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Old Feb 11, 2005, 6:44 PM   #11
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Well, Babysplitx, my shopping experience for this camera is no different from every other similar purchase I have made in the past. I originally (a year ago) was thinking that the Z2 looked pretty good and when the Z3 came out I was nearly ready- until I saw the terrible images. Then the shopping began in earnest, and I came upon the A200, and it all looked quite good, including the very nice images. BUT......

I have been reading user reports in the various forums, and the multiple reports of people having focusing problems with the A200 (long focus-seek times and imprecise focusing with the camera reporting focus lock when the image is obviously out of focus) even in scenes which should be easily dealt with, have pretty much ruled out this camera completely.

We discussed earlier how you need to prioritize your needs. That is easy to say and difficult to put down on paper. With that stated, I really need a fast performing camera. Of course, image quality is needed as well. Low image quality (fringing and vignetting) have ruled out the Canon Pro1, and purple fringing, noise, and the large physical length took the Sony DSC F828 off the list. The Oly E300 looked interesting but it has no DOF preview. Idiots!

Set a spending limit? Ya.. right. If you ever read through my Espresso website you would learn that I began thinking that $125-150 (four years ago) would get me a really nice espresso machine. I ended up spending about $425 on the machine alone, and a total of about $800 at my initial investment. That sounds ridiculous until you realize that over four years later I am still using that same machine every day, so it seems that my careful shopping (and apparent over-spending) serves me well.

With that said, My current (and I do stress "Current") short list has two cameras- the Nikon D70 and the Pentax *ist DS. The Nikon is VERY fast with faster shutter speeds and instant start up and continuous write from buffer to card while shooting, comes with a better-range lens(in the factory kit), has a pre-focus assist light, and costs more. The Pentax costs less and is physically smaller, and uses AA cells. But the Nikon offers no ability to save user settings in a "custom" mode. I can keep going- you should see my spread sheet!

Anyway, it is clear that I have not mad up my mind. You might help- what is your experience with the focusing problems with the A200?


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Old Feb 11, 2005, 7:59 PM   #12
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Not to make decisions harder for you Randy, well...here goes!

Have you considered either the new Konica Minolta Z5 or Z20?

You can check out the Z5 here:

http://www.dcresource.com/news/newsitem.php?id=2967

And the Z20 here:

http://www.dcresource.com/news/newsitem.php?id=2966

Enjoy!

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Old Feb 11, 2005, 9:50 PM   #13
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The Z20 has no external flash connection at all so I had ruled that out early on.

The Z5 is an updated/based on the Z2-3 series (or is it?) and I would worry about the same focusing problems the Z3 sufferes from, but will check it out in the various user forums. My SOny D770 has a very difficult time focusing in low light and the LCD does not gain up, and being farsighted it is a real challenge for me. No more of that!

I am always open to suggestions- particularly when they save me money! Thanks for the recomendations. As you see, I am running out of options and the short list is getting shorter. I am leaning towards the Pentax because of its compact size (compared to the Nikon) and the use of AA cells instead of a proprietary battery. I already have a very nice charger and car adpator for AA/AAA NiMH cells.

One thing I would mention here for others looking into cameras- shopping around I have found a LOT of great pricces, but it never fails that the lowest prices appear to be grey market cameras. They will say something like, "Full USA warranty," but never mention "USA Manufacturer's warranty." In the "About us" page, some of them specifically state that 'some of our merchandise may or may not come with all accessories." and things like, "Store or manufacturer's waranty." Buyer beware!

I will stay in touch here and continue to report on my grail-quest....

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Old Feb 11, 2005, 10:02 PM   #14
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Truer words have not been spoken.

Be careful when purchasing from places where the price just seems too good to be true.

:idea:
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 10:34 AM   #15
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Randy G. wrote:
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I have been reading user reports in the various forums, and the multiple reports of people having focusing problems with the A200 (long focus-seek times and imprecise focusing with the camera reporting focus lock when the image is obviously out of focus) even in scenes which should be easily dealt with, have pretty much ruled out this camera completely.
Hi Randy,

As a very recent owner of a new A2, I was very mindful of all the reports of OOF problems and the like. I still liked the A2 concept so much that I bought a new one a week ago.

