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Minolta Vectis 300
I took a couple of years before I dipped a toe in the APS water – I’ve been using 35 mm and rollfilm for thirty years, and have no particular interest in simpler and smaller cameras.
Still, a “shop-soiled” example in Bell and Jones in West Bromwich (someone had tried to steal it, and had only managed to scratch it a bit) for £99 proved too much of a temptation, and I bought it.
The first thing to say is that APS is no threat to 35 mm in the quality stakes. The film is too small, and the lenses are of relatively limited specification. And anyone using the long end of the zoom in dull weather needs to have either 400 ISO film, or a tripod (which rather defeats the object of the exercise, I reckon!) The aperture at the long end of the zoom is very small, and this leads to a slow shutter speed – just when it is least acceptable in terms of controlling camera shake.
This is true of all APS cameras, not just the Vectis 300.
Similarly, all APS cameras, being small, have the flash close to the lens, and this means that they tend to suffer from red-eye, despite the various “reduction” devices. The one really good way to prevent red-eye is to have a flashgun at least a foot from the lens, and this just can’t be done.
Grouses over, here’s the better bit.
A Vectis 300 has a steel outer casing, and feels beautifully solid, and rather purposeful. The lens cover slides aside with an entertaining “zizzz”, and the zoom works similarly. The buttons to operate both are easy to find, and reasonably easy to use – could be a problem with big hands though, or if you are clumsy.
And the results?
Generally very good, considering the limitations of the APS format. You may want to make sure that you don’t push the range of the flash too much, and certainly it’s easy to confuse flash exposures if different parts of the subject are at differing distances. Grain begins to show with panoramic prints – these are quite big enlargements, so it’s not surprising.
Overall, the original Canon Ixus may be slightly better, and smaller – if less versatile. However, if you want an impressive piece of techno-jewellery that also takes a decent photo, this could be for you: and the price keeps falling as the model ages.