Review: Epson PhotoPC 3000Z
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Sunday, July 16, 2000
Last Updated: Monday, July 17, 2000
my surprise, the review of this camera has been one of the most
eagerly awaited reviews this year. Epson's good track record with
earlier PhotoPC models, and a PCWorld
review (which placed the 3000Z ahead of the Olympus C-3030Z
and the Canon PowerShot S20) probably helped.
only other camera from Epson that I tried out was the PhotoPC
850Z, and it turned out to be one of the best two megapixel
cameras. With the $999 PhotoPC
3000Z, it looks like Epson may have a three megapixel hit on
their hands as well. Find out to see if it lives up to the hype...
want to again thank DCRP sponsor Advandig
for hooking me up with this camera when the manufacturers are being
less than cooperative.
in the Box?
PhotoPC 3000Z's bundle is very good. It includes:
3.3 Mpixel Epson PhotoPC 3000Z camera
NiMH batteries and charger
cable (Mac and PC)
cap with strap
including Sierra Image Expert
for camera and software
really have no complaints here -- Epson includes everything you
need. After attaching the lens cap and shoulder strap, the camera
is ready for anything. I wish that Epson (as well as other manufacturers)
would include more than the skimpy 16Mb CompactFlash card.
kindly includes rechargeable batteries and a charger right in the
box. I'd recommend buying another set of batteries to be safe.
has bucked the trend of removing serial support for their cameras
-- the 3000Z includes serial cables for both Mac and PC. Not everyone
has USB, as some manufacturers have forgotten recently.
nice touch is the 46-49mm lens adapter included with the camera,
so you can use 49mm lens attachments, such as those from Tiffen.
manual is first-rate and well ahead of any other camera maker. There's
just one language, it's well put together, and everything is easy
to understand. Who'd have thought?
even some Epson Photo Paper (4x6") in the box, in case you
have a photo printer!
PhotoPC 3000Z's design seems influenced by the Olympus C-2000/3000Z
series, which isn't a bad thing.
It's dimensions are 4.3 x 3.5 x 2.6 inches, and it weighs 12.9 ounces
silver body is a mix of plastic and metal, and it feels solid and
well put-together. The only possible exception is the CompactFlash
door, which I could see breaking off one day.
camera fits well in the hand, with adequate room for both hands,
and well-placed controls (for the most part).
tour around the camera now, starting with the front (see the pictures
at the top). The f2.0-f2.5 lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom
lens on a 35mm camera.
that's about it for the front - now the back. The optical viewfinder
is good-sized, and features diopter correction -- both of which
are good news for people with glasses. Just below that you can see
the microphone and speaker.
1.8" LCD display is very good: easy to read and smooth. It's
easy to smudge with both your nose and your fingers, though. Epson
uses "software buttons" instead of fixed buttons, which
means that those buttons around the LCD change depending on the
situation. A menu on/off button (equivalent to the Display button
on most cameras) turns off any info that is over the image on the
a little hard to see in the top right, but the zoom controls are
well placed for easy thumb access. The optical zoom is responsive
going to jump to the CompactFlash slot next, to point out one of
those weird things that Epson did with this camera. The previous
top of the line PhotoPC, the 850Z, had a Type II slot. But for some
reason, Epson only put a Type I slot on this camera. What does it
mean for you? No IBM Microdrive.
said, the CF slot is easy to get to, and cards are easy to remove.
we're looking at the top of the camera, where you can see one of
the things that sets the PhotoPC 3000Z apart from the competition:
a hot shoe. While Epson recommends the Metz 32Z-2 flash, any external
flash will do.
LCD info display makes plenty of sense: it shows ISO, white balance,
exposure compensation, and flash settings, as well as the quality
level, and the number of photos remaining.
buttons just to the right let you adjust quality, flash, and self-timer
now, a word about Epson's quality settings. They use the system
much like Toshiba, with "stars". Here's what each "star"
640 x 480 [155 per 16Mb CF card]
** 2048 x 1536, moderate JPEG compression [31 per card]
*** 2048 x 1536, low JPEG compression [15 per card]
***H 2048 x 1536 uncompressed TIFF or 2544 x 1904 HyPict with
moderate JPEG compression
can choose what ***H does in the setup menu. Keep in mind the HyPict
uses interpolation to achieve that high resolution, so there will
be a loss of quality. I will talk about the downsides of the ***H
mode more in the next section.
important items on top are the shutter release button, and the mode
wheel. Here, Epson has done something that I complained about on
the Olympus C-2000Z last
year-- they made the power button feel like the shutter release,
and put them nearby. Now it's not as bad as on the Olympus, but
I've still accidentally turned off the camera more than once.
mode wheel has the following choices:
with LCD off
with LCD on
interval, and video capture
few notes about Setup mode, and what you can change. The first is
not surprisingly the date and time. One thing I noticed is that
if you take your batteries out (to charge them), the camera will
forget the date, as well as your other settings. That's annoying.
In setup mode, you can also:
auto power off time
white balance, ***H mode, slow flash settings, and confirmation
between Full Auto, Program, and Manual Modes
or B&W photos
strange that about confirmation mode-- which lets you choose if
you want to keep a photo after you've taken it. Well, it doesn't
work very well -- you get like 1/100 sec to decide, and then it's
gone. I'm thinking that this is a bug.
found myself just setting the camera into manual mode at all times
-- you can let the camera choose the settings if you don't want
to set them yourself. It's easier than having to jump into Setup
everytime you want to go into manual mode.
the other side of the camera are the I/O ports, for power, A/V out,
USB, and serial. They're hidden securely under the rubber cover
you see above. Above that is the hook for the straps, and above
that is the diopter correction knob for the optical viewfinder.
review would be complete without a look at the bottom of the camera.
