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Steve's Digicams

Epson PhotoPC 3000Z



  


Epson PhotoPC 3000z

This is an animated compilation of the 3000z's Setup Mode screens



Epson PhotoPC 3000z

Typical Play mode screen with the first screen of button options. The "+" will put you into zoomed playback mode (see further below). The right and left arrow buttons let you go forward or backward thru the stored images. The Multi button brings up the 4 or 9-pic thumbnail view (see below). Pressing the Menu Change button brings up the next screen.



Epson PhotoPC 3000z

From here you can start a Slideshow, turn the Sound on or off or by pressing the Info button you get the next screen.



Epson PhotoPC 3000z

The Info screen displays the embedded EXIF header information stored in the JPEG image file. As you can see it tells you the time and date of the exposure as well as the shutter speed, aperture, EV compensation, flash mode, white balance and the metering mode used.



Epson PhotoPC 3000z

This is the 4-picture thumbnail (index) mode. From here you quickly search thru stored images and display one full screen.



Epson PhotoPC 3000z

The same as the 4-pic thumbnail but this time we generate 9 smaller thumbnails per screen.



Epson PhotoPC 3000z

This is the zoomed playback image which is displayed when you press the "+" magnifying glass icon in the other playback modes. You can scroll up or down or left and right through the enlarged picture.




Steve's Conclusion

At first glance the Epson PhotoPC 3000Z is very similar to the 850Z. Both closely resemble a compact 35mm camera except for the color LCD display on the back. Inside, the 3000Z sports an updated 3.34-megapixel CDD imager and can now capture uncompressed TIFF images. It can also capture up to 25 seconds of QVGA (320x240) motion JPEG thanks to a 16MB internal buffer.

Physically the 3000Z is more compact than the 850Z and the Type II CompactFlash card slot has been replaced by a Type I slot. It's not known why Epson did away with the CF2 card slot though. The 850Z was not IBM Microdrive compatible but eliminating the Type II slot also makes it unable to other solid state CF2 type cards.

The designers moved the flash as far from the lens as possible to reduce redeye problems but in my opinion they got it a little too close to the finger grip. Folks with large hands will have to be careful not to partially obstruct the flash when pressing the shutter button. In any case it exhibits little to no redeye even when used in normal "auto" mode. In addition to the usual auto and redeye flash modes there are both leading and trailing options for the slow-synch mode.

The zoom lens control is no longer part of the shutter release, it has been moved to the back. Whether you are right-eyed or left-eyed, you will have no trouble operating the zoom buttons. Left-eyed folks will find their nose in the center of the color LCD but it's easily wiped clean. The 3000Z does not use a "solar-assist" color LCD like the 850Z so there's no door to flip open when outdoors. As with most LCD screens it is useable in all but direct sunlight conditions.

Little has changed on the back. Below the optical viewfinder is the microphone and speaker. The color LCD is surrounded by "soft" buttons whose functions are determined by labels displayed on the screen. The button's functions change depending on what mode the camera is in. This makes for a more user friendly interface as most digicams have a multitude of dedicated and/or double-function buttons to learn, but it also means using the color LCD more often.

On top of the camera are dedicated buttons for image quality and size, flash modes and the selftimer. Also located on top is a standard flash hot shoe that lets you use any clip-on flash unit that you desire. The Setup menu lets you select either the internal or external flash, you can not use both at the same time.

The 3x zoom lens has a fast maximum aperture of F/2.0 which makes it an excellent low light performer. The macro range has been improved, the new lens focuses down to just under 2.5 inches versus 8 inches for the 850Z. In normal automatic mode the camera will "gain up" the ISO sensitivity to further enhance its low light capability. This has led some people to say that the images from the 3000Z are "noisier" than other 3-megapixel cameras. I have compared images from other cameras to those of the 3000Z captured at the same ISO value and don't see any difference in the amount of overall noise.

The 3000Z takes about 5 seconds to powerup during which time it extends the zoom lens. If shooting in the LCD-assist mode then it requires about 6 seconds to be ready for the first shot. Going from record to playback mode takes about 4 seconds. When the camera goes to "sleep" it does not retract the lens so all it takes is a little half-press of the shutter to wake it up again and it's ready to snap a picture in about 2 seconds. Powering down takes about 5 seconds until the lens is retracted so you can slip on the lens cap.

The Epson PhotoPC 3000Z is a capable camera but like most digital cameras it has some "quirks" that you have to learn to work around. The following is a list compiled by my own observations and other users.

    Flash pictures are often exposed at 1/31 sec. shutter speed with the aperture wide open. Slow shutter speeds run the risk of camera shake and the wide open aperture yields a shallow depth of field.

    Outdoors in bright sunlight the camera generally selects a fast shutter speed and a large aperture. It frequently fires the flash (if in auto mode) even though there is plenty of ambient light.

    Pictures shot with a wide open aperture exhibit chromatic abberations around brightly highlighted objects. This is popularly called the "purple fringe" effect and has been seen on other 2- and 3-megapixel cameras when the aperture is wide open.

    The optical viewfinder although correct, tended to make me shoot pictures with the right side slightly higher than the left unless I found a line in the subject that I could matchup with the viewfinder's horizontal cross hair.

    The autofocus is a "spot" focus exactly in the center. If your subject is even slightly off-center it can end up out of focus. The parallax error between the optical finder and the lens compounds this problem if the subject is closer than eight feet from the camera.

    In manual mode the camera often varies the selected aperture setting, most noticeably when the zoom lens is used.

    Some users feel the camera consistently underexposed by about one-half to a full f/stop.

    Complaints of excessive shutter lag times. I did notice that it often hesitated longer than most digicams after the shutter release was half-pressed before it captured the image.

All of the press material and Epson's web site indicated that the 3000Z would have a shutter speed priority mode but in fact, it does not. This is odd because you have control of the shutter speed when it's in manual mode. I was told that it had something to do with the lens they used but this doesn't make a lot of sense.

Despite the "quirks" many 3000Z owners are quite happy with their cameras and others feel that these problems are unacceptable for a camera in this price range. For the most part I was satisfied with the overall image quality and operation of this camera. First-time digicam owners often have rather high expectations and are unwilling to deal with the differences between film and digital cameras. I blame this on the marketing hype and the consumers who believe that anything "digital" is supposed to be perfect.  They're not perfect ... every digicam takes time getting used to the way it does or doesn't do something.

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