Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200Konica Minolta trims a little and adds a little relative to their top-end A2 model, delivering a strong contender in the 8-megapixel derby.
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A200 Sample ImagesReview First Posted: 12/22/2004
Digital Cameras - Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200 Test Images
|I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumbnail index page for the test shots. The data on this page includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with all that detail, we're posting the thumbnail index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200 did an excellent job with the exposure, but left the color slightly flat overall.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average or just below average for this shot. I also shot with the A200's contrast adjustment set to its lowest position. Thanks to the broad range of adjustment offered by its contrast control, the A200 did an excellent job of holding onto highlight detail here, and shadow detail is excellent as well. (The tonal response here is among the very best I've seen for this shot, including many professional SLR models.)H
I chose the A200's Auto white balance setting as the most accurate color balance, as the Daylight setting resulted in a slight yellow cast and the Manual setting had a red tint. Overall color is good, though low in saturation, most likely because I had the contrast control set so low. The camera's Saturation adjustment (see below) however, does a good job of increasing or decreasing color saturation in very small steps, so that you get pleasing results with only a slight tweak. Marti's skin tones look about right, though the blue flowers in the bouquet a bit more purplish than they are in real life. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, and the A200 falls victim somewhat here as well.) The strong reds, greens, and yellows also look very hue-accurate, though dark. Resolution is very high, and detail is excellent, with little or no loss of subtle detail to the camera's anti-noise processing. Shadow detail is good, and image noise is low. Overall, an excellent job with a very difficult subject.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files A2OUTAP0.HTM
through A2OUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Excellent resolution and detail, with good color and saturation.
Overall exposure looks good here, with good contrast and midtones. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which results in slightly bright highlights, but still good detail throughout the tonal scale. Saturation also looks a little higher in this close-up shot, with slightly more pleasing overall color. The A200's 7x zoom lens prevents geometric distortion in Marti's features, and picks up lots of sharp details. Resolution and detail are much stronger in this close-up shot, with excellent definition in Marti's face and hair.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files A2OUTFACAP0.HTM
through A2OUTFACAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Slight underexposure with the flash in the normal setting, but a small EV boost produces good results. Good color with the normal flash mode, a strong warm cast with the Slow-Sync setting.
Though just slightly dark, the A200's built-in flash illuminated the subject well with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, less than this shot normally requires. (The default exposure was fairly dark, and I felt that the shot taken with a +0.7 EV adjustment was too bright on Marti's face and in the highlights.) The color balance looks pretty good, as does Marti's skin tone. The blue flowers, however, are rather dark and purplish. The camera's Slow-Sync flash setting produced a more even exposure, with more balanced lighting from the longer shutter speed, but at the cost of a strong orange cast from the background incandescent lighting. I chose an exposure compensation adjustment of +1.0 EV for the slow-sync shot.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV in the normal flash mode, see files A2INFP0.HTM through A2INFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
To view the same exposure series in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files
A2INFSP0.HTM through A2INFSP4.HTM on the thumbnail
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Good color with the Manual white balance, acceptable with the Incandescent setting, but the Auto setting has a lot of trouble.
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the A200's Auto white balance setting had a great deal of trouble. The A200's Incandescent setting almost got it, but produced a slight warm cast (that some users might actually prefer). The Manual setting did the best job overall, though color is slightly pale in comparison. Marti's skin tone looks pretty good, if a little flat, but the blue flowers are dark and purple (a common occurrence under the difficult light source). Though saturation appears slightly low, overall color is actually pretty good. The main shot was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average here.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files A2INMP0.HTM
through A2INMP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Good color (slight color casts), with excellent resolution and detail.