So far, I can say that I cannot verify a single OOF problem with this camera, and I have been trying to trick it to the point where I'm convinced the focussing is rock solid. I think many problems may have been the result of reviews with early firmware versions or user errors (expecting the AF to focus somewhere else rather than where it did). I'm absolutely amazed under the conditions this camera achieves focus locks. I've also micromanaged my experiments with the flex focus, and unless you put the FFP on a *completely* featureless object, this camera nails the focus. Even in very dimly lit rooms (e.g., a small computer monitor lighting up an otherwise dark room), this camera is simply amazing at its focus capabilities (even without an AF assist).


In normal modes, the colors are well saturated and well sharpened. At this time, I'm wondering about the credence of any of these reported problems (except those that may have resulted from problems with early firmware versions).

All I'm saying is that in my opinion the problems reported with the A2/A200s are overblown or reported and re-reported at a level that is simply completely inconsistent with reality.

If the OOF "problem" is stopping you from buying one of these cameras, I think you ar worrying over nothing.

JMHO,

Steve
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 10:08 PM   #16
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Much as I previously predicted, my shopping habits and caviar tastes are getting the best of me, but here goes:

Although I have still not totally ruled out the A200 I do think I can make use of something better. The pro-sumer range of SLRs really does tempt me as it did back when I bought the D770. Of course, back then the least expensive D-SLR was in the $4,000 and up range as I remember. Anyway.....

I went to town today with the purpose of putting my hands on some cameras. Circuit City was first and they had nothing to speak of. They did have a Canon rebel there, so I picked it up and it felt like it looks (to me)- a toy. That was about it for top-end cameras there.

After that I went to Best Buy- home of retail pricing. They did have a few better cameras on display that I was able to handle. One was the Nikon D70. After holding it I was gratified that I hadn't bought it. After picking it up I wondered why ANYONE buys this camera. I say that because it has the worst ergonomics I have seen so far. The size of the camera is- well. large. I wear a large or extra-large glove. My hand, at thumb, around the palm measures exactly 9". I held the camera for about ten to fifteen seconds and already could not imagine carrying it around for more than a minute or two. The problem is that the grip protrusion is large, but not deep at the front, so your fingers hit the front of the camera before they securely grip around the hand hold. Because of that you found yourself searching for a secure way to hold the camera and it puts a lot of stress on the thumb. This is exacerbated when you try to reach any control on the body other than the shutter release. Trying to adjust the selection or setting dials lessens your grip. This is a two-hand camera, and that's the way I would have to carry it all day- with both hands. Just to check, I had my wife pick it up. Her hand measures 7" at the same area, and her comment after looking through the viewfinder was, "This thing has terrible ergonomics." She went on the to say that she found herself trying to find a place for her thumb to grip but it seemed to her that the grip area was designed in the wrong direction.

The battery was low on the Nikon so I only got to play with it for about thirty seconds, but that was enough to satisfy me that there was no way I could own this camera. Regardless of the specifications, I urge anyone thinking about purchasing this camera to go and hold it with lens and battery in place for two minutes with just your right hand. when you put it down and the pain in your right thumb subsides, decide whether you want to always carry the thing around with two hands. A friend is buying one and she said she liked the way it feels, so there you go.

Next to it was the problem... for my bank account! The Canon EOS 20D. What a great camera! Picking it up it instantly felt at home in my hand. The battery was charged and I just happened to have brought a CF card with me so I took a few pictures. Inside the store, with all the banners hanging, this camera's intelligent focus instantly locked on to whatever I was point at, and using the existing light in the store was able to capture some quite nice pictures. Mind you, hand held, one image taken at full telephoto towards the back of the store was: 55mm focal length, 1/50sec, f5.6, Multi-pattern metering, 3504x2336 pixels and I THINK it was at the best quality JPEG (the file size was about 3.1mb).

