The F100 has a boxy, thin and long design with the lens mounted at one edge, windows for the viewfinder, flash and IR remote run along the top of the camera front and there's the tiniest hint of a finger grip on the front of the camera. At the back the LCD monitor is surrounded by rubber and the same rubber forms a sort-of grip below the 4-way / zoom controller. The entire case is made from metal alloy and from a construction point of view the F100 feels solid with no creaks or rattles.
Side by side
It's interesting to see there different manufacturers with three cameras of similar specification (four megapixel, three times zoom) and such similar dimensions. Below from left to right: Sony DSC-P9, Canon PowerShot S40, Minolta DiMAGE F100. From a styling standpoint I prefer the Canon, although Sony's DSC-P9 is clean and sleek, the F100 looking a little 'odd' (personal preference).
Despite its boxy design the F100 is comfortable to hold and all controls are easily within reach, the fact that it uses just two AA batteries and that the entire case is metal creates a nice balance without feeling too weighty. The camera's slim dimensions and automatic lens cover make it easy to slip into a bag or larger jacket pocket.
Status LCD ('Data panel')
The status LCD on the top of the F100 appears to be a slightly redesigned version of that found on the DiMAGE S404. This panel provides information about current camera settings, mode and battery status. Note that the panel is not backlit and is therefore only useful outdoors or in brightly lit indoor situations.
The diagram below represents all possible information displayed on the 'Data panel'. This diagram originated in the F100 manual.
The F100 has a bright 1.5" 123,000 pixel LCD monitor. The screen is clear and sharp with good resolution, there is however no anti-reflective coating and it appears no protective coating over the LCD.
The diagram below represents all possible information displayed in manual record mode. This diagram originated in the F100 manual.
A typical compact camera 'optical tunnel' which we see used on so many digital cameras. On the F100 the view through the viewfinder is completely clear, there are no parallax correction lines, AF area indicators or even a center cross. There is also no dioptre adjustment.
Viewfinder indicator lights (green top, orange bottom)
|Auto focus locked*|
|Auto focus locked*, camera shake warning|
|Can not auto focus, too close / poor light / no contrast|
|Flash charging / Read-only SD card inserted|
* Focus will track within focus frames if enabled.
Battery / Storage compartments
On the right side of the camera (from the back) are two compartment doors. Both doors are hinged at the top and are simply held in place with a pressure clip. The first compartment is for the SD/MMC storage card, press to insert, press again to eject (spring loaded). On the rear of the camera on the right hand edge is a power / storage card activity light. This light normally glows green when the camera is powered up and blinks red during storage card activity (read or write).
The second compartment holds the two AA batteries which provide the camera's power, you can alternatively use a single non-rechargable CR-V3 Lithium battery. Two typical AA NiMH batteries should be able to provide 1600 mAh at 2.4 V (3.84 Wh).