Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z2 Review
Features & Controls
The DiMAGE Z2 uses Minolta's impressive GT 10x Mega-zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent coverage of 38 - 380mm. The maximum aperture is f/2.8 - 3.7 and the all-glass lens is constructed of 11 elements in 7 groups (includes two elements with three aspheric surfaces). When combined with the seamless 4x digital zoom, it has a 40x zoom range, equivalent to a 38 - 1520mm lens.
The DiMAGE Z2 uses Rapid AF to ensure sharp images with minimum delay. Rapid AF uses a passive AF sensor to instantly estimate the distance to the subject and the camera's CCD to determine the precise focus point. A high-speed drive focuses the lens quickly and smoothly. The CCD uses a 60 frame per second sampling rate to determine the optimum focus, twice the rate of most digital cameras on the market today. All this translates into a 0.3 second focusing time at a focal length of 5.8mm and 0.4 seconds at 58mm, giving it the world's fastest AF among digital cameras with a built-in 10x or greater optical zoom.
The normal focus range is from 1.6 ft. to infinity in Wide and from 6.6 ft. to
infinity in Telephoto. In Macro mode the lens focuses as close as 2.6 inches in Wide
and 39.3 inches in Telephoto. The Super Macro setting will get you as close as 1.2
inches from the lens.
When using powerful optics, the affect of camera shake (a slight blurring of the image when the camera is handheld), can be a significant problem. Minolta engineers have developed an advanced program exposure line to maximize shutter speeds by controlling the aperture and camera sensitivity based on the subject program and focal length in use.
You can extend the versatility of the DiMAGE Z2's 10x lens by using the
optional 0.75x wide-converter. This lens attachment increases the lens' angle
of view giving it a maximum coverage approximately equal to a 28mm lens on a
35mm camera. The adapter ring supplied with the wide-converter allows 52mm
filters to be used with the camera.
The Z2's EVF (electronic viewfinder) is quite unique, most other cameras use a tiny color LCD monitor in the eye piece for display. The Z2 employs a shutter-mirror that closes over the 1.5-inch color LCD and redirects the image up to the eye level finder. It has full dioptric adjustment and 98% field of view coverage.
When shooting in less than ideal lighting conditions, precise framing of an
image on the monitor can be difficult. Automatic monitor amplification
brightens the monitor under low light so the live image is always visible.
The DiMAGE Z2 is equipped with Minolta's unique Switch Finder. This unique system allows the camera's LCD monitor to be viewed directly or through the viewfinder. Since a single monitor is used, photographers won't need to worry about the color, contrast, and resolution difference between separate rear and viewfinder monitors. Because of the viewfinder's large apparent angle of view, the monitor image is large and clear.
The camera's Real Motion LCD monitor uses a 60 frames per second frame rate. This Real Motion frame rate brings the live image to life by the ability to show action smoothly compared to the slower 30 frames per second rate of conventional monitors.
The DiMAGE Z2 incorporates Minolta's most powerful flash built into a digital camera yet. With a guide number of 39 (feet), the built-in flash can illuminate a subject up to approximately 20 feet when used at the wide-angle position with auto exposure and auto camera sensitivity.
The built-in pop-up flash offers Auto, Fill-flash, Auto with Red-eye reduction and
Slow-shutter sync, it recycles in approximately 7 seconds.
Using the dedicated hot shoe flash connector you can attach the Minolta Maxxum Program
Flash 5600 HS, Program Flash 3600 HS or 2500D (shown above) which offer versatile
functions such as auto power zoom and test flash.
The Z2's main functions are controlled by the Mode Dial located on the top of the
handgrip. It has positions for Manual, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Program AE,
Movie, AUTOmatic, Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Beach/Sea and Night Portrait. In between
the shutter release and the Mode Dial are the Focus and Flash mode buttons.
On the back is Record EVF - Record LCD - Playback mode lever, in its center is the Power
button. The 4-way selector lets you navigate menus and select images during playback,
the button in the center accepts menu selections. The "QV" button lets you quickly view
the last image captured, press it a second time to delete the image. The MENU button
calls up and dismisses the menus. The "i+" button controls the amount of data overlayed on
the screen and the playback modes.
The Z2 is equipped with a Secure Digital card slot and ships with a 16MB SD
card. Compatible with any size SD card, we tested it with the fast, new
SanDisk Ultra II 512MB SD card.
The camera's USB 1.1 port is also located in this compartment. This connector also
handles the Audio-Video Out cable, the format is NTSC or PAL (selectable.)
There is a DC INput jack on the back for an AC adapter or external battery pack.
The Z2 uses four standard AA type batteries, alkaline can be used but we'd highly recommend using high-capacity NiMH rechargeable or lithium photo type batteries.
Approximate number of recorded images: 250 frames with alkaline batteries, LCD monitor on, Full-size images (2272x1704), Standard image quality, No instant playback, No full-time AF, Flash used with 50% of the frames. Approximate continuous playback time: 180 min. with alkaline batteries
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