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Minolta A2 opinions?

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by witters, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. witters

    witters
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    Can anyone comment on the new A2 please? Looks like an ideal carry around complement to an SLR:D
     
  2. Juliesinar

    Juliesinar
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    Hi,

    I bought one a few weeks ago as a more portable alternative to my 10D, when all of the heavy hardware would be overkill.

    I have not had a great deal of time to use it yet, but here a few of my first impressions:

    EVF very poor. This is the first camera I have with an EVF, previously owning a Nikon 950 and Canon G3. I had read so much about how great the EVF was on the A2, but it's only when you're out and about actually using it that you realise how poor it is (I'm guessing all current EVFs are as bad). There is way too much contrast, bright areas blow, extreme lack of detail, seems to display colour casts as well. I think it is really only useful for basic subject framing when the light is too bright to use the rear lcd screen.

    This may not be a big deal to you if you are used to using the rear screen to compose your images, but I feel more comfortable using a viewfinder and at the moment I'm trying to unlearn that when using the A2.

    Auto white balance is very poor compared to any other camera I have owned, but setting manual white balance is very easy.

    The built in flash exposes very poorly, often I need up to +1 stop exposure compensation, I don't think it's a big deal though, especially if it proves to be consistent.

    Noise is bad, worse than I thought it would be at lower ISO speeds, as bad as expected at higher ones. If you have not used a DSLR before you might not notice it as much, and it's not massively obtrusive at ISO 64, if you have used a DSLR I think you will notice it, but if you're prepared to use some noise reduction software it can be reduced.

    My Canon G3 seemed silky smooth at ISO 50, the A2 at 64 is much less so. Like a lot of digicams the A2 also blows out highlights, but keeping the problem under control by exposing for the highlights, and then pulling the detail in the shadows later in photoshop is a bit problematic as the shadows are very noisy.

    You might think I would hate the A2 after all the criticism, but in fact I really like it, and if I was in the market again for this type of camera I would still buy it. Like a lot of people I looked at the full range of "prosumer" cameras before choosing the A2:

    Sony 828 (love the swivel screen but just too big for me),
    Canon Pro 1 ( No manual zoom, did not fit comfortably in my hand)
    Olympus 8080 (no top plate LCD or full time battery indicator)
    Nikon 8700 (35mm not wide enough for me).

    The 28-200mm manual zoom on the A2 is excellent and performs well, the A2 feels great in the hand, with a really nice grip, being able to change 99% of the functions without ever having to go through menus is a real benefit, and the layout is intuitive and easy to learn.

    AF is much faster than my old G3 (though of coarse cannot match my 10D), I really love the ability to overlay a grid on the screens to aid composition, it was something I was able to do, by changing focusing screens in my old manual SLR days, and I'm finding it very useful in keeping horizons straight.

    Generally the A2 feels quick and responsive and I think is very good value for money for the features and quality of images. It's a long way from being perfect, but if you can live with it's problems I think you will be very pleased with it.

    Julie
     
  3. witters

    witters
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    Thanks for your thoughts Julie. I find your description of the EVF a bit worrying. Amateur Photographer called the A2's EVF " the best EVF system of any digital camera past or present":D

    I guess the only way is to take a look for myself on that one.

    Noise levels are also worrying but it seems to be inherrent in this 8MP chip, which AFAIK is used on all the cameras you mention.
     
  4. Juliesinar

    Juliesinar
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    Hi,

    I did not mean to imply that the EVF was not " the best EVF system of any digital camera past or present", just that IMO the EVF design is not highly evolved enough to be good enough for me, I come from a background of 20 years of SLR use, and therefore very used to optical viewfinders.

    I had read so many posts at DPreview and many people said that the optical viewfinder was dead as the EVF was so superior, so I think my expectations were very high, and the reality just could not live up to them. As I said, I've never used a camera with an EVF so I can't comment on whether the A2 is comparatively brilliant, many people who've had more experience with them than me, seem to think it is much better, so I would think they are certainly right.

    As I said, it seems that my expectations were too high, had I not been told how amazing the A2's EVF was, and how some folks thought it was better than an optical viewfinder (I'm not sure what these people must have been smoking to come to that conclusion!!) I might not have been so dissapointed.