While all three of the A200's white balance settings tested produced
nearly accurate results, each had just a slight color cast. The Auto
setting was a hint red, and the Daylight
setting a hint warm. I chose the Manual setting
as the most accurate overall, based on the white value of the house trim,
though it too is ever-so-slightly cool. Resolution is very high, and detail
is excellent in the tree limbs, front shrubbery, and house front, with
great definition. Details are reasonably sharp throughout the frame as
well. (The camera's eight-megapixel CCD is actually capable of picking
up more detail than the poster has in it, never mind that the target was
created from a 4x5-inch negative shot with a tack-sharp lens.)
Excellent detail and resolution, better than average sharpness in the corners. High contrast limits the dynamic range, however.
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.
This is my ultimate "resolution shot,"
given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the
A200 does an excellent job with it. The leaf patterns and tree bark in
the front shrubbery and in the tree limbs above the roof show a lot of
fine detail, as do the tiny Christmas lights hanging from the edge of
the roof. Details are well-defined, and in-camera sharpening performs
well. (Overall resolution is very similar to that of the more expensive
A2 model, no surprise, given that they use the same lens. Some competing
8-megapixel digital cameras edge the A2 and A200 slightly in terms of
sharpness and fineness of detail, but the Konica Minolta models largely
make up for this with better than average sharpness in the corners of
the frame.) The camera does lose essentially all detail in the glaring
highlights of the white paint around the bay window though, and even its
lowest contrast setting does little to help. Detail is only moderate in
the shadow area above the front door as well, further evidence that high
contrast limits the dynamic range. The table below shows a standard resolution
and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, saturation,
filter, and color effects series.
Digital Filter Series:
Lens Zoom Range
An excellent 7x zoom range.
I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for
each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (7x,
in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The
A200's lens is equivalent to a 28-200mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds
to a pretty wide angle and a pretty substantial telephoto. Following are
the results at each zoom setting.
Slightly cool color, but still pretty good results. High resolution and strong detail.
This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue
in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing
a warm color balance. Both the A200's Auto and
Daylight settings produced slightly warm color balances (the Auto
setting the warmer of the two, responding to the blue background), while
the Manual setting produced a cooler, slightly
magenta cast. I actually preferred the Manual setting here, as the overall
color looked closest to the target. Though skin tones are just a little
on the magenta side here, the warmer images were much too yellow or red
for my taste. The magenta cast creates slight purplish tints in the blue
background and robe, but overall color is still fairly good. Resolution
is very high, and detail is strong in the models' accessories and instruments,
as well as in the embroidery on the blue robe. (The original data file
for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the A200 are definitely
capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)
A very small macro area with great detail. Flash performs surprisingly well up close too.
The A200 performed very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum
area of only 1.99 x 1.49 inches (50 x 38 millimeters). Resolution is very
high, and a lot of fine detail is visible in the dollar bill, coins, and
brooch, though details are softer on the coins and brooch due to the close
shooting range. Details soften toward the corners of the frame, but are
fairly sharp on the dollar bill. (Many digicams produce images with soft
corners when shooting in their Macro modes.) The A200's flash
throttles down quite well for the macro area, providing great coverage
(if just slightly bright). - One thing that helps with the lighting on
close-in macro shots like this with the A200 is that its macro mode works
at a range of wide-angle focal lengths, but also at maximum telephoto.
The telephoto option gives you a lot more room to work with between the
lens and your subject.
"Davebox" Test Target
Good overall exposure and color, despite a very slight magenta cast with the Manual white balance setting. Color is more accurate than most, although that makes it less vivid than that of many competing cameras. (The "Vivid" option pumps it back up for those who want that, though.)
Though a bit cool and magenta, the A200's Manual white balance setting again won out here, as it produced the best overall color. The Auto setting was reddish, and the Daylight setting had a yellow cast (though both color casts were slight). Exposure looks about right, and the A200 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target very well.
