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Old Feb 6, 2005, 3:56 PM   #1
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I know that I've only had the A200 a few days but I've used my Fuji S602 for the past couple of years & never experienced the focus problems that I experienced today.

Today was reasonably bright although the lighting was a bit hazy. During a walk around the coast, I had great difficulty in getting the A200 the lock so I adopted the S602 technique of positioning the focus point just below the horizon but still it would not lock. I then positioned the focus point on an area on the horizon that should should have worked - it didn't. In desperation, I focused on something in the foreground which locked but the distant object was obviously a bit out of focus.

Now I've selected Direct ManualFocus, so I manually adjusted the focus to infinity BUTwhen doing thisyou loose the image that you are composingfor a magnified section which is of little to no use.I kept the camera still, set theDMF to infinity and pressed the shutter. the result looked OK but I'd prefer to only have say 50% of the image magnified so that the total frame is still visible.
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Old Feb 6, 2005, 4:05 PM   #2
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This is another shot that gave no amount of trouble. I would have thought that there was sufficient contrast between the sky & down to have locked this.

On the previous attempt, I was forced to exposure lock & focus on the building bottom left. This image was focused using DMF and setting the focus manually to infinity whilst keeping the camera still to retain the composition.
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Old Feb 6, 2005, 5:05 PM   #3
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I haven't had any focus problems in well-lit scenes, the few that I've tried.

Of course, you've probably done the usual trouble-finding: lens is clean, battery charged, settings verified, etc?

:O
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Old Feb 6, 2005, 11:12 PM   #4
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Wouldn't this be one of the special focusing situations situation that manual warned about on page 33? Did you try flex or one of the other focus modes descibed on page 46?
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Old Feb 7, 2005, 1:32 PM   #5
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hfc1 wrote:
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Wouldn't this be one of the special focusing situations situation that manual warned about on page 33? Did you try flex or one of the other focus modes described on page 46?
In a word - no. Neither was the subject too dark, lacking contrast in the focus frame, two subjects at different distances or near to a bright object; the second example that I posted was a typical well lit scene that should have focused locked with no bother.

Forgive my mentioning it but I did say in my first post that that I had tried ALL three focus methods. The Wide Focus Area failed to lock, The Spot AF Areas failed & several Flexi Focus Points failed whee I would have expected at least some success.

As stated, I locked the exposure and pointed the camera around to eventually find focus lock on the building bottom left in the frame. So yes focus lock was possible but on this example it should have been taken care of by the camera.

During the afternoon that this and another 90+ pictures were taken, I experienced an unacceptable high number of focus lock failures which was consistent withthe DP Review:
Our biggest gripe, however, was with the A200's auto focus which proved to be just as inconsistent as the A2 before it. There are two problems here - one is the wide area focus has a tendency to lock onto the nearest thing in the scene even if it occupies only a tiny part of the frame (see examples below). Far worse, however, is the A200's willingness to take a picture that is completely out of focus, often after indicating that focus lock has been achieved. As with the A2, the focus is fast, but I would estimate around 1 in 20 shots is not correctly focused, probably 1 in 10 when shooting indoors at social occasions (i.e zoomed in slightly, low light, subject distances of 1 to 4 meters).

On my Fuji, I could always point the focus frame at something & get focus lock; I can literally only recall ONE instance when under conditions of total haze did it totally fail.
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Old Feb 7, 2005, 1:58 PM   #6
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BoneDaddy wrote:
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I haven't had any focus problems in well-lit scenes, the few that I've tried.Of course, you've probably done the usual trouble-finding: lens is clean, battery charged, settings verified, etc?
Hi BoneDaddy

Yep. Brand spanking new Minolta ultra thin UV Filter all spotlessly clean with freshly charged NP-800 battery.

This was the first time that I have been able to use the A200 on a reasonably bright day, yes there was some haze about but nothing that should have caused a problem.

Two days previously when I was out on a dull murky overcast day, there were veryfocus lock problems& all were resolved by using either Spot AFor Flexi Focus Points.

