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Konica Minolta Dimage Z5 - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 22/04/05
Rating: Recommended!

Buy Now from Amazon: £267 | $449


Introduction: The Konica Minolta Dimage Z5, is available for around £267 - and is a 5 megapixel digital camera, with an impressive 12x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 35-420mm on a 35mm camera), and a large 2" TFT screen. The camera is enclosed in a silver or black plastic body. It records unlimited 640 x 480 / 30fps videos with sound. The camera's size is: 108.5 x 80 x 84 mm. (without protruding parts), and weighs 340g (without the battery and memory card)

Konica Minolta have this to say about the camera:

"Konica Minolta Photo Imaging U.S.A., Inc. introduces the new compact DiMAGE Z5 - a superb all-round digital camera that offers a built-in 12x optical Mega Zoom lens, Konica Minolta's proprietary Anti-Shake System, 5.0-megapixel CCD, fast overall response including Rapid autofocusing (AF), and a large 2.0-inch LCD screen for easy viewing. All of these features combine to ensure that photographers won't miss a photo opportunity and that the subjects of their photos are big, beautiful, and shake-free."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: It's fairly compact and made out of silver plastic.
(Photos of the camera taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ3)


Front - Camera off, lens cap on.


Front - Camera on, lens extended, flash up, led.


Back - the 2" TFT screen, electronic viewfinder (diopter corrector on right of this), on/off, play/screen/evf switch, 4 way controller / OK button in the middle, menu, QV/delete, i+ button, zoom control.


Top - mode dial, macro, flash, microphone, speaker, shutter, and flash hotshoe.


Bottom, under the camera there is a plastic tripod mount, and the battery and memory compartments.


Left Side (from back) AV/USB out, DC in.


Nothing on this side (apart from the strap hole).

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.


Size comparison next to the Panasonic Lumix FZ3 (photo taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS1).

Specifications / Features:

  • 12X optical Mega Zoom and 4X digital zoom for 48X total zoom
  • CCD-shift Anti-Shake System
  • Fastest-in-class Rapid AF with Predictive Focus Control
  • High-quality pictures with 5.0-megapixel CCD
  • Konica Minolta GT APO lens, and CxProcess III image processing technology
  • High-resolution, shake-free VGA movies that look as good as TV images
  • Ease of operation with large 2.0-inch LCD, compact body, and fast response
  • Super Macro mode for shooting subjects as close as 1 cm from the lens

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Strap
  • 16 MB SD Memory Card
  • USB cable
  • Audio/video cable
  • Lens cap / Lens strap
  • Instruction manual
  • Warranty card

Average box contents - a larger memory card and a case would have been nice.

Battery usage: Up to 240 images with alkaline batteries and 420 images with fully charged 2500mAh Ni-Mh batteries according to Konica Minolta - as this camera takes AA batteries I would highly recommend you get some high power Ni-Mh rechargable batteries and a charger to go with this camera. Battery life seemed very good.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the rotating dial, or the Play/LCD/EVF switch under the LCD.

Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:

Photo mode (manual) Photo Menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen is a good decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. There is a live histogram available and the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: The electronic viewfinder is a bit small for me as I wear glasses. It has a dioptor corrector which helps.

Photo menu options are: Drive mode, image size, quality, white balance (including custom), anti-shake mode, focus mode (including manual), full time AF, flash mode, flash compensation, metering mode, ISO sensitivity, colour mode (Natural, Vivid, Black and White, Sepia), sharpness, contrast, key function.

Playback info Setup Menu

The playback info, which is accessed by pressing up on the 4-way controller displays futher image information, and a histogram.

Setup menu options: (shown on the right, above) LCDbrightness, power save, instant playback, lens accessories, language, file memory, folder name, date time set, date imprint, reset default, audio signals, focus signal, shutter fx, volume, video output, transfer mode, digital zoom, self-timer.

Movie options are: Quality (640 Fine, 640 Standard, 320 Standard), frame rate (30/15 fps), white balance (including custom), movie mode (standard or night movie), anti-shake, focus mode, and colour mode.

Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:

Playback mode Playback Menu

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick. The zoom is fairly quick up to 4x/8x.

Playback menu options: Delete, format, lock, edit, copy, slideshow, playback, duration, repeat, DPOF set, date print, index print, email copy.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 16mb memory provided with the camera:

Size / Quality: Number of Photos Stored
  Fine Standard Economy
5mp (2560x1920) 4 9 18
3mp (2048x1536) 7 15 26
2mp (1600x1200) 12 22 37
VGA (640x480) 67 101 142
Video 640x480 30fps 14 seconds

You can fit a small number of images on the 16mb memory card - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, and there is a very good choice regarding image compression.

A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb or 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Konica Minolta Dimage Z5:

128mb SD memory card - £11.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
256mb SD memory card - £19.00 from Amazon.co.uk.
512mb SD memory card - £33.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
1gb (1000mb) SD memory card - £59.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

Speed: The camera is very quick to switch on and take photos - however the camera can occassionally 'hunt' for the focus in darker indoor conditions. The screen updates are quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is also fairly quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 4x, and then 8x if you press to zoom again - this feels quite slow. The camera has a quick continuous shooting mode - as well as a high speed 10fps shooting mode (at 1024 x 768)! The camera shutter response seemed quicker than normal when pre-focused.

Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, although the camera does have a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use - the menus are responsive and easy to read. The camera is compact although not as compact as other ultra zoom cameras due to the 12x lens. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a fully automatic mode as well as various scene modes for simple point and shoot operation.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well - apart from the 4-way controller / middle 'OK' button which have no labels - in playback mode the up button does the same thing as the i+ button, but gives you more information, so it would make more sense if it was labelled as the i+ button, and the other i+ button was labelled as a display button instead. I thought the camera felt very good ergonomically, and was the correct weight - it seemed a decent weight and felt solidly built.

Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower Group photo

Inside: The camera has good colour. It has a powerful flash, and copes well with group photos. The camera did a good job at focusing the majority of the time. Red-eye didn't seem to be a problem. Images had fairly high noise, especially when left on automatic.

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO50, 100, 200, and 320) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings.


Noise test photo - flash on

ISO50 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO320 - Actual Pixels

Noise levels appear low at ISO50. At ISO100 noise is visible, and at ISO200 noise becomes much more noticable and in my test photos it was just about acceptable, at ISO320 noise seems very high - and images don't have the same colour as images taken at the lower ISO settings.

Outside:

Unisys Building Frontline, and moon

Outside, the camera had very good colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail, although images were slightly soft. Noise seemed slightly on the high side. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.

Zoom: This camera has a 12x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the 12x optical zoom is capable of - the 12x optical zoom means you shouldn't need or want to use digital zoom.

Wide-angle 3x Optical zoom 12x Optical zoom

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is very quiet. The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are at least 14 steps between wide and telephoto. This gives you good control on how you frame your subject.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was very low.

Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you switch to macro mode - you can use the macro mode at wide angle, all the way to telephoto. You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 1cm away from the subject from the front of the lens in Super Macro mode.

Macro Watch (ISO 50) Actual Pixels (100%)

The macro mode is good, the super macro mode is very good - the camera does a good job of toning down the flash, and colours and detail are good.

Movie: 640x480 - 320x240 - 30fps / 15fps (with 8khz / 16bps mono sound) - you can use the optical zoom / digital zoom with sound. The movie is recorded as a .MOV file. Length is only limited by the memory card size. The quality of the movie(s) is good - the VGA mode is also good, 30fps is also good. The only problem seems to be that the camera does not maintain sharp focus - perhaps by changing the focusing mode it may be possible to get better results. The camera also picks up the noise of the zoom when recording videos.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality is good, the images have very good colour, saturation, contrast and good detail with very low purple fringing - however there is high noise, and images are a bit soft. The camera did a good job focusing. There is a good range of image sizes and a very good choice of compression options. The super macro mode is very good. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be quite good. Red-eye was controlled well. The movie mode is very good as the camera lets you use the optical zoom and has a night mode - the resolution and framerate is also very good at 640x480 / 30fps with sound.

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is compact and is designed well - the camera feels comfortable in my hands. The camera is fairly compact considering the zoom power. The camera is easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there is a fairly good layout of buttons and controls. There is a good choice of features and options to suit all levels of experience, manual focus, shutter/aperture control, scene modes, as well as manual white balance, live histogram etc. The camera speed is very good, with a good switch on time, very good focusing time, very good shutter response, and some very impressive continous shooting modes.

Alternative ultra zoom digital cameras: 8x Optical zoom: Nikon Coolpix 4800 (read my review) Konica Minolta Dimage Z10 / Z20, Olympus C-725 (read my review) 10x Optical zoom: Fuji Finepix S5500, Olympus C-765 (read my review) / C-770, Canon S1 IS (Image Stabilisation), Kodak Easyshare DX7490 (read my review) 12x Optical zoom: Konica Minolta Dimage Z3 (read my review) / Z5 (Anti-shake), Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 (read my review) / FZ4 / FZ5 / FZ15 / FZ20 (Image Stabilisation), Sony Cybershot H1 (Image Stabilisation), Canon Powershot S2 IS (Image Stabilisation) - Check amazon.co.uk / kelkoo.co.uk or amazon.com for the latest prices. See more suggestions sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Konica Minolta Dimage Z5 has improved compared to the Z3 it replaces, they have replaced the screen with a much better 2" screen, and improved the slightly confusing on/off switch that was on the Z3, however, the upgrade to a 5 megapixel sensor has increased noise levels making the highest ISO setting unusable.

The camera has a very impressive 12x optical zoom lens that allows you to capture subject near or far. The camera's anti-shake system is pretty much essential for such a large zoom lens, and works very well with photos and videos. The camera lets you use the optical zoom whilst recording videos, which is quite rare, however noise from the lens is recorded on the videos. The camera has a very good super macro mode. The camera has fairly good image quality - let down by high noise, and slightly soft images. The camera is quick to switch on, quick to focus and quick to take photos.

Unfortunately to get the best out of it, you will need to stick to the lower ISO settings, and potentially have to post-process the images afterwards, but it is capable of taking good quality images with very good colour, saturation and detail. Knowing that it is a fast camera, with excellent features, and good value for money, I would recommend this camera, however bear in mind the excellent offerings from Panasonic.

Konica Minolta Dimage Z5 Rating: Recommended!
Buy Now from Amazon: £267 | $449

What I like:

  • 12x Optical Zoom Lens
  • Anti-Shake CCD Technology is very good
  • Quick turn-on, continuous shots, focus etc
  • Very good movie mode (VGA/30fps with zoom and sound)
  • Good image quality (very good colour, good saturation and detail)
  • Excellent super macro mode
  • 2" screen (much better than the Z3s)
  • Better on/off switch and mode selector than the Z3
  • Takes AA batteries
  • Very low purple fringing
  • Manual focus, manual aperture, manual shutter
  • Night movie mode

What I don't like:

  • High noise (noise visible at ISO50, and unusable at ISO320!)
  • Slightly soft images
  • Manual pop-up flash
  • 4-way controller / middle 'OK' button has no labels

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.