My Minolta DiMAGE A1 has been my constant companion for over 3 years now. It started exhibiting some problems last September. It didn’t seem to fit the CCD recall issue — not entirely, anyway — but I suspected it had something to do with the sensor. Later on, it did indeed develop some of the recall’s quirks. I never got around to sending the A1 in, then assumed it was too late.
I finally decided to get a new camera. Users of the DiMAGE series will understand when I say it was impossible to find another camera that measured up to the DiMAGE! The anti-shake, tilt-out LCD, barrel zoom, hot shoe, easy-to-access control dials,predictive focusing, continuous focus, ultra-fast recharge of the flash (not to mention the ability to use the flash on continuous shooting mode!), its intuitive controls…Need I say more?
Still, given my A1’s demise, I had to make that decision. I made up a short list of things I absolutely wanted: image stabilization, at least 6MP CCD, low noise, excellent optics, and a strong zoom. I researched and came up with a few cameras that would fit the bill and headed over to Cord Camera since I know their staff is knowledgeable, listen to their customers and work with them to find a camera to meet their needs. The will also price-match local stores.
I tried a Canon PowerShot S3. It had features that were neat, but the noise was horrible on anything but 200 or below. Most of all, I missed having a barrel zoom instead of a zoom lever. I just didn’t like it.
Thanks to Cord’s generous no-hassle return policy, I took the Canon back and exchanged it for a Fuji FinePix S9100/S9600.
It is a great camera and helped me get some beautiful outdoor shots. Still, for a lot of my shooting style, requiring quick changes between using flash or not, lots of continuous shooting, and moving subjects, the Fuji just didn’t fit my style. When experimenting with indoor shots (lots at Caribou Coffee!), I quickly learned that their version of image stabilization is not true image stabilization. It’s not mechanical, but instead combines raising the ISO and shutter speed. It is not a camera you can put on auto mode and expect great pictures, but given the right combination of settings it does an admirable job.
I determined to get to know the Fuji very well, to gain the same easy familiarity with it as I’d had with my Minolta. I knew it might be a challenge. After all, as Howie reminded me, hadn’t I complained for about a month after receiving the Minolta, fearing I would never learn its seemingly complex controls? So, I looked upon the Fuji as a challenge.
But I still mourned the loss of my A1, just couldn’t let it go.I missed things like being able to shoot on continuous mode with the flash. All those happy times Minolta and I shared…How in-tune we were with each other…It must be like a widow who begins dating, but can’t get past comparing every potential mate to her one true love.
So, while still schmoozing with the Fuji, I thought I’d take a chance and send the Minolta in to Sony’s repair center. Minolta left the digital camera business and sold it to Sony early this year. I figured it couldn’t hurt to see if they’d replace the defective image sensor and in so doing fix the camera.
I had to fudge the purchase date on their website in order for the claim to go in their system, but that’s standard operating procedure since the system kicks out anything older than a year from the date you enter the claim; since I suspected the problems stemmed from the recall issue, I entered a date from 2005 and crossed my fingers.
A few days later, I called to follow-up. The rep confirmed my information and within a day of my calling the repair center, I had a pre-paid UPS shipping label in my e-mail inbox. I sent it out Friday 11/23 and had it back in my hands Tuesday 12/5. It looks like brand new. The serial number’s the same, so I know it is my original camera. The has a tighter feel now and the strange anti-shake light blinking, vibration, and crooked lens problems have disappeared.
I am a very happy camper, thrilled that my beloved A1 has a new lease on life. It was past the deadline for returning the Fuji either for refund or exchange, so Howie’s inherited the Fuji from me. In a familial trickle-down effect, his mom now uses our trusty old Olympus C-2100UZ.