More quantitative data is expressed below; the circles represent the produced color of the Z5; the squares represent the ideal colors on the GretagMacbeth chart. In a perfect world and on a perfect digital camera, the squares and circles should be right on top of each other. Unfortunately, the Konica Minolta Z5 is not all that perfect camera.
The Z5 received an overall color score of 6.34 with a mean color error of 9.28. Yikes! Colors across the chart are inaccurate: reds, greens, dark blues, and yellows. Just as disappointing was the 93.91 percent mean saturation score. Most digital cameras slightly over-saturate colors to enhance skin tones and give texture to flat surfaces; their scores usually hover around the 100-110 percent range. This DiMAGE is well below that mark, producing muted and often muddy tones.
Still Life Scene
Below is an image of our still life scene recorded with the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5.
Click on the above image to view a full resolution version (CAUTION: The linked image is very large!)](../viewer.php?picture=KMinolta-Z5-StillLifeLG.jpg)
Resolution / Sharpness ***(3.98)*
**Konica Minolta released the Z5 with an advertised 5.2 total and 5 effective megapixels on its 1/2.5-inch CCD. To test the camera’s resolution, we take several exposures of the industry standard ISO 12233 resolution test chart. We analyze those images in Imatest Imaging Software and determine how many pixels were used. We compare the results to the advertised megapixel count and attach a score of "good" if it’s within 70 percent, "very good" if within 80 percent, and "excellent" if a camera is within 90 percent of the advertised megapixels. The Konica Minolta Z5 used 3.98 megapixels in our images, receiving a "very good" score by using 81 percent of the advertised 5 effective megapixels and producing crisp images with sharp definition.
Click on the chart to view full Res Image](../viewer.php?picture=KMinolta-Z5-ResCH-FULL22.jpg)
Noise Auto ISO ***(1.83)***
This is not the camera for night shots or beautifully clear landscapes. When we tested the Konica Minolta Z5, it scored a 1.83 overall noise score. This could be one of the worst scores we’ve seen in awhile, which is particularly unfortunate on an intermediate level digital camera. The excessive amounts of noise can be seen as discolored pixels when you click on the still life scene link and view the enlarged image (above).
**Noise Manual ISO ***(3.95)*
To determine how well the camera handles noise, we test levels at each ISO rating manually available. On the Z5, this includes the following ISO ratings: 50, 100, 200, and 320. We compiled the results from each test into a regression analysis and determined the overall noise score to be 3.95. This is better than the automatic ISO setting, but is nothing to brag about, facing difficulty at all sensitivity ratings beyond ISO 50. The Z5’s noise production can be perceived on the chart below: the horizontal axis shows the camera’s ISO ratings and the vertical axis represents the noise produced by the Konica Minolta Z5.
*We test each camera’s performance in low light to determine exactly how far the camera can be pushed without the assistance of a flash or accessory light source. The test is designed to illustrate the camera’s responsiveness to light and the degradation of color that results as light levels fall. Depending on image quality and preference, many users will opt to use the flash rather then bring along a tripod and try to capture the scene atmospherically. Others may loath the typical direct, fixed flash aesthetic that has become all too familiar to digital photographers and value a camera’s nighttime capture potential in its pure rendition of the scene.
Below is a sequence of 4 exposures recorded in diminishing light. The images are captured in a controlled environment with careful attention paid to light levels and color balance. The progression illustrates how the camera responds to decreasing light levels in terms of color reproduction and noise. All exposures were recorded using the Z5’s Programmed Auto mode, an ISO 320 rating and customized white balance (oriented for each shot).
We recorded four images of our GretagMacbeth color chart, captured under light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 Lux. These levels aim to replicate typical low light conditions; 60 Lux approximates a moderately lit bedroom, while 30 Lux equates to a single 40 watt bulb, and 15 Lux and 5 Lux illustrate how the camera fairs in actual darkness (minimal illumination).
Above are four GretagMacbeth color charts that have been run through Imatest Imaging Software. Each chart expresses the camera’s performance at a specified light level. The chart is read in the same manor as in the above Manual and Automatic Noise sections of the review: the outer square is the camera’s produced color, while the vertical rectangle is the ideal and the middle square is the camera’s tone, corrected by the software.
The Konica Minolta Z5 performed admirably in low light in terms of color rendering and even noise. While the camera has some general color reproduction deficiencies, the decreased illumination did not impact the results. Noise levels were excessive, but usable even at 15 Lux. The camera did not completely break down until it reached 5 Lux. In 5 Lux, the auto focus method was rendered completely useless and could not generate a focused image. Although 5 Lux may seem too dim for any camera, it is not. Many imagers can adapt to 5 Lux (common for a bedroom lit by a single bulb — distanced from the source). All-around, I was impressed with the Z5’s low light performance and would consider using the camera for a night shoot, though the lack of a bulb exposure setting certainly comes into play. The shutter limitation of the camera restricts the exposure to 4 seconds, though it appears given a tripod, images can be captured at night that approach the imager’s potential in any situation when the ISO 320 setting is used.
