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The Konica Minolta Dimage Z5 looks like a contraption from a sci-fi movie, but concealed within its quirky curves is a surprisingly capable camera with an Automatic mode for times when you need quick snapshots, and Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes if you want to tweak controls.
The Z5’s odd shape makes it bulky to transport—this isn’t a pocket camera—but comfortable to hold. The 2.0-inch LCD, while not as spacious as the 2.5- inch LCDs on the Epson L-500V ( ; February 2005) or the Casio Exilim EX-Z55 ( ), is bright and sharp. An EVF (electronic viewfinder) with diopter adjustment (so you can adjust it to your eyesight) makes it easy to shoot in bright sunlight, and the menus are easy to read and navigate. A live histogram helps you adjust exposure compensation. A flash-mode button puts manual controls at your fingertips; you can customize it to easily enable and disable drive, focus, or color modes, or white balance or ISO settings.
The 12x optical zoom in the Z5 is a standout in this class, and can focus to an intimate 0.4 inches in Super Macro mode, perfect for budding entomologists (I only wish it had a twistable LCD for shooting at odd angles). The Z5 is one of a handful of compact cameras to offer still-image stabilization, which keeps images steady by shifting the CCD, so your images will be sharp even at slower shutter speeds. It recognizes when you’re panning to follow a moving subject, so it won’t try to stabilize the shot when you don’t want it to.
The 5-point area autofocus (AF) is responsive, and you can select from single-shot or continuous AF. Focus lock is available in single-shot focusing mode, and Predictive Focus Control (which anticipates where a moving subject will be when you press the shutter release) kicks in when you select continuous auto focus. You can also focus manually.
In our tests, the color and detail in images from the Dimage Z5 was very good, with accurate, saturated colors. But although the Z5’s ISO ranges from 50 to 320, and it shoots well at lower ISO settings, noise becomes a problem above 100 ISO. And the Z5 can only shoot JPEG images; I’d like at least a TIFF option in a camera of this caliber.
The Z5 is no slouch when it comes to shooting video, capturing VGA-quality movies (640 by 480 pixels, the highest resolution you’ll find in a camera of this type) at a smooth 30 frames per second, continuously until your memory card is filled. The Silent Cam feature minimizes lens noise when you zoom, Night Movie lets you shoot video in low light, and Anti-Shake smoothes out the jitters. The Auto exposure has some trouble keeping up with quick pans, but otherwise the Dimage Z5’s video and audio quality is very good.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
The Konica Minolta Dimage Z5 takes great pictures, especially at lower ISOs. Add the antishake feature, 12x optical lens, and Super Macro mode, and the Z5 a solid choice, especially if you like macro photography or want the flexibility to capture decent video without lugging around an extra camcorder.
|Color Quality—Accuracy||Very Good|
Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable
|Zoom/Focal Length||12.0x Optical (35mm to 420mm)|
|Size (wxhxd)||4.3 inches x 3.1 inches x 3.3 inches|