Bought the camera after borrowing a friends Minolta F100 camera to go on holday.I hadn't considered Minolta but after being impressed by the F100, I purchased the F200 which has all the improvements of the F100,200,300 range.
This is the second digicam I have owned, after returning a Canon A75 under store return policy, after getting inconsistent results from this camera.
One thing I love about the camera is the excellent Program control, which I use all the time, rather than the auto mode, which, I feel simply over exposes the image.
This gives access to aperture priority, shutter priority, full manual. Auto white balance copes well with most situations, apart from very overcast days where cloudy presets helps.
The lens is particularly sharp through the zoom range, and is completely free from purple fringing.
I love the fact that you can take a picture of a object at full zoom, which comes out very sharp. My Canon A75 was not good in this regard, coming out often blurred and unusable.
Picture quality is excellent, with fine detail and good colour, however the camera can't expose greens lit by strong sunlight. In fact, in strong lighting situations in general you have to use between -0.3 and -0.7 exposure correction.
I find the camera is good in situations where conditions are marginal or poor.
Green saturation,rendition and sharpness is very good on this camera, I found the Canon produced soft greens with a blue cold hue.
Low light, and night time photography is good, I have done slow shutter photography and use the self timer to prevent camera shake, resulting in some great shots. The sharp lens and lack of purple fringing helps greatly in preserving highlights from street lights.
Short distance pictures (ie pictures to be posted on "ebay") are very good and sharp, the flash throttles down and can be adjusted.
The camera is fast shot to shot, burst mode is good, video mode is good (unlimited) , with sound is good.
Menus are easy to navigate, I love the Quick review button to access captured shots, without having to twist dials or slide switches.Images are easy to scroll through with the four way controller.
You can copy full size image to email size in camera, without the hassle of using software. This makes emailing pics very easy and hassle free.
The camera "remembers" the previous settings, without the need to reset everything from scratch. Something the Minolta F100 did not do.
Build quality is generally good, I have doubts as to Minoltas claim that its made of aluminium, it feels more like plastic sprayed with an aluminium metallic paint to me. The battery door is particulaly flimsy, feeling like it would fall off after one use!
I like the use of AA batteries, I wouldn't buy a camera that didn't use AAs from now on. You can buy the latest technology at an attractive price, if you loose one it hasnt' cost you a great deal.
You can borrow friends AA's or use their charger.
You can charge the spare set whilst you're using the camera.
Ignore any advice that says you can't use alkalines in a digital camera. They will get you through if you turn off all un necessary features and turn off the LCD and use the optical viewfinder instead.
No major problems, just picky negative aspects listed below:
Everything said about the battery life is true about this camera. However if you buy at least 2 sets of good 2500mah batteries (Ive used energisers which Ive found to be good) it gets you through a day. The major drain is the LCD, so often I switch it off when running low on power. So normally it is not an issue.
Barellel distortion is pretty poor at wideangle, sometimes making it difficult to frame up to a level frame on verticals even. This is not helped by the fact that the camera seems to have a slight CCD/ LCD slant, as pictures are consistenly left hand down on the PC monitor, yet look level on the LCD.
The LCD is pretty small by todays standard, however it is very bright and perfectly useable in out doors. It is also sharp and detailed. On my camera the LCD had a dead pixel in the top right hand corner.
The TV output is very blocky and low res, not as good as the canon A75, this is something that doesn't seem to be reviewed in articles.
Some other picky details, I would prefer a button on/off rather than the twist dial. As each time you have to make a conscious effect to twist the dial to the correct position each time.
In power save mode, if the lens is fully zoomed in, it reverts to fully zoomed out when its re-powered on. Because the lens is pretty slow to extend, and go from wide to telephoto this can be slightly annoying, as you have to re- zoom in every time you are taking photos at the long end of the zoom.
I would like automatic recording of an email size image, although you can copy in camera, there is no way of automatically copying a whole card of images to small file size. Instead you individually have to hightlight each image with a tick and copy it.If you have lots of images like todays cards can handle, this can be something of a pain.
Colour, even though this camera has good colour, it is not as good as the F100.or Canon A75.
Manual white balance didnt work on my camera, resulting in a brown cast.
The daylight preset was too green. I think Minolta responded to the comments about the F100's images being a little pink, and simply added a little too much green/brown to counteract.
To finish, my F200 was recently stolen so I'm looking for a replacement camera. Althought I liked the F200 I probably wouldn't replace it with another one, as the camera is starting to show its age.
I found,when using it that mostly what I always wanted was more zoom and good video, so Im looking at the Minolta Z series, Canon S2is, and Fuji SR5500.
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