If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

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.


  1. The lens cap is automatic, so no, but thanks anyway. In any case the black frames would appear in the middle of a run of successful shots. It was only on reviewing the images later that the failures would come to light. Just random black frames in the middle of, say, shots of mountains in sunshine. We ended up checking every shot after we had taken it (a small but ittitating task) so we could retake something if it was a 'must have'.

  2. My technical consultant (son 26, disgustingly tech savvy) says it sounds like a firmware problem. This may have been solved by the makers. So before punting it down the garden try a firmware update from http://www.konicaminoltasupport.com/Firmware.3387.0.html

    Don't people under 30 irritate you sometimes?


  3. Don't know if it's the same problem, but (as a long-time user of Sony products - for better or worse), there were issues with Sony/Minolta/Konica digital cameras some years back that were fitted with a faulty CCD image sensor. It wasn't all that well publicised, so I don't know if the chip could partially fail as you're describing.

    However, a quick search on the net reveals that, if it is a CCD problem, you can get a free repair until end-December(http://www.konicaminoltasupport.com/importantnotice_en.0.html). It mentions the 2002-4 Dimage Xi as being an affected model - probably worth giving them a bell and finding out if that's the cause.

  4. Thanks, chaps!

    @Derf - great to have tech-savvy sons, but sadly the camera is the Xi, whereas the model in the link is the X1. Big difference. No firmware update for the Xi as far as I can see. Tell him thanks anyway :)

    @Endo - the 'black photo' problem isn't quite the same as the examples given in that link, but it's got to be worth a try. A faulty CCD certainly sounds a likely candidate. I'll give them a ring.

    Thanks both for the input.

  5. I'd try covering the camera with tin foil. I've had similar problems with my camera and traced it to the government testing out their new death ray. It knocks out all electronic equipment for a fraction of a second and grabs a block of your brain's memory at the same time ( might be worth investing in a tin foil hat before you hit the road).

  6. Thank you, Don. I found the marks of a tracked vehicle on my lawn this morning. Do you think they have been to collect the pixels while I was asleep?

  7. Let em get this right. You've come onto the Internet to admit you're shooting blanks?


  8. Richard.
    The tracked vehicle is stage two in the process. They've dug a reciever node under your house and will now be able to monitor your communications remotely without having to do any covert break ins. Bugs are so last century.

  9. @Patently - why else would they keep bombarding me with those emails? You know, length, girth, volume, angle, duration. I thought it was common knowledge.

    @Don - so those things in the compost bin, weren't real bugs? I shall have to go to the cellar (may have to dig one first) and check.

  10. Richard. Sadly they can fit bugs to bugs these days. Tiny little cameras and mics glued onto slateys ( woodlice). So don't assume bugs are safe.

    patently.. I see they're paying £100 a nut if you agree to a vasectomy. ..



Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...