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Old Jul 25, 2004, 10:11 PM   #1
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Okay, I'm at real cross roads here. We are looking for a good, high-quality Digicam, that is small enough to fit in a pocket. has a decent sized screen in the back and takes really excellent pics.

did a decent about of research and was about to go with the W1. Had just about everything we wanted, perhaps the top end of the compact scale for us, willing to live withthe trade off for great pics. Then We started reading all the posts about soft focus problems and lack of detail and depth and now we don't know what to do>

Help!! so if not the W1 What do people suggest??






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Old Jul 25, 2004, 10:16 PM   #2
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I'm in the exact same boat and would be interested in any responses. I'm currently thinking about waiting to see what the replacement for the Canon A80 will be. I suspect there will be some more cameras announced this fall in anticipation of the holiday season, so I think I will wait until then to see what comes out.

It really is a shame that the W1 has such problems with pictures coming out too soft. I hope somebody will make a camera that takes good pictues, and has features similiar to the W1.
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Old Jul 25, 2004, 10:51 PM   #3
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barkingdog wrote:
Quote:
Okay, I'm at real cross roads here. We are looking for a good, high-quality Digicam, that is small enough to fit in a pocket. has a decent sized screen in the back and takes really excellent pics.

did a decent about of research and was about to go with the W1. Had just about everything we wanted, perhaps the top end of the compact scale for us, willing to live withthe trade off for great pics. Then We started reading all the posts about soft focus problems and lack of detail and depth and now we don't know what to do>
Exactly what are you looking for in a subcompact model (you mentioned it "had about everything we wanted")?

Personally, I don't think the Sony pics are too bad. I took a look at some of the sample albums on pbase from W1 users. Yes, some seemed a little soft, but that could just be users confused on how to use the focus system.

If you don't need all of the "bells, whistles and buzzers" in the W1 (better video mode, lens accessories, etc.), then another small model to consider would be the Minolta G500. The screen is not large like the W1's, but it's very high quality, and also gains up well in low light (something that I've read is a problem with the W1).

In fact, at a recent concert, I was sitting with a friend using a Canon A80. We were both surprised at how much better the LCD was on my camera, when recording or playing back the images. BTW, I actually purchased a Sony DSC-P10 last year, but after giving a good workout, I decided to return it for a refund.

I then purchased the Konica KD-510z (which is identical to the Minolta G500). I like it MUCH better (metering accuracy, color accuracy, ergonomics, etc.). I rarely need to do any post processing on my photos except for redeye correction (which you'll have with all small cameras, since their flashes are located so close to the lens).

You can see some photos from mine at http://www.pbase.com/jcockfield/konica_kd510z

Note that all of the photos in this album are "straight from the camera" except for redeye reduction on some.

BTW, when comparing photos from any cameras understand that when looking at photos at their original size, you're seeing an extremely larger image (much larger than you'll ever be likely to print at). So, take this into consideration, too. I'm not sure how users were judging the images from their W1's. Sometimes, expectations are just set too high.


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Old Jul 26, 2004, 10:22 AM   #4
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Thanks for thoughts. I have revisit minolta G500. I read the review on it here a few weeks ago and remember not being impressed, but I don't recall why. That was before I started reading all the fuzzy image posts about the W1.

As to what I want: 5(maybe 4) MP, 1.8 or larger LCD ( the 1.5 and smaller seem too small to me); great battery life and hopefully a battery meter (an issue with the powershots i believe); good manual and auto controls. Not pro level, but I do want some manual options. Small--certainly no bigger than the w1 - Canon A60s, etc seem too big and oddly shaped to me. minium lag time -- We'll be photographinga 3 year old a lot, so anyone with kids knows lag time is a big issue. Decent enough flash for goodindoor shots--family, parties, that sort of thing. red-eye reduction. AF assist lamp for darker or indoor shots. optical view finder; at least 3x optical zoom; easy to use.

And Of course great pics!!!

two things stop me from using my cameras: too big to lug around (my slr) or crummy pics (my old aps point-n-shoot)






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Old Jul 26, 2004, 11:26 AM   #5
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barkingdog wrote:
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Thanks for thoughts. I have revisit minolta G500. I read the review on it here a few weeks ago and remember not being impressed, but I don't recall why. That was before I started reading all the fuzzy image posts about the W1.
Well, if you want high resolution/high frame rate video recording, you won't have it in the G500. It also does not have a video out feature. So, you may have been looking at this.

