Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 Review
Specific Image Quality Issues
On the positive side the Z5 produces the kind of bright, saturated images that make for very appealing prints with the minimum of post-processing. The images are a little soft, but - as long as you stick to lower ISO settings - they sharpen up nicely, and have plenty of detail for prints up to about 8x10 inches.
Exposure is very consistent, though there is a slight tendancy towards underexposure, meaning blocked-in shadows in contrasty scenes (I personally thought the default contrast setting is a little too harsh, which doesn't help matters). The reason for the slight underexposure would appear to be a conscious decision on the designers' part to avoid blown highlights, something the Z5 (in common with most 5 megapixel cameras) suffers from whenever the scene being photographed is bright and contrasty. It's considerably easier to lift shadow detail than to restore highlight detail that was never captured in the first place, so don't be tempted to increase exposure slightly if the on-screen images look a little dark.
Noise seems to be the Z5's achilles' heel; the top ISO setting of 320 is unusually low, but so, noise is a serious issue at ISO 200 and 320. The noise is so strong at ISO 320 that it obliterates far too much fine detail, so basically you're best avoiding the setting unless you have no other way of getting the shot.
Our only other major complaint is focus, which seems to hunt excessively in low light or with low contrast subjects, and - as with other Konica Minolta cameras we've tested - will on occasion indicate correct focus when it hasn't been found, resulting in a totally out of focus image.
Purple fringing and blooming
Big zooms are usually plagued by chromatic aberration, but the Z5's images are admirably fringe-free. In fact you need to try very hard to get any fringing at all - I could only find two examples of it in over 350 shots taken in a wide variety of situations. The problem seems worse when - as here - the image is slightly blurred due to mis-focus or camera shake, but it is so rare it's not worth worrying about.
|420 mm equiv., F5.6|
|Click for a larger image||Click for a movie of the Anti-Shake system in action (exaggerated motion) - 2.1 MB|
The DiMAGE Z5 implements the same image stabilization system as the A2/A200 (and the new 7D digital SLR). By placing the CCD sensor on a movable platform supported by two actuators (horizontal and vertical) the system can compensate for a certain amount of the blur caused by camera shake at lower shutter speeds and longer focal lengths. The system works by analyzing input from motion detectors in the camera body and producing an inverse movement in the CCD. The system can be disabled easily (by pressing a very prominent button on the rear of the camera) and can also detect a panning movement and only compensate for movement on the opposite axis. Konica Minolta claims that its system enables shutter speeds of eight times longer (three stops) than you would be able to manage without it.
In use we found the combination of handling (fairly weighty, very well balanced, good ergonomics) and the AS system to be incredibly effective in most shooting situations. At wideangle it is perfectly possible to hand-hold exposures down to 1/4 of a second - I even had some success with exposures as long as a second, provided that I held the camera in both hands and braced myself (elbows tight against the chest). At the telephoto (420mm) end of the range you can easily shoot at 1/80th of a second without worrying too much about camera shake (though I'd always take a few shots to be sure). All this would seem to support Konica Minolta's claims for a three-stop advantage when using AS. Of course if you don't have a very steady hand or are shooting in high winds you'll soon find that extreme motion simply can't be corrected (the CCD cannot move far enough), but I'd certainly suggest the AS system on the Z5 is as effective as the optical IS found on the Panasonic FZ series until you get to the very long end of the zoom.
Below are a couple of comparative 'real world' examples. Note also that all the images in the samples gallery are hand held.
|AS effectiveness at 1/50 sec, 420mm equiv. focal length, handheld|
|AS on 100% crop||AS off 100% crop|
|AS on 100% crop||AS off 100% crop|
It is obvious from the examples above that even with a long exposure (here around three stops slower than would normally be recommended for this focal length), the AS system makes low light hand held photography possible.
|Waffles with fruits by Coolinarka|
from Food photography (desserts)
|Vestrahorn Frozen Reflection by Will B Milner|
from Ice cold
NASA's Juno spacecraft is sending back its first images from Jovean orbit, and they're beautiful. Read more
We got our hands on the first zoom lens available for Fujifim's new digital medium format system. Check out the samples
As summer really gets going over here in the Northern hemisphere, the team at Imaging Resource has put together a list of the best cameras for backpacking.
The Ukrainian Parliament banned statues of Lenin in 2015. Two years later, the monuments no longer adorn public buildings or stand watch over town squares, but they're still there.
If you had to choose one camera to bring along for the ultimate West coast road trip, what would it be? DPR's Sam Spencer choose the X100F. Read more
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more