Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5By: Dave Etchells & Mike Tomkins
Konica Minolta existing Z3 model gets an updated sensor, larger LCD and slightly updated control layout.
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Z5 Sample ImagesReview 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!|
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.
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:
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
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
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.
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.
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.
Color Effects Series:
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.
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
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
"Davebox" Test Target
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!
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).
Color Effects Series:
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.)
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.
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.
Resolution Series, medium focal length
Resolution Test, Zoom Series
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.
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