Also, the G500 does not have an autofocus assist lamp, so you may have considered that a negative. Personally, I've found autofocus to be fine indoors without it-- especially at full wide angle, where these cameras have tremendous depth of field. In fact, my KD-510z (G500) will focus in conditions that the Nikons I've owned would not. I've been very pleased with it.

BTW, Konica-Minolta just released a firmware upgrade for this model, that users are reporting does improve autofocus using zoom (where less light can reach the sensor through the lens). Keep in mind that a smaller camera's lens is typically rated at around F/2.8 at wide angle, dropping off to around F/4.9 at full zoom.

So, dramatically more light can reach the sensor through the lens at wide angle. Personally, I take most of my indoor photos at full wide angle anyway.

As for Autofocus Assist Lamps, I personally don't like 'em. They tend to be annoying to your subjects, and spoil facial expressions, etc. In fact, my wife hated a Sony DSC-P10 I purchased last year because of this reason. I also found autofocus accuracy to be "hit and miss" with it anyway. Although, mine was a relatively early production model, so Sony may have made some improvements along the way. I'd much prefer a camera with good low light Autofocus, without the need for a lamp.

One of the nice features of the G500 is that you can program the controller keys with fixed focus choices, too (1m, 2m, 4m, macro focus, autofocus, infinity). You can allow or deny any of these choices, making it very simple to toggle through them if you're in extremely low light conditions.

Depth of Field (the amount of your photo in focus, as you get further away from your focus point) is based on Aperture, Focal Length, and Distance to Subject. Because the sensors are small in these cameras, the image circlesaresmaller, too. As a result, the lenses canbe a shorter focal length, to get the same equivalent focal length in a 35mm camera. For example, the lens on the G500 has an actual focal length 8-24mm, to get a 35mm equivalent focal length of39-117mm. As a result, DOF (Depth of Field) is much greater.

So, in extremly low light, you can toggle to a 2 Meter fixed focus, and your shots from 4.3 feet to 13.9 feet at wide angle (where you'll take most indoor photos at anyway) will be in focus. This feature is pretty rare in a consumer model (fixed focus choices), and is MUCH easier to use than the typical manual focus options you sometimes find.

See this handy DOF calculator:

http://dfleming.ameranet.com/dofjs.html

Plug in Konica KD-500z (same lens and sensor as the KD-510z or G500), 8mm (wide angle), 2 Meter focus point, F2.8 and calculate. This is what you'll have indoors using fixed focus (works out to 4.3 feet to 13.9 feet in focus, without even worrying about the Autofocus). Use of fixed focus will also virtually elminate any shutter lag.

Quote:
...great battery life and hopefully a battery meter (an issue with the powershots i believe)
The only models you're going to find with an accurate representation of battery life remaining are the Sony models using their InfoLithium System. These batteries appear to have a built in microprocessor to help the camera determine minutes remaining.

The waycameras determine battery life remaining, is by simply monitoring the voltage. Unfortunatey, NiMH and Lithium Ion batteries tend to hold their voltage levels very well, until hardly any battery life is remaining. Then, once the voltage drops so that the cameras see it, you don't have much battery life left. As a result, the battery indicatorsare unreliable. So, it's a good idea to have spares with you.

Quote:
good manual and auto controls. Not pro level, but I do want some manual options
Manual control can be a desirable feature -- especially for controlling Depth of Field. However, it's of less value in a camera using such a short focal length lens (actual versus 35mm equivalent), because you have so much more depth of field, compared to a 35mm camera. This is why yousee a lot of complaints that it's difficult to blur backgrounds to help your subjects stand out with a non-DSLR model. The Depth of Field with these shorter focal length lenses is simply too great.

Personally, I only switch to manual exposure mode in my KD-510z (G500) when shooting closeups. This allows me to select a smaller aperture for greater depth of field (since the close distance to subject decreases depth of field at a given aperture).

