to 10x+), a tripod should be used. I just wanted to point that out for those that thought they were going to use the 40x without one. The digital zoom does increase in increments ( 1.1, 1.2 1.3....4.0 ), so if a situation comes up where you need just a little more than the 10x optical, your in luck.

3.2 mega-pixels works great for me. I printed a couple photos ( that were shot in the highest res. ) in 8x10 that looked super. Color saturation has been almost perfect so far. Very, very low noise in ISO 50, 100 was good also, but 400 I could tell the difference from the 50 while test shooting the same subject.

Big plus is the hot-shoe for an extended flash. While most think you can ONLY use a Minolta flash ( read expensive here ), this may not be true. I sold my film Minolta Maxxum5 which also took the same flash as the Z1 ( 5600 & 3600 ). I had purchased a Sigma Ef-430, that worked great with the Maxx5. So I am guessing the EF-430 and EF-500's should work fine with the Z1 ( sold my film outfit, so I couldnt verfy this, but the hot shoe is the same as on my Maxx5 ). Most of my indoor photo's were taken without the flash ( day time lighting ), and they looked more balanced than with the flash. The only problem is the flash does not pop-up by itself when needed. You must manualy flip it up. No big deal really.

The Movie mode...This was another factor in purchasing the Z1. I was excited at getting 640x480 @ 30fps movie clips w/sound. Here's the skinny, you better have a GIG SD card! No kidding! I purchased a 256 meg card, and with sound I got a 3min-30sec movie clip! So a GIG of memory will get you about 15 mins! Not very practical. Of course this will vary a little depending on the image your recording, but figure 1 meg per second of record time. OUCH.

Battery time is excellant! It has been the BEST of any other digi-cam I have owned so far. I used the alkalines that came with the camera for hours and shot about 150 photos before they went dead. Considering the LCD screen was on the whole time, I was amazed! And this was with playing around and learning the different functions.

LCD screen is a little small ( 1.5" ), but usable.
Eye-veiwer uses a mirror that directs the rear LCD up, so your in effect getting thru-the-lens ( TTL ) imaging. Of course it looks alittle grainy, since its like looking at a TV screen up close, but it does work well. I prefer the rear screen.

Manual features are great. You have a choice of the programed modes, or you can play with the apeture and shutter speeds. Bracketing is also available in .3, .5 and 1.

Auto focus is pretty quick, even with out a light assist in an indoor shot.
The power button will not let you turn it on by accident as my S414 did. You have to push it in and hold for a sec to power on. The camera comes to life and ready to shoot in just a couple seconds. The mode wheel is tighter than the S414 also, which I like much better. No more changing modes by accident because I bumped the mode wheel.

I looked at 2 other digi-cams, the Fugi S-5000 ( 3.1 mega-pixel, 10x optical ) and the Kodak DX6490 ( 4 mega-pixel, 10x optical ). Both where $499. Of those 2, I was leaning towards the Kodak, until the Z1 came out.

I purchased the Z1 from Dell. Thier list price was $399, but they had a 10% off with on-line orders going ( plus free shipping ), so I got it for $359. That extra off paid for most of my 256 meg SD memory card.

I am very happy with it. I think you will be also.

Jim.
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Old Dec 28, 2003, 8:21 PM   #4
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Jim-
I'm down to the same 3 cameras that you had looked at. I had the Canon A70, but I want something with more of a zoom lens than just a 3X. Other than that, I loved the A70. What convinced you to buy the Z1 over the Kodak & Oly? Can you give me some pluses/minuses of each? Personally, the movie mode doesn't mean that much to me. I'll use my digital camcorder for movies. Thanks!
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Old Dec 28, 2003, 10:37 PM   #5
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After talking to 3 different people at camera shops, I have been told 3 different things - 1 person says the Panasonic FZ10 is "by far the best camera for under $1000" - someone at a different store says the Fuji S5000 is the greatest camera ever - another person (same store, different day) says he wouldn't wish the Fuji on his worst enemy, the Panasonic is terrible with color management, and that the Z1 is the best deal that they have without getting into a digital SLR. (none of these sales folks knew that I already have a Z1)

I say all of this to point out that EVERYONE thinks something different about these cameras. That makes it either very difficult, or very easy on the buyer. It's difficult because you don't know who to believe, it's easy because you just find one for the money you want to spend, and take pictures with it ---- don't look back. At least that is what I want to try to do. --- although, the Sony digital handycam I want is getting cheaper, so I might just trade in the Z1 for it and keep my old faithful Sony FD95...... hmmmmmmm

Did I mention this camera choosing thing is going to make me nuts?

