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Old Nov 28, 2004, 8:57 PM   #1
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I am just in the process of buying Z2 - ordered from US and due in seven days.

Does anyone know if firmware now is better than when the leading professional review sites grumbled about "soft" images. I will no doubt want to add the RAW hack when the warranty expires, but will that invalidate any of the other camera features or is it just a patch ? - in other words if I don't pick RAW, can I still shoot in FINE and enjoy all the JPEG processing that comes with the original firmware, or am I going over to an iffy set of tools aside from the RAW capability.

I picked the Z2 over Olympus 765 and Fuji 3100 as I did not want to invest in new memory cards. Maybe I was penny wise and pound foolish. Can someone make me feel a bit better about my choice?
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Old Nov 30, 2004, 1:34 AM   #2
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I just installed the raw hack. TheZ2 functionspretty much the same as before. The economy mode is replaced with a raw plus economy mode.Some of the other options like continuous don't work properly with raw. I never used economymode before so this was not problem for me. The fine mode works the same as before. The raw plus economy mode in some situations give you a substantially better photo so it is a real advantage. The know problems with the Z2 are the low light focusing, the lack of an antishake option and a video sound lag. In actual use the low light focusing is the biggest of three issues although this is common with a most digital cameras. Overall after eight months and thousands of pictures I am still very happy with my Z2. I use the 800 by 600 video mode all the time which even the Z3 does not have.
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Old Nov 30, 2004, 5:48 PM   #3
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Thanks for quick response.

I knew RAW wouldn't work with any of the burst settings due to the prolonged write times required for such large files. I just want to be certain that if I am out taking unrehearsed "snapshots" I can still get best performance from Fine mode and other pre-programmed settings.

I want to start getting more creative with my new camera, and I think the movie mode will be good with my new granddaughter. I think the low light focussing can be solved from what I have read in other posts (try a laser pointer with a vertical beam, one says). My other real concern was with reviewers' complaint about softness What was your impression here? I am a fusspot myself, but I don't always see the criticism clearly from pictures on the web. Perhaps I have to waste a few sheets of paper and print some of the posted images.

Sorry to be a drag, but it is a lot of money to spend, so I want to get as much mileage out of it as possible. Having RAW capability will certainly help.
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Old Nov 30, 2004, 11:22 PM   #4
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I have heard of others using a laser pointer with success. I was recent at a play where flashes were not allow. I prefocused in manual mode and then used a wide angle to maximize the depth of field. This allowed me totake a large number of photos and videos that would have been very difficult with auto focus.

The softness of photos is subjective thing. I use Ulta-Sharpen and Focus Magic when I want a very sharp photo. I find the combination of a raw photo (no camera added distortions) and Focus Magic particularly effective.

Noise can be an issue when lighting conditions force the use of a high ISO setting. I use Noise Ninja or Noiseware to reduce the noise in problem areas of a photo.
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 10:34 AM   #5
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wordsmith wrote:
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Does anyone know if firmware now is better than when the leading professional review sites grumbled about "soft" images.
This issue was also a subject of concern to me. However I've recently bought a Z2 which already came with the 1.03 firmware, and the images do appear much sharper than those appearing in such reviews - even with sharpness set to "normal", let alone to "hard". I have nothing to complain. KM must have done something about it, as looks like they did from the start with Z10.
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 10:45 AM   #6
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Kilbride The know problems with the Z2 are the [...] and a video sound lag. [/quote]

I remember someone telling, probably even in this forum, that setting Video Output to NTSC (30fps) rather than PAL (25fps) solves the problem, whether or not the camera is connected to a tv.
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 5:51 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. Software hints are really helpful. Is any of that stuff "freeware"? If so can you send over some links - I hadn't heard of any of those yet, and I am still working with Jasc Paintshop Pro ver. 7. I don't think it handles RAW.

As for the video thing, I don't know if either of you is in Europe, but 30 fps is NTSC standard (actually 29.97). PAL is only 25. Playback on PAL equipment could be a problem. I do a lot of video transcription from betamax to DVD, and spent a lot of time researching these issues. Anyone wanting to avoid the NTSC to PAL synch problem should probably try and find a way to actually do a conversion on their computer first (from the KM NTSC frame rate to a PAL standard.) I'm not sure why they wouldn't offer both options in the firmware - what does the manual say about the two video standards? (sorry, but I don't get my camera until next Tuesday, and I can't wait to get cracking. Meanwhile, don't have a manual to look at).

BTW I feel much happier with my choice after hearing from you fellas. Thanks for your interest in responding. I just wish it looked a bit more "conventional".:sad:
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Old Dec 2, 2004, 11:33 PM   #8
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Kilbride -Sorry about the late reaction, but when you installed RAW hack, what version firmware does the camera report? Is it just a patch to 1.03 or does the Russian author provide a whole new set of software that includes all Minolta's recent updates? I worry about being ahead of the game, not one step abckwards on the other features.

Also can you tell more about the software you are using, as mentioned in your last post?
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Old Dec 4, 2004, 8:04 PM   #9
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wordsmith wrote:
Quote:
Kilbride -Sorry about the late reaction, but when you installed RAW hack, what version firmware does the camera report? Is it just a patch to 1.03 or does the Russian author provide a whole new set of software that includes all Minolta's recent updates? I worry about being ahead of the game, not one step abckwards on the other features.

Also can you tell more about the software you are using, as mentioned in your last post?
I was using 1.02 before installing the hack and the camera still reported 1.02 after the installation. I use Photoshop for still images and Studio 8 for videos.

For still images I also use Ultra-Sharpen, Focus Magic, Noiseware, and Noise Ninja.Ultra-Shapen is free plugin I downloaded. A limited use trial version of Focus Magic can be also be download. I believe the full version was about $25. This product does an excellent job fixing soft focused images. Since Noiseware applies its noise reduction to the entire image I usually layer the before and after images in Photoshop in order preserve detail (like grass) while reducing noise in the solid colour areas (like the sky). A limited version of Noise Ninja can also be downloaded.

For videos also I use Rad Video Tools another free download to convert the mov format to avi format and fix the sound lag.Studio 8 can not use mov format files.


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Old Dec 5, 2004, 7:28 PM   #10
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Very helpfull. Thanks for the great update.

I use Paintshop Pro ver 7 and plan to use Ulead software for movie editing. I do not think PSP supports RAW files. Someone suggested using Irfanview. Camera arrives Tuesday, but I guess I'll wait awhile before doing the RAW hack. Best to get the hang of using it after my Toshiba 3300 (which by the way is still a great little camera) I seem to have a propensity for choosing weird looking cameras, don't I?
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