My Minolta A1 has died. What's a good replacement?

melliott1963

Novice Member
Hi.

After several years of good service, my Minolta A1 has died and I've been told by Jessops that they can no longer get parts to repair. Not too worried about this because it gives me a good excuse to buy a new toy :D

It's been a while since I looked at cameras so am looking for advice. Here's my requirements at present.

  • It's probably stating the obvious, but my number one priority is image quality.
  • I don't want to move up to an SLR, but also don't want a tiny compact
  • It needs a simple 'point and click' operation (for my wife), and well as the ability to set things manually - focus, shutter speed etc.
  • I'd like a good size optical zoom lense, but also one which starts fairly wide. I've seen quite a lot that start around 35mm equiv, but would prefer somewhere nearer 28mm.
  • Obviously, with a large zoom lense, some form of image stabilisation would be prefered (unless they all come with it these days).
  • A decent flash or the ability to take an external flash gun.
  • I have no particular budget in mind - If I see a camera that meets my requirements and that I'm happy with, I'm fairly certain that I'll be able to afford it.
  • I used to like Fuji cameras but, when I bought my Minolta, was put off them because even on the finest jpeg setting, Fuji tended to use a lot of compression which showed digital artifacts especially in, for example. clear blue skies. Looking at the Fuji specification for the S9600 it would appear that this is still the case.
I'll be looking to buy after Christmas as hopefully there'll be a few bargains to be had. It will also give me a bit of time to sort out what I want.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
 

melliott1963

Novice Member
I was really looking for an 'SLR like' camera (as my A1 was). Also, 3x optical zoom isn't that great. I think a 6 or 7 times and above is more what I'm loooking for. Plus no manual focus on the S60 ?
 

melliott1963

Novice Member
My budget, as already mentioned, is basically going to be as much as it costs to get what I want. I'm pretty certain that there aren't going to be any 'high-end' non SLR digital cameras that I won't be able to afford.

I should probably also have mentioned that I'm the sort of person who normally isn't happy unless I've bought a top of the range model (at the time of buying, my Minolta A1 was the best Minolta did) or as near to it as possible.

Hope this helps.

With regards to the Fuji, I'm still a little concerned that Fuji use a high compression rate when saving jpeg files, even on the finest setting. I notice (from Fuji's web site) that the S9600 9M pixel camera fine jpg files are around 4.5Mb. This sounds quite small to me and I worry that there will be imperfections in the final image because of the compression.
 

RobDickinson

Well-known Member
Shoot RAW? Most of these type do it.

IMO the best of the bunch is the Pany FZ50 but it only starts at 35mm. Think the Sony R1(?) does 24mm but only goes to 120mm.

dSLR's can be used Point and Shoot as well as in all the modes you had on the A1, apart from swapping lenses and no EVF there pretty much the same.

I went from an A2 to a 350d, big step up in performance (& the A2 had some 'issues').

I'd recomend something like a cheap Nikon (D40 or D50) and the 18-200vr (Image stabalised) if you go that way, canon dont have a do it all lens with IS at the moment though i think sigma is bringing one out soon.
 

melliott1963

Novice Member
Thanks for the replies so far.

I'd rather not shoot RAW - I have enough trouble as it is finding the time to sort and print my photos without having to add another step!

i was looking around last night and like the look of the Canon S3. Whilst it only starts at 36mm, I notice that they do sell an adapter to take it down to 27mm. Are these any good (both the camera and the adapter)?

I do also like the look of the Fuji 9600, with it's fast startup time and tiny shutter lag, but would like to be reassured over the issue of jpeg compression and digital artifacts - perhaps it is not an issue these days.

As far as moving up to a dSLR, I'd rather not. Pre-digital days I had an SLR with all the gear and was heavily into photography so didn't mind lugging it all around and changing the lenses as and when needed. However, these days, we have enough to carry around (having 2 kids) so I'd rather an 'all-in-one' package.

Will keep looking around - I've got time as I don't intend buying until the new year sales.
 

Ikki

Novice Member
A couple of suggestions:

Kodak P880, It has a superb 24-140mm lens which while nearly 6X doesn't really need stabilisation for most uses. The camera produces excellent results and feedback from users is universally good and the camera is available for bargain prices of around £200.

Fuji S6500, again available for just over £200, it has gained great reviews and users seem to like it a lot. The sensor is the same as in the Fuji F31fd, so high iso performance is good. The only caveat is that the lack of stabilisation will be felt more at the 300mm end of the lens.

Which adapter you buy for the S3 is up to you and the quality varies, there are also tele extenders as well. Which ever you go for will add quite a bit to the cost of the camera and the image quality won't be as good.

At the risk of upsetting Panny users, the lenses are excellent and the handling is great, but the FZ20, FZ30 and FZ50 have excessive noise at anything above iso100 and it gets worse as you go from the FZ20 to the FZ50. If you will only use very low iso and can live with a wide end of 35mm then they would be a good choice.
 

Pirate!!

Banned
Ahoy there!

Sounds like a prosumer/bridge type camera is what you need from your list of requirements. Take a look at the Panasonic DMC-FZ7 and the Canon S3-IS. The latter is on Amazon @ £245.00.

