minolta dimage z1 Build quality??

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by andy, Oct 30, 2003.

  1. andy

    andy Guest

    On Paper the new Minolta Dimage z1 is great, but when I went in the
    shop to buy one, I was really put off. The lense assembly rattled
    audibly when I picked it up, The viewfinder is switched by a
    mechanical shutter and instead of the screen being recessed slightly,
    the whole back of the camera is a smooth glass sheet.

    Surely a rattly lense will give bad focus, the glass back will get
    scratched and dirty and the mechanical switch will jam.

    It felt like the whole left side of the camera was glass and fragile
    and I hardly knew how to hold it!

    But its still a very high spec camera at a very low price.

    Anyone had the same thoughts? Anyone had one a while? are they
    andy, Oct 30, 2003
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  2. andy

    NJH Guest

    I had one for a very short time--a couple of days, and that long only
    because I couldn't get to the UPS drop-off center to ship it back any

    When I received the camera and was taking it out of the package, I wondered
    what was making that clunking sound inside the box. Yep, it was the lens
    barrel. Now I am not put off by a reasonable amount of looseness--my old
    Olympus C-2040 has obvious looseness in the lens barrel too, as do other
    Olympus models I've handled--but it really does seem excessive in the Z1.

    I hate to say this because I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Minolta fan; I have
    several first-rate Minolta DiMAGE cameras including the 7i, 7Hi, F300 and Xt
    and I love them all. But this Z1 really does seem to be cheesy in
    construction. I wondered how they could sell a camera with those specs and
    features at such a low price, and I guess that's the answer. The camera is
    just not the usual Minolta quality or anything remotely like it.

    It was not the loose lens barrel that made me send it back. It was the fact
    that the camera jammed within two hours of my taking it out of the box. That
    ingenious moving mirror that switches the LCD image from the rear glass
    panel to the viewfinder apparently got stuck (what looked like the edge of
    the mirror could be seen pressed against the glass about 1/3 of the way up),
    and it was impossible to return the image to the panel though it still
    showed perfectly in the viewfinder.

    I tried switching the camera on and off, moving the switch lever back and
    forth etc. but nothing worked. I called Minolta at the supplied 800 number
    and quickly got a rep who was very pleasant, tried to be helpful, and who
    decided after discussion that the camera would have to be sent back for
    repair, and Minolta promptly e-mailed me the necessary form. But I'd already
    decided by that time I didn't want any more of the Z1.

    My guess is that the lateral lens looseness, though disturbing, probably
    does not really cause any problems with image sharpness. Since others have
    reported the same looseness, this is likely something designed into the
    camera, or within the design tolerances anyway. It may well be the case that
    my experience with the mirror jamming was unique. But the camera just seems
    to be not up to Minolta's usual build quality in general.

    NJH, Oct 30, 2003
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  3. andy

    andynews Guest

    thanks for that,
    I've found some other user reviews too, yes the lense rattles but
    doesn't seem to affect pictures.
    The glass back is OK apparently - easy to clean someone said.

    but lots of sticking shutters on that viewfinder - total killer.

    andynews, Oct 30, 2003
  4. andy

    Andrew Guest

    I just obtained a dimage Z1, and I have to say so far I love it,
    except the stupid mirror. Like the previous poster, my mirror now
    refuses to transfer back to the large back screen. However, I believe
    this might occur when the camera is low on power, and it will be fine
    when the batteries are replaced. I will test this idea out and get
    back to the group.

    Otherwise, the 10x optical zoom, though it does rattle slightly, gives
    beautiful pictures. The ease of use, the quick start up and quick
    processive picture taking is lovely. I do wish I could store some RAW
    or TIFF format pictures, but you can have everything. I'm happy
    Andrew, Nov 20, 2003
  5. <snip>

    The battery meter only shows when the camera is first switched on - not
    usually looking at a screen at that point. You shouldn't have to "test out"
    changing the batteries to see if that is the problem.
    But that has happened to me a couple of times as well.

    It really, really needs a clear low power warning.

    Apart from that. I've been very happy with 3 weeks usage - it is much
    sturdier than it looks and feels, no scratches or damage yet, and that
    wobbly lens hasn't fallen off either. (Warning sticker "This lens is
    designed to have a random vector free oscillation action until locked in

    Laurence Wilmer, Nov 28, 2003
  6. andy

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    'm at about three weeks now too, and the batteries haven't presented a
    problem here at all, I use one set of 1800ma Uniross and a set of 2000ma
    Uniross. However I still haven't changed them from the 1800's yet, since
    I got it.
    LOL, nice one. It certainly doesn't affect the image quality. FWIW, it
    is a high end 'consumer' camera, and I feel the RAW format may well be
    inappropriate at this level. I certainly don't feel I need better image
    quality than I'm getting. If you set it to the finest quality at highest
    resolution, and import them into Photohop, then save them as an
    uncompressed Photoshop proprietry file while editing, you shouldn't see
    too much loss.

    The biggest problem comes when you try and continually edit a compressed
    jpg, and lose out on each save. Even then I have only really noticed bad
    loss after three or four saves.

    Out of interest, if you set a jpg to minmum compression setting, is this
    actually a *no* compression setting, and therefore no loss? Or is it a
    lossy format whatever you do?
    Andy Hewitt, Nov 28, 2003
  7. I think you're well ahead of me there - I had always assumed that it was the
    editing that caused the data loss, not the act of saving. Is it really
    reconverted to jpg each time? (Always used tiff with PSP).
    I have been careful to keep the original files as they came off the camera -
    partly because my graphics package has always been PSP, and I found that it
    (PSP7) junks exif data is I save from it.

    So I make changes just long enough to print, don't overwrite originals.

    My main concern has been to find a package that will extract the EXIF
    exposure data and add it to the image as a caption, to help me understand
    why some shots are better than others (I am accustomed to classic 1970s
    SLRs, not modern fully auto cameras!).


    PhotoThumb nearly does that, but not quite!
    Laurence Wilmer, Nov 29, 2003
  8. andy

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    That is indeed the case. You open a jpg and it get uncompressed, losing
    any data that was disposed of in the compression originally. As you edit
    it the image quality doesn't change, only in whatever way *you* change
    it. Next time you save the image it is compressed again, losing more
    data in the process, of course the more you do this the problem
    compounds until the image quality is affected severely.
    Yes, that's the way I work too. Indeed I actually keep two originals. I
    allow my card to mount on the desktop of my Mac, and then manually copy
    the images into a chronological folder system I have. This I only ever
    copy from for editing.

    I also ise Apple's iPhoto, into which I seperately import the images. In
    here I edit and save without worrying about the original - iPhoto does
    have a revert to original option (although I don't trust it, hence my
    secondary filing system).

    I use a combination of many graphics apps myself, all which seem to
    maintain the EXIF data (unless I save 'Web Ready' of course). I use
    Photoshop for quick automated editing, I also have the very superb
    shareware app Graphic Converter, which is excellent for saving large
    numbers of images into a different format, although some of its editing
    features can give unpredictable results. I also occasionally use GIMP as
    well, as I find its editing tools easier to use then in Photoshop.

    As a rule I try to do all my editing in one single session and save only
    the once. I haven't noted any degredation at this level.

    If I did need to do more than one session I usually save as a Photoshop
    standard file, or a TIFF (although you can apply jpg compression to a
    TIFF as well!).
    I have no idea on Windows, but all my Mac apps maintain the EXIF data. I
    believe you can get a version of GIMP for Windows. GIMP is a Unix port
    that closely mimics Photoshop, using layers and plugins, but it's free.
    Andy Hewitt, Nov 29, 2003
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