Speed / Timing
***Start-up to First Shot(6.66)*
The Konica Minolta Z5 takes a leisurely 3.34 seconds to start up and take its first shot. This is quite a bit more time than most digital cameras in this category and is sure to hinder the highly performance-driven user.
*Shot to Shot (8.88)
*I did this test several times. The first time, the camera’s batteries were low on juice, so the Z5 took pictures about every four seconds. However, once I put in a set of fresh batteries, the camera performed considerably better. The Konica Minolta Z5 takes a picture about every 0.84 seconds in its Continuous shooting mode. The camera takes a few seconds rest every third picture and gets slower and slower the more you shoot. This burst mode is quite disappointing, considering other cameras within this category and price range offer 2 or 3 frames per second. This DiMAGE does have a Progressive mode, which shoots 10 frames per second at 1024 x 768-pixel resolution. This mode shoots as long as the user’s finger is depressing the shutter release button; however, the camera only saves the last 20 images. After testing this mode, it worked exactly how Konica Minolta said it would: ten frames per second.
Shutter to Shot (8.08)
When the DiMAGE Z5 is not already delicately focused, it takes .46 seconds to take a photograph. When it is focused, it takes the camera about a tenth of a second to capture the shot. This could be a problem with candid shots that won’t last longer than half a second.
Two large protrusions constitute the front of the Konica Minolta Z5. When viewing from the front, the hand grip sticks out on the left side. There is a smooth-surfaced panel running vertically down the front of the grip. At the top of this panel is the metallic and oval-shaped shutter release button. On the right side of the Z5, the lens protrudes from the body in a sloping pod-shape. Around the outer ring of the lens, there is a black metallic highlight with the words "GT 35-420mm 1:2.8-4.5 (Equiv. 135) APO" on the top part of the lens. Above the lens is the built-in flash, which is only visible when it is manually popped up. When the flash is closed, the Konica Minolta brand name shows. In between the grip and the lens is a tiny space (way back in there) with an LED toward the top and a metal plate toward the bottom. The plate has the words "Anti-Shake" with a decorative ‘A’ and ‘S’.
The back of the Z5 looks like an obscure piece of modern art that would induce second glances and extended pondering as to what exactly is being observed. While it’s not a traditional form, the fusion of circular sharps, arched lines and stark boundaries apply immense character to the design. On the left side, there is a smooth-surfaced plastic panel that surrounds the LCD screen, power button, LCD switch, viewfinder, and diopter adjustment. The LCD screen sits in the center of this circular-shaped panel. Below the 1.8-inch LCD is the power button on the left, labeled "On/Off," and the LCD switch on the right. The switch lets the user choose between Playback mode, LCD view, and the electronic viewfinder. Directly above the LCD screen is the electronic viewfinder, with a small diopter adjuster to its right. The dioptric adjustment is a notched dial that sticks out of the camera body, although not very far (certainly not far enough). There is a very shallow divot to the right of this feature, supposedly making it easier to turn. However, the shallow divot looks like only a slightly worn down surface; it’s not enough to make for easier engagement.To the right of the LCD screen and near the top is the navigational dial. The dial is made of two parts: a button in the center and one solid ring on the outside. On each direction of the compass, a small knob sticks out; this makes it easier for users to press the dial in the correct spot. Below the navigational dial are three circular buttons. From the top, they are Menu, Quick View (this is also a Delete button), and Info. These buttons curve with the edge of the smooth surface, which is pleasing to the eye. To the right of the Info button is a rectangular LED that turns red when the camera is busily reading and writing to the memory card. The back of the right-hand grip is covered in rubber and protrudes slightly, making a comfortable resting position for the thumb. In the top right corner is the zoom switch, which looks like a button with the letters "W" and "T" on it, but slides laterally. **** **Left Side ***(6.5)* A supportive rubber gripping surface is present on the left side, which is a nice feature that most camera manufacturers look past. Toward the back of the rubber panel is a cover for the USB, A/V out, and DC in ports. This cover is flush with the panel and has a small divot, so users can pry it open with their fingers. This process can be slightly tedious, as the divot is made for tiny fingers (conflicting with the large grip).
The left side is wide because of the zoom lens, which has a black metallic rim around the lens. On this metallic rim and visible from this side are the words "Optical Zoom 12x Anti-Shake." Above the rubber panel is a metal loop for the neck strap. Above this loop is the built-in flash. The flash must be physically pried open by the tiny plastic lips on the sides of the flash panel. That lip is visible just above the metal loop. On the flash panel is the "DiMAGE Z5" logo. Just below it on the camera body are the words "5.0 Megapixels."
