Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Konica Minolta Digital Cameras > Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5

Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5

By: Dave Etchells & Mike Tomkins

Konica Minolta existing Z3 model gets an updated sensor, larger LCD and slightly updated control layout.

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Z5 Imatest Results>>

Z5 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 03/28/2005

Digital Cameras - Konica Minolta DIMAGE Z5 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!

 

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

High resolution and a lot of fine detail. Slightly dark overall color and moderately high image noise, however.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digital cameras, 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 Z5 did pretty well, but had a hard time with the strongest highlights.

The shot at right was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is just slightly dark overall, but midtone and highlight detail are both pretty good. The midtones are about right here, but the highlights in the shirt are blown out, and there are some odd greenish tinges in some of the strongest highlights. Less exposure compensation left the image as a whole much too dark for my tastes though. The Z5's Manual white balance setting did the best job here, and produced the most natural skin tones. Alternatively, the Auto and Daylight settings resulted in greenish casts.

Overall color is just slightly warm, though Marti's skin tones are about right. However, the blue flowers in the bouquet are darker than in real life. (Many digital cameras have trouble with this blue, which is in reality a light navy with just tinges of purple in it.) Though dark, color looks good throughout the rest of the frame as well, although the color saturation is a bit low overall. Here's a sample image with the camera's Vivid color setting, which boosted saturation quite a bit, though the blue flowers are still on the dark side. Resolution is high, and a lot of fine detail is visible throughout the frame, but Marti's hair shows signs of over-eager noise reduction processing. Shadow detail is good, though image noise is moderately high.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files Z5OUTMP0.HTM through Z5OUTMP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Contrast Series:
The Z5 has an effective contrast adjustment option, but the camera's default contrast level is quite high. As a result, even the low contrast setting can't completely compensate for the harsh lighting of this shot.

Color Effects Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

Higher resolution and detail, but once again harsh contrast and moderately high noise.

As with the wider shot above, I was again a little frustrated, forced to sacrifice more highlights than I'd have liked in order to get decent midtone values. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which results in slightly dark midtones, but keeps the highlights on Marti's face from getting too hot. Nonetheless, detail is good in the midtones and shadows. The Z5's 12x zoom lens helps prevent geometric distortion in Marti's features, an important consideration in close-up shots like this. Resolution and detail are much stronger in this shot, with strong definition in Marti's face and hair. However, image noise is again moderately high, particularly in the shadow areas.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.7 EV, see files Z5OUTFACMP0.HTM through Z5OUTFACMP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+1.0 EV
Slow-Sync Flash
+1.3 EV

Good results with the normal and Slow-Sync flash modes, in terms of exposure and color.

The Z5's built-in flash illuminated the subject well with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, though the default exposure was slightly dim. Color balance is pretty good, with only a trace of a warm cast from the background incandescent lighting, mostly noticeable as an orange tint on Marti's hair. Marti's skin tone is slightly pale and washed-out from the flash exposure, as is color in the flower bouquet. Still, results are pretty good overall. The camera's Slow-Sync flash setting also produced good results, though with slightly warmer color from the longer shutter speed. I found the best results in this mode with a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV in the normal flash mode, see files Z5INFP0.HTM through Z5INFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

To view the exposure series from zero to +2.0 EV in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files Z5INFSP0.HTM through Z5INFSP6.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

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

Good color with the Manual and Incandescent white balance settings, though slightly higher than average exposure compensation required.

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 Z5's Auto white balance setting fell victim to the tricky lighting, producing a very strong yellow cast. The Incandescent setting produced just slightly warm results, but the Manual setting produced the best overall color. (Some people may actually prefer the slight warmth of the Incandescent setting.) Marti's skin tone looks good, though color in the flower bouquet is dark, with purple tints in the blue flowers. (This is almost to be expected however, considering the difficult light source here.) The main shot was taken with a +1.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is a fair bit higher than average.

ISO Series:
Image noise is a little high on the Z5, though the ISO 50 setting does a pretty good job of keeping noise down. However, at ISOs 100 and 200, image noise increases and anti-noise processing obscures the finer details, especially in the shadow areas. At ISO 320, image noise is quite high and distracting. As is usually the case though, image noise is much more evident when viewed on-screen, pixel-for-pixel than it is when printed at smaller output sizes. In the case of the Z5, the noise in its ISO 320 images was somewhat distracting in 8x10 prints from our Canon i9900 "reference" printer, but was quite acceptable (to our eyes, anyway) in 5x7 prints, and all but invisible in 4x6s. (Note in the shots below that the blurring in Marti's hair in the ISO 50 example was because she moved slightly during the very long (1/2 second) exposure.)

