Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Epson Digital Cameras > Epson PhotoPC 3000Z

Epson PhotoPC 3000Z

Epson's first three-megapixel design boasts great image quality and loads of "enthusiast" features

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

PhotoPC 3000Z Test Shots

Review First Posted: 10/01/2000

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)


Outdoor portrait: (749k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors and the 3000Z had a little bit of trouble with the high contrast. We shot this image in the automatic (457k), fix (462k) (balanced for 5,200 degrees Kelvin) and manual (465k) white balance modes, selecting manual (or custom, as Epson refers to it) for our main series. The automatic setting resulted in a slightly cool image, while the fixed setting produced very dim results, and manual offered the most accurate white value. The skin tones here are really beautiful, although the bright colors of the flowers are a bit muted. The 3000Z falls prey to the very common digicam problem of purplish blues in the flowers and the model's pants (although the latter are somewhat hidden in the shadows).The image is nice and crisp, although there's just the slightest softness in some of the details. There's really excellent detail in the shadow areas, and only a minimal amount of noise. Our main image was taken with a +0.6 EV exposure adjustment to get the best exposure on the face without losing too much detail in the highlight areas. We had to compromise a little here, as the highlight areas are already somewhat blown out, but lowering the exposure compensation would keep the shadow areas too dark. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.4 EV in the manual white balance mode.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/371
Aperture: F6.3
(733k)
0.2 EV
Shutter: 1/750
Aperture: F4.6
(725k)
0.4 EV
Shutter: 1/750
Aperture: F4.6
(728k)
0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/553
Aperture: F4.6
(749k)
0.8 EV
Shutter: 1/517
Aperture: F4.6
(751k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/553
Aperture: F4.6
(748k)
1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/432
Aperture: F4.6
(764k)
1.4 EV
Shutter: 1/325
Aperture: F4.6
(750k)



 
Closer portrait: (784k)
The 3000Z also did an excellent job on this closer portrait shot, although we felt the skin tones here were a bit on the pink side. We again shot with the manual white balance setting, with our main shot requiring a +0.4 EV adjustment. Resolution and detail look much more crisp and clear in this close-up shot, as you can even see the thread pattern in the shirt. Noise remains at a minimum in the shadow areas. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.2 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/517
Aperture: F4.9
(773k)
0.2 EV
Shutter: 1/457
Aperture: F.9
(738k)
0.4 EV
Shutter: 1/432
Aperture: F4.9
(784k)
0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/354
Aperture: F4.9
(749k)
0.8 EV
Shutter: 1/279
Aperture: F4.9
(740k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/260
Aperture: F4.9
(730k)
1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/409
Aperture: F3.4
(696k)



 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (738k)
The 3000Z does a nice job lighting the subject and also allowing some ambient light into this image. We first shot with the internal flash and a +1.0 EV adjustment.(738k) Although the entire image has an orange/magenta cast to it, the subject is reasonably well-lit without any odd-colored highlights. Next, we used the internal flash with the slow shutter (742k) option, and kept the exposure compensation at +1.0 EV. We were a little torn as to which image to choose for our main selection: The slow shutter version had a more attractive lighting balance overall, but the difference in color balance between the camera's flash and the incandescent room lighting resulted in somewhat bluish highlights. In the end, we chose the normal-shutter version for our main selection. We then connected an external flash (669k) to the camera's hot shoe, which was bounced off of the ceiling. The resulting image has rather blown out highlights, but the color balance is much more accurate (although the blue flowers again have a purplish hue), and there are no harsh shadows.


 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (750k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, but the 3000Z's white balance system was easily up to the challenge. (!) We tested the automatic (774k) and manual (750k) white balance settings, choosing manual for our main series. The automatic setting produced extremely warm results, almost a sepia toned image. For our main shot,(750k) we chose a +1.0 EV adjustment with the manual white balance control. Color balance looks great, with the exception of the blue flowers, which again look somewhat purple. The white balance is exceptionally good for this shot, which seems almost impossible for cameras to render accurately. We also tested the camera's ISO settings, shooting at 100,(747k) 200 (847k) and 400 (913k) (all of which have a +1.0 EV exposure adjustment). As the ISO setting increases, so does the noise level, and the image also picks up a slightly warmer cast. Although the noise level at 400 is much higher than at 100, the resulting image still looks very nice. (To our eye, a better-than-average noise performance at ISO 400.) The table below shows a range of exposure adjustments from zero to +1.6 EV using the manual white balance setting.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/16
Aperture: F2.1
(755k)
0.2 EV
Shutter: 1/15
Aperture: F2.1
(770k)
0.4 EV
Shutter: 1/13
Aperture: F2.1
(790k)
0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/12
Aperture: F2.1
(807k)
0.8 EV
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F2.1
(753k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F2.1
(750k)
1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F2.1
(752k)
1.4 EV
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F2.1
(745k)
1.6 EV
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F2.1
(731k)



 
House shot: (1091k)
NOTE that this is the "new" house shot, a much higher-resolution poster than we first used in our tests. To compare the image of the 3000Z with previously tested cameras, here's a shot of the original house poster in the automatic (872k) white balance setting.

