Say Hi to: The Dimage EX 1500 Wide, with 28mm f1.9 prime

Started Jul 31, 2010 | Discussions thread
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schaki
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Say Hi to: The Dimage EX 1500 Wide, with 28mm f1.9 prime
Jul 31, 2010

A predecessor to the GXR concept.

The Dimage EX with two lens modules. The 38-115mm f3.5-5.6. And also the way more rare 28mm f1.9

The Dimage EX, Announced 31-Aug-98, had the potential to show how to make advanced compacts. Too bad that Minolta managed to blow it with some questionable design of details of the body, performance and handling

Let's begin with the body, of which it is two versions of.

On version 1, the black buttons on the lower half do not protrude enough to make the handling all comfortable while the power button protrudes a little too much which have been fixed on version two.

While only having version 1, which came with the zoom. I found myself turning the camera on accidentally at least twice when it was sitting in a front-pocket on my jeans.

I decided to borrow the idea of Michael Kamber, build up a buffer of tape on the right side of the button to prevent myself from turning it on accidentally. http://web.mac.com/kamberm/Leica_M8_Field_Test,_Iraq/Page_2.html

I use the same method for the flash-button on the Ricoh 500SE which I've touched accidentally too many times and the camera got unresponsive for atleast 6secs unless I quickly clicked a couple of times to disable the flash again. I always leave it as disabled for two good reasons.

An other design-flaw which remain on ver2 is the small rubber door for dc in and video out which pops out too easy. I wondered why it had been removed on ver1 which I first bought and when I got ver2 which still had it I certainly could understand why. Previous user probably had got sick of that flaw and removed it on purpose.

On both versions dust can get in. Probably not to the ccd though But in between the protection glass and the LCD. Luckily not too hard to remove but still a little irritating.

Next thing on the list is brightness-adjust of the LCD. There is a wheel which certainly could be used for something better than accidentally change LCD brightness. The wheel can be spun way too easy and it didn't take me long to decide what to do: Take a well-exposed frame or two, copy them to the computer and use them to properly match what i saw on the monitor with the LCD on the Dimage and then finally put some tape over that wheel to prevent myself from spin it again.

Performance issues

Uncompressed jpegs is very welcome (file size can vary btw 1.4-2.2Mb) but takes some time to write. It means that you have to wait many seconds before you can view the pictures which just have been taken. Shot to shot is not directly affected tho as the buffer have room for another 7 uncompressed frames and one can even turn off the camera and won't power down completely until all frames have been written to the card.

While talking about memory cards. It takes usual compact flash, but at least ver1 (have not tried with ver2 yet) can't handle any of my 2GBs properly for some unknown reason. It can format both my Sandisk Extreme III 2gb and Lexar pro 2GB and take pictures which even can be viewed on the LCD without any problem. But when I put the card in my cardreader, the computer says that the card needs to be formated and won't give me access to it! Very weird, both modules seem to have the latest firmware installed. Ver1 have 2.0E and Ver2 have 2.0.

At least it works well with my CF 256Mb. I don't know were the limit is as I've no other cards to try.

Iso is firmly stuck at 125. Not good... But at least it works most of the time even if of course would like iso 400 too.

The AF is phase detection, (Only, it can't find focus if I cover these sensors) is not too slow and can also find focus in dim light. Though it is not exactly as quick as the RR30 or a Grd1 but not too far behind either. I would count the shutter lag as average for compacts.

Just a shame that the AF of the 28mm module is a little more loud than the Zoom and I can't use it comfortably in crowds. The shutter is not dead silent but neither too loud tho. Also the buttons are enough silent.

Handling

8 Secs start up. Yes you read it right. Not a big issue if one only can accept that one won't be able to pick it up and just snap a shot.

Except the design flaws which I already have mentioned above I've no major problem with the handling except sluggish menus with short delays which could have been marginally shorter.
I'm not going deep into the menus but can say that it could be made better.

However it is a camera which require a bit of patient to work with. The adjust of EV compensation may take a little time to get used to how it behaves. First press one time to activate it and since another to put in the value.

LCD refresh rate still straggle behind a little bit but not as bad as it first was. Latest firmware speeded it up with 33% and fixed some other things.
http://www.steves-digicams.com/news/minolta-posts-dimage-ex-update-20.html

I may certainly have forgotten a detail or two but I think I've covered it OK anyway.

Phil's review of the Dimage EX 1500 zoom can also be interesting to read: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/minolta1500/

The reason I first bought the zoom (I looked for the prime but couldn't find it) was because I liked the random graininess that this camera manage to produce and also the filmlike look which I often miss among todays compacts.
Today I took the Dimage EX and the 28mm module with me for a shorter trip.

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