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Digital Cameras - Konica Minolta Dimage Z3 Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe information need wade through it!

 

"Sunlit" Portrait:
(This is my new "Outdoor" Portrait test - read more about it here.)

High resolution and a lot of fine detail. Good overall color, high contrast, but the low-contrast option helps a lot.

+0.7 EV, normal contrast +0.7 EV, low contrast
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 Dimage Z3 performed well, though with high contrast at its default settings.

The shots above were taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, one with the camera's contrast adjustment set to "low", the other set to normal. The low contrast option did an excellent job of holding onto highlight detail, although it left the shadows a little dark. (In hindsight, I'm wishing I'd tried a shot with +1 EV of exposure boost, with the contrast set to low here.) I went with the normal contrast shot for the camera's main selection for this test, due to the darkness of the low-contrast shot, but I suspect the best result would be with low contrast and more exposure boost. The camera's Manual white balance setting produced the most accurate white value on Marti's shirt, as the Auto and Daylight settings both produced warmer images.

Marti's skin tones look very good here, and the blue flowers in the bouquet are pretty accurate too, just a little dark. (This is a difficult blue for many digicams to grapple with, and is in reality a pretty pure light navy.) The color here is pretty accurate, but that's also to say that it's a little less saturated than that of most consumer cameras, so those used to pumped-up color may not find the Z3's as appealing. Resolution is high, and a lot of fine detail is visible throughout the frame. Detail is also pretty good in the shadows, although image noise is a little high there.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files Z3OUTMP0.HTM through Z3OUTMP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Contrast Series:
As noted, the Z3's contrast adjustment works pretty well to tame harsh lighting as in this shot. It seems to affect the highlights of he images more than the shadows, rather than being balanced in its effect between the two. A good range of adjustment, I'd just like to see it be a bit more balanced between highlights and shadows.
Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail, but high contrast once again.

Exposure is similar to the wider shot above, though color balance is warmer from the Auto white balance setting. The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, which has high contrast and bright highlights, with slightly dark midtones. The Z3's generous 12x zoom lens helps prevent any geometric distortion of Marti's face, an important feature for close-in portraits like this. Detail and resolution are much higher in this close-up shot, with great clarity in the fine details of Marti's face and hair, although the finest details are a little coarse. The cloth background and fabric leaves also show a lot of fine detail.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files Z3FACAM1.HTM through Z3FACAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+0.7 EV
Slow-Sync Flash
+0.3 EV

A fairly bright flash, with good coverage. A strong warm cast from the incandescent background lights though.

The Z3's built-in flash illuminated the subject fairly well with a +0.7 exposure compensation boost, as the exposure was slightly dim at the default exposure. Overall color is warm, with an orange-pink cast from the background incandescent lighting. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced slightly better results (with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment), with more even lighting. The warm cast is still present, but isn't as strong on Marti's face or on the white shirt.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV in the normal flash mode, see files Z3INFM1.HTM through Z3INFP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

To view the same exposure series in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files Z3INFSM1.HTM through Z3INFSP3.HTM, also on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Trouble with auto white balance, but good color with the Incandescent white balance, and good exposure as well.

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. The Z3's Incandescent white balance setting did the best job here, though the white shirt does have a slight reddish cast. (Actually doing a nice job of evoking the warmth of the original scene, without leaving so much color that it interferes with the image.) While the Manual setting produced a more neutral white value on the shirt, overall color wasn't as pleasing. (The Auto setting had some trouble here, and produced a very strong warm cast.) Marti's skin tones look pretty good, though the blue flowers are a bit dark and purplish (pretty much to be expected with this shot, however). The main exposure was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment. Image noise is a little high at the ISO 100 setting used here, and is mainly noticeable in Marti's face and hair.

ISO Series:
I'd rate the Z3's image noise as a little higher than average, although it tends to be fairly fine-grained, making it less of a problem that it might be otherwise. There's some noise visible even at ISO 50, increasing at ISO 100, but still fairly sell held in check. Starting at ISO 200, the camera trades away pretty significant amounts of subject detail, to keep the noise under control, with the result that by ISO 400, the images are rather soft and fuzzy-looking.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

High resolution and a lot of fine detail, good color with the Manual white balance.

