Konica Minolta today announced a new Z series digital camera, the new DiMAGE Z3 which has an all new twelve times optical zoom lens and a stabilized four megapixel CCD sensor. This places the DiMAGE Z3 as a direct competitor to Panasonic's impressive DMC-FZ10 (which fans will be glad to hear we have in-house and is in our review queue!). It's also interesting to see Konica Minolta implementing their CCD-shift Anti-Shake system into mid-range cameras, not just the flagship 'A' series prosumer models. The DiMAGE Z3 also supports VGA size movie recording and a silent zoom mode which allows the camera's zoom to be used in movie record mode with minimal noise. Unlike other Z series digital cameras the Z3 does not employ the quirky flip-mirror LCD/Viewfinder display instead it has separate LCD and EVF displays.

Press Release:

KONICA MINOLTA INTRODUCES THE DiMAGE Z3
HIGH-PERFORMANCE 4.0 MEGAPIXEL DIGITAL CAMERA

New digital camera with built-in 12x optical "Mega Zoom" lens is the first Z-series camera to feature Konica Minolta's CCD-Shift Anti-Shake System

Mahwah, NJ (July 7, 2004) - Konica Minolta introduces a new addition to the Z-series of digital cameras - the DiMAGE Z3. With Konica Minolta's unique CCD-shift Anti-Shake System accompanying the camera's built-in 12x optical zoom lens, the stylish DiMAGE Z3 provides photographers of all levels with very steady and sharp hand-held telephoto shots. Its speed also enables photographers to get those action shots right away with Rapid Autofocus (AF) - the fastest auto focus in its class*1. The camera's AF also has a Predictive Focus Control for unmatched high-speed focusing that brings out the very best in the DiMAGE Z3's superior ability to capture fast moving subjects.

"Photographers will never miss a shot with the new DiMAGE Z3," said Jon Sienkiewicz, vice president of marketing, Konica Minolta's Camera Division. "With combined functions such as the Anti-Shake System, Rapid Autofocus capabilities, and 12x optical zoom lens, this digital camera provides advanced amateur as well as serious photographers with the versatility and reliability they need to get the shot right the first time."

Previously a function found only on the high-end Konica Minolta DiMAGE A-series digital cameras, the Konica Minolta CCD-shift Anti-Shake System is now available for the first time in the Z-series of DiMAGE cameras. This system compensates to minimize the effect of camera shake at 2-3 shutter speeds slower than on cameras without an Anti-Shake function*2 (equivalent to 2-3 exposure increments).

For hand-held dim light photography and telephoto shots, both of which are susceptible to the effects of camera shake because of their slow shutter speeds, photographers can now get steady, blur-free images without the use of a flash or tripod. Unlike an optical system, Konica Minolta's proprietary Anti-Shake System uses a unique CCD-shift mechanism. This keeps the lens compact and the camera lightweight.

The new DiMAGE Z3 features a 12x optical Mega Zoom lens, which can be combined with the camera's 4x digital zoom for up to 48x total zoom capability. The DiMAGE Z3's newly developed GT APO lens offers strikingly clear, high-contrast, high-resolution images thanks to Konica Minolta's G lens optical technology. The AD (anomalous dispersion) glass and two aspheric lens elements help the DiMAGE Z3 correct spherical aberration and curvilinear distortion, factors that can cause problems at high zoom ranges. The advanced, high-sensitivity 4-megapixel CCD combines with Konica Minolta's proprietary CxProcess™ II technology to give photographers images as beautiful as those they see with their own eyes.

The DiMAGE Z3 incorporates an AF-dedicated ASIC to video AF system for focusing, enabling its Rapid AF to focus faster than previous models. Focusing time is approximately 0.15 second in wide-angle position and approximately 0.2 second in telephoto position. The DiMAGE Z3 also boasts a fast startup speed, a real motion monitor with 50-frames-per-second capability for smooth video viewing, minimal shutter-release time lag, and continuous shooting at 2.2 frames per second.

The DiMAGE Z3's movie recording function allows users to take high-resolution movies that are as beautiful as TV programs or footage taken with a video camera. In addition to the VGA-size (640 x 480 Standard) mode that captures movies at 30 frames per second, Konica Minolta has added a new, high-quality-image Fine mode (640 x 480 Fine). The Silent Zoom feature employs a newly developed Silent Zoom mechanism that greatly reduces how much noise from the optical zoom is picked up while shooting movies with sound.

