Minolta Dimage EX Zoom 1500
The Minolta Dimage EX Zoom 1500 (phew! - referred to from now onwards as the EX1500) is actually two (and in the future maybe more) cameras in disguise, the most distinguising and unique feature of this camera is the detachable lens/CCD/viewfinder assembly (the black right hand quarter in the image shown).
It can currently be purchased in two guises, the more popular 1500 Zoom (a 38mm to 105 mm lens) and the 1500 Wide (a 28mm non-zoom lens). Alternatively you can purchase the wide "add-on lens" at around US$350, giving you 28mm and 38mm to 105mm.
There is also an optional 1.5m extension cable which allows you to use the lens/CCD assembly remotely from the body. And an external flash accessory which fits between the body and the lens assembly giving the camera flash hot-shoe.
Minolta Dimage EX Wide 1500
Rumoured "in-the-pipeline" are future CCD upgrades which would allow you to upgrade your camera to 2, 2.5 or 4 megapixels when the technology becomes available at a fraction of the cost.
One of the other very popular features of this camera is the use of the Digita scripting operating system, this gives owners the ability to write/upload customised scripts to the camera for performing various tasks. There are already tens of downloadable scripts available on the net most of which work with this camera (there are some limitations to what you can control through scripting, read the review conclusion for details).
When first introduced this camera caused quite a stir, it uses the new Sony WFine CCD which is a 1.5 Megapixel CCD giving the camera a resolution of 1344 x 1008. This is the exact same CCD as is used in Sony's (overly expected, and long awaited) DSC-D700. With credentials such as the Sony CCD and Minolta's reputation for producing high quality cameras this should indeed be a very serious contender in what is probably the most competitive sector of the digital camera market.
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