My wife picked it up and took a few pictures as well, and she was quite impressed, particularly after handling the D70. As bad as the Nikon felt in my hand, the Canon felt that good.

I do wish that there had been a Pentax *ist Ds and an DiMAGE A200 on display to handle somewhere, but at least I didn't waste any money on the Nikon.

So at this point (and the point keeps crawling around like a spider on a hot griddle) the short list consists of the DiMAGE A200, the Pentax *ist DS, and the EOS 20D (ouch).

The quest continues...

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Old Feb 12, 2005, 11:11 PM   #17
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Randy,

The stories of your camera quest are interesting and quite informative. Keep them coming!

I was interested to read your comments of the Nikon's ergonomics. I'm surprised that a camera of such capabilities really dropped the ball in the ergonomics department. And speaking of ergonomics, I highly recommend you get your hands on an A200 to try it out. I found the A200's ergonomics very pleasing the moment I picked it up. Some of the buttons could've been placed a little better, but the handgrip is ideal (for me at least) and the size and weight of the camera are not a problem. I held the camera for hours the first night I had it and I never felt fatigued or bothered by it. Definately something you should check out before you make the plunge!

:|
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 11:48 PM   #18
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Randy,

It certainly will be very difficult to find a better camera than the D20 for the money! It would be my first pick too except for the money and the size. Then to top it off, you have to buy another lens with capabilities near the prosumer ones like the A200. On the other hand, once you buy the lenses for it, you can keep using them for the rest of your life

It's an interesting world where we have so many choices as to be confusing

Best of luck finding your next camera--that's half of the fun!

Cheers,

Steve
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Old Feb 13, 2005, 12:33 AM   #19
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BoneDaddy wrote:
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Randy,

The stories of your camera quest are interesting and quite informative. Keep them coming!


:|
Thank you very much for that. I am a bit of a professional writer and your comments are very much appreciated.

I was very suprised about the Nikon as well. I think it is a lot like underwear- just becasue it rode up on me doesn't mean that you won't like it. Lots of folks love that camera, so who am I to say other than my own experience. iIt does point to the importance of either trying the camera first or purchasing from a dealer with a liberal return policy!

Getting my hands on an A200 might mean a 3 hour round trip drive or just buying one. Additionally, this camera purchase will probably have to last me for at least five years- maybe more, so I want to be sure I am getting something that will last me that long in terms of quality, technology, and most importantly, image quality. I do tend to keep things around once I get my hands on them. I bought my motorcycle in 1981 (the only one I have ever owned), and am still married to my high school sweetheart who said "I do" in 1971.

The EOS 20D is possibly witin my reach (if I stretch my arms just a bit). I do have a friend who wants to do a claendar so it will be handy for that, and it wn't take to many jobs to pay for it. And anyway, since I am in the newspaper business (in a VERY small way) it is deductible.

No commitments yet, but that EOS is SWEET!

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Old Feb 13, 2005, 12:46 AM   #20
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Well, Steve,

I think the fact that I am seriosuly considering three cameras that cost $600, $830 and $1360 would lead most people to question my sanity, judgement, and whether or not I am in a judicially ordered drug testing program. It's how I feel, after all!

Thre were not the depth of choices back just a few years ago. The digital camera market has gone changes in the last ten years that it took film photography to transvers a century or a bit more! it's the nature of the technology. It is fast, and it is used to create itself.

As far as lenses, who knows? I am selling my Olympus 35mm system on E-bay soon to pay for this- and that has 4 lenses and a doubler. As far as I know, none of them would be any good on a digital even if they fit, and none are auto focus. Funny how twenty or thirty years ago auto focus was nothing, but with the speed of taday's cameras it is essential. Gotta love technology!

Although the size of the D20 is somewhat large, in your hands it feels quite natural. I do like the Pentax *ist DS for its compact size (smaller than the Canon or the Nikon- closer to the A200) , but not being able to hold one makes it difficult to decide.

"Difficult to decide"! If haven't figured that out about me by now, you probably never will! :?
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