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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 

Image Quality

The Minolta DiMAGE Z1 is a digital camera targeted to beginner to serious amateur photographers and its image quality is comparable to other 3 megapixels resolution digital cameras. Thanks to a low ISO of 50, images are virtually noise-free.

Since most of you are interested in the Minolta DiMAGE Z1 because of the long zoom, I have taken a number of the picture samples at that focal length. Of course, I have also included pictures at other focal lengths and in different lighting situations. The long zoom opens up picture possibilities once reserved only to those who could afford expensive long zoom lenses for the professional SLR or dSLR category.

For this review, I used the following settings as my preferred settings:

  • Shooting Mode: Program AE
  • Metering Mode: Spot
  • ISO: 50
  • Image Size: 2048x1536 (3M)
  • Image Quality: Fine
  • White Balance: Auto

All the pictures on this and the other pages (including the navigation pictures at the top of each page) have been taken by the Minolta DiMAGE Z1 for this review. The pictures on this page provide a good sample of what the DiMAGE Z1 is capable of and I have provided the 800x600 version. Remember that this version is of slightly lesser quality than the original 2048x1536 version. Please open and download only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!

Clicking on a picture will display the 800x600 image in a separate window. Leave that separate window up for all the other images will also display in that same separate window.

Mississauga Civic Centre @ Dusk: 1/10 sec., F2.8 and ISO 200 (File size: 1.5 MB)The Mississauga City Hall (Civic Center) at dusk on a very cold day (-35 Celsius with the wind chill, brrr). For this picture, I use a tripod and shoot in Auto mode. In Auto mode, the camera defaults to ISO 200 (which is a bit noisy, but still quite acceptable) and Multi-segment metering. With the Date Imprint feature on, the date prints on the lower right corner of the picture in one of three possible formats: year/month/day, month/day/year and day/month/year. Focal Length 5.8mm, Auto, Multi-segment, shutter speed 1/10 sec., aperture F2.8 and ISO 200. [File size: 1.5 MB]

Benches: 1/100 sec., F5, +1EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.4 MB)Unoccupied benches waiting for warmer weather visitors. I adjust my tripod to the lowest of the three height settings for a low angle shot and position the camera so that the three benches lead the eye to the Church. Since the bright expanse of snow will fool the light meter to underexpose the shot, always remember to dial in a positive exposure compensation for snow (or sunny beach, for that matter) shots. Here I dial in a +1EV exposure compensation. Detail captured is excellent (check out the white Church spire against the white sky). Focal length 5.8mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/100 sec., aperture F5.0, +1EV, ISO 50. [File size: 1.4 MB]

Watch Out!: 1/640 sec., F8, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)Watch Out! I couldn't believe seeing all those young children learning to ski on a steep (!!!) hill. Though these two have a little collision, it looks like they are still having lots of fun. This shot is handheld at full telephoto. The fast shutter speed negates any camera shake at such long focal length. Focal length 58mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/640 sec., aperture F8.0, +0.3EV, ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

Looking cool: 1/60 sec., F8, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1 MB)This young skier is ready to go downhill snowboarding, and look so cool that I have to take a picture. I ask and, permission granted, I snap one quick shot. Unfortunately, I still have the exposure mode on Shutter-Priority and exposure compensation of +0.3EV dialed in. Result: overexposure. This shot has therefore been adjusted in Photoshop Elements using levels to darken and bring out the colours of the ski jacket. Focal length 12.6mm, Shutter-Priority, Spot, shutter speed 1/60 sec, aperture F8.0, +0.3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.0 MB]

Learn to snowboard: 1/640 sec., F6.3, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)Earl Bales Park in the Bathurst and Sheppard area converts to a ski slope for the Winter. Young children can learn how to snowboard with qualified instructors on hand. The ground is flat here but there is also an artificial little hill to practice going downhill. Lots of parking space. Focal length 5.8mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/640 sec, aperture F6.3, +0.3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

Frozen Stream: 1/125 sec., F5.6, +0.7EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.4 MB)Water meanders through melted snow on an otherwise frozen stream in Edwards Garden. I take four different shots before I get one I like. The first two include more snow and less sky and come out underexposed even with +0.3EV and +0.7EV exposure compensation. The last two include more sky with +0.3EV and +0.7EV exposure compensation. It's the last one that comes out right -- demonstrating the importance of bracketing and trying out different compositions. Focal length 5.8mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/125 sec, aperture F5.6, +0.7EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.4 MB]

Bridge: 1/100 sec., F4.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)Winter landscape has a wistful beauty of its own with snow blanketing everything on the ground. I almost feel I could turn this picture upside down and shake to see snow falling gently back to the ground ;o). Focal length 16.6mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/100 sec, aperture F4.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