Note that the G500 does have some limitations in this area. You have a choice of two apertures in manual exposure mode, with the values changing depending on the focal length. However, you do have very fine control of shutter speed, with the cameras metering showing how your choices will impact exposure (+- 2.0 EV in 0.3EV increments).

Quote:
Decent enough flash for goodindoor shots--family, parties, that sort of thing. red-eye reduction


The G500 has a very powerful flash for a subcompact model. They conservatively rated it at ISO 100 (whereas with many models, the rating is using Auto ISO, which increases noise levels). I've gotten very well exposed photos atup to 16 feet from the camera indoors at nightat ISO 200 with it. The flash range in this model was a big factor in my decision to purhase it. I looked at the older KD-500z (which had a fixed ISO speed of 100), and noted that users were getting a better range than rated. Since the newer KD-510z (G500) allows you to boost the ISO speed, your range is increased even more. You have to watch out for how the manufacturers rate their flashes. Sometimes their ratings are "wishful thinking", and use Auto ISO (versus ISO 100)when giving you theflash range in the specs.

As for redeye (or "demon eye" as I sometimes call it), I'm afraid that you'll be very dissapointed with ALL of the subcompact models (including the W1) with a good flash. This is because the flash is simply located too close to the lens. You'll even see lots of complaints with slightly larger models (for example: the Canon A80) -- even when using redeye reduction modes.

These modes can help some, but usually don't eliminate the problem. Basically, all they are doing it using a preflash, which helps to shrink the subjects pupils. So, you have less redeye, but these modeswill usually not help that much.

Personally, I look at redeye reduction like I look at Autofocus Assist Lamps. Even though my camera has redeye reduction, I never use it. Why? When someone sees the preflash, their facial expressions change. This "spoils the shots" -- with fake smiles, eyes sometimes closed, etc.

Redeye Reduction preflashes and Autofocus Assist lamps are both things that I don't like. Of course, opinions vary. BTW, I am getting some reports that Konica-Minolta's new firmware upgrade appears to increase the strength of the preflash in redeye reduction mode. However, I have no way to verify these claims (and I don't want to use it anyway).

Basically, if you want good flash performance (quality, lower redeye), you'll need to go with alarger camera, with the flash located further away from the lens (or better yet, use an external flash).

So, buying a subcompact model requires some compromise. In order to get the convenience of a pocketable camera, you must live with some of the drawbacks.

Now, you can get slave flashes, designed to fire at the same time a camera's main flash fires. These can really help out. You can keep the camera's main flash setto a lower flash strength (or use tape some paper over thecamera flash todiffuse it --still allowing enough light to trigger the slave flash).

However,using an external flashsort of defeats the purpose of having a subcompact model to begin with.

Unfortunately, there is no one perfect camera for all conditions. You'll need to decide what features you're willing to compromise on when selecting one -- especially when looking at subcompact models.

BTW, the Sony W1 is going to be a faster camera than the G500 (although, I'm not sure how it's flash recycle time is, as I found the Sony DSC-P10's to be quite unacceptable to me -- I think you'll find the G500to bebetter than the P10 indoors with flash recycle times at most flash ranges). The W1 may be better in this respect. I'd"test drive" them in a store if I were you.

Also,any opinions you read on a forum like this one, aregoing to be biased (including mine). So, I wouldn't put too much faith in the reports you're seeing about soft focus etc., with the W1. I'd checkout the photos taken with this model yourself - -letting your own eyes be the judge.

In fact, I suspect that some of the users complaining about this issue, are trying to use the Sony's mult-point focus system. Although these can be good when subjects are not located in the center of the frame, you have to watch out for which autofocus point the camera is selecting (it may not be your subject).

Also, most of these systems tend to be more accurate when using the focus point in the center of the CCD. So, simply changing it to a single focus point, then using the "tried and true" technique of half pressing the shutter button while your subject is in the center, then reframing for composition may solve some of these issues.

Of course, you'll need to decide for yourself if any of these problems are valid, or simply user inexperience. No camera is going to take perfect photos, in all conditions, without some user input. The camera is only a tool. You'll need to learn it's behavior, taking advantage of it's strengths and working around it's limitations.


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Old Jul 27, 2004, 5:59 AM   #6
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Wow, I only wish you'd put some thought in your response and knew something about the G500:lol:

Seriously, thanks for a great response. Clearly, I need to look into the G500 more closely. Now I bummed that I missed the Costco q-pon for it last week!