Right Side ***(6.5)*
**The right side is thick and dense, supplying ample support and grip for the dominant right hand. The rear portion of the grip is covered in a rubber surface that has the texture of leather. Just above this rubber panel is a metal loop for the neck strap. Unfortunately, the loop is not directly aligned with the opposite loop on the left side, so the imbalanced camera will hang awkwardly from the user’s neck.
On the top of the Konica Minolta Z5, users will see the flash connector, placed just behind the built-in flash. This connector can be closed with a tiny plastic cover that disconnects entirely from the body (and therefore, could be easily lost). On the top of the right-hand grip, the shutter release button sits on a sloped surface between the top and the front. Behind it are three lines that make up the built-in microphone. A tiny dot to the right of those lines is the speaker. Behind the mic, there are two buttons; the one on the left is for selecting the macro mode, and the one on the right is for the flash setting. Directly behind these buttons is the mode dial. There is a red mark on the body next to the dial, showing users where to select their shooting mode. The following modes are available on the notched dial: Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Program, Movie, Auto, Portrait, Sports, Portrait with Landscape, Beach, and Night Portrait. The first four modes are represented with letters, the movie and scene modes are symbolized by icons, and the Auto mode is spelled out on a red rectangle (easy to find – nice touch).
The Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 has an electronic viewfinder that can be activated when the LCD screen is turned off. The switch is below the LCD screen. The electronic viewfinder reminds me of looking through a chain link fence; it’s quite grainy. One of its better features is the diopter adjustment. The dial is small and recessed into the body too much; there are small notches on the dial, but it is still difficult to turn. The diopter can be adjusted from -3 to +1. While I dislike its inefficiency, I still think it’s a great feature to have for those nearly blind photographers; diopter controls are only included on few compact cameras.
Users should beware; the excessive grain will be an issue. The hypnotically repetitive grain patterns are bound to leave an imprint in your mind if you look too long. The shape of the viewfinder is a bit odd as well. The outer shell is a large semi circle, while the viewing window is ovular and the screen near the back is square. Structurally, it doesn’t really make much sense. Additionally, the regressing levels greatly minimize the viewable screen when contrasted with the large eyepiece. While the viewfinder is a fortunate inclusion, providing a secondary source of view other then the LCD monitor, it’s still a viewfinder on a compact digital camera – how much can you really expect?
**LCD Screen ***(6.5)*
A 2-inch LCD screen with 114,000 pixels can be found below the viewfinder on the Z5. The switch at the bottom determines whether the image is viewed from the electronic viewfinder or the LCD. The display contains a 100 percent field of view, enabling users to take accurate pictures in congruence with the composed frame. The brightness of the screen can be adjusted in ten steps from high to low, making it suitable for use indoors and outdoors. The downside of the Z5’s LCD is the abundance of dancing noise that can be seen on the image when recording and capturing. The limited resolution displays images that are distracting and difficult to discern. While the 2" window offers a large, visible display, the image itself will be a challenge to read.
Illumination is one place where the Konica Minolta Z5 excels. This digital camera has a built-in flash with an external hoe shoe just above it. The shoe is covered with a plastic piece that completely disconnects from the camera and is bound to get lost. Still, it was a thoughtful move by Konica Minolta to include something to cover the external flash connector, which is all too often left exposed.
The built-in flash must be manually pulled upward by users. There is a small tab on each side of the flash for easy prying, as there is no button to pop the flash up. Once the flash is open, the following flash modes are available: Auto, Auto with Red-Eye Reduction, Fill, Fill with Red-Eye Reduction, and Slow Sync. The flash’s intensity can be adjusted from +/- 2 within the recording menu. After taking the camera into a dark room and recording multiple exposures, the flash proved to be surprisingly even (all too often with compact digital cameras, the included fixed flash unit will focus all of the light on one concentrated spot in the image). The flash illumination from the Z5 filled the entire frame and everything within about twelve feet. The only downside to this powerful flash is that it takes about 7 seconds to recycle, so the burst mode and the flash certainly won’t mix.
Zoom Lens ***(8.5)***
The DiMAGE Z5 has a 12x optical zoom lens that extends from 5.83-69.9mm, which is equivalent to a 35-420mm lens in 35mm format. The lens is constructed of 13 elements in 10 groups, although it physically extends from the camera body in a single segment. In the Super Macro mode, the Z5 can focus from 0.4 to about 4 inches. In the Macro mode, the lens focuses from 4 inches to about 2 feet. The normal focus mode takes it from there, focusing from 0.6 meters in the wide setting and 1.6 meters in the telephoto setting of the lens.
This long 12x optical zoom lens does not focus quickly at all. It focuses in and out, then slowly focuses back in on the subject. Users can purchase the optional Konica Minolta 26mm wide angle conversion lens and attach it to the camera. For it to properly function, users must enter the lens accessory mode in the setup menu and inform the Z5 that it’s there.
Model Design / Appearance*(6.0)*
The Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 is definitely not a sexy compact camera; the body appears more like a space module, connected to the space station (right-hand grip). While the Z5 is not completely horrific in appearance, it certainly lacks an aesthetic appeal. Opting to stray from the common rectangular form or SLR shape, the Z5 continues with the distinguishable "H-shape" Konica Minolta design. The lens and grip are joined by a much thinner frame that grants some unity to the form. The plastic body has a lot of texture, which adds in handling but tends to attract and trap dust. This is slightly bothersome, as the color of the camera is black; every particle of dust is visible. However, many of these observations may be trivial, as most interested consumers will likely be gravitated to the camera’s strong performance over its awkward appearance.
Size / Portability*(6.5)*
The Z5 hovers between the small compact models and the bulky single lens reflex digital cameras. This DiMAGE is not as bulky as an SLR, but not as small as the compact models. It will need some kind of camera bag (a very odd-shaped one, I imagine) for easier transport. The included neck strap will come in handy, as the Z5 weighs about 12 ounces without the card and batteries. With measurements of 4.27 x 3.15 x 3.31, this digital camera is not the most portable choice, but should not become a major hindrance for consumers.
The general purpose of a larger right-hand grip is to provide added stability and make extended periods of photographing more comfortable. However, my hand was a bit too small for the bulky grip. When my palm was comfortable on the grip, my fingers couldn’t quite reach the deep valley; in essence, I was pinching the grip in all the wrong ways. This setup may work perfectly for large, masculine hands or people with very long fingers, but this is not conducive to short fingers or a slight feminine grip at all. The positive side of the bulky grip is that it nicely balances the large lens on the opposite side of the camera. The even distribution of weight makes the Z5 easy to hold with one hand (if you can access all controls), although that is not the most stable way to hold the camera. In a balanced, two-hand position, users will have substantial control over the camera, though a manual focus ring would have added immensely.
**Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size ***(6.0)*
The right hand will make all of the adjustments on the Z5, as all of the dials and controls are placed to the right of the LCD screen or on the top near the shutter release button. Most of the buttons are properly sized and placed, with the exception of the three buttons directly to the right of the LCD screen, which are slightly undersized and run the risk of accidentally multiple engagement. Other than those specific controls, the general layout is logical and orderly. The only button completely out of its traditional position is the power button, which is located below the center of the LCD screen on the back. This doesn’t seem like a logical place to put the button, especially if users want to power up the camera and take a shot quickly.
The menus are easy accessible with the Menu button to the right of the LCD screen. All of the menus appear in file folder fashion, with the options laid out in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get manner. Each "folder tab" has five options, so instead of scrolling through one endless recording menu, users scroll horizontally through three menus to find the option they want. Navigating around the menus is easy with the four-way dial located just above the Menu button. All of the menus are in printed text. Some options offer live views, such as the white balance and color mode menus.
The Recording menu includes the following options on its first tab: Drive Mode, Image Size, Quality, White Balance, and Anti-Shake. On the second tab, Focus Mode, Full-time AF, Flash Mode, Flash Compensation, and Metering Mode are offered. The third tab has these options: Sensitivity, Color Mode, Sharpness, Contrast, and Key Function.
The Setup menu consists of four menu tabs. The first has LCD Brightness, Power Save, Instant Playback, Lens Accessories, and Language options. Within the Language menu, the following options are available: Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Swedish, Japanese, English, German, and French. Most of these are quite common, but congrats to the Swedes; they finally have a digital camera that speaks their language. In the second tab, the following options are available: File Number Memory, Folder Name, Date/Time Set, and Date Imprint. In the third tab: Reset Default, Audio Signals, Focus Signal, Shutter FX, and Volume. In the fourth tab: Video Output, Transfer Mode, Digital Zoom, and Self-Timer. The Z5’s volume can be set to three different levels or completely turned off.
The Playback menu offers three fun-filled menu tabs with different purposes. The first tab groups most common functions together: Delete, Format, Lock, Edit Movie, and Copy. The second tab pertains to slide show playback: Slide Show, Playback, Duration, and Repeat. The third tab groups image transfer options: DPOF Set, Date Print, Index Print, and E-mail Copy.
Ease of Use ***(6.5)***
The Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 has its pros and cons in the ease of use department. Like I said before, to connect a camera to the printer, you must enter one menu. Then once connected, you enter another to actually print. The Z5 has a few inefficiencies such as this. It also has some vague icons in its menus; for example, once the preset white balance option is selected, users must scroll through a series of vague icons. Luckily, the Z5 has live views to show what color changes the icons bring on the picture. The live views are available in other menu options as well (but not all). Navigating through the menus is simple and the tabs enhance ease of use because users can view all options in one screen, rather than scrolling endlessly to the unknown portions of a menu. Overall, I’ll have to say that this digital camera doesn’t come close to some of the newer Kodaks that have text, icons, help menus, and of course, the Share button. The Konica Minolta Z5 is not as easy to use as other models, but is still manageable and can be learned with easily with usage.
**Auto Mode ***(7.5)*
In the Auto mode, there is only one simplified menu. It includes the following options: Drive Mode, Image Size, Quality, Auto DSP (auto display turned on or off), and Anti-Shake. The Konica Minolta Z5 is very much a point-and-shoot when in Auto mode, except for the pop-up flash. The flash must be manually opened by the user; it will not automatically pop up when it is needed. This is an odd hiccup for the automatically-reliant point-and-shooter to overcome and may catch some off guard, but should not be severe once understood. A fortunate prosumer inclusion offered in Auto mode is the live histogram, available when the Info button is pressed. It may be unlikely that users electing to use the camera’s strict auto mode will opt to use the histogram to balance the exposure, but for those inclined, it is available.
Performance wise, uses should be warned, the camera did display some issues handling noise even in bright lighting when the auto ISO was selected. Color also waned, losing accuracy when the white balance was not manually set. The automatic focus feature functioned efficiently, but had some major difficulty focusing in low light.
Drive / Burst Mode ***(6.5)***
The following drive modes are available in every exposure mode on the camera: Single, Self-Timer, Continuous, and Progressive. The self-timer is automatically set to capture the picture after 10 seconds. The LCD or viewfinder shows a countdown, while the LED in the front flashes red several times to indicate that the picture is being taken. The Continuous burst mode shoots at roughly 2.2 frames per second for a maximum of three shots using the finest resolution. While the quantity of consecutive pictures increases when the resolution decreases, this number is still disappointing for full 5-megapixel pictures. The Progressive shooting mode takes 10 frames per second at 1024 x 768 pixels and saves the last twenty images. This mode is fun to play with, as the Z5 shoots continuously as the shutter release button is pushed down, but when the button is depressed, it sounds like a paper is stuck in a fan. 28
Playback Mode ***(7.5)***
For a peek of the last image taken, users can press the Quick View button to the right of the LCD screen. Pictures can play back instantly for 2 or 10 seconds or the feature can be turned off completely within the setup menu. Additionally, users can opt to view images instantaneously without entering playback mode (if the camera is set to do so) and will occur after each picture is taken.
When users want to extensively view, edit, or transfer their pictures, they can enter the full Playback mode with the switch below the LCD screen. Users can view images as single frames or index frames of nine at a time. Scrolling through images is simple with the navigational dial. In the menu, users can delete images, play slide shows, or transfer files to a computer or printer. Each picture can be displayed in the slide show from 1-60 seconds. Users can select all of the pictures to be included in the slide show or just "marked" photos. The camera can also repeat the show over and over again if desired.
The Z5’s movie mode is one of its most impressive features. It records either 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, whichever the user selects. The frame rate can be selected to 15 or 30 seconds in both sizes. The movie mode menu includes the image quality and frame rate, as well as White Balance, Anti-Shake, Focus Mode, and Color Mode. There is also a Movie Mode feature with a standard default and a Night Movie setting. A microphone and speaker are located on the top of this Konica Minolta. They work very well for a digital camera. In Playback mode, movie clips with normal sound levels (soft music was playing about four feet from the camera and someone was talking about eight feet away) can be heard clearly.
Some more bonuses: the Z5 can zoom in movie mode (which is extremely rare in digital cameras) and its image stabilization mode, is active and enhances movie clips. The camera uses the full range of its optical zoom in the movie mode, and doesn’t even pick up much motor noise. The Anti-Shake mode offers the same options in the movie mode as it does in still image exposure modes. It works well as long as there is not an abnormal excess of shaking. A little hand-shake is okay, but an excited, bouncing, cheering mother capturing her son’s first soccer goal could be a problem. Be reasonable. The only downside to the DiMAGE Z5’s movie mode is its inability to work if the batteries are even slightly low. Be sure to have extra batteries on hand at all times and movie capture will exceed digital camera expectations!
Custom Image Presets*(4.0)*
All of the Konica Minolta Z5’s image presets can be found easily on the mode dial. The following options are depicted by easily discernible icons: Portrait, Sports, Portrait with Landscape, Beach, and Night Portrait. Within the scene menu, only five options are available for adjustment: Drive Mode, Image Size, Quality, Focus Mode, and Anti-Shake. The unlabeled exposure compensation can also be adjusted – if you can find it. These options provide just as much control as in the fully automatic mode, but the metering is more specified toward the specific situation and shooting scenario.
**Manual Control Options
**The Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 offers the following manual controls: aperture, shutter speed, white balance, focus, ISO, and exposure compensation. All of these are available in the Manual mode except the exposure compensation. The aperture and shutter speed are controlled by scrolling in the prescribed directions (appearing on the LCD screen with arrows) with the navigational dial. Overall, the Z5 provides users with a nice balance of automatic and manual controls, allowing beginners to hone their skills and slowly evolve into the realm of manual photography. All of these controls will be described in greater detail throughout the review.
The Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 includes several auto focus modes; unfortunately, none of them really work that well. The Single AF option focuses and locks onto a subject before capturing the image. The Z5 takes its time to focus, leaving the user frustrated with many "blinked" portraits and impatient subjects. The Continuous AF mode does not lock onto a subject, but rather follows it as the shot when the shutter release button is pushed down halfway. This works better, but can occasionally leave subjects in a blur. This digital camera also offers a Full-Time AF option that can be turned on or off. This keeps the total focusing time to a minimum, so this option is recommended.
As indicated above, the Z5 displayed extreme difficulty focusing in lower light levels. While this is exaggerated as light levels dropped, indications of the deficiency are present even in daylight. The speed and accuracy of the camera’s automatic focus are questionable at best and should be noted by any potential consumer. This could have been drastically improved with the inclusion of a manual focus ring; a rare and foreign inclusion in the realm of compact digital cameras, but it would have helped gain accuracy when focusing, as well as justifying and maximizing the camera’s odd design.
Manual Focus (3.0)****
Manual focus is an option on this DiMAGE, but like most digital cameras that don’t have a focus ring, this is a pretty weak offering. When the Manual Focus mode is selected, a bar appears on the side of the LCD screen with 1m, 2m, and infinity options. Users employ the navigational dial to go up or down the bar, which then brings the subject in or out of focus.
When this tweaking on the bar is happening, the camera automatically zooms in the center of the image. This aids the user by showing a larger picture; however, if users try to manually focus on something that isn’t in the center of the frame, they wouldn’t be able to see it at all – rendering the method utterly useless. Thus, like many compact models, the Z5 can put a "manual focus" option on the spec sheet, but it will likely expire as an unused feature, cluttering the interface.
The camera’s three Metering modes can be found in the second tab of the recording menu. The Multi-segment metering option uses 256 different segments to measure colors and lighting for the overall picture. The Center-weighted option emphasizes the center of the frame within the overall composition. The Spot metering option measures from only a tiny spot in the center of the frame. When using the Z5, a circle appears in the center, so users know where the camera is measuring the lighting and colors from. This option is best for subjects that are backlit or in settings where there will be lots of contrast.
The mode dial offers the following exposure modes: Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Program, Movie, Auto, Portrait, Sports, Portrait with Landscape, Beach, and Night Portrait. Most exposure controls can be found within the recording menus. The exposure compensation control is not labeled at all, but can be adjusted from +/- 2 (in 1/3 steps) in certain modes (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and scene modes) by pushing the left and right portions of the navigational dial. It seems slightly strange that the exposure compensation would not be available in the Manual mode to augment aperture and shutter adjustments.
*The white balance option is easily found on the first and most easily accessible section of the recording menu. The white balance options appear only as icons, so no textual explanations are available. However, almost more valuable than the text is the live view that can be seen through the menu. Once the proper setting is highlighted, the image will be calibrated to "proper white," whereas some situations prior to adjustment will impose a blue or red cast over white tones. The following options are available: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom Set and Custom Recall.
Custom Set and Custom Recall are the two options at the bottom with vague icons. Once users figure out the graphics, the actual manual setting of the white balance is simple. The Custom Set option lets users place a white card or object in front of the lens. Users then press the button in the center of the navigational dial and the camera reads that color as white in the Custom Recall mode. The manual white balance mode works quite well, if properly calibrated and rendered accurate colors once set.
Unfortunately, the live views that were available in the white balance menu are not available with the ISO range, referred to as Sensitivity. The DiMAGE Z5 offers the following options on its Sensitivity menu: Auto, 50, 100, 200, and 320. Most compact digital cameras offer a range up to 400, so the slightly shortened range is a bit disappointing, especially considering that this model aims to sit between the compact and digital SLR worlds. One has to question this decision by Konica Minolta; I would understand if the Z5’s 320 ISO setting far surpassed the clarity of other imagers at an ISO 400 setting, but this is not the case. Even at the restricted, 320 sensitivity setting, the Z5 does not parallel the performance of many cameras at ISO 400. This leaves the user a bit short, with a restricted shooting capacity (low light) and limited clarity. ****
*The shutter speed ranges from 4 seconds to 1/1000th of a second. This range is a bit short, considering its targeted audience. Many cameras in this price range offer shutter speeds as slow as 30 seconds. The shutter speed can be changed in the Shutter Priority and Manual modes only by pushing the top and bottom portion of the navigational dial. Users can see the effects of their shutter speed choice instantly, as the lighting gets brighter or darker as they scroll through shutter speeds. This should be ample or most users shooting typical outdoor and interior scenes but will not suffice for those interested in recording long exposures or extensive night imagery.
*Can you tell that I just love the live views? Once again, this wonderful viewing option is available when the aperture is adjusted. I do not mean to dwell, but observing potential alterations prior to recording an image is invaluable. The aperture can be changed in the Manual and Aperture Priority modes by pushing the appointed directions on the navigational dial. The aperture of the 12x optical zoom lens can be adjusted from f/2.8-f/8 at its widest setting and f/4.5-f/8 in telephoto mode.
Picture Quality**/ Size Options ***(8.0)*
Adjustments to the image quality and size can be made in every mode of the Konica Minolta Z5. This camera has a 5-megapixel CCD which offers the following image sizes: 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, and 640 x 480. There are also three compression modes that can be found just under the Image Size option: Fine, Standard, and Economy. This range of sizes is good enough to email easily at the low end and print detailed 8 x 10-inch prints on the high end.
**Picture Effects Mode ***(8.0)*
All of the picture effects can be found in the third tab of the recording menu. The Color mode offers Natural Color, Vivid Color, Black & White, and Sepia. When users scroll through these options, they receive a live view of the color changes (once again, love it). The Black & White option can sometimes look like a washed out grayscale, so the other two picture effect modes can help fix that. The Sharpness and Contrast each offer three settings. Hard, Normal, and Soft settings are available in the Sharpness mode. Perhaps if you’re a high school yearbook photographer and shooting a girl with her arms crossed over a mirror with a delicately placed rose (known as the "rose pose"), you’ll want to use that Soft setting. The ability to tweak image effects is somewhat rare among compact cameras and quite helpful in forming digitized effects. The Contrast mode with its High, Normal, and Low settings will best fix your grayscale woes. All of these features are made for the digital photographer who prefers or is forced (due to time restraints) to avoid Photoshop and all computer editing options.
*The Z5 comes with a DiMAGE Viewer software program that is compatible with both Macintosh and Windows. While the Swedes may have been celebrating because the Z5 speaks their language, unfortunately, the software does not follow. The following languages are available: Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese. The software takes about three minutes to load, then it is available immediately on the program menu of the computer. While it may seem buried at first, I must say that I do appreciate software programs that don’t automatically take over my start menu and infect my computer with pop-ups.
Once the DiMAGE Viewer is selected on your program menu, a simple and not-very-flashy program appears onscreen. Pictures can be displayed in file browser fashion, then selected for editing. When images are viewed in single frames, red, green, and blue histograms appear at the side, as well as a long list of file information. Using the archaic icons, photographers can manipulate their photos’ brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance, rotation, and size. This program has very basic features, but will suffice for beginners. However, if you want to add text or blur spots in images, you’ll have to find a different software program.
*Jacks, ports, plugs (7.0)
*The camera’s jacks are located beneath a rubber cover on the left side. The USB and A/V-out cables share the same jack. The A/V-out cable is compatible with NTSC or PAL standards, but must be specified within the setup menu. Below that jack is the circular DC in jack.
Direct Print Options (6.0)
To connect the camera directly to a printer, users must enter the Setup menu and select the Transfer mode, then the PictBridge option. Photographs can be printed using the menu in Playback mode. Users can imprint photos with the date the picture was taken. This method certainly isn’t as easy as some other digital cameras, where all print functions are located in one menu.
The DiMAGE Z5 comes with a 16 MB Secure Digital card and a slot with a door on the bottom. The slot accepts both SD and MMC cards. The included card will give users about six pictures at full resolution and a few seconds with the impressive movie mode. To maximize the potential of the Z5, a much larger memory card is imperative. Users beware: the camera looks and acts like it’s taking pictures even if there is no memory card in the camera. The screen says "No Card" in the center; however, users can still frame pictures and the shutter release button will still depress. Pictures even freeze for a few seconds before disappearing into forgotten space. Be sure to put the memory card in, as there is no internal memory!
**Other features ***(7.5)*
*Included accessories *– The Konica Minolta Z5 includes more than just a camera inside its box; it also comes with a neck strap, lens cap, shoe cap, SD card, AV cable, USB cable, 4 AA batteries, DiMAGE Viewer CD-ROM, owner’s manual, DiMAGE Viewer instruction manual, and warranty card.
Anti-Shake – One of the best features of the Konica Minolta Z5 is its image stabilization system. The Anti-Shake option can be found in the menu of every exposure mode. The following options are available: Display and Exposure, Exposure Only, or Off.
Key Function – Within the last recording menu, users will find a Key Function option. This lets users choose a feature that they use most often to include on a button near the shutter release button. The camera’s default is the flash mode, but users can switch that to Drive Mode, White Balance, Focus Mode, Color Mode, or Sensitivity. The button is labeled with a flash icon, so changing it would be a bit strange. However, it’s a nice option to have, so users can easily access the function they use most often.
*Sleep Mode – *The camera can be programmed to fall asleep after 1, 3, 5, or 10 minutes. However, there is no option to completely turn this off. The sleep mode only turns off the LCD or viewfinder display; it does not retract the lens back into the body. To wake the camera from its blissful dreamy state, users must press the shutter release button.
Live Histograms – This digital camera provides live histograms when the Info button is pressed. Histograms are also available within the Playback mode by pressing upwards on the navigational dial.
The value of a digital camera is more about what a user is willing to pay for. If users are looking for an automatically oriented camera to tout to birthday parties, this is a rip-off. If users are looking for a long lens with a great movie mode and accessory options, this is the camera. The Konica Minolta Z5 retails for $499.95 and is available immediately.
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3 – This direct descendant of the Z5 was released last August for about the same $499 price. The two models have the same 12x optical zoom lens with the Anti-Shake image stabilization system. They also have the same electronic viewfinder with the stiff diopter dial. The Z3 has a smaller 1.5-inch LCD and a slightly longer 50-400 ISO range. They have the same strange body shape. The biggest difference is the megapixel count; there are 4 megapixels in the Z3 compared to the Z5’s five effective megapixels.
*Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2 – The 5-megapixel Panasonic LZ2 has a completely different body style with a more flat and compact design. However, it packs in similar features: 5 effective megapixels on a 1/2.5-inch type CCD and a 6x optical zoom lens with 2 image stabilization modes. This model has a similar 2-inch LCD screen, but with less resolution at 85,000 pixels. This model is aimed more for the automatic crowd with the lack of manual options and the nine scene modes. Because of that, the LZ2 is considerably cheaper at $299.99. Some of its better features: a 3 frame-per-second burst mode and a stylish silver frame.
[Canon PowerShot S1 IS*](../content/Canon-PowerShot-S1-IS-Digital-Camera-Review.htm) – *This camera was released a year ago for about $399, but sells for about $300 now. The Canon S1 flaunts image stabilization as its main feature, and couples it with a 10x optical zoom lens. Coming in a much more traditional frame, the S1 has excellent color reproduction and one of the best movie modes in a digital camera. Like the Panasonic FZ5, it has plenty of options in movie mode and can even zoom. The pros: the stylish body with the flipping LCD screen. The cons: that LCD screen is 1.5 inches, and the camera only has 3.2 megapixels to image with.
[Fuji** FinePix S5100*](../content/Fujifilm-FinePix-S5100-Digital-Camera-Review-.htm)*– This 4-megapixel digital camera has the SLR shape without the SLR size. It also comes in a more professional and traditional looking black frame. This camera has a similar range of manual to automatic functions, as well as 10x optical zoom lens. This camera can shoot JPEG and RAW image files and has a decent movie mode. It has a wider shutter speed range and more white balance presets, but has noisy image quality and no image stabilization system. The S5100 retails for $499.
****Who It’s For**
***Point-and-Shooters – *This could be a second or third generation camera for a beginning user. It is not as simplified as other models, but does provide a full range of automatic, semi-automatic, and manual functions.
Budget Consumers – The Z5 fits unique features into its $499 package. If you want a 12x optical zoom lens with image stabilization and a great movie mode to match, this will be a deal.
Gadget Freaks – Gadget freaks may be entertained for a few minutes with the Progressive shooting mode that sounds like a fan and shoots 10 frames per second. However, after that gets old, they could be quite bored.
Manual Control Freaks – Consumers will appreciate the manual options available on this camera. However, a freak may be bothered by the fact that exposure compensation cannot be adjusted in Manual mode.
Pros/Serious Hobbyists – Serious hobbyists will be torn over this camera. It has a rather stumped ISO sensitivity range; however, it has an external flash connector and can accept conversion lenses. I guess it just depends on what’s important to you.
**Konica Minolta updated its Z3 with one more megapixel and a larger LCD screen and released it as the DiMAGE Z5. Nevertheless, they’ll be available for about the same price, retailing for $499. The 5-megapixel Z5 has a modified SLR-shape with a large right-hand grip on one side and a large 12x optical zoom lens on the other side. The camera’s Anti-Shake image stabilization system complements one of the best movie modes available in a digital camera. With VGA and QVGA modes available at 15 and 30 frames per second, the Z5 provides users with adequate resolution for good movie clips. The simultaneous audio recording, optical zoom function, and night movie mode are all icing on the cake. The Z5’s continuous shooting mode is a bit disappointing, but the lower resolution progressive mode is quite fast at 10 frames per second. This model isn’t the easiest digital camera to use, but certainly does not require a mechanical engineering degree either. With full manual functions and automatic settings to boot, the Konica Minolta Z5 will attract a wide audience looking for versatility in shooting still and video images.
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