The Z3's Manual white balance setting did the best job here, and produced the best overall color and white value on the house trim. Both the Auto and Daylight settings resulted in warmer casts. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the tree limbs and front shrubbery. Details are slightly soft throughout the frame, but still fairly well defined in the leaf patterns.



 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, with a slightly limited dynamic range.

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 Z3 does an excellent job. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, with clear, distinct leaf patterns. The house front details such as the brick pattern and trim also show good definition. Details are pretty sharp across the entire the frame, without any significant softness in the corners, one indication of a high-quality lens. The bright white paint surrounding the bay window tricks the camera into losing detail here, but this is a trouble spot for many digicams. However, detail is moderate in the shadow area above the front door. Color looks about right (if not as saturated as that of many consumer-level cameras), and the exposure is good as well. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, and color series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,272 x 1,704
Z3FAR2272F
Z3FAR2272N
Z3FAR2272E
1,600 x 1,200
Z3FAR1600
-
-
1,280 x 960
Z3FAR1280
-
-
640 x 480
Z3FAR0640
-
-


ISO Series:
Results here are similar to the indoor portrait ISO series above, although somewhat cleaner overall. With the Z3, as ISO increases, noise increases relatively slowly, but image detail suffers considerably. (Personally, I'd like to see somewhat sharper images, even if it meant a little more noise.)

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Sharpness Series:
A nice range of sharpness adjustment. The "Soft" setting takes unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm) very well, revealing loads of fine detail.

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp


Contrast Series:
A good range of contrast adjustment, although it affects mainly the highlights.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Color Series:

Color Series
Natural
Vivid
Black & White
Sepia



 

Lens Zoom Range

An exceptional 12x 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 (12x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The Z3's lens is equivalent to a 35-420mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a very long telephoto. (And that long telephoto is actually usable on the Z3, thanks to its anti-shake technology.) Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
12x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Pretty good color with the Manual white balance, and great resolution.

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. The Z3's Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced similar results, with moderate warm casts. The Manual white balance setting resulted in a cooler, more magenta color balance, but I preferred the overall color and chose it for the main shot. Skin tones are slightly cool and pink, but not too bad. The blue robe looks about right as well, with only a hint of a purple cast in the deep shadow areas. Resolution is very high, and detail is strong in the bird's wings on the blue robe, as well as in the flower garland and beaded necklaces on the other models. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the Z3 are capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash
Super Macro Shot
Super Macro with Flash

A very tiny macro area in Super mode, with great resolution and detail. Flash has trouble up close though.

The Z3 performed pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 2.74 x 2.06 inches (70 x 52 millimeters). In Super Macro mode, performance was even better, with a minimum area of 1.12 x 0.84 inches (28 x 21 millimeters). Resolution is very high in both shots, with a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill. In the larger macro shot, the coins and brooch also have a lot of fine detail, with good clarity and sharpness. Details soften slightly in the corners of Super Macro shot (a very common failing of digicam macro modes), but remain sharp through the frame in the normal macro shot. The Z3's flash had trouble in both macro shots, overexposing the image in the normal macro mode, and creating strong reflections in the Super Macro shot. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the Z3.)



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good overall exposure, but a warm color cast.

The Z3's Auto and Daylight white balance settings both produced warm color balances here, but the Manual setting resulted in more accurate color. Exposure looks pretty good, with good differentiation in the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks are slightly dark, but look nearly accurate otherwise. Shadow detail is good, though image noise is fairly high.


Now, for the REAL technoids, Imatest!

I've recently begun using Norman Koren's excellent "Imatest" analysis program for quantitative, thoroughly objective analysis of digicam test images. For those interested, I've prepared a page summarizing what Imatest showed me about the DiMAGE Z3's images.


The results in the tests below mirror those seen above in other test shots. The test series are repeated here without further comment, for the benefit of our more quantitatively-oriented readers.


