White Balance

Results 'as expected', good automatic white balance in natural light, less well under incandescent light. Although interestingly the DiMAGE A2 did do well in fluorescent light which was a pleasant surprise. It's a pity Konica Minolta hasn't yet advanced its automatic white balance with the same pace as some of the 'better selling' aspects of the camera.

Outdoors, Auto Outdoors, Cloudy, Day, Shade Outdoors, Manual
Incandescent, Auto Incandescent, Incandescent Incandescent, Manual
Fluorescent, Auto Fluorescent, Fluorescent Fluorescent, Manual

Flash Performance

Our initial set of flash tests showed that the DiMAGE A2 produces a strong yellow cast on flash exposures with automatic white balance. Switch white balance to the flash setting and things are slightly better but now a little too 'cool' (blue). Most of the flash exposures we took were under exposed (like below), this can be addressed with a little flash power compensation (+0.3 or +0.7 EV).

Skin tone, Auto WB - Yellow color cast, under exposed Color patches, Auto WB - Yellow color cast, under exposed
Skin tone, Flash WB - Better but now has a slight blue color cast, under exposed Color patches, Flash WB - Slight blue color cast, under exposed

Night exposures

The DiMAGE A2 allows for timed long exposures of up to 30 seconds, it also provides a dark frame subtraction noise reduction system which can be enabled or disabled via the record menu. With noise reduction switched off most long exposures suffered from a high noise level which produced an overall blue cast to the image (because of the amount of noise in the blue channel). Enabling noise reduction helped a lot although did leave a few 'black pit' pixels visible in the image.

Manual exposure, ISO 64, 30 sec, F11 (Noise reduction Off)
Manual exposure, ISO 64, 30 sec, F11 (Noise reduction On)

Macro Focus

Just like the DiMAGE A1 the A2 has two macro positions on its lens, one at wide angle and one (with a little zoom adjustment) at telephoto. Both proved to have the same minimum focus distance and so (as I've stated before) the wide angle macro option is fairly pointless, it doesn't provide you with any close-up frame coverage and simply introduces a lot of distortion. The telephoto macro option provides respectable close up shots with high magnification and no distortion (other than a little corner softness at a wide open aperture). The frame coverage results are virtually identical to the A1 (which we would expect, it's the same lens) however because of the increase in pixel count the A2 manages to deliver 64 pixels per mm at telephoto macro compared to the A1's 51 pixels per mm.

The macro tests below are using our new macro focus test chart and measurement system; each line on the grid is 10 mm, taken at shortest subject distance in each macro mode.

Wide angle - 284 x 213 mm coverage
11 px/mm (291 px/in)
Distortion: High
Corner softness: Low
Equiv. focal length: 28 mm

Telephoto - 50 x 38 mm coverage
64 px/mm (1634 px/in)
Distortion: None
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 200 mm

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

The DiMAGE A2 produced the same levels of distortion as the DiMAGE A1. At full wide angle you can expect 1.3% barrel distortion and some slight pincushion distortion at telephoto (it's unlikely this would be that noticeable). The A2's wide angle barrel distortion was of a similar level to that seen on the Canon Pro1 and Sony DSC-F828.

Barrel Distortion, 1.3% @ wide angle Pincushion Distortion, 0.8% @ telephoto

Vignetting / Lens Shading

The DiMAGE A2 did produce some lens shading at both wide angle and telephoto, especially at maximum aperture (as we may expect from such a compact wide angle zoom lens). Slightly disappointing was that this didn't improve after stopping the lens down at wide angle, although it does at telephoto.

Our vignetting measurement is made by taking the average luminance value of the darkest corner of the image and comparing it to the average luminance at the center of the image, any difference greater than 15% may be visible in everyday shots.

Wide angle, F2.8 (wide open)
17% maximum fall off, bottom right corner
Telephoto, F3.5 (wide open)
13% maximum fall off, bottom right corner
Wide angle, F5.0
17% maximum fall off, bottom right corner
Telephoto, F5.0
7% maximum fall off, top right corner

Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

As noted in our other eight megapixel digital camera reviews this particular CCD in combination with compact wide angle lenses does appear to lead to purple fringing. However on the DiMAGE A2 fringing while visible in pretty extreme shots (such as our samples below) isn't as strong as we have seen in other cameras and is eliminated once the the lens is stopped below F4.

Image thumbnail 100% crop
28 mm equiv., F2.8
28 mm equiv., F3.2

Overall Image Quality / Specific Issues

Overall performance was good, if not the best of the bunch. Noise levels were low and this was never an issue in our DiMAGE A2 images, we also liked Konica Minolta's tonal balance and color response both of which were natural and not overly processed looking. Resolution was also just 'good' but not up to the level we had really expected. We were also pretty disappointed with the DiMAGE A2's flash performance, both the under exposure and the yellow color cast in automatic white balance mode.

My only gripe was with the A2's auto focus which proved to be inconsistent. We had several instances of images which clearly weren't in focus but that the camera had told us were before taking the shot (the AF confirmation lamp showed a good AF lock). Certainly Konica Minolta has improved the speed of the camera's AF system, I'm not sure that doing so at the expense of reliability is a good thing.

Soft images

Throughout our samples we found examples of images which just weren't as sharp as we expected or had seen from other eight megapixel digital cameras. At first we thought this was associated with small apertures however this shifted after we found examples in images taken at moderate apertures. Obviously this could be linked to the AF issue noted above but in certain soft images it was difficult to see where the AF point actually was.

Image thumbnail 100% crop