Despite its large 12x zoom, the Z3 sports a light, compact body whose design evokes a modern, cosmopolitan image. The Z3's ergonomic grip makes it easy and comfortable to carry around and its large, intuitive operation section keeps you in control at all times.

*1 As of May 20, 2004, for digital cameras with built-in lens system and 10x or greater zoom.
*2 Depends on the shooting conditions.

Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3 specifications


Sensor • 1/2.5" Type CCD
• 4.2 million pixels total
• 4.0 million effective pixels
Image sizes • 2272 x 1704
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480
Movie clips • 640 x 480 Fine (15 / 30 fps) = max (19 / 9 sec)
• 640 x 480 Standard (15 / 30 fps) = max (28 / 14 sec)
• 320 x 240 Standard (15 / 30 fps) =max (58 / 30 sec)
• All with audio
• Night capture mode available
File formats • Still: JPEG (EXIF 2.2)
• Movies: MOV (Motion JPEG)
Lens • 35 - 420 mm equiv. (12x optical zoom)
• F2.8 - F4.5
Image stabilization CCD-shift 'Anti Shake'
Focus distance • Normal: (wide) 0.6 m - Infinity, (tele) 2.0 m - Infinity
• Macro: (wide) 10 cm
• Super-macro: (wide) 1 cm
Focus modes • Single shot AF
• Continuous AF (with predictive focus control)
• Full time AF
• Manual focus
Auto focus areas • 5-point Wide Focus Area
• Spot focus area
Metering • Multi-segment (256 segments)
• Center-weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 50
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
Exposure compensation • +/- 2.0 EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Shuttter speed • Program AE / Aperture priority: 4 - 1/1000 sec
• Shutter priority / manual: 15 - 1/1000 sec, Bulb (max 30 sec)
• Scene modes: 2 - 1/1000 sec
Exposure modes • Programmed AE
• Aperture priority
• Shutter priority
• Manual
• Scene modes
Exposure bracketing • 3 frames
• 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV steps
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Flash
• Manual
Self timer 2 or 10 sec
Continuous shooting • Normal: 2.5 fps (5 frames @ 2272 x 1704 ; Standard)
• Ultra High Speed: 10 fps (15 frames @ 1280 x 960)
• Progressive mode: (stores last frames captured instead of first)
Image parameters • Contrast (3 levels)
• Sharpness (3 levels)
• Color mode (2 levels, b&w, sepia)
Flash • Pop-up (electronic)
• Modes: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill flash, Slow sync
• Compensation: +/-2 EV in 1/3 EV steps
• External flash: hot-shoe
Viewfinder • Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
• 0.3", 118,000 pixels
LCD monitor • 1.5" TFT LCD
• 78,000 pixels
Connectivity • USB 2.0 (full-speed only)
• A/V out
• DC-IN
Storage • Secure Digital
• 16 MB SD card supplied
Power • 4 x AA batteries
• NiMH recommended (Alkaline supplied)
Weight 335 g (11.8 oz)
Dimensions 109 x 80 x 84 mm (4.3 x 3.1 x 3.3 in)

Konica Minolta backgrounder:

New Konica Minolta Z-Series Digital Camera: The DiMAGE Z3

Konica Minolta Photo Imaging U.S.A., Inc.'s new DiMAGE Z3 4.0 megapixel digital camera is the first Z-series camera to feature Konica Minolta proprietary Anti-Shake system. This new camera provides photographers with high-quality images and features a wide range of convenient and easy-to-use high-end functions.

Product Highlights

  • 12x optical Mega Zoom with CCD-shift Anti-Shake System
  • Fastest-in-class*1 Rapid AF with Predictive Focus Control
  • Konica Minolta GT APO lens
  • 4-megapixel CCD and CxProcess™ II image processing technology
  • High-resolution movies that look as good as television or video camera footage
  • Easy operation in a modern design that's lightweight and compact
  • High-quality images and a wide range of convenient and fun functions