We shot this image with the automatic (94k), fix (95k) and manual (94k) white balance settings, ultimately deciding on the automatic setting for our main series. Despite a slightly warm cast, the automatic setting had the best overall color balance. The "fixed" setting produced yellowish results, and the manual setting appeared just a little blue in the white highlight areas. The PhotoPC 3000Z's lens seems very sharp, a fact that we attribute to the Zeiss heritage we suspect for it. (Epson doesn't advertise the lens as a Zeiss, but it appears identical to that of the Sony S70, which is a Zeiss model.) Fine detail is beautifully preserved, and sharpness is very good across the field. When we first examined our shots for this subject, we were surprised to see what looked like rather soft images. We subsequently realized that we'd been looking at the output of the interpolated "HyPict" mode. As with most interpolation schemes we've seen we really don't think that Epson's HyPict really adds much to the image: Our advice would be to just shoot in the normal highest-quality JPEG mode for most uses. The table below shows the full range of resolution and quality settings for the 3000Z in the automatic white balance mode.

Resolution/Quality series

HyPict/Interpolated
Shutter: 1/18
Aperture: F4.4
(1091k)


Large/Uncompressed
Note: Use imaging program to view
(9226k)

Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/18
Aperture: F4.4
(823k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/18
Aperture: F4.4
(487k)


Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/17
Aperture: F4.4
(94k)




 
 
Far-Field Test (804k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

For this test, we shot with the automatic (91k), fix (91k) and manual (90k) white balance modes, choosing automatic as the most accurate. The manual setting resulted in a nearly identical color balance to automatic, but the fixed setting appeared slightly bluish. This is the strongest test of detail of any that we do, and the 3000Z performs admirably. Sharpness is excellent across the entire frame, and fine details in the leaves and branches above the house are very well preserved. The strong highlight on the central bay window of the house is very hard for cameras to hold detail in, and the 3000Z does a bit better than average in this department. Color balance looks good throughout and the shingles show a very minimal amount of noise. The table below shows the full resolution and quality series in the automatic white balance setting.

Resolution/Quality series

HyPict/Interpolated
Shutter: 1/121
Aperture: F6.1
(1050k)


Large/Uncompressed
Note: Use imaging program to view
(9226k)

Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/121
Aperture: F6.1
(804k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/121
Aperture: F6.1
(412k)


Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/123
Aperture: F6.1
(91k)




 
 
Lens Zoom Range
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide-angle, the lens at full 3x telephoto and the lens at full telephoto with 2x digital telephoto enabled. As you might expect, the resolution sharply declines with the 2x digital telephoto, but it still captures a fair amount of detail. We also included a "panoramic" shot, for those interested in that feature. It's important to note that this isn't a true panoramic function in our book, as the angle of coverage is no wider than in normal wide angle mode: The 3000Z makes its "panorama" shots the same way APS film cameras do, by simply cropping away the top and bottom of the image, to produce a slimmer aspect ratio. (Frankly, another feature we really don't see the point of: Our philosophy with digicams is that you're always better off capturing as many pixels as the camera is capable of, and then deciding after the fact how you want to crop the images on the computer.)



Wide
Shutter: 1/119
Aperture: F5.6
(412k)
Tele
Shutter: 1/97
Aperture: F6.9
(480k)
2x Digital Telephoto
Shutter: 1/87
Aperture: F6.9
(446k)
Panorama
Shutter: 1/103
Aperture: F5.6
(226k)



 
 
Musicians Poster (812k)
We shot this test with the automatic (85k), fix (86k) and manual (84k) white balance settings, choosing manual as the most accurate. The automatic and fixed settings both looked very similar to each other, and were much too warm. (It seems that the 3000Z's white balance system falls prey to the typical problem with this sometimes difficult target: Many digicams are tricked by the significant amount of blue in the image and overcompensate for it, making the image too warm overall.) In our manual white balance version, the skin tones look about right and the telltale blue robe also looks nearly accurate (this is a hard blue for many digicams to interpret properly). Resolution is again very good,with good detail in the bird wings and silver threads on the blue robe, as well as in the flower garland. (Really, this poster is only useful for color comparison these days, since the poster itself is beginning to limit resolution performance.) A very moderate level of noise exists throughout the image, most noticeably in the background (some of which may be from the actual poster). Below is our standard resolution and quality series in the manual white balance setting.