I hope you have read this far, because here is my question. I have noticed this purple "glare" in a lot of photos - is there anything that can be done about it? I am sure it is something I am doing wrong, but I don't know how to fix it (outside of PhotoShop).

Full sized image - 1.5M
http://webpages.charter.net/jeffwyatt/pict0184.jpg

Resized version of same pic - 160k
http://webpages.charter.net/jeffwyatt/pict0184s.jpg
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Old Dec 29, 2003, 4:53 AM   #6
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I'm using Z1 from the beginning of oct. As rctoyguy says You can get how many opinions You want from different persons. Everyone has its own. So You must FEEL about this camera.
My experience is:
1) Use Auto just if You must. Auto will decide for You and, in my opinion, not often right.

2) Don't use Auto ISO. Use 100 ISO as standard for the most common use. With higher ISO an 200 You will get higher noisy pictures. (Both Auto shooting and Auto Iso will choise the best aperture/shutter but not the best quality).

3) To minimize CA (or purple fringe) don't use lower aperture an 4.5. Check "http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/minolta/dimage_z1-review/index.shtml"
To correct CA look at "http://www.dpreview.com/learn/Glossary/Optical/Chromatic_Aberrations_01.htm" .

I corrected your pictures in ten seconds with "Photoshop" with a very good result
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Old Dec 29, 2003, 8:34 AM   #7
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The biggest thing I'm concerned about is that mech. mirror system for the VF's!

Just how long will that last? All of that to save the cost of a LCD!
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Old Dec 29, 2003, 9:58 AM   #8
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Unfortunately it seems to be an electro-mechanical system with dubbel chance to stop working.
Someone wrote somewhere that there are three different productions country. Japan, China and Korea. I didn't got any answer from Minolta but, if it is true, can explain why somebody is complain about bad quality.
My Z1 is made in Japan and ,until now, working very well. But....
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Old Dec 31, 2003, 11:20 AM   #9
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Between the Fuji 3000 and 5000 I'm suprised more haven't recomemded the S3000 especially for the price (as of 12/03 $250 delivered)! The two things I don't like about either are the XD super small and more expensive cards and the high compression which should and could be fixed with a fireware update!
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Old Jan 3, 2004, 7:01 PM   #10
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I've just done the reviewing rounds myself..
Oly C750
Fuji F700
Casio QVR40
Fuji 610
(and a nikon 3700 briefly)..

and of course the Z1..

In the end I kept the Z1.. but not after finding out some painful truths...

None of the above cameras took 100% perfect photo's everytime indoors..
All seemed about the same in the amount of good/bad photo's the funniest point being the F700 withs its AF lamp, although locking on instantly in near darkness took some of the worst shots!!!

In the end, I had to take all the cameras off auto, and start manully focusing at times, and messing with shutter speeds, aperature, etc, and in the end started getting more good then bad, as I learnt what did/didn't work, and the same rules can be applied to any camera..

In the end the decision was Oly C750/Z1.. and I choose the Z1 simply because
1. its a lot cheaper
2. It doesn't over sharpen/process like the C750.. at first I thought this camera was awesome, until I printed at 8*10, then I saw all the sharpening artefacts, so had to set it to soft, and even then it wasn'[t as smooth as the Z1, although its lens is fractionally better then the Z1.. I use photoshop/paint to sharpen the Z1 photos as required, for 8*10 you want a smooth image in preferrence to overly sharpened, as this looks best..

Now I've played with the camera, and learnt that indoor photo's are a nightmare on all digicams, and having played with the manual features, I can recommend the Z1 to anyone.... but bear in mind its limited to the same rules of photography as all the rest..!!

I've taken some side by side shots with an S5000, and although the S5000 is good, it lacks smoothness and lack of noise the Z1 other then that, the S500 is fine, but its a bit more expensive..

As for build quality, perhaps its just me, but the C750 had a wobbly lens arrangement, as did the S5000, and I know the Z1 is plastic, but strangely I don't care if it is, I just want it to take photo's... I've got a all alloy Fuji F6800Z, but I'm afraid that just becuase its all metal, does not make it feel better to me.. I must be mad...
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