To be honest, the best compromise in terms of size, features etc is possibly the Panasonic DMC-FZ30 (discontinued and superceded by the FZ50). If you can find an FZ30 for circa £300, you'll get a decent camera for your money with all the features you're looking for.

Plenty of reviews online for all the models mentioned.
 

melliott1963

Novice Member
Thanks again for the replies.

I think I have more or less settled for the Canon S3, although before I make my final decision, I'm going to look into the Panasonic DMC-FZ7.

One small thing about the Canon that I've read which slightly concerns me is that, apparently, indoor shots of people are prone to red eye with the inbuilt flash. This is something that rarely happened with my Minolta A1. Can anyone with an S3 confirm or deny this? If, however, this is the only thing that I find against buying it, I won't be put off too much as red eye is easily fixed on the computer.
 

melliott1963

Novice Member
A2 is selling n Ebay now for about £200.
Bargain when you think how much your A1 cost
Yes it certainly is a bargain, albeit 2nd hand. I seem to recall I paid somewhere around £650 for my A1 :eek:

However, now I know that Konica Minolta have pulled out of the camera market I'm loathed to buy another one, knowing that should it go wrong there's no chance of it getting repaired.

Have been looking a bit more into the Panasonic DMC-FZ7 and whilst reviews seem mostly favourable, there does seem to be an issue with excessive noise at anything above ISO 100. I'll download some sample images (not from panasonic's web site) and see if the noise level is acceptable or not.

I'll also be downloading S3 samples so I can compare, although I think I'm still leaning towards the S3 at the moment.
 

Pirate!!

Banned
Ah! The art of post processing and noise reduction software. Don't let the noise issue put you off a Panny as it really isn't a big deal at all. If you want 'noiseless' images, then you'll have to go dSLR, otherwise I reckon all cameras will produce 'noise' at certain levels.

That said, I still think the FZ30 is the pick of the bunch, but it's your money. I just hope you try before you buy. As I've probably stated many times in the past, it's a trait with Panasonic that they have a relatively small sensor which effictively is the reason for the 'noise' issue. Whilst it appears that you are seeking a bridge/prosumer option, the requirements you listed would be covered by the FZ30/FZ50, though I'm sure the Canon would be a worthy consideration.

As with the flash, the S3 and FZ7 have the pop-up type, so unless you can make some sort of diffuser or bouncer, it will be face on when used. The FZ30/50 have hot shoe mounts (I have an older FZ3 model and an Olympus E500 dSLR). I'm not sure there is a perfect camera in this category because the choice is limited to only a few (mostly Panasonic).

Whatever you decide on, I hope you will enjoy it. Post some images when you can.
 

melliott1963

Novice Member
Well I've downloaded some sample images from Steves Digicams and printed them off as I would if they were my own.

There really is very little difference between the two, although possibly the Panasonic has a slight edge. I'm sure if I wasn't to have the comparison, I'd be happy with both. I'll get some samples from other places as the slight difference between the two could be down to the time of year that the photos were taken (February for the FZ7 and May/June for the S3).

Having had a quick look at the FZ50, it certainly looks good, although I'm not sure I really need 10 Megapixels, nor the extra cost!

I'll definitely post some of my photos once I've made my decision and purchase. It's a shame that, in this category of cameras (or maybe every category?) there doesn't seem to be 'the perfect camera'. Many are excellent, but all fall down in one area or another albeit only minor details in some cases.
 

rct

Novice Member
melliott1963 - how has your A1 died? Does it switch on? The A1 (along with many other cameras) is part of a recall for failed CCDs made by Sony. If it is the CCD that has died, your camera will be repaired for free. Konica-Minolta's UK agents are JP Service Solutions - 01782 753344

My Minolta 7Hi is currently with them being repaired.
 

melliott1963

Novice Member
I think it could be the CCD that has died. The camera turns on OK, but the display on both the EVF and the CD screen is predominantly magenta in colour, and is an extremely blurred image (quite interesting actually!). However, the text on the displays is still perfect and clear. I can also take photos, but they come out exactly as displayed i.e. magenta and blurred.

I'll give JP a ring and see what they say.

Having said this, now that I've started looking at new cameras, I might be disappointed if I can get it fixed free as I was quite looking forward to a new toy to buy!


*** EDIT ***
I've just done a search for this recall and found the Minolta announcement, and my fault is exactly as they discribe and show in their sample images. Looks like I'll have to get it sent off and repaired free -There's no way I can now justify buying a new camera to my other half :(
 

chasmanp

Standard Member
It would be worth while looking down the repair pathway or not as the case tends to be now.My minolta A1 died the CCD failed and due to the delay (no CCDs expected before March 2007) my insurance company have decided to offer a replacement camera, but I understand that without this insurance sony are offering a pro rata compensation for delays over 3 months, couple this with the recent reduction in camera prices you could get a very nice 5 to 7 million pixel one for the money offered or put it towards a newer model.

On the matter of minolta pulling out of the camera market I feel it was more a case of being pushed as sony managed to remove a strong competitor by merging with or buying out minolta and then utilized the very successful image stabilization technology which is now a highly promoted as their own!

Anyway you have nothing to lose by seeing what the repair agents have to say.

Good Luck
 

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