Resolution/Quality series

HyPict/Interpolated
Shutter: 1/15
Aperture: F4.4
(1090k)


Large/Uncompressed
Note: Use imaging program to view
(9226k)

Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/15
Aperture: F4.4
(812k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/15
Aperture: F4.4
(491k)


Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/15
Aperture: F4.4
(84k)




 
Macro Shot (812k)
The 3000Z performs nicely in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 2.89 x 2.17 inches (73.51 x 55.13 mm). Sharpness is excellent, although we did observe significant barrel distortion when shooting at minimum distance in macro mode. At minimum distance, the 3000Z's built-in flash (810k) unfortunately gets blocked by the protruding lens, which throws a shadow across part of the image. Otherwise, it does a reasonably good job of illuminating this small test area, only slightly blowing out details on the image (except for the silver coin, where detail loss is understandable since it's little more than a mirror).


"Davebox" Test Target (704k)
We shot this test target with the automatic (385k), fix (384k) and manual (381k) white balance settings, again choosing manual for its accuracy. Both automatic and fixed white balance settings produced very warm images. Color balance looks good overall, the large cyan, magenta and yellow color blocks on the left side of the target look pretty accurate, although slightly under-saturated, particularly the yellow. (A common digicam problem on this test.) The 3000Z does a nice job of separating the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart, although the two hues appear very similar to each other (many digicams try to blend the two colors into one). The subtle tonal variations of the Q60 chart are visible up to the "B" range, which is another difficult area for digicams. Tonal range is really exceptional, with good detail in the highlights, and some of the best detail in the shadows that we've yet seen on this test. Noise levels in the shadows are exceptionally low, and interestingly, the 3000Z also does an unusually good job of maintaining a neutral color balance across the entire tonal range, as represented by the grayscale blocks on the MacBeth chart. Below is our standard resolution and quality series, shot in Aperture Priority mode with an aperture of f/4.0.

Resolution/Quality series

HyPict/Interpolated
Shutter: 1/25
Aperture: F4.4
(894k)


Large/Uncompressed
Note: Use imaging program to view
(9226k)

Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/25
Aperture: F4.4
(704k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/25
Aperture: F4.4
(380k)


Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/25
Aperture: F4.4
(73k)




 
Low-Light Tests
The 3000Z does an excellent job in the low-light category, as we were able to obtain useable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot candles (0.67 lux), with very little noise. (For comparison, a typical city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about 1 foot candle.) We obtained the best exposures with the camera's Automatic exposure mode at 2, 4 and 8 foot candles (respectively, 22, 44 and 88 lux). At 1 foot candle (11 lux) and below, we shot in the Aperture Priority exposure mode, with an aperture setting of f/2.8 and a variety of shutter speeds. We also shot at each of the ISO settings (100, 200 and 400). The exposures definitely brightened as we increased the ISO level, as did the amount of noise. Still, the noise level in the 400 ISO image is quite bearable, much better than we're accustomed to seeing at that ISO value in consumer-level digicams. Overall, a very impressive low-light performance, clearly in the top echelon of digicams we've tested in this category: The PhotoPC 3000 Zoom would be an excellent choice for anyone interested in photography after dark. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels, at all three ISO settings. Images in this table (like all our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

