by Joseph LaQuiere

"Declaring the glory of God
through photography of His created world"
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  copyright 2007 by Joseph LaQuiere
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Konica/Minolta DiMage Z5

What's Good

This camera is an attractive little camera featuring a 12X zoom but perhaps it's most unique feature is the built in image anti shake system.  What the anti shake system does is to try to compensate for unsteadiness in the image while hand holding the camera by shifting the image to maintain a steady picture.  This in practice allows the camera to achieve a good image at lower shutter speeds than possible without the system.  Just like when you look through a high powered binoculars, when using a camera with this large a zoom, the image becomes very unsteady when zoomed in.  Any sway or shake in your body gets transmitted to the lens and magnified and because of the narrow field of view ends up being very noticiable.  With this anti shake system it not only allows the camera to get a clear picture but also stabilizes the image in the viewfinder or LCD screen for easer viewing.

What's Not Good

Now that I have told you about the main feature of this camera let me tell you about the more negative aspects.

First, of primary concern, is picture quality.  This is somewhat subjective and very difficult to describe in words but let me say that when analyzed by comparison to the Kodak Z740 (which I will comment on in another review) I find that overall the Z5 does not consistently produce as good of images as the Kodak and has more graininess and less apparent dynamic range.  So in my testing and view the Kodak Z740 wins for image quality.

Some of the other deficiencies in the camera are the fact you cannot adjust Exposure Compensation while in auto mode which leaves all decisions up to the camera and does not allow you to override the preprogrammed "normal" exposure.

On of the key benefits to digital photography is the ability to adjust ISO rating on the fly.  This would be the equivalent to being able to change from film 100 to 400 between each shot or at any time one wanted.

What does "ISO" mean to me?

For those of you who are not sure what ISO is here is a brief description.  ISO is the sensitivity of the film, or in the case of digital, the sensor to light.  The lower number the less sensitive and the higher number the more sensitive.  What this means is that with a lower ISO you will need more light entering the camera or need to have the shutter stay open longer than you would if the sensor or film were faster.  Well you might say why not use the highest ISO film or sensor all the time giving you the best ability to stop action or take pictures in lower light.  The answer is "There is no free lunch" so if you use a faster speed you loose picture quality.  In film this quality shows up in pictures that have a coarser grainer appearance and not as accurate color rendition.  In a digital sensor the result looks very much the same but is called digital noise and the picture looses quality in much the same way.  So because of this fact you always try to use the lowest ISO setting possible and still maintain the shutter speed and aperture needed for the photo to be taken. 

There's more

Having said this the Z5 allows you to change the ISO but only by going through a menu choice as apposed to a quicker method of a button press on the back of the camera.

My other nits are that the location and door on the SD memory card slot makes it very difficult to grasp the card and I do not have large hands or fingers.  The flash also must be manually raised to fire and there are plenty of times that you grab the camera to take that quick candid shot and forget to raise the flash.  In cameras of this type where that type of candid photo is often desired this can mean missing a good shot.  The Kodak Z740 while it does not have a completely automatically opening flash it does open the flash every time you turn it on thereby making sure that it is up and ready if you need it.  If you do not want the flash it can be shut off simply by closing.

Now comes the question would I recommend it or not? Well I would have to say that I would not recommend it because I find others in the price range to be better suited to, what I think, the purpose of such a camera is.  I do not find any serious fault with it however and am sure that some will find it to be just dandy.  But I think there is a better choice in this range.

my conclusion is…

see the Review on the Kodak Z740
Konica/Minolta Z5
Recently I was asked to make a recommendation on the best all around digicam for general use by someone who is not a photographer but wants a camera to do everything well and not be disappointed with the capabilities on a trip or when they want a little more than a snapshot.

I have focused attention on cameras with 8x or larger zooms. I decided this because the zoom lens becomes the necessary tool in many instances, and often gives a greater sense of photographic achievement, due, in part, to the dramatic nature of close-ups.  I have left pocket cameras out because to be capable of more than snapshots cameras with larger zooms have much more versatility and are capable enough to shoot nature and wildlife.  Many of these cameras have the equivalent of a 35-300mm zoom range in 35mm terms.

This is a review by comparison.  I looked at the available cameras and chose the Z5 and the Kodak Z740, to purchase and try out. A number of others either were ruled out, with in the store testing, or were not available to see, or purchase. I have also kept the price to those lower than $450