Features

CCD-Shift Anti-Shake Function
The Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3 is the first Z-series model to include Konica Minolta's Anti-Shake function. This gives photographers unprecedented control and accuracy when taking pictures in low light situations, as well as when fully-extending and hand-holding the camera's 12x optical zoom lens. The high-precision CCD-shift method employs the proprietary Smooth Impact Drive Mechanism (SIDM), in which angular velocity sensors detect the degree of shaking and move the CCD to compensate for and correct this. The SIDM enables compensation to minimize the effect of camera shake at 2-3 shutter speeds slower than on cameras without an Anti-Shake function*2 (equivalent to 2-3 exposure increments). The DiMAGE Z3 can correct shaking without increasing shutter speed and raising ISO sensitivity, factors which increase image noise. In addition, users won't see the deterioration in image quality usually associated with electronic anti-shake systems. The CCD-shift method doesn't require extra correction lenses like optical anti-shake systems, so the DiMAGE Z3's body is compact and lightweight. The DiMAGE Z3's anti-shake system is effective in correcting both the fine movement of pressing the shutter-release button and the larger and slower movements of the user's body.

Further Advances in Rapid Autofocus (AF) with Predictive Focus Control
The DiMAGE Z3 incorporates an AF-dedicated ASIC to video AF system. Focusing takes a mere 0.15 seconds at wide angle and only 0.20 seconds at telephoto. And in Continuous AF, the DiMAGE Z3 includes Predictive Focus Control, which allows photographers to capture sharper images of moving subjects-like a child running at full speed.

The DiMAGE Z3 also features a faster focusing lens drive that moves the focusing lens more than twice as fast as the previous Z-series model. Its Quick Speed Image Readout in AF function reads images from the CCD at a rate of 100 frames per second from when the shutter-release button is pressed partway until the image is brought into focus, giving contrast information in half the time of normal mode (50 frames per second). With Optimized AF Sequence, in Video AF the DiMAGE Z3 uses AF Sequence Control to simultaneously determine the focus drive direction and drive the lens to the position of maximum contrast through repeated focusing. This means that focusing operations start as soon as the shutter-release button is pressed partway.

The DiMAGE Z3 also offers improved AF accuracy through several features. 5-point Area AF provides five focus areas that overlap horizontally and thus reduce AF failures that occur when subjects appear in between focus areas and cause a perspective conflict. A human subject sensor algorithm uses color information in an AF area to prioritize and focus on that area if it is more than 50% occupied by flesh tone. This reduces shots that erroneously focus on a background rather than on the person in the picture.

Incredible 48x Total Zoom Range
Combining the camera's 12x optical zoom lens with the 4x digital zoom gives photographers a 48x total zoom, perfect for taking distance shots at sporting events or when capturing distant subjects. This incredible optical zoom lens delivers a focal range equivalent to a 35-420mm range on a 35mm camera lens. With the digital zoom, total zoom is equivalent to 35-1680mm (35mm equivalent).

Konica Minolta GT APO Lens
The DiMAGE Z3 employs a newly developed high-performance lens system that supports CCDs with 5 million effective pixels. The optical lens system consists of 13 elements in 10 groups and includes two AD (anomalous dispersion) glass lenses and two aspheric elements, a construction that adds up to sharp, high-quality images. Multi-coating on 14 lens surfaces ensures minimal flaring and ghosting in all zoom ranges. It employs a 5-vane iris diaphragm to beautifully reproduce a near-circular fading effect.

4-Megapixel CCD for Beautiful Prints
The 4-megapixel, 1/2.5-inch CCD produces plenty of detail for creating high-quality enlargements as large as 10 x 14 inches at 150-dpi print resolution. In addition, the CCD's primary color filter offers high color fidelity.

Superbly Detailed Images with CxProcess™ II
Konica Minolta's CxProcess™ II image processing technology incorporates characteristics like smooth gradations, natural skin tones, and brilliantly clear colors for images that are more natural and lifelike. The DiMAGE Z3's 4 megapixels capture fine lines and intricate details for stunning digital images.

High-quality Movies as Beautiful as TV or Video Camera Footage
The Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3 takes movies in VGA size (640x480) at 30 frames per second for smooth video with sound rivaling TV programs or video camera footage. Users can choose from three movie image sizes: 640x480 (Fine), 640x480 (Standard), or 320x240 (Standard). Thanks to the camera's Anti-Shake function, users can take telephoto movies that are smooth and clear. The XR (Extended Recording) Movie function lets users record longer movie clips onto the camera's SD memory card. With Night Movie, the DiMAGE Z3 can record in extreme low-light conditions thanks to a CCD that's four times more sensitive than conventional sensors. And to ensure that movies capture only the sounds the user wants, the camera's Silent Zoom feature incorporates a newly developed Silent Zoom mechanism that greatly reduces how much noise from the optical zoom is picked up while shooting. In addition, users can also select their favorite scenes from a movie and save them as still images with Movie Frame Capture.

