The DiMAGE F100 was announced last month at CeBIT, this four megapixel, three times optical zoom ultra-compact is aimed squarely at the Canon PowerShot S40, Sony DSC-P9 and Pentax Optio 430. It takes its place in this new class of high-end, high resolution ultra-compacts. The F100 has a good set of credentials, a wide set of manual controls and other features. We have had a pre-production F100 for a week or so now and while we won't be reviewing the F100 until we can get a full production model I have prepared a fairly lengthy First Look along with a gallery of sample images.

Minolta DiMAGE F100 First Look

This first look is based on a pre-production DiMAGE F100. Due to the early nature of the camera we won't be reviewing it at this stage, we will be waiting for a full production unit. However Minolta has agreed to allow us to post sample images. Please bear in mind that the image quality from the final production camera may be better than samples available here.

Minolta's four megapixel DiMAGE F100 (~$700) enters a relatively new area of the digital camera market, the high-end ultra-compact four megapixel. Here's how the competition stands up: Canon PowerShot S40 (~$650), Pentax Optio 430 (~$700) and Sony DSC-P9 (~$600). The F100 comes to the party with a good range of features:

  • Fully selectable ISO sensitivity (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800)
  • AF-Tracking (Auto focus can "follow" a moving subject)
  • Automatic scene selection in Auto exposure mode
  • Program, Aperture Priority (7 steps), Shutter Priority (25 steps) and Manual Exposure
  • Multiple drive modes (Single, Timer/RC, Continuous, Bracket)
  • Good white balance selection (Auto, 4 presets, manual preset)
  • Magnified Manual Focus
  • Metering modes (Multi, Spot)
  • Movie and Voice recording mode
  • Takes two standard AA batteries (NiMH recommended)

Click here for full specifications

Compared

Below you will find a table summarizing some of the feature / specifications of similar and competitive cameras compared to the DiMAGE F100.

  Minolta
DiMAGE F100
Canon
PowerShot S40
Pentax
Optio 430
Sony
DSC-P9
 
Review Upcoming Click here Click here Upcoming
Street $700 $650 $700 $600
Sensor 4.1 mp 4.1 mp 4.1 mp 4.1 mp
Effective 3.9 mp 3.9 mp 3.8 mp 3.9 mp
Output 2272 x 1704 2272 x 1704 2240 x 1680 2272 x 1704
Others 1600 x 1200
1280 x 960
640 x 480
1600 x 1200
1024 x 768
640 x 480
1120 x 850
640 x 480
1600 x 1200
1280 x 960
640 x 480
ISO sens. Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800 Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400 100, 200 Auto, 100, 200, 400
Lens equiv. 3x (38 - 114 mm) 3x (35 - 105 mm) 3x (37 - 111 mm) 3x (39 - 117 mm)
Lens aperture F2.8 - F4.7 F2.8 - F4.9 F2.6 - F4.8 F2.8 - F5.6
Min. shutter 4 sec + Bulb (15 sec) 15 sec 2 sec 2 sec
Max. shutter 1/1000 sec 1/1500 sec 1/2000 sec 1/1000 sec
Metering Multi-segment, Spot Evaluative, CW, Spot Multi-area, CW, Spot Multi-segment, Spot
Auto focus 5-point, Single AF, Tracking AF 3-point, Selectable Wide AF, Spot AF 3-point auto, Center point
AF assist lamp No Yes No Yes
Min. focus Normal: 50 cm
Macro: 20 cm
Normal: 80 cm
Macro: 10 cm
Normal: 40 cm
Macro: 14 cm
Normal: 50 cm
Macro: 10 cm
Manual focus Yes, magnified and distance readout Yes, magnified loupe and distance readout Yes, ruler (no units) Yes, 5 steps
White balance 5 position & manual 6 position & manual 5 position & manual 5 position
Aperture priority Yes Yes No No
Shutter priority Yes Yes No No
Manual exp. Yes Yes Yes No
Movie clips Yes, 35 sec Yes, 30 / 120 sec Yes, 30 sec Yes, unlimited
Movie audio Yes Yes No Yes
Remote control Yes (option) No Yes No
Storage SD/MMC card CF Type I CF Type I Memory Stick
Image format TIFF, JPEG RAW, JPEG JPEG JPEG
LCD monitor 1.5" 1.8" 1.6" 1.5"
Power 2 x AA batteries Canon Lithium-Ion Pentax Lithium-Ion Sony Lithium-Ion
Charging No Out of camera Out of camera In camera
Weight (inc.) 241 g (8.5 oz) 323 g (11.4 oz) 240 g (8.5 oz) 203 g (7.2 oz)
Dimensions 111 x 52 x 32 mm
(4.4 x 2 x 1.3 in)
112 x 58 x 42 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.7 in)
92 x 59 x 31 mm
(3.6 x 2.3 x 1.2 in)
113 x 53 x 36 mm
(4.5 x 2.1 x 1.4 in)

Minolta DiMAGE F100 in pictures

Side by side

Display

Normal 'record' live view Aperture priority live view, shutter release half-pressed (note red AF point indicated)
This animation provides an example of what the F100's AF tracking can do. In my tests it worked quite well but wasn't particularly fast, it would be ok for a slow moving subject which stayed mostly in frame. Playback mode features a full histogram and exposure information 'info' display. Unlike the D5/D7/S304/S404 you CAN now browse through images while in this mode.

Menus

With the advent of the F100 we also get a peak into a new menu layout and slightly different user interface which I would expect to be used in future Minolta digital cameras. The main differences are that settings such as white balance, contrast, saturation and sharpening are all set by first entering that settings 'modify' page which provides a full live view of the exact difference changing that setting is having on the image.

Record menu Play menu
 
Setup menu  

Samples gallery

As part of this first look we're also providing a small samples gallery. As mentioned above all these images were taken with a pre-production DiMAGE F100, image quality for the final production models may well improve.

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