Minolta DiMAGE A1 Review
Compact Flash Compartment
The Compact Flash compartment is located in the side of the hand grip, the door has a spring loaded hinge mechanism which holds it closed. 7 series owners will note that the door is now shaped to fit around the rear edge of the camera, it's also made to feel stronger than the previous design. Kudos also for fixing the 'eyelet caught in the door' problem of the 7 series. Note also that the USB terminal has moved to a position just above the door.
The DiMAGE A1 supports both Compact Flash Type I and Type II including the IBM Microdrive, it also supports the FAT32 filesystem which means that it can use cards with a capacity greater than 2 GB.
The A1's connectors are in three different places. First on the rear of the camera at the bottom are the DC-IN and remote terminals (compatible with Minolta remote cable RC-1000L/S). Just to the left top edge of the compact flash compartment is the combined USB and A/V out connector (actual output depends on the cable used). On the left side of the camera is the PC Sync flash terminal which can be connected to studio, location or simply off-camera flash equipment.
If it ain't broken don't fix it, Minolta's 7x optical zoom "GT lens" lives on with the DiMAGE A1. It's a good lens with proven performance, it's relatively fast (F2.8 - F3.5) has a nice mechanically linked wide zoom (28 to 200 mm equiv.), has acceptable distortion characteristics and exhibits almost no chromatic aberrations. It's also clearly a perfect match for the 2/3" type sensor size. It's a great lens, Kudos Minolta.
The pictures below show the lens without and then with the supplied DLS-7 hood and also a 'transparency shot' of the length of the lens at full telephoto.
Base / Tripod Mount
The bottom of the camera is fairly unexciting, the new battery compartment door, a large rubber grip area (although in my opinion the rubber is too hard to be useful) and a metal tripod mount which is unfortunately not in line with the center of the lens.
The DiMAGE A1 has a manual pop-up flash which is opened by pushing it upwards from its spring loaded closed position. This automatically enables flash mode and starts to charge the flash capacitor. The flash is rated as having a range of wide: 0.5 - 3.8 m (1.6 - 12.5 ft) and tele: 0.5 - 3 m (1.6 - 9.8 ft) (ISO 100). Flash modes available are Fill-in, Red-eye, Rear sync and Wireless. There are three selectable flash metering options: ADI metering uses subject distance and aperture to calculate flash power, pre-flash TTL uses a short pre-flash just before the main exposure to meter the scene, finally there is manual mode.
Flash range at different sensitivities (from the DiMAGE A1 manual):
|Sensitivity||Flash range (wide angle)||Flash range (telephoto)|
|Auto||0.5 - 3.8 m (1.6 - 12.5 ft)||0.5 - 3.0 m (1.6 - 9.8 ft)|
|ISO 100||0.5 - 2.7 m (1.6 - 8.8 ft)||0.5 - 2.1 m (1.6 - 6.9 ft)|
|ISO 200||0.5 - 3.8 m (1.6 - 12.5 ft)||0.5 - 3.0 m (1.6 - 9.8 ft)|
|ISO 400||0.5 - 5.4 m (1.6 - 17.6 ft)||0.5 - 4.2 m (1.6 - 13.8 ft)|
|ISO 800||0.5 - 7.6 m (1.6 - 25.0 ft)||0.5 - 6.0 m (1.6 - 19.6 ft)|
The accessory shoe is compatible with Minolta Dynax / Maxxum system flashes and most probably third-party flash systems. Primarily it is fully compatible with the Program Flash 2500(D), 3600HS(D) and 5600HS(D) as well as the Macro Twin Flash 2400 and Macro Ring Flash 1200.
Just like the 7 series the DiMAGE A1 supports wireless flash using the 5600 HS(D) or 3600 HS(D) flash units. Simply slide the flash onto the camera, set the camera to wireless flash mode and it will communicate with the flash unit, program itself to the correct wireless channel and configure the flash unit. The flash may then be removed and positioned up to 5 m (16.4 ft) from the camera and will be remotely trigged at the time of exposure.
Battery Pack BP-400 (Optional)
Available as an option for the DiMAGE A1 is the BP-400 Battery Pack. This unit attaches to the bottom of the camera and provides the ability to use up to two NP-400 Lithium-Ion batteries or six NiMH batteries (using an included adapter caddy). The BP-400 also provides a vertical (portrait) grip with shutter release although it has no other controls. The BP-400's design allows you to attach it without the need to remove the battery compartment door, that simply slides into a slot in the unit. Also included is a hand strap which attaches to the grip (bottom) and camera body (top).
Supplied in the box
Box contents may vary by region:
|Macro Ring Flash
|Macro Twin Flash
Set II (flash not included)
|External Battery Pack
EP-1, EP-2 (for flash unit)
Other accessories (not shown)
- Step-up adapter 49 - 62 mm
- AC Adapter AC-1L
- Leather Neck Strap NS-DG1000
- Holding Strap HS-2
- Li-Ion battery NP-100
- Battery Pack BP-400
- DiMAGE Capture