UHS (Ultra High Speed) Continuous Shooting
The DiMAGE Z3 captures 15 images at 10 frames per second at UHS (Ultra High Speed) continuous shooting.

Progressive Capture
With the DiMAGE Z3 in Progressive Capture mode, images are saved automatically when users stop pressing the camera's shutter-release button. Progressive Capture means that the last several images in the sequence get saved: as many as 6 images (in Standard continuous advance) or 15 images (in UHS continuous advance). So when shooting fast-moving subjects, Progressive Capture ensures that they are recorded when and where the user wants them. These functions are handy for shooting sporting events or for recording and improving your form in personal sports training situations such as a golf swing.

Real Motion LCD Monitor
The DiMAGE Z3 features the Real Motion LCD monitor, which delivers crystal clear images to the user at 50 frames per second. Conventional monitors on digital cameras use a 30-frames-per-second display format that sometimes results in a less-than-smooth display. The 50-frames-per-second Real Motion monitor rate provides smooth action that brings images to life.

Noise Reduction
Noise Reduction enables exceptional night images by automatically preventing the blemishes and graininess associated with slow-shutter shots.

PASM Exposure Control and Metering Modes
The DiMAGE Z3 offers incredible control over exposure. There are four modes: Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual. Select manual exposure to enable 30-second time exposure capability. The DiMAGE Z3 has three metering modes: Multi-segment, Center-weighted, and Spot. Multi-segment metering uses 256 segments to determine exposure.

Automatic Digital Subject Program Selection
Automatic Digital Subject Program Selection automatically chooses the best recording mode for images. Users can also manually select from Portrait, Sports action, Landscape, and Sunset modes. The DiMAGE Z3 can also be set to Night portrait mode in the menu settings.

Get as Near as 0.4 inches with Super Macro
Photographers can shoot amazing close-ups in either Macro or Super Macro modes. In Super Macro mode, photographers can bring the lens as near as 0.4 inches from their subject.

Key Customize
For added flexibility and convenience, the camera's flash button can be customized to handle different settings. This means that instead of going through the menus on the cameras' LCD screen, photographers can use the flash button to change settings like the drive mode, white balance, focus mode, color mode, or sensitivity.

PictBridge*3-Compliant
Forget all about complicated connections with a PC. Users can get fast, fun printouts directly from their camera by connecting the DiMAGE Z3 to a PictBridge*3-compliant printer. Users just check which images they want to print on the DiMAGE Z3's LCD monitor and then print out their favorites in no time at all.

New Ergonomic Design
The DiMAGE Z3's design is advanced yet familiar and easy-to-use. Despite its large 12x zoom range, it weighs just 11.8 ounces. It's also easy to carry and operate even for amateur photographers. The camera's ergonomic form makes it easy to hold and keep steady for those zoom shots.

ArcSoft VideoImpression™ 2 CD-ROM
ArcSoft VideoImpression™ 2, bundled with the DiMAGE Z3, offers a fun way to merge movie clips and still shots. Working through a step by step guide, users can add text, music, and special effects to their movies. The finished movie is recorded onto a video CD that can be played back in a DVD player and viewed through a television set. (Note: Only compatible with the Windows® operating system.)

Optional Wide Converter Wide-Angle Converter ZCW-300 Kit
The optional Wide Converter Kit allows users to fit more of a scene into each shot. The lens has a 26mm wide angle that is ideal for capturing indoor or outdoor architecture and panoramic landscape shots.

Compatible with Optional Flashes
The DiMAGE Z3 is equipped with a powerful built-in flash. But if even more flash power is needed, the camera accepts the Konica Minolta Program/Maxxum Flash 3600HS(D) 5600HS(D) or 2500(D) accessory flash units.

*1 As of May 20, 2004, for digital cameras with built-in lens system and 10X or greater zoom.
*2 Depends on the shooting conditions.
*3 PictBridge is an industry standard established by the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA).