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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Minolta DiMAGE Z1

Minolta Digital Cameras


Minolta DiMAGE Z1 Review

Review Date: Jan 29, 2004

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Minolta DiMAGE Z1

Handling & Feel

Snowboarding Instruction: 1/250 sec., F4 , +0.7EV and ISO 50
Snowboarding Instruction:
58mm, Programmed AE, Spot, 1/250 sec., F4.0, +0.7EV and ISO 50
Levels Adjusted in Photoshop Elements

The Minolta DiMAGE Z1 has a futuristic design and handles superbly. It is extremely comfortable to hold, and well balanced with a handgrip that allow me to use all my fingers to hold it (those of you with larger hands may need to place the little pinkie finger under the handgrip). It is compact with dimensions of 109.5W x 77.5H x 80D mm / 4.31W x 3.05H x 3.15D in. and weighs only 305 g / 10.8 oz. without the 4 AA batteries and SD memory card. Its construction feels solid and the button controls respond precisely to the touch.

The Minolta Z1 is not pocketable, and Minolta includes a neck strap. Holding the Z1 requires both hands, with the right hand on the handgrip, and the left hand under the lens barrel. If you adjust the settings ahead of time (e.g. in Program AE mode), then it is quite doable to take pictures with [driving] gloves on -- as I did for many of the sample images, since I was often operating well below sub-zero temperatures. [I think someone should make special Winter gloves for photographers operating in very cold weather with the tips of the index finger and thumb parts of the glove either cut off or of thinner (though still warm) tactile material. If you do make these from my idea, I want a cut of the profits ;o).]

I take many of the max. telephoto shots handheld. Using a fast enough shutter speed, camera shake is not a problem even at full telephoto. You would definitely need to use a tripod for shots requiring slow shutter speeds.

The LCD has adjustable brightness and contrast, and the menu system is well thought out. The image on the LCD can also be rerouted to the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) which has diopter adjustment for those who, like me, wear glasses. In my review camera, when I switch to the EVF, the LCD is blanked out, but there is a couple of places where a couple of very thin lines of light shows through. I don't know if this is normal or not, but this fortunately does not seem to affect operation in any way.

The viewfinder is electronic and very good. In fact, I find myself using the EVF almost exclusively for this review and I don't miss the lack of an optical viewfinder here. In my review camera, I found the coverage is not quite the 98% as specified. I find it impossible to turn the tiny diopter knob beside the EVF unless I use my fingernails, and even then it's quite difficult. Fortunately once the diopter is adjusted, you won't need to touch that knob again.

The flash does not automatically pop up, even in Auto mode; you have to manually lift it up if you want to use it. This enables you to disable flash in all the modes. Lifting the flash up requires the use of both the thumb and index finger.

The toggle zoom lever works extremely well but, alas, its location right at the base of the Exposure Mode Dial means that the latter cannot be turned with the thumb only. I need both my thumb and index finger angled downward to turn the dial, which means I have to remove my eye from the viewfinder, my index finger is moved away from the shutter release button momentarily, and I often bump the zoom lever changing my carefully zoomed in composition.

Once you get used to the placement of the control buttons (which is very quickly accomplished), the Minolta DiMAGE Z1 is a fast and responsive digital camera.

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