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Author Topic: A2 Image Quality  (Read 3266 times)
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« on: March 04, 2004, 03:30:21 PM »
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My Minolta A2 review won't be published for another week or two, but here is a relevant quote from it...

The manufacturers won't admit it, and neither will many users, but the reality is that the current generation of 8Mp digicams are moderately noisy. Certainly this is the case in comparison with current 6MP DSLRs and even the better 5MP digicams. The reason for this is the smaller photosites. Indeed, even at ISO 64, which is the lowest speed that the A2 offers, there is some slight noise visible. But where technology creates a problem it often is able to correct it as well.

If you are working in RAW mode with Camera RAW, the raw file processing part of Photoshop CS, then you need to experiment with the appropriate Luminance Smoothing and Color Noise Reduction settings under the Details tab. I find that a setting for both of 50 does a very nice job of reducing any noise. Of course you may also want to use a competent noise reduction program such as Noise Ninja.

This noise elimination has a tendency to reduce accutance (edge sharpness) and so appropriate Sharpening is necessary. For this I highly recommend Photokit Sharpener Pro.

Many newcomers are frustrated by the fact that cameras like the A2 produce images that are not as sharp straight out of the camera as they expect them to be. Of course this has nothing to do with any lack of resolution, but rather with the fact that these particular files need an appropriate amount of USM to look their best, and the amount they need tends to be at least 50% higher than one might be used to from other cameras. When properly sharpened and noise reduced these files are excellent, but it does take some work to get them to that state. As a consequence, beginners and those not familiar and comfortable with image post-processing may become frustrated with their initial results, and so cameras like the A2 may not be the best choice for someone new to digital or unwilling to make the effort.


Michael
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2004, 10:01:02 PM »
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Having carted a 1D, 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 IS and a Gitzo 1228 for 15 k last weekend (and actually used all focal length ranges), I am waiting with some interest for Michael's review (production model I hope). Same as Shiv, I process RAW files in PS anyway with a reasonably efficient workflow. I would love to have the option of relegating the 1D (which I truly do appreciate) to environments closer to public transporation
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bjnicholls
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2004, 02:40:08 PM »
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My problem with my A1 isn't so much the expected random noise, but the diagonal linear noise that's probably not strictyly a sensor issue. It's not visible at up to ISO 200 in most tonal areas, but it's a problem at ISO 400 and terrible at ISO 800. I find ISO 800 unusable with this camera and noise reduction software can't remove the corduroy noise. I'd expect the A2 to shift the noise levels by one stop since it drops ISO 800 from the available settings.

Perhaps the A2's circuitry has been improved and perhaps my A1 isn't typical, although I have images that exhibit the same pattern noise from other A1 users.

Unless the A2 offers some relative baseline improvement, I think the A1's lower resolution but lower noise sensor may make it the better overall choice. I'll be interested in seeing the test results.
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Shivz
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2004, 12:49:02 PM »
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I am seriously thinking about getting the Minolta A2, the new 8mp, 2/3 CCD, fixed lens camera. It seems to top the features of all the rest of the 8mp contenders. Using Minolta's factory supplied image, in Bitmap, I decided to treat the image in Photoshop the way I normally treat all of my portrait images. The result is totally acceptable for my use. The image that Minolta supplied was soft, with neutral settings (and it shows). I have gotten better results with raw images out of D-SLRs, but since I need to put in the time in Photoshop in post processing anyway, whether the image is from D-SLR or fixed lens doesn't make too much of a difference. The softness and lack of contrast of the original image is bothersome, but all in all, I am OK with the results. A2 is acceptable and can do the job. It passed the test.

for more images, feel free to visit my photography site at:
http://www.Shahram.info

Cheers, S
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Shivz
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2004, 03:52:49 PM »
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Michael, Thanks for your comment.

Question for Michael (I know you're too busy with the 8mp cams right now) or others: I have PS-7, are there any decent quick noise reducing features built-in that I may not be aware of? I have from time to time, used
Filter/Noise/Despeckle.

Cheers, S
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Shivz
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2004, 10:39:11 PM »
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Have you seen Canon's own images on their D-SLRs. They are very soft too. Not as soft as the A2, but still completely neutral.  The Mark-II specially seems soft.
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