The A200's color handling has something for everyone. Its default color rendering is among the more accurate I've seen on the digital cameras I've tested, with excellent accuracy on the MacBeth(tm) target color swatches. Most swatches are essentially dead-on accurate, the camera deviating significantly only on the reds, which are rendered slightly oversaturated. The camera's very accurate color may not appeal to everyone though, as most digital cameras boost saturation somewhat relative to reality, because most consumers prefer brighter-looking color in their snapshots. Compared to such cameras, the A200's images will look a little dull. The big plus with the A200 though, is that it lets you tweak its color and tonal response to exactly match your needs and preferences. If you want to quickly approximate the behavior of more consumer-oriented digital cameras, just shoot in its "Vivid" color mode. Or, use the fine-grained color saturation adjustment to dial in just the amount of saturation you'd like.
The large color blocks all look pretty good, though the green is a little
flat and the blue block slightly violet from the magenta tint. The shadow
area of the charcoal briquettes shows good detail, with low noise.
Now, for the REAL technoids, Imatest!
Digital Filter Series:
Good low-light performance, with reasonably bright exposures at the darkest light level of this test, though warm color. High image noise at the higher sensitivity settings. Excellent autofocus capability and EVF usability at low light levels.
The A200 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level at the 100, 200, 400, and 800 ISO settings. I undershot the correct exposure at 1/16 foot-candle, but the camera is clearly capable of working at that light level. (I'll try to get back to this, reshoot the 1/16 fc images if I can.) At ISO 50, images were bright down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level, though the target is visible at the lowest light level of the test. Color balance was a little warm, sometimes reddish, with the Auto white balance setting, with increasing color casts as the light level decreased. Noise is fairly low in most shots, though it increases to a very high level at ISOs 400 and 800. The camera's Noise Reduction setting didn't seem to do much in the way of controlling or decreasing image noise, though images taken without Noise Reduction enabled do show more red pixels, and thus a stronger red cast. The A200's autofocus system worked down to the 1/16 foot-candle limit of our test, and its EVF remained usable at that light level as well. (Fairly unusual for an EVF, in my experience.) The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to
check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a
light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two
seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)
Flash Range Test
A moderately powerful flash, a range of about 10 feet at medium telephoto focal lengths.
In my testing, the A200's flash illuminated the test target at 14 feet, though with low intensity. Flash power was bright from eight to about 10 feet, but decreased in intensity from that point on. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
Very high resolution, 1,450 - 1,600 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion at wide angle, but low pincushion at telephoto. Low to moderate chromatic aberration, good sharpness in the corners of the frame.
The A200 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. Artifacts weren't present in the test patterns until resolutions as high as 1,400 lines per picture height horizontally, though some were present at about 800 lines vertically. I found "strong detail" out to about 1,600 lines horizontally, but artifacts and aliasing held the resolution to about 1,450 lines in the vertical direction. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 2,000 lines, but even there, a small distinction between the lines is noticeable.
Using its "MTF 50" numbers, which correlate best with visual sharpness, Imatest showed an average uncorrected resolution of 1231 LW/PH, and a resolution of 1763 LW/PH when normalized to a standard 1-pixel sharpening. These are very good results.
Geometric distortion on the A200 is fairly high at the wide-angle end,
where I measured approximately 1.04 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto
end fared quite a bit better, as I found only 0.03 percent pincushion
distortion there. Chromatic aberration is very low at medium and long
focal lengths, rising slightly at wide-angle. (This distortion is visible
as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the
field of view on the resolution target.) Sharpness in the corners is very
good (much better than average) at wide and medium focal lengths, softening
somewhat at the telephoto end of the lens's range. Overall, a high-quality
lens, with better than average performance across the board.
Resolution Series, medium focal length
Resolution Test, Zoom Series
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Excellent accuracy from the EVF and LCD monitor.
The A200's "electronic" optical viewfinder (EVF) is very
accurate, showing about 98 percent of the final image area at wide angle,
and about 99 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor also proved very
accurate, since it's essentially the same view on a larger screen. Given
that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible,
the A200's LCD monitor did very well here, as did its EVF. Flash distribution
is a little uneven at wide angle, with some falloff at the corners and
edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform.