Operation and controls
The Z5 may look a bit unusual, but it handles and operates in a way that will be immediately familiar to anyone with any experience of shooting using a 35mm SLR. The control layout is admirably simple, and a lot of thought has obviously been put into the positioning of the important 'shooting' stuff. Most of the more advanced - and more rarely accessed - functionality is accessed via the excellent - and highly responsive - menu system, but there are enough dedicated buttons and switches to make everyday snapping completely menu-free.
Rear of camera
The rear of the Z5 is very similar to the Z3 aside from a few minor styling details (the buttons are a different colour, the screen is obviously larger (2.0 inch as opposed to the 1.5 inch unit on the Z3) and the power/mode switches have been rearranged (to make space for the larger screen). As with previous Z series cameras there is nothing to indicate the funtions associated with the four-way controller, but after a few days use you soon get to know what does what.
Top of camera
Display and menus
The on-screen display and menu system is exemplary, offering a good level of control in an attractive, easy to understand and fast interface. The menu system is designed to make access to the features as fuss-free as possible - everything is no more than a couple of button presses away, and most everyday functions can be accessed without using the menus at all. My only complaint is that the ISO sensitivity setting (which I use all the time when out shooting) is buried in a menu that requires several key presses to change. However, a shortcut key (the flash button) can be configured to control one of six different settings (including ISO).
|The default display in full auto record mode with the on-screen information displayed around the edges of the frame. It is possible to turn off all on-screen information if you prefer clutter-free shooting. If enabled, the Auto Digital Subject Program icons at the top of the frame indicate the setting the camera is using for this particular shot.||Half-press the shutter release and the camera will calculate exposure (AE) and focus (AF) indicating the AF area used and the aperture/shutter speed chosen. Rather confusingly the focus point is indicated in red, whilst correct focus is indicated by a white dot in the bottom right hand corner. This turns red if accurate focus cannot be found.|
|Pressing the 'i+' button allows you to bring up the live histogram.||Moving to P mode gives to access to image parameters such as AE compensation, ISO sensitivity, metering pattern and image sharpening/contrast.|
|Hold down the center button in the four-way controller and you can choose from one of the five overlapping focus points.||A nice touch is the fully manual mode, which doesn't have a meter as such, but does darken or lighten the preview image as you change the exposure. There is also a nicely-designed manual focus option, which magnifies a sizeable portion of the centre of the screen.|
|Pressing the left or right button on the 4-way controller brings up the AE-compensation function, with the up and down buttons changing the value.||In the fully automatic mode there is a single, simple menu - activated by the MENU button, naturally. Here you can change drive mode and image size & quality, and turn on or off the digital zoom and Auto Digital Subject Program feature.|
|In program, aperture-priority, shutter priority and manual modes the record menu is considerably more sophisticated. There are a wealth of shooting options on offer, from white balance to drive, metering and focus modes to color, sharpness and contrast controls.||In either playback or record mode selecting the setup menu option gives you four pages of 'camera' options. These cover everything from power saving to file/folder naming, LCD brightness and audio/video settings.|
|Standard playback information is basic - size/quality, file/folder and date/time. You can, of course, turn all this off and just look at the picture. Pressing the 'up' key shows full exposure and settings information, plus a nice large histogram (shown here).||Pressing the 'i+' button in playback mode brings up six small thumbnails at a time. You can also enlarge images by zooming (using the zoom rocker)' up to 8x in 16 steps.|
|The three page playback menu gives the usual options to delete and lock images, produce in-camera slide shows and create DPOF print sets. You can also resize images and - unusually - copy from one card to another via the Z5's internal memory.||Finally, a quick mention for the movie mode. Options include movie size (up to 640 x 480 pixels) and frame rate (15 or 30 fps), optical zoom disabling and white balance. You can also do basic movie editing (trimming) in-camera.|