At first glance, you may wonder what the difference between the new 3100z and the old 3000z is. The major specifications are the same; it still has a 3.3-megapixel chip, which when combined with Hypict technology outputs files that are nearly five megapixels (2,544-x-1,904 pixels). This makes it ideal for printing A3 images.
There is, however, a raft of small but significant enhancements. For instance, there’s now a built in photo-stitching assistant. This isn’t just an extra piece of software – although there is one thrown in the box – it’s actually a mode on the camera. In stitching mode, each picture you take moves to the left quarter of the view and becomes translucent. This allows you to line up the next shot of your panorama without the guesswork.
It still has a 6x zoom – 3x optical and 2x digital – but the digital zoom has been improved and is now smoother than before. The big lens gives you an excellent, sharp picture – even in the Hypict high-resolution mode.
Getting your images from the cameras to the printer is now much easier than before. Rather than depending on a card reader or a software-driven USB connection, the 3100z actually works like a card reader. Simply plugging it in to a Mac with USB will automatically mount the card in the camera on the desktop. This makes life simple, and is another minor refinement that improves the camera.
The interface for the controls on the back screen is simple to navigate. You can turn off the camera’s helpful beeps if you find them irritating. You can also access the special modes such as video, panorama and continuous mode. Adding a voice notation is easy too – the 3100z has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
The 3100z is bulky compared to some cameras, but the extra weight adds to its feel as a traditional camera. If you don’t mind the bulk, it’s excellent for high-resolution pictures – if you want to print A3 size photographs, the 3100z is ideal.
The 2,544-x-1,904 pixel output is as high as you really need, and it’s good that Epson has concentrated on other ways to make the camera better. Now that the resolution race is done with, and the digital-camera market matures, we will see more functional cameras like this one. It’s packed with both pixels and features.