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Minolta DiMAGE A1

Minolta updates their revolutionary five-megapixel electronic SLR with faster shutter speeds, an Anti-Shake mode, 14-bit A/D, and a tilting LCD monitor, among other improvements.

(Next): Executive Overview>>

Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 08/08/2003, Updated: 11/10/03

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5.0-megapixel CCD delivers uninterpolated images as large as 2,568 x 1,928 pixels.
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Tack sharp 7x optical zoom lens covers a 28-200mm equivalent focus range.
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TFT LCD viewfinder is surprisingly usable under low light conditions.
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Enhancements over the D7Hi include Anti-Shake mode, 14-bit A/D, tilting LCD monitor, and faster maximum shutter speed of 1/16,000.

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Manufacturer Overview

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The Minolta DiMAGE A1 is the latest in a family of DiMAGE electronic SLR models that stretches back to the original DiMAGE 7, the first five-megapixel prosumer camera, introduced over two years ago (early 2001). As you'll read below, the new DiMAGE A1 carries on the proud tradition of the line, with a host of innovations and improvements over the previous DiMAGE 7Hi flagship model.

In 2001, Minolta shook up the high end of the prosumer market, by beating everyone else to the punch with the first five-megapixel prosumer digital camera. And it wasn't just "any" five-megapixel model either, but the Dimage 7, an electronic SLR design with a remarkably high quality 7x optical zoom lens, a host of advanced image-control functions, and an all-new electronic viewfinder using ferroelectric LCD technology for impressive low light performance.

In 2002, Minolta upped the ante again first with the Dimage 7i, which added numerous features, and offered dramatically improved focusing speed and shutter response. They also announced the Dimage 7Hi, which added an external flash sync socket, higher-speed continuous shooting for full-resolution files, and an extra-fine JPEG image-quality setting. The Dimage 7 was an impressive camera when it was introduced, and Minolta's improvements implemented in the 7i version were well-considered, intelligent, and bountiful. With the 7Hi, they brought the camera fully into the photo studio, with the external flash sync connector, in addition to increasing continuous-mode speed, and offering an extra-fine JPEG mode as an alternative to TIFF or RAW files. Finally, the Dimage 7Hi offered several options for color space, including both normal and "vivid" sRGB options, and Adobe RGB.

Now, Minolta improves on an already great camera model with the Dimage A1, which boasts the same 7x lens, five-megapixel sensor, and finely-tuned exposure control. In addition to all of the great features from the 7Hi model, the Dimage A1 also offers 14-bit A/D conversion, a tilting LCD monitor, blazingly fast 1/16,000 second maximum shutter speed, tracking autofocus, and a grip sensor that actually senses when you have the camera in-hand, to save power in the continuous autofocus mode. It's a nice update on an already great camera. Read on for more details.


Highlights

  • True 5.0-megapixel CCD delivering resolutions as high as 2,560 x 1,920 pixels.
  • 14-Bit A/D conversion.
  • Digital Electronic viewfinder with 90-degree variable position, and 0.44 inch internal TFT LCD display.
  • 1.8-inch TFT color LCD monitor that tilts upward 90 degrees.
  • 7.2-50.8mm lens (equivalent to a 28-200mm lens on a 35mm camera) with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/3.5, depending on the zoom setting.
  • 2x digital zoom.
  • Auto and Manual focus.
  • 2x and 8x viewfinder magnification options in Manual focus mode to assist focus determination.
  • Macro option at either telephoto or maximum wide angle zoom settings.
  • Auto, Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and four Digital Subject Program shooting modes.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/16,000 to 30 seconds, with Bulb setting for manual control of long exposures (up to 30 seconds).
  • 300-segment Multi-Segment, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering options, with AE Lock function.
  • Adjustable ISO with five settings. (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800)
  • Built-in, pop-up flash with three operating modes, a dual-mode flash metering system, and manually adjustable intensity.
  • External flash hot-shoe for Minolta accessory flash units.
  • External PC-style flash sync terminal.
  • Built-in support for wireless TTL flash exposure with certain Minolta flashes.
  • Standard and High-Speed Continuous Shooting, Interval, Movie, and Night Movie shooting modes.
  • Digital Effects Control for Exposure, Color Saturation, Contrast Compensation, and Hue (color filter) control, with Bracketing.
  • Adjustable White Balance with seven modes, including a manual setting.
  • Sharpness and Color control via menu options. Color modes include Natural (sRGB), Vivid Color (sRGB), Black & White, Adobe RGB, Adobe RGB with embedded color profile, and Solarization.
  • RAW, uncompressed TIFF, and JPEG file formats.
  • Images saved on CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards, Microdrive compatible.
  • "Storage-Class" USB interface.
  • USB cable and interface software for connecting to a computer and downloading images.
  • NTSC or PAL selectable video output signal, with cable included.
  • Power supplied by a single high-capacity lithium-ion battery pack or separate AC adapter (available as an accessory).
  • Optional vertical handgrip and wired remote control accessories.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compliant.


Many of our readers will be familiar with the recent Dimage 7Hi, so I put together the following major feature comparison between the Dimage 7Hi and the Dimage A1.

 

Feature Dimage A1 Dimage 7Hi
Improved A/D converter 14-bit. 12-bit.
Electronic Viewfinder High resolution TFT LCD Ferroelectric reflective imager
Faster maximum shutter speed.
Maximum 1/16,000 second.
Maximum 1/4,000 second.
New grip sensor controls Full-time AF
Fulltime AF operates only when grip sensor detects that the camera is being held, saving battery power.
Fulltime AF operated continuously.
One less Digital Subject Program Text mode dropped. Portrait, Sports, Sunset, Night Portrait, and Text.
Different Continuous Shooting options Normal and High Speed only. Normal, High Speed, and Ultra High Speed
Larger "mid-size" resolutions 2,080 x 1,560 and 1,600 x 1,200 1,600 x 1,200 and 1,280 x 960
Tilting LCD monitor LCD panel lifts out from camera body and tilts upward 90 degrees or downward about 15 degrees. Fixed LCD monitor.
New Anti-Shake Mode Anti-Shake prevents blurring from slight camera movement at full telephoto. -
Optional Noise Reduction mode Reduces image noise from longer exposures. -
New Tracking AF option Tracking AF "tracks" a subject as it moves across the AF area points. -
Remote capture capability Supports a remote-capture mode over the USB connection, using Minolta Remote Capture software. -
Upgraded power source Single high-power Li-Ion rechargeable cell (More compact, 11.1 watt-hour capacity) Four AA batteries
(Current max power ~10.5 watt-hours, and bulky)

 

 

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