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  1. #1
    Sitting in a Leaky Dingy Michael Fanelli's Avatar
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    Interesting Look at Minolta A2

    Good hands-on review of Minolta A2 8 MP digicam. It seems to have lots of nice and easily-accessible controls and an EVF that is substantially better than the compettion (but still not as good as a DSLR's optical VF).

    As it uses the same 8MP Sony chip, it suffers from the same high noise and purple fringing as the Sony 828. But as an 8MP smalll-sensor digicam, it looks like a better choice than the others.

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...nolta-a2.shtml
    "Every great decision creates ripples--like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge and rebound off the banks in unforseeable ways.

  2. #2
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    "As it uses the same 8MP Sony chip, it suffers from the same high noise and purple fringing as the Sony 828. But as an 8MP smalll-sensor digicam, it looks like a better choice than the others."

    Interesting, because the A1 was superior - at least in the reviews I read.
    I'm looking at the A2 for motorsport, as a cheap alternative to a Digital SLR while I get some practical experience, upgrading to digital SLR when I can get consistently good results.

  3. #3
    Sitting in a Leaky Dingy Michael Fanelli's Avatar
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    yes...

    Yes, all the new 8 MP digicams are using the same Sony sensor. The only difference between all of these is the "wrapping." I haven't seen the Nikon yet, but it appears that the Minolta engineers did a much better job with the ergonomics and features than the other manufacturers.
    "Every great decision creates ripples--like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge and rebound off the banks in unforseeable ways.

  4. #4
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    I like the Minolta

    I've seen and handled all of them. The Olympus and the Minolta look the most interesting to me and I should be getting both of them to play with. It's sort of nice that I have the Sony DSC-F828 right now as it gives me a good foundation for looking at the others. I actually took a couple of photos with the Minolta and the shutter-lag was very impressive - I couldn't tell there was any. Of course, it's always there, it's just a matter of how noticeable. And the A2, while smaller than you'd think from the photos, feels really good in my hands. I think the Olympus is a little bigger. We actually already have one review for the Olympus C-8080 and one review for the Canon Powershot Pro1.
    Photo-John

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  5. #5
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Look forward to your views of the A2.
    A little belated, since I just ordered one to replace my 3 month old A1 !!

  6. #6
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Post a review!

    If you've just ordered one, then I'm looking forward to seeing what you think

    Once you've had it a week or so, please post a review in the review section. You might be the first. I don't think I'll have one for quite a while, so you'll have to wait to see what I think.

    Hope you like it. I really do think it's probably the winner out of the current 8 megapixel cameras.
    Photo-John

    Your reviews are the foundation of this site - Write A Review!

  7. #7
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Unhappy A2 first impressions

    I bought a dimage A1 in December 2003. Tuesday 23/3 I bought a Dimage A2 to replace it.
    I hope I don't want to buy a Dimage A3 in another 3 months

    The A2 improved EVF is great.
    Functionally, there seems to be little difference between the cameras.
    With one exception - the ISO range now extends to 64 on the A2 instead of 100.
    Otherwise they look and feel the same, as I'd expect.
    Autofocus on the A2 doesn't feel much faster, nor does it feel any better on difficult subjects. But I haven't worked with it at all yet (a conference this weekend will be the first shoot) only played with it.

    The big thing I noticed is while changing settings like ISO, WB, EV, COL/FIL adjustment the icons were all HUGE in the screen while making changes. For me that's great when using the rear screen instead of the EVF because I have trouble focussing close up and on bad days double vision.

    Image stabilization feels different from the A1.
    On the A1 as soon as I turn it on and half-press the shutter button, I can hear it whining as it steps the sensor in response to shake. Do the same to the A2 and I hear nothing despite getting the same on-screen indicator that it's working.
    It's behaving as if the A1 "Exposure Only" setting was the same as "Display+Exp".
    My A1 has firmware 1.01e, the A2 has 1.00e so it's possible it's a firmware issue.

    If I switch the A2 to "Display+Exp" then I can only hear the sensor stepping if I press the camera to my temple - it is so near silent that I thought it didn't work.
    For about 30 seconds that made a great deal of sense, since the sensor size has not changed the pixel size must be smaller. So to correct for a 1-pixel shake the sensor has to move less distance.
    But as you read this I'm sure you've worked out the image displacement for the same shake will be the same and it will affect more pixels on the A2, so the sensor movement ought to be the same.
    I can convince myself either way on this


    While the A2 has many advantages there are a few problems I would like opinions on.

    1) Metering/exposure
    With both cameras set to ISO100 or 800, photographing the same scene at the same time, there is an exposure difference.
    The A2 is slower by about 1/2 - 1 stop. At the same ISO setting.

    KMUK: In response to your question, it is expected that two CCD's with different characteristics will produce different results.
    > Whereas I had expected that two cameras from Minolta would agree on the exposure at what they said was 800ASA under the same conditions.

    KMUK: Therefore the DiMAGE A1 with a 5 Megapixel Progressive Scan CCD will have a difference in image metering (optimum latitude) and colour balance from a DiMAGE A2 with an 8 Megapixel Interlace CCD.
    > Naively perhaps, I would expect though that if both cameras claim to be operating at ISO800 the exposure on the two cameras would be the same if taking photographs of the same scene at the same time!


    1a) BTW this is the first time I'd heard that the A2 is interlaced and the A1 progressive.
    So that raises a technical question - are L-R movement artefacts going to be on alternate lines of pixels (like on my old interlaced Sony Mavica)?
    If I photograph a bird in flight, will it have 4 wings instead of two (like on my old interlaced Sony Mavica)?


    2) Colour
    With both cameras setup identically, white balancing on the same white cloth at the same time, there is a colour difference on the LCD.
    The A2 has a significant green cast which is not reflected in the stored image.
    I asked our creative/photo guy in Marketing (JK) to put both sets of photos through Photoshop and see if they can find a difference.
    JK 24/3: It's the LCD, and the colour rendition (I always work with ADOBE set) is good. Though accordint to JK I wasn't stressing it enough! Subjectively he prefers the images from the A2 to those from the EOS300D, but we'll be able to do a straight comparison at the event this weekend.


    3) Dimage Capture software
    I bought the software to remote control the Dimage A1, it works very well - a good tool.
    I expected the software to work with the A2, since it is advertised in the A2 manual as an accessory.
    It doesn't, the new A2 camera has no Computer Control mode on the interface.
    KMUK: I have to buy a new version of Dimage Capture for the A2 with firmware upgrade. Another 70 please. There is no software upgrade available.


    4) Firmware
    The A2 has firmware 1.00, I expected it would have the more up to date 1.01 version that is compatible with Dimage Capture.
    With the capture software I received a firmware update to 1.01 on CD, but it is labelled as for the A1.
    So I can't use the Dimage Capture software with the A2.
    Is there a firmware download for the A2 anywhere?
    Or are they only available on CD?
    KMUK: resounding silence.

    I have, of course, asked Minolta again on (1a) and (4), and expressed my displeasure at (3) I'm waiting ...


    PAul
    Last edited by SmartWombat; 03-24-2004 at 01:49 PM. Reason: Responses from Minolta 24/3

  8. #8
    Junior Member Mathiau's Avatar
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    What is the ease of use for this camera? i am a semi newbie but havea good learning curve and want to get into some outdoor photography and am looking @ an A2.....

    My past experience was a Dimage 5 of a friends i used often for over a year- currently only have a sony Sony DSC-p52.


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  9. #9
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Ease of use

    Well it's a tricky question to answer without knowing what you're going to use it for.

    You could just put it in AUTO mode or P mode and let the autofocus, auto white balance, and auto exposure do it all for you. All you have to do is adjust the zoom and keep your subject in the viewfinder
    The big thing for me is the image stabilizer built into the camera. Does the work of an expensive lens (that costs probably more than the camera!) on a digital SLR.

    It's also got Aperture and Shutter priority modes at the tweak of a knob, really simple to start moving away from point & shoot to getting more control.

    Manual focus is more of a problem, I can't do it quickly because the focus ring isn't connected to anything except the camera's computer. I had difficulty in getting it to focus precisely (rather than good enough) between 20m and 50m on the racetrack.

    Still subjects, it's delivered some really good shots.
    The sunglasses shot was taken from the top of the F1 pits in Catalunya this week.
    Shot at 200mm with auto exposure, auto focus, stabilizer on, P exposure mode.
    Then cropped to about 800x600 and resized to 640x480 for upload here.

    Note: I use Digimarc watermarks to copyright mark the images.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Interesting Look at Minolta A2-sized0997.jpg  
    Last edited by SmartWombat; 04-09-2004 at 05:54 PM.

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