8 fc
88 lux
4 fc
44 lux
2 fc
22 lux
1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO 100 Click to see 30ZL03210.HTM
Shutter: 1/5
Aperture: F2
(710k)
Click to see 30ZL03209.HTM
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2
(698k)
Click to see 30ZL03208.HTM
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2
(642k)
Click to see 30ZL03207.HTM
Shutter: 4
Aperture: F2.8
(699k)
Click to see 30ZL03206.HTM
Shutter: 8
Aperture: F2.8
(717k)
Click to see 30ZL03205.HTM
Shutter: 8
Aperture: F2.8
(735k)
Click to see 30ZL03204.HTM
Shutter: 8
Aperture: F2.8
(742k)
Click to see 30ZL03203.HTM
Shutter: 8
Aperture: F2.8
(656k)
ISO 200 Click to see 30ZL04010.HTM
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F2
(760k)
Click to see 30ZL04009.HTM
Shutter: 1/5
Aperture: F2
(756k)
Click to see 30ZL04008.HTM
Shutter: 1/3
Aperture: F2
(764k)
Click to see 30ZL04007.HTM
Shutter: 2
Aperture: F2.8
(771k)
Click to see 30ZL04006.HTM
Shutter: 4
Aperture: F2.8
(774k)
Click to see 30ZL04005.HTM
Shutter: 8
Aperture: F2.8
(863k)
Click to see 30ZL04004.HTM
Shutter: 8
Aperture: F2.8
(866k)
Click to see 30ZL04003.HTM
Shutter: 8
Aperture: F2.8
(841k)
ISO 400 Click to see 30ZL08010.HTM
Shutter: 1/20
Aperture: F2
(833k)
Click to see 30ZL08009.HTM
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F2
(832k)
Click to see 30ZL08008.HTM
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F2
(834k)
Click to see 30ZL08007.HTM
Shutter: 1
Aperture: F2.8
(853k)
Click to see 30ZL08006.HTM
Shutter: 2
Aperture: F2.8
(843k)
Click to see 30ZL08005.HTM
Shutter: 4
Aperture: F2.8
(882k)
Click to see 30ZL08004.HTM
Shutter: 4
Aperture: F2.8
(853k)
Click to see 30ZL08003.HTM
Shutter: 8
Aperture: F2.8
(855k)



 
Flash Range Test (New)
(This test was added in August 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available). Epson didn't report the estimated flash range for the 3000Z in the manual, but in our testing, we found the 3000Z's built-in flash to be reasonably effective all the way out to 14 feet, without getting too dark, and should certainly be usable to 12 feet or so. The table below shows results obtained at a range of distances from eight to 14 feet.

8 ft
Shutter: 1/48
Aperture: F2.5
(3834k)
9 ft
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F2.5
(371k)
10 ft
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F2.5
(314k)
11 ft
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F2.5
(321k)
12 ft
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F2.5
(291k)
13 ft
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F2.5
(271k)
14 ft
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F2.5
(265k)



 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (945k)
The PhotoPC 3000Z did fairly well in the resolution department, with a visual resolution of about 800 lines per picture height in the vertical direction, and 850-900 lines horizontally. This is good, but a little off from the very best we've seen in the 3 megapixel category. (We were a little surprised by the softness, as other shots seemed more detailed than these of the resolution target. On the other hand, while these results don't lead the 3 megapixel digicam pack, they are quite respectable, and have the advantage of showing essentially no color moire patterns or other artifacts: Very clean images indeed. Overall, a good but not record-breaking performance. The tables below contain the results of the full range of file size and quality settings.

Resolution/Quality series, Wide Angle

HyPict/Interpolated
Shutter: 1/12
Aperture: F5.6
(1009k)


Large/Uncompressed
Note: Use imaging program to view
(9226k)

Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/13
Aperture: F5.6
(754k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/13
Aperture: F5.6
(411k)


Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/13
Aperture: F5.6
(74k)



Resolution/Quality series, Telephoto

HyPict/Interpolated
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F6.9
(945k)


Large/Uncompressed
Note: Use imaging program to view
(9226k)

Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F6.9
(703k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F6.9
(391k)


Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F6.9
(71k)



Resolution/Quality series, Digital Telephoto

HyPict/Interpolated
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F6.9
(1029k)


Large/Uncompressed
Note: Use imaging program to view
(9226k)

Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/7
Aperture: F6.9
(622k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F6.9
(395k)


Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F6.9
(74k)




 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
We found the 3000Z's optical viewfinder to be fairly tight, showing about 85 percent of the final image area at wide-angle (711k) and about 82 percent at telephoto (735k). (It's fairly typical for optical viewfinders to show only part of the final image area, with many hovering around the 85% accuracy point. The 3000Z is therefore only a bit below average in this respect.) The LCD monitor was much more accurate, showing 97 percent of the final image area at wide-angle (719k) and 98 percent at telephoto (741k) (which is right in line with Epson's own estimates). We generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, so the 3000Z's LCD does an excellent job. Images framed with the optical viewfinder seem to be slightly shifted towards the upper right corner, while the LCD framing appears to remain square. We also shot with the 2x digital telephoto (657k), which resulted in about 96 percent frame accuracy. Resolution is a little softer with the digital telephoto, and the image is centered horizontally, but shifted upwards vertically.

Optical distortion on the 3000Z is moderate on the wide-angle end, as we noticed a 0.76 percent barrel distortion. On the other hand, the telephoto end showed only about a 0.13 percent pincushion distortion, which is relatively low. Chromatic aberration is also fairly low, showing about three pixels of coloration on each side of the black target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Flash distribution appears very even at telephoto, with a little falloff around the edges at the wide-angle setting.

 

Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Epson PhotoPC 3000Z!



<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate