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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2

Minolta Digital Cameras

   


Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2 Review

Review Date: May 24, 2004

Category: Advanced Amateur - Prosumer

Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2

HANDLING & FEEL

Flowers: 1/15 sec., F3.5 and ISO 64
Flowers:
50.7mm, Program, Multi-segment, Macro On, 1/15 sec., F3.5 and ISO 64
Tripod Used

The Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2 looks and handles like a well built SLR and innovates with well thought out design elements that set a new standard for prosumer digital cameras. The controls are particularly well implemented on the A2; all functions you need are a button press and a dial rotation away -- with no over reliance on the menu.

Photoxels OriGenial Seal of Approval
Photoxels

The Konica Minolta A2 is not a compact camera, but it handles superbly. It is solidly built of magnesium alloy and the right mix of rubber at the appropriate places. The "Wow factor" here is not with the build, but is in the actual use: the smooth and precise zoom ring with unlimited steps; the automatic switch between LCD monitor and EVF; the Anti-Shake Technology; DOF Preview; internal recording buffer that allows 3 RAW images; flex focus point; live histogram; program shift; monitor amplification;.... Everything seems to be engineered for a no-nonsense approach to ensuring that you can get the job done intuitively and fast. Because of all these design features that enhance usability without getting in the way, we award the Minolta DiMAGE A2 our OriGenial™ Seal of Approval.

Controls

Controls are easy to manipulate and press, with perhaps the only minor exception being the eyepiece diopter adjustment dial. If you wear glasses like me, then probably one of the very first thing you do with a new camera is to adjust the diopter for a clear vision through the viewfinder. You need fingernails (sturdy ones) to adjust the diopter on the A2.

If going to the menu for often used functions have frustrated you, you will love the A2. The controls are logically separated (or grouped together, depending on your perspective) and placed where they make the most sense. No mixing of disparate functions on the same dial here. And everytime you want to change a mode, you won't be staring at your camera wondering which button to press or which dial to rotate.

How Konica Minolta has achieved this high level of usability on the A2 is by cleverly using a mixture of buttons, switches and dials, instead of using all buttons (which can be very confusing). An ingenious Function Dial, used together with the Front or Rear Control Dials, and with a large monochrome LCD data panel on the top of the camera body, allows you to set ISO, WB, Metering Mode and Drive mode without having to ever bring up the menu.

Zoom Ring & Manual Focus Ring

The highlight of the A2 is the mechanically linked manual zoom which works smoothly and allows fast and precise composition from wide-angle all the way to max. telephoto. The 35mm equivalent focal lengths are engraved on the zoom ring. The Macro Release switch is on the lens barrel, where it makes the most sense to have it (instead of a button somewhere on the back or side of the body). There is also a thinner ring for manual focus; it's not as smooth as on a film SLR camera but, combined with the ultra high resolution (922K pixels!) EVF, makes manual focus at last usable.

Auto-Switch EVF/LCD

The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) has a nice rubber cup around it, plus eye sensors that automatically switches it on when you bring your eyes to it. Take your eyes away and the view automatically switches to the LCD monitor. It is pretty ingenious and immensely practical, really. If you want to use the EVF or LCD monitor exclusively, you can do so by simply moving the Display Mode Switch to the appropriate position.

At 922,000 pixels, the A2's EVF is by far the highest resolution achieved on a digital camera, and provides a clear and detailed image which, as we already mentioned, makes manual focus quite easy. The EVF swivels up, tilting between 0° and 90°.

The LCD monitor also swivels, tilting between -20° and +90°. At its 90° position, you look straight down at the LCD monitor. This is very useful when you want to take a picture at waist-level. A caveat is that if you bring the A2 too close to your body, the EVF sensors kick in and the view automatically switches to the EVF. I don't believe the EVF sensors need to be that sensitive: currently it switches on the EVF when an object (eyes or tummy) gets approx. 5cm (@ 2 in.) away. There is a way to get around this: swivel the EVF up and you can either look down at the LCD monitor or peer down into the EVF.

Flex Focus Point

The AF frame can be moved anywhere on screen allowing for easy off-center focusing. I find this particular useful in macro shots where the razor thin DOF makes it very difficult to pre-focus and reframe. By moving the Flex Focus Point to the exact location you want to be in sharp focus, and using the 2 sec. self-timer, you can obtain sharp macro shots.

Other Features

A Quick View/Delete button allows you to review your last shot and decide if you want to keep it or delete it right away. No need to switch to Playback mode to do that.

For those who take lots of indoors pictures under artificial lights and often require critical control over colour, the Custom White-Balance button allows you to quickly set white balance without having to go through the menu.

Lastly we will mention the grid or scale that can be displayed on the EVF and LCD monitor to aid in composition (e.g. maintaining the horizontal).

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