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Old Apr 28, 2010, 6:26 AM   #1
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Default Panasonic ZR1 - left side image quality degrades?

I recently purchased a Panasonic ZR1, mainly due to the advice of this forum. I must say that I love the features, the size, the price, etc.

However, the far left side of my images seems very blurry - and the rest of the picture to a lesser extent. It's very noticeable at full-size and somewhat noticeable even at 1280 x 1024 resolution on my screen. Especially so when viewing at 1280 and jumping back and forth between different pictures.

Now I know that the ZR1 is not an expensive camera. I don't plan to look at every picture I take at full zoom, and I accept that some noise goes with the territory. (I've also been fairly happy with the ZR1 in low light with the flash off, accepting some imperfections as a given.)

However, I recently had a chance to shoot 4 or 5 pictures side by side with a ZS7, and the ZS7 pictures are remarkably sharper. I have also looked at full resolution ZR1 pictures online and do not see the same blurriness problem with them.

Is it possible that my specific ZR1 is defective in some way, or is this simply the quality I can expect from the ZR1 model? I really want to like this camera, and if an exchange at Costco will do the trick, I will be thrilled.

This first ZR1 picture was taken in iA while the camera rested on a table and I used the timer to trip the shutter. The same settings applied to the ZS7 picture following. A link to the full size pictures is below. I notice that the bamboo on the left is much sharper with the ZS7, as is the tree next to the house and the trees at the top. (The ZR1 is at 400 iso, and the ZS7 is at 320 iso, but the difference seems larger than it should be.)

ZR1:




ZS7:




Full size ZR1: http://img191.imageshack.us/img191/2999/p1010293n.jpg

Full size ZS7: http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/8553/p1010086z.jpg


This next picture was handheld. It is possible that I moved, which blurred the ZR1 picture, but pretty much all of the pictures turn out slightly soft or blurry whether I rest the camera or not. Comparing at 1280 side by side, I notice big differences in the frame at the top middle and at the plant on the far left. The way the plant looks is fairly characteristic of all my ZR1 shots in that area of the photos.

ZR1:




ZS7:





Full size ZR1: http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/262/p1010294e.jpg

Full size ZS3: http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/1807/p1010087i.jpg


One final shot was taken at the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA. I'm fairly happy with the quality of the overall picture, but the image really degrades on the far left. This one is best viewed at full resolution. The majority of the image is reasonably sharp, but the left side is soft and blurry, especially the white tent area. The "Sweet Shop" tent isn't really in the corner, so even corner blurring wouldn't explain it. The whole left is simply poor compared to the rest of the image.





full size: http://img153.imageshack.us/img153/9837/p1010318y.jpg

Does anyone have any ideas? I think the last image shows best what I am talking about, but the ZS7 comparisons show a definite difference as well. I have more examples if necessary, but the last picture is a great example of the problem. Thanks for any help you can provide!
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 8:22 AM   #2
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My first thought when looking at them was that you're just seeing a normal Depth of Field issue (objects further away from your focus point are blurry due to DOF limitations, since it looks like you're letting the camera select the focus point for you and a camera will often select a closer subject if you don't pick the focus point yourself). See this page for more info on Depth of Field:

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

But, even though the subjects on the left side of the frame are further away from where your camera likely focused, that still looks like something else could be going on, and you'll have a lot of DOF with a camera like yours.

I'd take a photo of a brick wall, newspaper or something similar. Make sure your camera is square to the target (not tilted left, right, up or down). I'd use the Center Focus point for testing. If all 4 corners are equally soft (provided you're sure your camera is square to a flat target), then it's probably fine. If not (blurrier in one corner or side versus the others), you may have an optical element or sensor alignment issue (my best guess as to your problem), and need to return it for service. I'd try it with a tripod and turn stabilization off for the tests (as using stabilization with a tripod can cause blur with some systems).
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 9:13 AM   #3
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i agree, i would shoot something completely flat to see if you have some decentering issues. if there is a real decentering issue, contact panasonic it should not be this way.
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Old Apr 29, 2010, 10:42 AM   #4
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Thanks for the help guys! I did another outdoor test and found that the left side was basically blurry. The camera went back to Costco with no fuss.
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Old Apr 29, 2010, 12:07 PM   #5
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navraster-

Did they replace it with another ZR1 for you?

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 29, 2010, 5:28 PM   #6
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They offered to. The Costco stores in Orange County, CA had collectively about 50 ZR1 cameras in stock between 3-4 stores.

After spending time comparing the ZS7 to the ZR1, I decided to just spend more money and get the ZS7. I'll use the GPS feature as I camp and travel quite a bit.

Costco also had a model called the ZS6. It appeared to be identical to the ZS7 minus the GPS feature. (Not a typo - this was not the ZS5. It had the 3" screen and stereo sound.) Unfortunately, Costco wanted $289 for that product. After local taxes, the ZS7 ended up being just $15 more on Amazon.
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Old Apr 29, 2010, 7:36 PM   #7
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navraster-

Thanks for the info. I believe that the ZS6 might be a camera that Panasonic has been selling Europe as the TZ65.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 29, 2010, 8:01 PM   #8
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its actually the TZ9.

it is basically a the ZS5/TZ8 with a bigger screen.
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