've had the Epson 3100Z for about 10 months now. When it works, it's okay. But since day one, I have to shoot at least 2 to 3 shots of each subject (mostly children) to ensure that I get ONE KEEPER. It is sooo erratic! 75% of the shots are indoors with flash. Both indoor and outdoor shots are in the guessing game category. Further, last week my wife took 9 shots of our granddaughter attempting her first steps. Horrible disappointment - the images looked red...and streaky... AND out of FOCUS -- very similar to accidently opening up the back of a film camera. I don't really want to give up on the camera but I'm going to be the "dumbell of the year" if I continue to produce results that are so unpredictable and disappointing. Yes, I called Epson Tech Support. A real joke! The kid tells me that I need to hold the camera real steady! Ya think.. I only sold SLR's and upper end rangefinder cameras for 25 years. Bottom line questions: Does anyone know the "focus area" of this camera? Epson sure doesn't. Also, anyone else out there having similar problems with this camera?
I think you may also find a difference if you are using spot or matrix metering. Others in this forum have posted that their results vary depending upon how they have this feature set. I nearly ALWAYS pre-focus and, while not all of my shots are perfect, I have rather few out of focus images. Sometimes the camera has difficulty fixing on the item I have framed if there is a lot of variability in the field depth. Pictures of some plants can be a challenge if you're not careful. A nice feature is the "on-camera" zoom, which allows you to zoom in on a shot you've just taken to verify clarity. I find this useful in my remote project work, when I need good detail for later cropping/sharing/etc. Without a fast shutter, motion photography in the digital realm is iffy at best. You're blasting away at rugrats on the loose: They can be a blur on ANY camera! :-) However, if you're shooting mostly indoors and using automatic mode, Bob is correct: The camera most normally defaults to 1/30 sec shutter speed. This is far to slow for snaps of moving cherubs. I recommend finding a good external flash and using your camera in manual mode: aperture or shutter priority, or full manual. Results for indoor -- motion -- photography will improve much. Oh, Epson recommends a Metz 32Z-2, but I think the 32Z-1 is roughly equal unless you plan on buying one of the SCA power adapters. These units are safe in your shoe (low trigger potential) and may be connected to a digital slave should you wish to mount off-shoe. If these ideas don't resolve the issues, I suggest you contact Epson about having warranty service performed. A recent forum note mentioned that they were quite reasonable and timely in addressing a warranty problem the person had. That warranty is good for 12 months from date of purchase.
I have notice a similar problem when using my 3100Z. I have found if I use Shutter priority mode and set the shutter speed to 1/60th to 1/125th that the problem is corrected. There are several reasons you are seeing motion blur. Most 35mm would set the shutter to 1/60th or higher for flash sync speed. The 3100Z at wide angle in Auto mode will set the shutter speed to 1/30th even when the flash is on and 1/90th at telephoto. Also I notice 2 things when comparing my 3100Z to my Epson 850Z. The shutter release on the 3100Z presses harder thus causing my wrist to want to straighten as the muscles connected to my index finger tighten. This causes the camera to rotate clockwise slightly. Also the shutter release on the 850Z is raised up higher than the 3100Z which means the index finger doesn't need to be bent as much to press it. Less of a bend means less muscle tension in the wrist. This all gets worse with action shots, like candid photos of people, since the tendency to "jerk" the trigger instead of "squeezing" it to catch just the right shot will make it harder to avoid the slight rotation of the camera. Along with trying a higher shutter speed I would also suggest practicing with the optical viewfinder. Your wrist will be in the straight position and you will notice moving the camera during the shot much more. If you use the LCD viewfinder it is easy to treat a digital camera like a video camera. Since we are used to seeing things move on a TV screen you are less likely to realize you are not holding the camera steady. I noticed I was doing this after a few months of using my Epson 750Z. I used the optical viewfinder for awhile to break myself of the habit. The last thing I can think of is I always try to press the shutter release halfway down, wait till it is done focussing, then press the shutter release all the way down to take the shot. When I don't want to wait that long and press the shutter release all the way down right away I tend to get more blurry shots. I am not sure if this is because I have "jerked" the trigger so the camera can't focus while it is being moved or it is motion blur and not a focus issue or if the camera fires even if it hasn't found a good focus when it hasn't been given a chance to pre-focus.
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