Today, I popped out during lunch to try out a couple of things & whilst the sun was out, the level of visibility across The Solent to Southampton was dreadful. Yes I expected & got focus lock issues BUT apart from a couple, surprisingly, I was able to select a distant white sail on the horizon (not Ella MacArthur) and achieve focus lock - just as I would expect.

The only problem & one that I was not surprised at was of the power station chimney emerging from the fog - I used DMF set to infinity for that one.


The jury's still out on whether the A200 is up to resolving my focus issues.
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Old Feb 7, 2005, 11:05 PM   #7
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Are you having second thought on whether you should have purchased this camera or not because of this current focus problem?

I'm thinking of buying this camera but now I'm not so sure.
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Old Feb 7, 2005, 11:41 PM   #8
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Catbells wrote:
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I know that I've only had the A200 a few days but I've used my Fuji S602 for the past couple of years & never experienced the focus problems that I experienced today.

Today was reasonably bright although the lighting was a bit hazy. During a walk around the coast, I had great difficulty in getting the A200 the lock so I adopted the S602 technique of positioning the focus point just below the horizon but still it would not lock. I then positioned the focus point on an area on the horizon that should should have worked - it didn't. In desperation, I focused on something in the foreground which locked but the distant object was obviously a bit out of focus.

Now I've selected Direct ManualFocus, so I manually adjusted the focus to infinity BUTwhen doing thisyou loose the image that you are composingfor a magnified section which is of little to no use.I kept the camera still, set theDMF to infinity and pressed the shutter. the result looked OK but I'd prefer to only have say 50% of the image magnified so that the total frame is still visible.
Hi Catbells..

I thinkthose scenesdidn't havesufficient vertical contrast for focus lock...even strong horizontal lines won'tproduce focus lockona lot ofcameras...not just on the A200. That's likely why it wouldn't focus on the horizon line. Lookfor strong vertical lines such as the edge of a building, a tree, a person, etc A quick way to test this, if you run into it again, is to flip the camera around to portrait mode and see if it will focus on the horizon line.

regards.... Santos
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 11:50 AM   #9
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pfcurd wrote:
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Are you having second thought on whether you should have purchased this camera or not because of this current focus problem?

I'm thinking of buying this camera but now I'm not so sure.
In a word yes.

I carefully read all the available reviews on both the Nkion CP880 & Minolta A200. All reviews indicated that both cameras had difficulty in focusing under conditions of low light particularly at longer focal lengths; the A200 scored slightly better but the CP8800 has a focus assist light which makes it better (short range) under near/total darkness.

I tried my A200 out indoors and whilst disappointed that it was not as good as I had hoped for, it was in keeping with what I had read & accepted this as a limitation - my Fuji S602 also suffers from the same problem.

What really disappointed me was when I was continually getting focus lock problems outdoors on a relatively bright day - OK there was some haze/mist around but over the 2 years that I've had my Fuji S602 which I regularly use every week under all conditions, I can honestly say that I've NEVER experienced that number of failures to point of near desperation.

Now please bear this in mind in drawing your conclusion.

I have been in touch with Minolta on this & a problem with colour inconsistency between adjacent shots.

Minolta Statement
We were running a few tests ourselves and it is working with our camera so we recommend for you to send this camera for a service. In response to your email, it would appear from your comments that your product is faulty and will require the attention of a technician. Please forward it to our Service Department.

My problems may well be due to a fault in myA200.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 4:52 PM   #10
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Catbells wrote:
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I have been in touch with Minolta on this & a problem with colour inconsistency between adjacent shots and they have advised me to return the A200 as they consider it to be faulty.

My problems may well be due to a faulty A200.
These lines seems to raise a couple of questions.

1) If Minolta consider the A200 to be faulty why don't they then announce thismore officially than in a reply to you - and withdraw the camera?

2) You quote Minolta as saying that the A200 *as such* is faulty - and yet you say that your problems may "well be due to a faulty A200".


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