    I think you are right, check them out at length, and make up your own mind, now I'm over my EVF dissapointment I'm loving the camera more and more, the suns just come out now so I'm going to take some pics,

    Julie
     
  5. melliott1963

    melliott1963
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    I've got an A1, the previous model to the A2, but feel I can comment as the A2 is very similar to the A1.

    I have to agree that the EVF is not as good as an optical viewfinder, but it is a lot better than my previous camera's EVF (Fuji 2800). The positive thing about this, however, is that the results are far far superior to how you think they're going to be! The LCD screen is very good (again a lot better than my Fuji) and it takes an exceptionally bright sunny day for you not to be able to use it.

    I'm interested to read, and in a way a bit relieved, the comments about the flash under exposing. I was beginning to think I had a rogue camera, but it would appear it is a common fault. But again, if you do get this problem, it is very quick and easy to increase the flash compensation level. When it does get the exposure right, however, the results are excellent, with skin tones being very natural in appearance.

    One excellent feature of the A2 that I wish the A1 had, is the ability to shoot photos in the standard 3:2 ratio as opposed to the common digital 4:3 ratio. I have to try and remember not to fully fill the frame if I'm going to be printing 6x4 photos as in 4:3 mode, you always have to crop the top and bottom of the photo.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. witters

    witters
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    All opinions help!

    Don't know if you are aware or not - the EVF on the A2 is said to be 4 times higher resolution thatn the A1. Should make quite a significany difference.
     
  7. Juliesinar

    Juliesinar
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    I've just noticed that dpreview.com have posted their in depth tests of the Olympus 8080, KM A2, Canon Pro 1 and Nikon 8700, it might be worth reading them.

    Julie
     
  8. Wasabi

    Wasabi
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    Prosumers 8m pix

    benchmark site nr1, www.DPreview.com rates
    Olympus 1st, followed by the remaining as a group Canon, Nikon, KM, Sony.

    Although, looking at the scores they do favour Canon and Nikon a touch more than KM and Sony.


    www.steves-digicams.com also a true benchmark site, rates

    Olympus and KM much better than Nikon, Canon, Sony.

    In our opinion, the A2 is superior to this year's 8-megapixel entries from Sony, Nikon and Canon in terms of optical quality with noticeably less chromatic aberration problems. If you're looking for a feature-rich, high-resolution, digicam with an exceptional electronic viewfinder and image stabilization, the Minolta DiMage A2 is worthy of your consideration.

    The C-8080 will undoubtedly make Steve's "Best of 2004" short list of recommended 8-megapixel cameras.

    Wasabi
     
  9. RobDickinson

    RobDickinson
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    Looked at a few cameras in jessops, ditched my Z2 aspirations, just cheap and tacky (least the Z1 was).

    Looking at the A2 now, lotta £ more but will last a lot longer and give me all I want control wise (below dSLR anyhow).

    The C-8080 looks ok but only 5x zoom and no image stabalisation, which I htink will benifit me a ton, the A2 lens looks a corker, images on the A2 are softish but detailed, will be mostly landscape type photo's rather than people.

    The A2 does liik the best choice to me and I dont want the haslte of dSLR ( canon 300d is roughy same price without lens).
     
  10. witters

    witters
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    What hassle of DSLR?
     
  11. Juliesinar

    Juliesinar
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    the only hassles that I find in using a DSLR are:

    Weight. my 10D and 3 lenses and flash unit are bulky/heavy
    Dust on Sensor. However carefully you change lenses it is almost impossible not to get dust on the sensor.

    Other than those I think DSLRs are much less hassle than digicams as I find them more responsive and easier to use.

    Julie
     
  12. RobDickinson

    RobDickinson
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    Bulkier equipment/more lenses/higher cost mainly.

    I dont even manage amature photographer never mind semi pro type either , the A2 (poss with add on wide angle/telephoto) will I asume give me all the features I need.

    To get a dSLR with similar lens range + image stabalisation will be how much? Digital rebel is £600+ without lens and I'm already pushing the costs as I am going to need some decent storage too (+spare batteries case etc...)
     

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