I understand your thinking behind the flash and red-eye and do agree. I understand red-eye and how it needs to be avoided, etc. I think the main things that may of put me off were less manual control and i seem to recall some quaility issues around the edges.

Anyone out there have any other favs that I can look into??? Looks like I'm starting my research over anyway:sad:






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Old Jul 27, 2004, 6:27 AM   #7
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Minolta G500. I have seen the G500 before and there is something you should be wary about. I have read on many posts that the G500 produces good pictures with the exception of blurry corners. Im unsure but please correct me if im wrong. Maybe the new firmware corrects this problem?
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Old Jul 27, 2004, 10:30 AM   #8
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Forte wrote:
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Minolta G500. I have seen the G500 before and there is something you should be wary about. I have read on many posts that the G500 produces good pictures with the exception of blurry corners. Im unsure but please correct me if im wrong. Maybe the new firmware corrects this problem?
I have seen exactly3 reports of asoft left bottom corner at full wide angle (and it only impacted a very small portion of the image, all the way in the bottom left hand corner, and only at full wide angle).

One was from a review site, and the other2 were from users that swapped their cameras and got one that was fine. Even then, unless you were specifically looking for the problem, you probably would not have noticed it in your pics.

This was aQuality Control issue -- not a design flaw. You also see the same types of reports with other cameras, too. Keep in mind with a very small camera, using a very small sensor, manuacturing tolerances for things like CCD and lens alignment must be very precise. So, if any cameras "slip through the cracks" when the machinery is not working "just right", you can get these types of issues.

The best way to check for this (with any camera, not just the G500), is to take photos of newpaper print with your camera. Then, check to see if the corners are all uniform.

I suspect that only avery small number of cameras were impacted.
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Old Jul 27, 2004, 12:16 PM   #9
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barkingdog:

A suggestion:

As I mentioned before, I wouldn't put too much faith in what you see from some of the forum members about one model versus another -- especially if the conclusions drawn by Professional Reviewers are in conflict with these users' opinions.

Often, it's simply user inexperience in using a digital camera (especially if it's their first one) -- unaware of things like making sure to select the correct focus point, etc. Sometimes users also tend to view images at 100% size on screen -- which translates to dramatically larger images than you will ever likelyprint.

Also, user expectations are sometimes too high -- expecting a digital camera model to take perfect photos in all conditions, without any user input. They often forget that they were looking at photos from their old film cameras at smaller 4x6" print sizes, which hides a lot of blemishes, out of focus shots, etc. Also, they forget about the "bad" prints (underexposed, etc.) they got from their film models.

Another common new user mistake is to confuse lack of sharpening in camera with soft or out of focus images.

Better sharpness is an optical illusion with many models. Basically, the image processing internal to the cameras deliberately increases contrast of edges, to make a photo appear to be sharper. This can often lead to unwanted "halos" around the sharpened edge -- especially visible at larger print sizes. As a result, some manufacturersdon't apply quite as much in the camera.

However, when you look at actual detail captured (versus the optical illusion that sharpening can provide), you'll see that in most cases, the model with less sharpening in camera can provide better images (with more "real" versus "perceived" detail -- especially if you apply sharpening using an image editor later.

Most models also allow you to control the amount of sharpening applied (along with other image processing parameters like contrast and saturation).

One other suggestion:

After reading the reviews, and comparing images with your own eyes --- deciding which model is best suited for your needs -- simply buy it from a vendor with a no restocking fee policy. Then, if despite your best efforts to find a "good match", you are not satisfied with it, then simply return it for a refund.


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Old Jul 27, 2004, 1:52 PM   #10
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That's great advice. i love forums just for actual user experience. i realize that many issues may not be issues at all, but i look for patterns. the Soft focus issue with the W1 may be a pattern. it also may be a bit of group think. I mean soft focus is a tough thing to quantify. so, a few folks say they're getting soft images and suddenly you think your images are soft.

Part of this post to ferret out all those satisfied W1 owners and get their 2 cents too. Same withthe g500 whether it has bottom corner distoration or not.

So now my charge is to fine a B&M outlet with a good return policy, no restocking fees and great prices...


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