The battery slot is on the left, and it stays closed. Right under
the lens is the metal tripod mount. That's it!
the Epson PhotoPC 3000Z
going to cover three areas in this section: record, playback, and
off the bat, I realized that the PhotoPC 3000Z wasn't the fastest
camera out there, taking about seven seconds to start up. By contrast,
FinePix 4700 takes around two. For most photo taking, I found
the speed to be adequate. But for HyPict or TIFF shots, I found
it to be downright awful. Look at this handy little chart that I
found in the manual:
Processing Time (secs)
processing time for playback (secs)
read that right (or should I say write) -- it takes over 30 seconds
to write a single TIFF shot to the card. During that time you might
as well go take a break, as the camera is unusable. Playing a TIFF
back also brings the camera to a halt until it's done processing
it (just to see the thumbnail!). Now I didn't test any of the other
cameras in TIFF mode, but I know they were much faster than that.
Even the Fuji FinePix 4700, which has files that are similar in
size to the HyPict mode, could write them in about a second (or
at least the camera was operative again after a second). I'm not
sure what the problem is, but folks looking to use TIFF mode regularly
will want to look elsewhere. If you're shooting in the regular *
modes, it's OK.
that I got that out of the way, I can say that I found taking pictures
to be quite easy (again, as long as it's not ***H mode). Using manual
mode most of the time (usually in ** mode), I'd usually leave the
camera in auto exposure mode and let it do the thinking. I could
still adjust exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, metering,
focus, and more if I wanted to.
you want a bit more control, drop into Aperture Priority mode, where
you can choose between f2, f2.3, f2.8, f4, f5.6, and f8. Strangely,
there is no shutter priority mode. If you want to change the shutter,
you need to go into full manual mode, and set both the aperture
and the shutter. If you're doing aperture priority mode already,
why leave out shutter priority mode?
shots from record mode, where you can see various options that
you can change. It's in macro mode right now.
of the options you can change in record mode include ISO (100/200/400),
metering (matrix or spot), focus (auto, 3ft, 10ft, infinity), and
white balance (auto/manual). There are no white balance presets
(e.g. sunlight), so you have to use auto (which was very good),
or set it manually yourself.
features in record mode include macro and panorama modes, continuous
shooting at 1-2fps and interval shooting (ranging from 10sec - 24hrs).
found the macro mode to be quite good -- the above shot is handheld!
found low light shots to be very good as well -- I've got a gallery
full of fireworks
pictures, in fact!
thing that really stood out to me was the photo quality on this
camera -- colors were bright and accurate, and lighting was always
good, with little grain.
you desire, you can add a ten second audio clip to each photo you've
taken. Keep in mind these sounds take up additional space on the
around a second of lag before the camera locks focus, and less than
that before it takes the picture.
mode on the 3000Z is pretty much the same as on other cameras. Slideshows,
thumbnails, DPOF, zoom and scroll-- all there.
look at playback mode. After hitting "Menu Change",
you can select "Info", which gets the screen on the
and scroll allows you to zoom in just once (2X), and the scrolling
is a bit jumpy.
between photos, as mentioned in the previous section, is fair in
most cases, and awful if you're viewing a ***H mode photo.
you haven't done so already, you can add an audio clip to your photos.
This is also the way to playback your movies, though you have to
hit "menu change" and "movie" to do so.
rarely seen feature these days is the ability to delete selected
photos (instead of just one, or all) -- and you can do that on the
feature that I enjoy is movie capture, and the 3000Z can do this
too -- with sound. You can capture 25 second videos in Motion JPEG
format, and then view them on your PC using Quicktime. They're recorded
at 320 x 240 resolution at 15 frames per second.
only sample I have is above, from my Canada trip. All I know is
that there's too much green in this video, and what's with the vertical
Does it Compare?
Epson PhotoPC 3000Z is in the area of digital photography with the
toughest competition: 3 Megapixel cameras. When you have to compete
against the likes on Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and Toshiba, you've got
your work cut out for you.
most cases, the 3000Z keeps up with the rest of the crowd, and in
some cases, is at the top (like in photo quality). The real downer
is the slow processing of HyPict and TIFF images, and the lack of
a shutter priority mode. I'd recommend the camera, but take a careful
look at the competition first before you buy it.
users have brought up some issues with aperture settings, "fringing",
and focusing issues that you should read before you decide -- Steve's
Digicams has a summary
that you shouldn't miss.
designed and easy to use
manual and accessories included with camera
shoe for external flash
mode with sound
I think needs work:
slow in HyPict and TIFF mode
happened to shutter priority mode?
happened to the Type II CompactFlash slot?
quality in movie mode
issues with focus, aperture, fringing
you're a regular user, this is a decent choice for a 3 Megapixel
camera. If you're shooting for print, or require TIFF mode often,
you might want to consider something else, as the slowness will
really get to you. Other cameras to consider include the Nikon
Coolpix 990, Olympus
PDR-M70 (no TIFF mode), Sony
DSC-S70 (we have not yet reviewed this), and perhaps the Fuji
FinePix 4700 and Canon
PowerShot S20 (no TIFF mode for either).
always, we recommend heading to your local reseller to try the camera
before you buy! Remember that this review is just one person's opinion,
and yours may differ!