Minolta DiMAGE A1 Review

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First Look posted 8/7/03
Production sample photos posted 9/23/03
DiMAGE Capture software page 10/10/03
Conclusion posted 10/26/03

Click to take a QuickTime VR tour of the DiMAGE A1
Click on the DiMAGE A1 to take a QuickTime VR tour

Building on the success of the DiMAGE 7 series of digital cameras, Minolta introduces the new 5-megapixel SLR-type DiMAGE A1. Featuring the world's fastest AF speed among 5-megapixel SLR-type digital cameras*, a fast f/2.8 - 3.5 7x optical zoom lens, a top shutter speed of 1/16,000 of a second, dual-focal macro system, extra-fine image quality option, Minolta's new CxProcess II and 3-D Predictive Focus Control, Subject Tracking AF, Anti-shake function, and compatibility with portable and studio flash systems.

The Minolta DiMAGE A1's fast f2.8 - f3.5 7x optical zoom lens is an advanced apochromatic (APO) lens employing anomalous dispersion (AD) glass to minimize chromatic aberration at all focal lengths and produce sharp, contrasty images. With a focal range of 7.2mm to 50.8mm, it's equivalent to a 28-200mm 35mm zoom lens. The DiMAGE A1 zoom has a dual-focal macro system that allows the lens to be set at the wide-angle or telephoto position to take advantage of different focal lengths.

For photographers who demand high-quality images, new image-quality and image-size settings have been added to the Minolta DiMAGE A1. The extra-fine image-quality option produces a high-quality JPEG file with little compression or loss of detail. And the new 2080 x 1560 image size gives photographers the ability to switch between 5 megapixel, 3 megapixel, and 2 megapixel images smoothly.

Minolta DiMAGE A1

A1 shown with optional BP-400 battery grip

Featuring continuous AF, the DiMAGE A1 uses Minolta's new 3-D Predictive Focus Control to track the subject from when the shutter-release button is pressed all the way down until the exposure is made ensuring optimum focus. Subject Tracking AF uses the 3-D Predictive Focus Control system to lock on to and track a subject as it moves through the frame. The DiMAGE A1 incorporates Direct Manual Focus (DMF). After the AF system has focused and locked on the subject, the focus can be fine-tuned manually. The camera's new Flex Digital Magnifier (FDM) can enlarge a section of the live image by 2X or 8X so sharpness can be judged in manual focus or when using DMF.

This is Minolta's first digital camera to employ the new CxProcess II image-processing technology. CxProcess II controls the essential image qualities of color, contrast, and sharpness while minimizing noise.

The A1's new Anti-shake function minimizes the effect of camera shake, a slight blurring of the image when the camera is handheld, to provide the sharpest image possible. The continuous-advance drive modes make it possible to record action as it unfolds. Three JPEG or five 5-megapixel RAW images can be captured at a rate of 2 frames per second. And, at the heart of the DiMAGE A1 is a new high-speed image-processing LSI for increased performance. Power consumption has also been greatly reduced and the camera is now powered by a high-capacity rechargeable Li-ion battery pack.

DiMAGE A1 Features:

  • 7x optical zoom 28-200mm with manual zoom and focus rings on the lens
  • Anti-Shake function for sharp images at low shutter speed or long focal lengths
  • 5-megapixel 2/3" CCD sensor for images up to 2560 x 1950 pixels
  • 14-bit A/D conversion provides a finer tonal gradation (16,384 levels in each color channel)
  • CCD-RAW, TIFF, Extra Fine (low compression) and JPEG file modes
  • Native sRGB or Adobe RGB color space is selectable
  • Program AE with Shift, Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Manual exposure modes
  • Vari-angle (-20 to 90°) 1.8-inch color LCD with 118,000 pixels
  • Color Viewfinder with 235,000 pixels, variable position can be tilted up to 90°, automatic monitor amplification in low-light
  • Color modes: Natural Color (sRGB), Vivid Color (sRGB), Adobe RGB, Embedded Adobe RGB, Black and white (neutral and toned), Solarization
  • Burst capture @ 2.8fps up to five 2560 x 1920 RAW frames
  • Up to 15 mins. of 320x240 motion video at 24fps with 16-bit audio
  • Shutter speeds from 30 seconds to 1/16,000
  • 3-D Predictive Focus Control and Subject Tracking
  • Flex Focus Point, changes the extra-wide focus to a cross-hair spot focus point that can be moved to anywhere within the image
  • Digital Program modes: portrait, sports, night portrait and sunset
  • Auto and six white balance presets with 7 levels of fine tuning plus three custom settings
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto (100-200), 100, 200, 400 and 800 equivalents
  • Up to 15 sec. audio memos can be added to still images
  • Digital Enhanced Bracketing of contrast and color saturation
  • Flash hot shoe and external PC synch terminal
  • Digital Effects Control for exposure compensation, contrast and color saturation
  • High Performance flash with Advanced Distance Integration flash metering
  • Three exposure-metering modes: 300-segment, center-weighted and spot
  • Playback/QuickView with histogram feature
  • Data imprinting that records date, time and descriptive information on an image.
  • Lightweight magnesium-alloy body, professional black finish with a large rubberized grip
  • High-capacity NP-400 rechargeable Li-ion battery pack
  • Optional BP-400 grip holds two Li-ion packs or 6 AA batteries
  • Exif Print and Epson PRINT Image Matching II compatible

The DiMAGE A1 is available now with a street price of under $1,000.00

Physical Views

Minolta DiMAGE A1

Minolta DiMAGE A1

Minolta DiMAGE A1

Minolta DiMAGE A1

Minolta DiMAGE A1

Minolta DiMAGE A1

Minolta DiMAGE A1

The DiMAGE A1 compared in size to a standard CD.

Minolta DiMAGE A1

The DiMAGE A1 and the 3.2-megapixel DiMAGE Z1 with 10x optical zoom.

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