First Look review posted for Minolta DiMAGE A1!|
(Friday, August 8, 2003 - 06:55 EDT)
Throughout their evolution, I've been impressed with Minolta's DiMAGE series of digicams, from the 7 to the 7i, 7Hi, and now the A1.
The new Minolta DiMAGE A1 is a nice upgrade to the 7Hi, adding the benefits of faster shutter speeds, a very effective Anti-Shake mode, tracking autofocus, an intelligent grip sensor to help conserve battery power, 14-bit A/D conversion, a tilting LCD monitor, and remote capture capability to an already great camera. Oh - and its battery life is *way* better than that of earlier models, the A1 in fact showing some of the best battery life I've seen from a prosumer digicam.
The A1's tack-sharp, long-ratio zoom lens and (potentially) fast shutter response make it a nearly ideal camera for amateur sports shooting, while the availability of a full auto mode is perfect for novices who want to gradually learn more. (I do have to reserve judgement on the A1's shutter response until I can test a production model, as the prototype I tested was only average in this regard. Given that the 7Hi had unusually fast shutter response though, and that Minolta seems to be claiming even higher performance for the A1, I'm hopeful that production-level A1s will be very fast off the mark.)
As an added bonus, the DiMAGE A1 integrates beautifully with Minolta's dedicated flash units, with built-in wireless TTL flash metering capability and full control over the flashes' zoom heads. (Minolta's very flexible twin-headed macro flash system deserves special mention here as well, as one of the most flexible macro lighting systems I've seen.)
Support of Adobe RGB, including the ability to embed a color-space tag in its file headers make it well suited for use in professional, color-managed work environments. With its panoply of features and flexible control, the new DiMAGE A1 demands serious consideration from anyone shopping at the high end of the "prosumer" digicam market.
The ultimate test of course will be image quality, so stay tuned for an update to this review as soon as Minolta can get me a production model to test. Meanwhile, check out my First Look review, for details on all the new goodies!