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PRAKTICA DCZ 10.1 review
As I own and use digital cameras for some years now, I am always tempted to see their capabilities and compare their differences on the various brands I have or had touch with. I received the PRAKTICA DCZ 10.1 digital camera as a gift. According to a fast Internet research it is in the low price sector for the digital camera, but it is not along the cheapest models, looking at the features it offer. After taking the camera in the original package and all the contents, I went home to test it and see how it works.
PackageThe digital camera comes in a colorful carton package with dimensions 17x16.5x7 cm. On the top of the box is written the model PRAKTICA DCZ 10.1. Under the model name, on white background is shot the digital camera in back and front positions with a blue flower on the LCD display and opened lens. On the left with nine different icons and short text are highlighted the main features of the camera: 10.0 megapixels, 3 x zoom optical, 2.5¨ TFT monitor, movie function, microphone, speaker, 32 MB memory internal, SD/SDHC card compatible, face tracking. On the bottom left corner with big font is written the capacity of the camera - 10.0 megapixels. Sideways on the box are written the extra contents of the package again with icons: software cd, cable usb/video, battery and camera pouch. On the other sides of the box are written the PENTACON GmbH physical address, the Internet site at www.praktica.de and also support e-mail, bar code and the specifications in 6 languages - English, Deutsch, Espanol, Italiano, Francais and Russian. There is nothing on the bottom of the box, except a sticker with the S/N number and a barcode.
Inside the box are the heavy manual which is very thick, the digital camera itself, 2 AA batteries, USB/AV Cable, CD-ROM, warranty card, pouch and wrist strap. Unique for this model digital camera is the pouch, which I did not received with the previous cameras I had. The manual is very good, not very descriptive, just providing the information I need, without extra sentences. It is available in German, English, Spanish, French, Polish, Russian and Turkish. For every language there are between 66 and 70 pages, making the manual total of more than 400 hundred pages. There was no Bulgarian language in it, but it was put inside a small book with package contents and basic usage instructions in Bulgarian. The wrist strap is wide, but does not have a limiter, making it easier to slide off the hand while walking or running with it. The AA batteries were brand new, but not rechargeable. The pouch is well made and I may use it someday, even if I never used such thing before, neither for cameras, nor for phones. On the warranty card, which is also in Bulgarian, I noticed the distributor is the same as the distributor for the FujiFilm cameras, even if they are totally different brands, from different countries.
UsageAfter reviewing the package, I opened the battery cover and put the AA batteries, following the instructions from the manual. Even if the manual and the cover say SD/SDHC card, I decided to try the 1GB PQI MMC Plus card, which I used in my Nokia N-Gage phone some years ago and to my surprise after switch, there was no error and the camera was ready to use. I made some shots of the equipment (picture shown above) and went to test it menu functions. First thing I noticed is that the camera is considerably slower than the others I have. If I want to take a picture and the camera is off, it takes around 6 seconds to be ready for shot. The time for ready camera is less on the FujiFilm FinePix F50fd 12.0 and even lesser on the Casio Exilim EX-Z1050. The menus of the camera are mostly with icons, which makes necessary to read the manual first, if it is going to be used in other than the automatic photo mode. In the manual photo mode there are twelve modes for choose, every for different scenes. In the manual mode, WB (white balance), focus selection, metering, EV and ISO can be set by the user. The Portrait scene is for capturing close objects, Landscape for capturing distant subjects, Sporty for capturing moving objects, Night portrait for capturing close subjects in dark, Night landscape for distant objects in dark, Sunset for sunsets or toward the light pictures, Backlight for images with strong backlight, Fireworks for bright objects in dark environment, Beach for images in bright sunlight with large reflective surfaces, Party for pictures in low light condition with bright side light and Text is for capturing text, which I use very often. A wide variety of selections, but the switch between them requires going to the menu with several keypresses, by following the icons, which are easy to remember. There are also options for video clip recording and audio recording. The menu also have options for SIZE of the image - there is 12M option (even if the camera is 10MP - it is interpolated), 10M, 5M, 2M and VGA (Good for blogs). The QUALITY have 3 options, marked with smaller and larger bars, Color, which even if having three options shall never be used, because it is better to shot the picture in original capabilities, and then reduce its quality to black and white or antique, than having shot something in it and later trying to add colors. There is also option for DATE STAMP. Charging the flashlight takes around 3 seconds, but after it is charged, it is much faster, if it is not used, even after turn off the camera. After tinkering with the menu and the options, I took some more pictures and later tried it outside on ambient light. The result was good for the price range of the camera. Later I shot a short clip and it quality was also satisfactory for the kind of camera. But then came the bad part. Only after 59 pictures, some menu switches and a short clip, the batteries were empty. There were not enough power in them, even to return back the lenses in the camera, so they stand open for some days collecting dust, until I placed new batteries. When trying to turn it on, only the cute woman with glasses was shown and then low battery message and the camera automatically turns off. This is very dangerous for the lenses and the camera itself, to stay with opened lenses, but I had no other choose. With the new batteries you can shoot, but always stay careful and close it if you are in doubt that it will make the next shot. Having energy again, I tested the USB/AV cable. Connecting the camera to the TV was easy. The shown picture was with very low resolution though - something like 640*480 and this was visible on the TV screen, while it is not on the LCD display. In the slide show there is no music. The switch between the pictures is fast, with nice scroll, but there is no option for different fades. The cable is also different from the cable of the other cameras. For three different cameras, now I have three different cables. But the cables are not used often, so this is not that bad. When connecting the camera via the USB cable to my Amiga, it was shown as DXGTECH USB Mass Storage. The memory of the camera was accessible from AmigaOS 4.1 without the need of additional drivers and installations. It worked straight away. I was able to play movies, directly from the camera. With the 32MB built-in memory, I was able to make several pictures and a short clip, while still having some space left. On the FujiFilm and the Exilim cameras, I was able to make less pictures, having 25 MB and 15.4 MB accordingly. Now memory is cheap, so this is not a big extra. The interface worked fine with the memory card as well. So no need to take the Chronos 80 in 1 Card Reader, when travelling. The camera can work fine as a memory card reader too.
ConclusionThe camera is nice and easy to use. The provided results are fine for fast pictures at the bar, or for blogs. The AA batteries are wide available for purchase from everywhere, but I prefer the Lithium-Ion batteries with prolonged usage and less needs for recharge. Even if the camera is cheap, the need for additional rechargeable batteries and battery charger adds to the price. Buying new batteries every 60-70 pictures is prohibitively expensive. For occasional shots I can use the camera. For everyday photoshots, I will continue to rely on the FujiFilm FinePix F50fd 12.0 camera.
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