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I bought my Minolta camera at least 4 years ago. Having tried a variety of friends' compact cameras I decided to get one myself. I'd been pleasantly surprised that the quality of photographs compared well to my SLR camera. My main gripe with my existing camera was that it was so bulky and obvious that I was sometimes loath to pull it out on display, especially in places I was unfamiliar with, where I felt more vulnerable to being robbed.
Unfortunately, I didn't go out and buy a Pentax compact like most of my friends had. No, I thought that if you spent more on a camera, you'd get more. Not true. Especially in the light of the fact that the camera's price was slashed in half about 2 months after I made the purchase (gutted? You bet). I bought the camera in Argos for £400, it quickly became available at £200, and the last time I looked, the camera was selling at around £150.
There were a few plus-points which influenced me to buy the camera in the first place. Its compact size was appealing, it fit well into the palm of my hand. However, this camera would look and feel really chunky against today's digital cameras. The silver casing was appealing. When I bought it, the new millennium was approaching so silver was the thing. And the smooth curves of the casing have a certain appeal. The camera still LOOKS attractive, for what that's worth!
The integrated flash is a useful inclusion. The flash and auto winding mechanism are both operated by a small disc battery (similar to the type you find in digital watches) which lasts more than a year and costs around £5 for a pack of 2. You can set the flash to automatic, anti-redeye or shut it off. The fact that you could select for the flash NOT to go off was a deciding factor.
The extra wide-angle facility was another deciding factor, but wider angles and closer zooms are more widely available now. There is a macro feature which allows you to take extreme close-ups with a nicely blurred background (would the more technically-minded of you call that a narrow depth-of-field? I dunno). This is a great feature when the camera will let you use it. If the camera decides that the lighting is not adequate, or the focus not matching the distance of the object being photographed, it simply will not let you take the picture. I like to feel that I have more control over a camera than this, even if it DOES mean I take a substandard picture!!
Seems already as though we have moved away from the pleasing elements of this camera. Before launching into the full-scale attack on its weaknesses, I'll add briefly that the camera is easy to load/unload, it's lightweight, it comes with a case..... Errr.... Oh, it also has a number of focussing 'options': macro I've already mentioned (shows as a flower symbol on the digital display next to the indication of remaining exposures), an infinity focus, which is good for landscape/cityscape/long distance shots, also for taking photos out of coach or train windows (this is shown as a mountain range symbol on the display) and a night-focus (shown as a person with a star behind them). This one doesn't seem to work. It's meant to light up and focus on the foreground when there is a busyness of lights in the background, eg firework displays, lit displays, bars and other nightlife... All pictures I've taken in those conditions still look a bit muddy.
My biggest gripe with this camera rests on the fact that the viewfinder is not within the lens, so a potentially well-composed picture is destroyed by becoming off-centre. The view finder also shows you less than the actual photographable area, so not only is every image pushed left of the picture you thought you were taking, but also another centimetre all round the print was never meant to be photographed.
Also, the viewfinder is extremely difficult to look through! You need to angle the camera around loads before you can actually see anything through it. It appears to be too small! After a year's usage, I did get used to that, but it still doesn't rest easy against the eye - you feel a bit divorced from the camera, and I believe it should feel a part of you.
The resulting prints are always a bit lacking in colour also. I have used a variety of films, and never have seen the vibrancy of colour I would hope for.
The wide-angle lens seems great at first, in that you can cram a whole lot into one image. But wide angles on distance shots, result in a very flattened-out looking image. This works much better on more close-up images, particularly portraits, giving the subject bendy contortions, similar to looking at yourself in the back of a spoon.
So, on paper, the camera looked to have a wide range of features and capabilities. In fact, unfortunately, it doesn't perform anything like as well as an SLR. I'm only sorry it's proved to be so durable or I could have replaced it by now! Heartily unrecommended...
Absolutely brilliant op with loads of great detail. I also take crappy pictures (heads cut off, people squashed up on the left with unnesscesary scenery taking up most of the picture, red eye etc...) so this sounds like the camera for me! Found out my wu name, by the way. Big Wicker Ventriloquist, I believe it's spelt.
Clare_1 08.10.2001 13:45
Wow, for £400 it seems like you got a really rough deal - try mine - £40 and it is a Minolta (I think). Bit bulky but it produces great pictures and is very cheap! Great op. Clare