Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200 Review
The A200 has seven white balance presets (daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent 1 and 2, flash) in addition to the default auto setting. There is also an excellent manual (custom) white balance mode with two memories. Results from auto white balance are 'as expected', good in natural light, less so under articificial light. It's a pity Konica Minolta still hasn't nailed the AWB problem, and - given that we saw occasional white balance problems even outdoors on a clear day - I'd recommend using the presets (or custom mode) - or even white balance bracketing - when color fidelity is important. Of course you could shoot RAW and worry about it later!
Outdoor - Auto WB
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Incandescent - Auto WB
Generally we were impressed with the flash performance - certainly in terms of color and exposure. The biggest problem was missed focus in low light situations (especially at longer focal lengths), which not only caused blurred images, but also led to blown-out (overexposed) faces on occasion. The flash has a working range of around 1.6 to 12.5 feet (Wide); 1.6 to 9.8 feet (tele) at ISO 200 (auto ISO always selects ISO 200 when the flash is in use). Although flash images can look a little 'murky' (lacking contrast), they respond well to a couple of seconds' worth of post processing. Although by no means perfect, the built-in flash performs a lot better than the A2, perhaps as a result of the updated CXIII processing.
Excellent color, slight overexposure
Excellent color, very good exposure
Just like the DiMAGE A2, the DiMAGE A200 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 mentioned in our A1 and A2 reviews) 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 A2..
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The DiMAGE A200 produced the same levels of distortion as the DiMAGE A1/A2. At full wide angle you can expect around 1.5% barrel distortion (the figure is different to the A2 simply because we have recently adopted a new, standardized and highly accurate measurement system). There is a small (0.5%) amount of barely noticeable pincushion distortion at telephoto. The A200's wide angle barrel distortion was of a similar level to that seen on the Canon Pro1 and Sony DSC-F828.
|Barrel distortion - 1.5% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 28 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 0.5% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 200 mm
Here for visual comparison are five identical shots taken at ISO 50, 100, 200, 400 and 800 settings in our studio. ISO 50 images are remarkably clean for an camera with this sensor. Noise at ISO 100 and ISO 200 is pretty much in line with the competition. ISO 400 shows some fairly aggressive noise reduction in action, which creates a smooth, but rather blotchy result. ISO 800 is usable in a tight spot, and if you don't try and print too large. The noise reduction (which can be turned off) does remove a lot of fine detail, but - if your exposure is spot on - you can get perfectly usable results at ISO 800 when there is no alternative.
|ISO 50 100% crop||ISO 100 100% crop|
|ISO 200 100% crop||ISO 400 100% crop|
|ISO 800 100% crop|
Specific image quality issues
Overall performance, as with the A2 before it, was good, though not the best of the 8MP bunch. Noise levels are low, especally at the lower end of the ISO scale. We also liked Konica Minolta's tonal balance and color response, both of which were natural and did not look overly processed. If anything the color is marginally better (skintones, pastels) than the A2 (it does have upgraded image processing), but this is more of a hunch than a measurable result. As with the A2, Resolution was 'good' but not up to the level we would hope for. The slightly soft results do however sharpen up well and the generally clean and respond well to careful post-processing.
Exposure is generally excellent, as is white balance (unless you're shooting under artificial light - see above). The Multi-Segment metering does throw up the occasional problem (it seems very sensitive to the slightest re-framing), and we found centre-weighted metering more reliable. Of around 1000 shots only a handful had serious exposure or white balance problems. There is a tendancy to underexpose slightly when confronted with very high contrast scenes, which does at least preserve highlight detail, but means post-processing is essential to lift the shadows. Chromatic Aberration/Purple fringing is low, there is a tiny measurable amount of vignetting (darkening of the image corners), but it is not noticeable in 99% of real-world shots.
Our biggest gripe, however, was with the A200's auto focus which proved to be just as inconsistent as the A2 before it. There are two problems here - one is the wide area focus has a tendancy to lock onto the nearest thing in the scene even if it occupies only a tiny part of the frame (see examples below). Far worse, however, is the A200's willingness to take a picture that is completely out of focus, often after indicating that focus lock has been achieved. As with the A2, the focus is fast, but I would estimate around 1 in 20 shots is not correctly focused, probably 1 in 10 when shooting indoors at social occasions (i.e zoomed in slightly, low light, subject distances of 1 to 4 meters).
As mentioned above we found the focus system of the A200 to be just as unreliable as the A2 - whether insisting on locking on some tiny piece of foreground detail (a twig at the edge of the frame for example) or simply missing focus altogether, the A200 fails to focus correctly too often for a camera in this class. To be fair, we took around 1000 frames during this test, and the focus problem occured only in about 40 shots, of which nearly all were in low light at longer focal lengths, but it's still something Konica Minolta needs to address in future models.
|100% crop||200 mm equiv., F3.5|
|100% crop||177 mm equiv., F3.5|
|100% crop||200 mm equiv., F3.5|
Dynamic range/exposure issues
In common with all cameras based around this sensor, the A200 struggles to capture the full dynamic range of high contrast scenes. In these situations the metering system invariably exposes for the highlights, which is great for preserving delicate sky detail, but tends to render any mid-tone or shadow areas very dark indeed. I found shooting RAW made rescuing this kind of shot a lot easier, and to be fair to Konica Minolta, this is more a limitation of the 8MP sensor than a serious flaw in the camera itself.
|100% crop||48 mm equiv., F3.2|
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 A200 fringing, while visible in pretty extreme shots (generally those with overexposed highlights), isn't as strong as we have seen in other cameras and is eliminated once the the lens is stopped below F4.
|100% crop||87 mm equiv., F3.5|
As we commented when testing the A2, 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. Note that the lower example also shows some vignetting.
|100% crop||200 mm equiv., F3.5|
|100% crop||187 mm equiv., F3.5|
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.