Standing out from the crowd on looks alone, the Minolta DiMage Z1 is a 3.2-megapixel camera with a 10x optical zoom, and should please both point-and-shoot and more advanced users with its mix of automatic and manual operation.
Compact for a long zoom camera – measuring 110 x 78 x 80mm – the DiMage Z1′s looks are dominated by the huge lens barrel, but it still manages to look quite stylish in its charcoal black and silver plastic body. It’s also lighter than it looks; even with batteries and an SD card it only weighs 424g.
Unusually, the DiMage Z1 has only a single 1.5-inch LCD display, but this is ingeniously used for both eye level and real panel displays. It achieves this by simply blocking or releasing the internal mirror / shutter depending on which mode is chosen, using Minolta’s Switch Finder.
The DiMage Z1 is built around a very impressive lens. The 10x lens has a focal range of 5.8 to 58mm, equivalent to a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm camera, giving a range from good telephoto to moderately wide angle. Combined with the 4x digital zoom it offers an incredible 40x zoom.
Depending on the zoom setting, the aperture range is from f/2.8 to f/3.5. There are two macro settings; the standard offers ranges from 10 to 120cm, while the Super Macro setting can get you as close as 4cm to your target image.
To reduce the possibilities of camera shake, which will be highlighted by the use of such a powerful lens, Minolta has used advanced programming; depending on which exposure programme is used, this controls the aperture and maximises shutter speed.
It’s not only the lens that’s powerful on the DiMage Z1. The flash system is pretty impressive too. The flash unit pops up from the top of the camera and can illuminate a target up to 20 feet away, and re-cycles in seven seconds. Settings for the unit include Auto, Auto with Red eye reduction, slow shutter sync and Fill Flash. There’s also a dedicated hot shoe connector which accepts other Minolta flash units.
Controls for the DiMage Z1 are straightforward; the main Mode dial is on the top of the hand grip and controls all the usual functions. The back of the camera has a record/playback mode switch, a four-way switch which navigates through the menu selections, and ‘select last image’ and menu on/off buttons.
The DiMage Z1 uses SD (SecureDigital) memory cards – Minolta supplies a 16MB card with the camera – and can also accept MMC (MultiMedia Card) cards. Also supplied are four AA single-use batteries; these will get you up and running but it’s better to use a set of re-chargeable NiMH ones to keep you going. You also get an AV cable and a USB cable in the box.
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