Snow-laden branch: 1/125 sec., F5, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)My first introduction to snow was in Kansas City, Missouri one morning. It had snowed all night and I woke up, pulled the curtains and stared in wonderment at the snow-covered landscape. A tree in front of my window had its branches laden with snow. Beautiful! Keep an eye open (and camera ready) for those snow-laden branches after a fresh snowfall. Focal length 5.8mm, Shutter-Priority, Spot, shutter speed 1/125 sec., aperture F5.0, +0.3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

Fence: 1/125 sec., F5.6, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)There is something magical about wooden fences that seem to invite us to step up to them and lean against them with one foot up on the low rung. This is also our "tree branches against bright sky" shot to check out purple fringing. Focal length 8mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/125 sec., aperture F5.6, +0.3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

Duck: 1/125 sec., F3.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50, with fill-in flash (File size: 1.4 MB)A duck floats lazily under the shadows of thick evergreen boughs. It's too dark so I pull up the flash, and you can see its reflection in the water. Water droplets are frozen in place by the flash. Noise is wonderfully well controlled in this picture. Focal length 58mm, Shutter-Priority, Spot, shutter speed 1/125 sec, aperture F3.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50, with Fill-in Flash. [File size: 1.4 MB]

Sparrow: 1/250 sec., F3.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.4 MB)If you are into birding, then you'll be glad to know that taking pictures of birds is extremely satisfying using the 10x optical zoom of the DiMAGE Z1. You can get close without scaring them away. A flock of sparrows are perched on the low branches of a tree and I zoom in to isolate one of them. This shot is handheld at full telephoto. Focal length 57mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/250 sec, aperture F3.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.4 MB]

Two Sparrows: 1/400 sec., F3.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)The Z1's auto-focus works really well as these bird pictures demonstrate. Sometimes it would focus on the branches instead of a bird, but I just have to move it a little bit to ensure one of the bird is in the focus area, half press the shutter release button to lock focus, and recompose. Focal length 25mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/400 sec., aperture F3.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

Chirpy Sparrow: 1/250 sec., F3.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.1 MB)Where does it get the energy to sing in this cold weather? Only an ultra zoom lens can isolate this sparrow and bring it to focus. Focus is spot on, shutter lag is negligible so it's easy to catch the right moment. I believe the Z1 is a birder's dream come true. This is another tough "shoot against bright sky" shot. Focal length 58mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/250 sec, aperture F3.5, +0.3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.1 MB]

Lonely Sparrow: 1/250 sec., F3.5 and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)One of my favourite shots, especially with the muted golden colours in the background. Again, handheld at full telephoto. As long as you use a fast enough shutter speed, you don't need to worry about camera shake. Focal length 58mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/250 sec, aperture F3.5, +0.7EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

Yellow Window: 1/125 sec., F5 and ISO 50 (File size: 1.2 MB)The bright yellow window contrasts nicely with the whiteness of the snow-covered roof. An ultra zoom lens also allows more interesting composition. With a 10x optical zoom, you can zoom in tighter if you so wish, going past the usual 3x or 4x zoom lens on most consumer digital cameras. The colours are reproduced very nicely here. Focal length 20mm, Programmed Auto, Spot, shutter speed 1/125 sec, aperture F5.0 and ISO 50. [File size: 1.2 MB]

Pagoda: 1/100 sec., F5.6 and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)Chinese New Year on January 22, 2004. Here, worshippers visit the pagoda on Bayview Avenue, thumping (notice the log hanging in front of the bell) the gong before going inside. Interestingly, there is also a Muslim place of worship, and a Jewish temple, all three right beside one another on the same road. Focal length 6.6mm, Programmed AE, Spot, shutter speed 1/100 sec, aperture F5.6 and ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

For our panorama shot at Edwards Garden, I take note of the exposure setting, switch to Manual mode and enter the shutter speed and aperture manually. Then I take 4 portrait shots hand held. To stitch the shots together, I use the Merge function of Photoshop Elements, stitching two images at a time. Focal length 5.8mm, Manual, Spot, shutter speed 1/160 sec., aperture F4.5 and ISO 50.

Edwards Garden Panorama: 4 portrait shots taken at 1/160 sec., F4.8 and ISO 50; Combined in Photoshop Elements (File size: 4.4 MB)

Need a place to upload your photos? Free photo sharing and photo hosting web site at cassepoze.

A Personal Word

The Minolta DiMAGE Z1 looks futuristic and, in its shiny metallic body, is not a digital camera that you can try to be inconspicuous with. I believe it would look great in an all-black body finish.

Looks aside, the Minolta Z1 is everything you need in a compact and light package. There's flexible exposure control, a noise-free ISO 50, fast operations with negligible shutter lag, and fast responsive autofocus.

I find that with an ultra zoom digital camera, I tend to shoot more at the long end of the telephoto. In this case, Spot metering seems to make more sense and gives the best exposure. The EVF is bright, the construction is solid, the handling is comfortable, but most of all, the image quality is simply excellent.

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