Minolta DiMAGE Z1
A couple of weeks ago, I visited Dale Collis' site, where I found some really good, really sharp, well taken pictures. One picture in particular caught my eye. It was just a picture of some rubbish on the road, but very sharp, focussed, and colourful. So I asked Dale what camera he was using, and he said it was a Fuji FinePix 2800. I decided I wanted a camera just like that one, and Googled and Froogled, only to find out it wasn't in the shops anymore.
In the local photo shop I asked what the next similar FinePix camera was, and they said S3000. Also the Canon Powershot A60 or A70 seemed to be of equal quality, but after holding both cameras in my hand, I was sure I didn't want a Powershot. The S3000 fitted perfectly in my hand, while the Canon felt like any ordinary fixed focus camera. Back on the Internet, I looked for reviews and technical details, and found that the FinePix S3000 only had ISO 100, without alternative settings, while the S5000 could be set from ISO 50 to 400.
I compared various details of both camera's and couldn't decide which one would be better for me. Trying to avoid having to make that decision, I started looking for a camera which would have all the features I wanted. No vignetting, no (or very little) noise, both automatic and manual settings, ISO 50-400 range, large optical zoom, etc.
After a week of comparing camera's, I had three left to choose from: the Fuji FinePix S5000, the Kodak EasyShare DX6490, and the Minolta DiMAGE Z1. I read the reviews over and over again, I even asked for help in a Usenet group, where Jim Vatunz' answer really helped. Last week I finally knew for sure: I wanted a DiMAGE Z1.
Next step was to find where I could buy it the cheapest. Through kelkoo.nl I found two good deals, but one of them required me having a credit card, which I don't have, and the other one would take a couple of weeks to deliver, and I wanted it now.
One option left: buying it in the cheapest shop I could find within reasonable distance. This happened to be a large store in the centre of Rotterdam, called Media Markt. Last week's Tuesday I bought the Z1 there, for €349.
I am very happy with this camera. It has 10x optical zoom as well as 4x digital zoom, 3.2 Megapixels, shutter speed from 1/1000s to 15s, Super Macro from 4cm, and a lot of additional features. And, most important of course, it takes great, sharp pictures.
Yesterday, I went back to the store, to buy a bag for the camera, and the first thing I saw, was the latest promotion stunt: Minolta DiMAGE Z1 for only €299! I told a salesman what happened, and he said that if I come back with the receipt, they'll pay me back the difference. :-)
All I have to do now, is find the frigging receipt. :-(