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Color Series:

Color Series
Natural
Vivid
Black & White
Sepia



 

Low-Light Tests

Good low-light performance, but a strong color shift at the lower light levels and high image noise. Good autofocus performance, even at the darkest levels.

The Z3 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, at all four ISO settings. However, color was only good to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level, beyond which it picked up a pretty severe orange cast, though the exposures were still fairly bright. The Z3's Noise Reduction system did a good job of controlling image noise, which was extremely high in the shots taken without Noise Reduction enabled. Even with Noise Reduction enabled though, bright noise pixels appear in the longest exposures, becoming quite numerous at the lowest light levels of this test. Still though, the bottom line is that the Z3 will do very well with typical city street lighting at night, and even a fair bit darker. What's more, the Z3's autofocus system worked just fine, even at the 1/16 foot-candle limit of my test. (Which is very dark indeed.) 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.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16fc
No NR
ISO
50
Click to see Z3LL0503.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL0504.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL0505.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL0506.JPG
18.29 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL0507.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL0507XNR.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
Click to see Z3LL1003.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL1004.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL1005.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL1006.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL1007.JPG
17.364 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL1007XNR.JPG
17.64 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see Z3LL2003.JPG
1 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL2004.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL2005.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL2006.JPG
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL2007.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL2007XNR.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see Z3LL4003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL4004.JPG
1 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL4005.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL4006.JPG
5 sec
f3.2
Click to see Z3LL4007.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z3LL4007XNR.JPG
6 sec
f2.8



 

Flash Range Test

Good intensity to about 10 feet, then strong falloff.

In my testing, the Z3's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, but with a significant decrease in intensity after the 10-foot point. From that point on, flash intensity decreased considerably with each foot of distance. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see Z3FL08.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z3FL09.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z3FL10.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z3FL11.JPG
1/160 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z3FL12.JPG
1/160 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z3FL13.JPG
1/200 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z3FL14.JPG
1/200 sec
f4.0
ISO 50



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,100 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion at wide angle, but low pincushion at telephoto. Good sharpness in the corners, variable chromatic aberration.

The Z3 performed pretty well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 900 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to as much as 1,150 lines horizontally, although only 1,000 lines or so vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines.

Using its "MTF 50" criteria, Imatest reported average resolution of 1233 line widths/picture height, or 1012 LW/PH when normalized to a standard 1-pixel sharpening. (The Z3's default sharpening somewhat over-sharpens its images.)

Optical distortion on the Z3 is slightly higher than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I found only 0.05 percent pincushion distortion. (While high at the wide angle end of its range, this is much less distortion overall than it's common to find in long-zoom digicam lenses.) Chromatic aberration is low at wide angle to "normal" focal lengths, but increases to a rather high level by the time you get to maximum telephoto. (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.) At all focal lengths though, the Z3's images show very little softening in the corners, a common digicam lens malady.

Resolution Series, 50mm
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,272 x 1,704
Z3RES2272F
Z3RES2272N
Z3RES2272E
1,600 x 1,200
Z3RES1600
-
-
1,280 x 960
Z3RES1280
-
-
640 x 480
Z3RES0640
-
-

 

Resolution Test, Zoom Series
2,272 x 1,704
(Fine, Wide)
Z3RESW
2,272 x 1,704
(Fine, Tele)
Z3REST


Sharpness Series

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the electronic viewfinder.

The Z3's electronic "optical" viewfinder (EVF) is very accurate, showing 99+ percent of the final image area at wide angle. At telephoto, frame accuracy is probably close to 99 percent, but the final image is shifted upward slightly, so that the top measurement lines are just out of frame. The LCD monitor is also very accurate, since it shows the same view, just on a larger screen. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Z3's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard. Flash distribution is fairly even at wide angle, with just a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is uniform, but intensity is too low for use. (The camera's 12x optical zoom lens puts the camera too far from the target to make the flash effective for this test.)

KMZ3 Review
KMZ3 Test Images
KMZ3 Imatest Results
KMZ3 Specifications
KMZ3 "Picky Details"
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