Minolta DiMAGE Z1 Review
Features & Controls
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the DiMAGE Z1 is its 10x Minolta Mega-zoom lens with a coverage of 38 - 380mm in 35mm equivalent. The maximum aperture is f/2.8 - 3.5 and the all-glass lens is constructed of 10 elements in 7 groups (includes two aspheric elements.) When combined with the seamless 4x digital zoom, it has a 40x zoom range, equivalent to a 38 - 1520mm lens.
The DiMAGE Z1 employs 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 3.9 inches in Wide
and 47.2 inches in Telephoto. The Super Macro setting will get you as close as 1.6
inches from the lens.
With such 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.
To extend the versatility of the powerful 10x Mega-zoom, an optional 0.75x wide-converter
is available. 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 Z1's EVF (electronic viewfinder) is really different, every other one that we've seen uses a tiny color LCD display. The Z1 employs a shutter-mirror that closes over the 1.5-inch color LCD and redirects the image up to the eyelevel finder. It has full dioptric adjustment and 98% field of view coverage.
When working in less than ideal lighting conditions, precisely framing an image on the
monitor is difficult. Automatic monitor amplification brightens the monitor under low
light so the live image is always visible.
The DiMAGE Z1 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 Z1 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 autoexposure and auto camera sensitivity.
The builtin pop-up flash offers Auto, Fill-flash, Auto with Red-eye reduction and
Slow-shutter sync, it recycles in approximately 7 seconds.
The flash range in Wideangle is approximately 0.8 - 20 feet (0.23-6.1m), in Telephoto
it's approximately 3.9 - 15.7 feet (1.2-4.8m) with camera sensitivity set to auto.
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
Macro Twin Flash 2400 provides flexible lighting for nature macro photography while the
Macro Ring Flash 1200 offers shadowless lighting, ideal for medical and scientific use.
The Z1'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. Inbetween
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 Z1 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 32x Lexar 256MB 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 Z1 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 (2048x1536), Standard image quality, No instant playback, No full-time AF, Flash used with 50% of the frames. Approximate continuous playback time: 300 min. with alkaline batteries
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