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 320



 

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

Nearly accurate color with the Manual white balance setting, though a bright exposure. High resolution and detail.

The Z5's Manual setting produced the most accurate overall color and white value here, though results are slightly cool overall. The Daylight setting resulted in a strong yellow cast, while the Auto setting produced a strong blue cast. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the tree limbs, front shrubbery, and house front, though a moderately high level of image noise obscures the finer details slightly. Details are a little soft across the board, and soften more in the lower corners from some lens distortion. Areas of the brick that are in shadow lose some detail and are "smudged" somewhat due to anti-noise processing. Exposure is a little bright, and saturation is somewhat low overall.



 

Far-Field Test

Strong detail and high resolution, though slightly soft overall. (Very little loss of sharpness in the corners though.) A slightly limited dynamic range, and slightly flat, greenish color.

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 Z5 does capture a lot of fine detail. The tree limbs above the roof and shrubbery in front of the house show a lot of fine detail in the leaf patterns and branches, and the house front itself also shows strong details. However, details are just a hint soft overall, with slightly increased softness in the two lower corners of the frame. (The Z5 does lose less sharpness in the corners than do most digital cameras I test though.) The bright sunlight causes the camera to lose some of the detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, even though the exposure for the image as a whole is quite dark. (The extremely strong highlight on the front window is a trouble spot for many digital cameras.) Detail is also moderate in the shadow area above the front door. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, and color effects series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,560 x 1,920
Z5FAR2560F
Z5FAR2560N
Z5FAR2560E
2,048 x 1,536
Z5FAR2048
-
1,600 x 1,200
Z5FAR1600
-
640 x 480
Z5FAR0640
-


ISO Series:
As before, image noise on the Z5 is a little high, and anti-noise processing tends to obscure fine detail in shots taken at ISO 200 and 320. Prints at 5x7 are acceptable though, even at ISO 320, and at 4x6" print sizes, the noise is totally negligible.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 320


Sharpness Series:
The Z5's in-camera sharpening generally does a good job. At the "high" setting, inkjet prints look sharper, particularly at smaller sizes, while its "low" setting produces images that take unsharp masking in Photoshop unusually well. (Try 300% at 0.3 pixel radius, to see the fine detail that the Z5 is capable of capturing.) The default setting offers a good trade-off between the two extremes.

Sharpness Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:
Here again, an effective contrast adjustment control, but I'd like to see more steps, at least in the low-contrast direction.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Color Effects Series:

Color Effects Series
Natural
Vivid
Black & White
Sepia



 

Lens Zoom Range

Excellent 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 Z5's lens is equivalent to a 35-420mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a really long telephoto. 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

Slight color casts with each white balance setting, though the Manual option is most accurate. High resolution and strong detail though.

This shot is often a tough test for digital cameras, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. Both the Z5's Auto and Daylight settings produced warm, greenish color balances, while the Manual setting produced a cooler, more magenta cast. I chose the Auto setting for the main shot for this category because overall color looked best, at least to my eye. A slightly bright exposure results in flat overall color, and the magenta cast gives the blue robe and background purplish tints. However, resolution is very high, and detail is strong in the models' accessories and instruments. The embroidered bird wings on the blue robe also show a lot of fine detail. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the Z5 are capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

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

About average macro performance in normal mode, in terms of size, but good definition and sharpness, from corner to corner. A very tiny area in Super Macro mode, however. Flash performs well in normal mode, but is blocked by the lens in Super Macro mode.

The Z5 performed about average in the normal macro mode, capturing a minimum area of 2.75 x 2.07 inches (70 x 52 millimeters). However, in its Super macro mode, the camera captured a much smaller area, measuring 1.15 x 0.86 inches (29 x 22 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with strong detail visible in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are also pretty sharp throughout the frame, with only a trace of softness in the corners. (This is pretty impressive, most digital camera lenses produce images with soft corners when shooting in their macro modes.) The Z5's flash throttled down pretty well for the macro area, and only slightly overexposed the shot. In Super mode, you'll need an alternative light source, as the shooting range is too close.



 

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

Generally accurate hues, but lower than average color saturation. Accurate color balance with the Manual white balance setting.

