5700 vs. Minolta A1: Operation Issues (Part I.1)

Started Nov 26, 2003 | Discussions thread
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Ching-Kuang Shene Veteran Member • Posts: 5,730
5700 vs. Minolta A1: Operation Issues (Part I.1)

Hi Folks,

I have had a Minolta A1 in hand for several days. Here is a comparison between Nikon 5700 and Minolta A1. Since A1 is a rather complex camera that one needs time to fine tune its image quality, I will only focus on the "operational" aspects and will report the image issues in the future. If you believe this is a troll post, please stop here because what I am going to say will make no sense to you. I will shoot CRT screens to show a drawback of A1's wonderful AF system. The reason that I shoot CRT is very simple because more 10% of all money I made related to photography in the past 20+ years came from shooting various CRT tubes and monitors for magazines and books. If you think this is ridiculous, then please do not read this post either.

Any comments and suggestions are extremely welcome and appreciated.

CK
http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam
Nikon Coolpix 950/990/995/2500/4500 User Guide
--------------------------------------------------
(1) DIMENSION:

Both cameras are similar in dimension (A1: 560g vs. 5700 480g). The following image shows the front view. The A1 is slightly larger.

When the power is off, the length from the camera back to the lens front of the 5700 is slightly shorter than that of the A1 as shown below:

However, once the camera is powered on, the 5700 is longer

When the lens is zoomed all the way in, the 5700 and A1 have essentially
the same length:

The dimension issue is only related to how you will carry a camera. These two cameras have essentially the same "operation" dimension.

(2) Buttons, Switches, and Menu The 5700 has more buttons than the A1. Moreover, the four buttons on the left side of the lens barrel are in general not very welcome by many 5700 owners. The A1 has fewer buttons. But, the AEL button is placed too close to the thumb position when shooting. This button can easily be touched and/or pushed, although in general this will not cause any problem because it is supposed to be pressed and held for exposure locking.

The 5700 uses menu system to get many job done (e.g., white balance preset), which is very tedious. On the other hand, the A1 uses dials, buttons, switches and slides more efficiently so that most functions can be done in one or two steps without getting into the menu system. Thus, I believe the A1 design is easier to use.

(3) Lens Operation:

The zoom lens of A1 (28-200mm) has a manual zoom ring and a manual focusing ring. The zoom ring has standard marks of 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 100mm and 200mm, which are very convenient. In the manual focusing mode with the manual focusing ring, the lower right corner of the EVF and LCD shows a distance value. The 5700 uses W and T buttons to zoom out and in. As many of you know, these two buttons are not very responsible and do not provide a sense of what 35mm focal length is being used. Note that the zoom scale is not linear. The manual focusing operation with a 5700 is not helpful because it does not have a distance
value. So, in this sense, the A1 wins.

(4) Lens Accessories:

The A1 includes a petal type lens hood which is very handy. The A1 lens also has a 49mm thread for using various filters. Minolta indicated that polarizers and close-up filters may cause vignetting at the wide angle end below 50mm. However, I used some 49mm filters without vignetting. It remains to be seen if a slim polarizer will indeed cause vignetting. Will report this later. On the other hand, the way of using filters on a 5700 is not so easy. One needs to buy adapters and lens hood which are usually quite large. Thus, in this aspect, the A1 wins.

Minolta does not manufacture wide angle and tele converters for the A1, which means A1 users must buy third party products. With a 49mm thared,

it is not difficult to find many usable converters (e.g., Olympus TCON-17, TCON-14B and WCON-08B); however, I have seen reports indicating some wide angle converters will cause vignetting. I am not sure about this, and will report again once I have the needed rings. On the other hand, the 5700 has a complete series of converter lenses from fisheye, to wide angle and telephoto. Unfortunately, except for the FC-E9 fisheye, none of these high quality glasses can be used on the A1. I did use a 49-46 step-down ring to mount a FC-E9 fisheye on the A1. The result is very descent. Unfortunately, the image circle is smaller.

In terms of using filters and possible lens accessories, the A1 does have an edge; however, the A1 falls short for not having high quality matching converters.

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to be continued ---

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