hostel was exposed at dusk in downtown Innsbruck, with the
Epson 3100Z set on Manual mode and employing its matrix
metering and aperture priority (f/2.0). Had I needed additional
exposure, I could have changed the light sensitivity setting
from the standard 100 to 400, but I opted not to, because
it affects image quality. To avoid camera shake the 3100Z
was supported on a newspaper box (although it does have
a tripod screw opening).
2001, Ingrid S. Krampe, All Rights Reserved
As the sun finished its long
descent down the horizon, the lights of Innsbruck sparkled over the Inn
River. Looking down on the swirling mass of blue-gray water, I supported
Epson's new PhotoPC 3100Z digital camera against the railing, adjusting
the 3x optical zoom (comparable to 34-102mm) and released the shutter.
The response was instantaneous, and the camera's wide f/2 aperture captured
the line of row houses. This solid, easy to use, high-resolution (3.3
megapixel) camera is just heavy and large enough to feel like a sophisticated
imaging device (not just another point-and-shoot).
Like its predecessor, the 3100Z
sports a 3.34 million-pixel CCD with 24-bit color or monochrome image
capture with an option to interpolate its "High" 2048x1536 resolution
up to 2544x1904 (4.8 megapixel), using Epson's HyPict image enhancement
technology. The PhotoPC 3100Z also provides preset parameters for printing,
such as gamma level color space, contrast, sharpness, brightness, saturation,
shadow paint, and color balance to ensure optimum results. The camera
saves the ideal print commands in each data file. Prints from the 3100Z
on the Epson 1280 were crisp, sharp, with vivid "true" color. Until last
year your standard high-end commercial digital imaging device was only
6 megapixel and even today, anything higher tends to be more vaporware
than reality. And while the options on any point-and-shoot are inherently
limited, you get a formidable quality from this little camera.
Be aware that when the camera
is in HyPict mode processing time increases from 1 sec to 14, so you may
not want to use it if you are in a hurry. While Epson provides a 16MB
CompactFlash card that holds approximately 31 fine resolution or 155 standard
resolution images, I opted to bring a Kingston 128MB card and was able
to load it up with 166 High and HyPict images.
I was repeatedly drawn
to the row houses standing sentry over the Inn River
and photographed them several times using many different
resolutions. We verified Epson's claim that it is
possible to get great results in sizes up to 12x17"
using the HyPict (2544x1904) resolution setting.
For quick unencumbered shooting, Auto mode works fine in most scenarios.
However, I preferred to set the 3100Z on Program or Manual mode
because it allowed me to make various adjustments.
Manual mode provides
control of most of the camera's functions, including sensitivity,
white balance, shutter speed, and aperture. It even allowed me to
prefocus the camera at 3 ft, 10 ft, or infinity and to choose between
the camera's two metering systems (spot and matrix).
Program mode, which is
also the camera's Default mode, allows you to set the camera to
conform with subject matter. As the name implies, the "Sports" setting
is designed to record action and couples a high-shutter speed with
matrix metering. The "Portrait Setting" is truly valuable in any
situation where you may want to blur the background and concentrate
on a singular focal point. In this mode, the 3100Z's aperture remains
fixed at f/2.0, and it employs spot metering. I maximized this option
further by using the longest extension on the 3x optical zoom. The
landscape setting is a bit more pedestrian than "Sports" or "Portrait."
Similar to "normal" it employs matrix metering but primarily relies
on the camera's smallest aperture (f/8) for maximum sharpness relying
on wider apertures only in dim light situations.
The Epson 3100Z
captured this scene in vivid colors thanks to
this camera's 24-bit color and HyPict image
Like most digital
cameras of this genre, the 3100Z also offers a video clip
feature via its 25 sec, Quick Time Movie (Mo-tion JPEG), which
captures at 15 fps. I used the 3100Z in all sorts of weather
and lighting conditions and appreciated its very sharp 1.8"
wide-view LCD screen, which was sharper and easier to see
than many other cameras we have tested--at least in part because
of the camera's f/2.0 lens.
I have to say that
I enjoyed working with the 3100Z, after a "love-hate" relationship
with the 3000Z for almost a year--loved the camera but felt
like crushing it under a truck tire because of its lag time,
a tendency to respond slowly after the shutter was pressed.
When the 3100Z came out, I was very pleased to see that Epson
had addressed this issue. If you want gear that you can like,
take a look at the 3100Z. It's one of those cameras you may
actually grow fond of, where familiarity does not breed contempt,
but rather makes the heart grow fonder.
Innsbruck caf scene, the Epson 3100Z
accurately balanced the colors between
the dimmer area under the umbrellas and
the bright sunlight of the market area.
comes bundled with Sierra Imaging's Image Expert; Epson
Photo/3 Application; TWAIN driver for transferring images,
and Epson File Converter for converting files (including
presentation slides) into a format that you can upload
to your camera. For more information, contact Epson
America, Inc. at (800) 289-3776 or visit their web site
3100Z Scoreboard Ergonomics
(2544x1904 resolution) option
Slow (frustrating) on/off Button Response
Resolution Options: 2048x1536; 640x480;
2544x1904 (HyPict) Compression Modes:
Standard, Fine, Super Fine, HyPict (JPEG);
File Formats: JPEG, TIFF (Still);
QuickTime Movie (Motion JPEG)
LCD: 1.8" TFT color (110 thousand
Lens: f/2.0-2.5 (34-102mm equivalent)
Zoom: 3x Optical/2x Digital
ISO: 100, 200, 400
Shutter: 1/750 to 8 sec
Macro: 2.36-20" (wide)
Exposure Control: Auto, Shutter
Priority, Aperture Priority, +/-2 EV
Metering: Matrix, Spot
Program Functions: Sports, Portrait,
White Balance: TTL Auto White, Fixed
White (5200 Kelvin) User-Defined White
Auto Timer: 10 sec
Recording Media: CompactFlash I
Flash: Automatic Luminance Control
Flash: Forced, Auto, Off, Reduced Redeye,
Leading or Trailing Slow Sync
Power: 4 AA or rechargeable Ni-MH
Weight: 12.9 oz