The Z5's Manual white balance setting produced the best results here, as the Auto and Daylight settings resulted in warm, greenish casts. Exposure is a little bright, but the Z5 still managed to distinguish the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. The Z5's color is a bit of a mixed bag. Colors are generally hue-accurate, but the deep blue swatch is pulled somewhat toward a cyan than a true blue. Color saturation is lower than average among consumer digital cameras, but the green, yellow-green, and yellow swatches are undersaturated a fair bit. Conversely, the red swatch is oversaturated (as is the case with that swatch for most cameras I test.) The net impact is a camera with somewhat understated color, technically more accurate than many consumer-oriented digital cameras, but perhaps in a way that many consumers wouldn't appreciate. Detail is moderate in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with moderately high noise.

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 Konica Minolta Z5's images.

The images series below duplicate examples of various camera controls we've already covered above. I include them here though, for our more analytically-minded readers, who'd like to see the effect of various camera controls with a well-known target like the MacBeth Color Checker (tm).



ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 320


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Color Effects Series:

Color Effects Series
Natural
Vivid
Black & White
Sepia




 

Low-Light Tests

Decent low-light performance under average conditions, but will need the flash for darker situations. Good color at one foot-candle, but a warm color balance under lower lighting. Pretty good autofocus performance in dim lighting.

The Z5 produced clear, bright, usable images down to about 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level at the 320 ISO setting. At ISO 200, images were bright down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level, and at ISO 100, images were bright to about 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux). Finally, at ISO 50, images were only usable at the one foot-candle (11 lux) light level. Color was good at one foot-candle, but the color balance turned warm at the lower light levels. Noise is moderately high, even at ISO 50. With each increase in sensitivity, noise increased as well, with very bright pixels at ISO 320. The Z5's autofocus system was able to focus down to light levels a bit below 1/4 foot-candle, pretty good, particularly considering that the camera has no autofocus-assist light. Since city street-lighting at night generally corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, the Z5 should perform well at that light level, but will likely require the flash for anything darker. 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
ISO
50
Click to see Z5LL0503.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL0504.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL0505.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL0506.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL0507.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
Click to see Z5LL1003.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL1004.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL1005.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL1006.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL1007.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see Z5LL2003.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL2004.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL2005.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL2006.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL2007.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
ISO
320
Click to see Z5LL3203.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL3204.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL3205.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL3206.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see Z5LL3207.JPG
4 sec
f2.8



 

Flash Range Test

A slightly weak flash, with low intensity at eight feet, and decreasing intensity from that point on.

In my testing, the Z5's flash was somewhat dim at 8 feet, and showed decreasing intensity from the nine-foot distance on. 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 Z5FL08.JPG
1/100 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z5FL09.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z5FL10.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z5FL11.JPG
1/160 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z5FL12.JPG
1/160 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z5FL13.JPG
1/160 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see Z5FL14.JPG
1/200 sec
f4.0
ISO 50



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Good resolution, 1,150 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion at wide angle, very little at telephoto. Higher than average chromatic aberration and corner softness at telephoto, very good at normal and wide angle focal lengths though.

The Z5 performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for its 5.0-megapixel class. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height in both directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines vertically, 1,200 horizontally, although aliasing artifacts were pretty strong in both directions at those points. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,600 lines.

Geometric distortion on the Z5 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared quite a bit better, as I measured approximately 0.07 percent barrel distortion (about two pixels' worth). Chromatic aberration varies greatly with focal length, from rather low levels at normal and wide angle focal lengths, to quite high levels at the telephoto end of the lens' range. Likewise, the corners of the Z5's images are unusually sharp at normal and wide angle zoom settings, but quite soft at the extreme telephoto end of the range.
Chromatic aberration is moderately high, as I measured about six pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (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.)

Resolution Series, medium focal length
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,560 x 1,920
Z5RES2560F
Z5RES2560N
Z5RES2560E
2,048 x 1,536
Z5RES2048
-
-
1,600 x 1,200
Z5RES1600
-
-
640 x 480
Z5RES0640
-
-


 

Resolution Test, Zoom Series
2,560 x 1,920
(Fine,
Wide Angle)
Z5RESW
2,560 x 1,920
(Fine,
Telephoto)
Z5REST

 

Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

An accurate electronic optical viewfinder and LCD monitor.

The Z5's electronic optical viewfinder (EVF) is very accurate, showing approximately 99 percent of the final image area at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor turned in the same results, 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 Z5's LCD monitor and EVF performed well here. Flash distribution is only a little uneven at wide angle, with very slight falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform.




Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5!



<<Reference: Datasheet | Z5 Imatest Results>>

Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate