Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Old Minolta Dimage Xi -any ideas?
Anyone able to troubleshoot digital cameras?
A few years ago (about 2003, I think), I bought Anna a new digital camera, a Minolta Dimage Xi. It's a superb little thing, with 3.2MP and a 3x zoom in a tiny metal casing, and it took some superb photographs. But every so often, it would take a shot that was a completely black frame. Not severely underexposed: no data, nothing - just black. Running the image through Photoshop showed there was nothing to work with. She re-read the manual and tried all the settings. Then I re-read the manual (sorry, that should be 'read the manual') and tried all the settings. No luck. Just one black frame in every (roughly) 50 shots. The only common feature we could find was that the problems occurred only in bright conditions and when shooting without flash. That is, it never happened using forced flash, or when flash activated on the 'Auto' setting.
Eventually, and after losing some irreplaceable photos this way, Anna got fed up with it and bought a new Panasonic (which has been superb, incidentally). The Minolta ended up in a drawer.
Last night, I came across it quite by accident and wondered if I might be able to resurrect it to take with me on bike trips. It would take much better shots than the iPhone, that's for sure, and it is only as big as a packet of fags. And it uses an SD card, and there is a built-in SD reader on the netbook, so transferring images for the blog couldn't be easier. I'm never very happy about taking the DSLR on the bike - it's a Nikon that is war-zone tough, but it's like having a pillion aboard. So I charged up the Minolta's battery last night and today I took it round the garden for a few test shots. All went well until I took a couple of the bike. The raindrops on the tank looked quite pretty in the strong sunlight, so I took one. Here is the result:
I took another shot immediately afterwards from the same position, but with flash:
What's going on?
It's not a show-stopper. All I have to do is review each shot after it has been taken, and re-take if it doesn't come out. From memory, it might take three blanks in a row and then will produce a good one (and then not do it for several days). But it's irritating, and I would like to fix it if I could.
Does anyone have the faintest idea what is happening here? Because the problem occurs randomly under certain specific conditions (strong light, no flash), I assume there is some fault in the electronics, but beyond that I am as ignorant as a new-born babe.