While it may look like a futuristic
spaceship, rest assured that the Konica
Minolta DiMAGE Z10 ($329) is just a digital camera. After
the DiMAGE Z2 (see
our review) started to show its age, Konica Minolta
took the Z-series in two different directions: up and
down. The chart below compares the Z10 (reviewed here)
with the old Z2 and new Z3. Despite its higher model
number, the Z10 is the least impressive camera in the
||38 - 380 mm
||35 - 420 mm
||36 - 290 mm
||F2.8 - F3.7
||F2.8 - F4.5
||F3.2 - F3.4
|Max movie mode resolution
||800 x 600
||640 x 480
||640 x 480
Do note that the street price is accurate
at the time in which this section was written and is
likely to change.
There is a ton of competition in the
ultra zoom category so the DiMAGE Z10 has its work
cut out for it. Find out how it performs in our review!
What's in the Box?
The DiMAGE Z10 has an average bundle.
Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 3.2 effective Megapixel DiMAGE
- 16MB Secure Digital card
- Four AA alkaline batteries
- Neck strap
- Lens cap w/retaining strap
- USB cable
- Video cable
- DiMAGE Viewer Utility CD-ROM
- 119 page camera manual + software
manual (both printed)
You'll find a 16MB Secure Digital
(SD) card in the box with the camera, which is barely
enough to get started with. I highly recommend buying
a larger card right away, with 128MB being a good starter
size. The Z10 can use SD or MMC (MultiMediaCard) formats,
though you'll want to use the former due to its superior
capacity and performance.
You'll also want to buy some rechargeable
batteries and a fast charger, since Minolta includes
four alkaline batteries with the camera, which will
quickly find their way into your trash can (or should
I say, recycling bin). I recommend buying two sets
of NiMH batteries (2100 mAh or greater), which are
better for both the environment and your pocketbook.
Using the new CIPA battery life standard, Minolta says
you can get 500 shots using alkaline batteries or 550
with 2100 mAh rechargeables, both of which are amazing
numbers. For the sake of comparison, Minolta's higher
end DiMAGE Z3 takes just 170 shots using alkalines.
I always like to complain about cameras
that use proprietary batteries so I should compliment
a camera when it doesn't use them. Since the Z10 uses
AA batteries, you can stuff a set of alkalines into
it when your rechargeables run out, a big plus in my
Minolta includes a lens cap and retaining
strap with the DiMAGE Z10.
There are just a handful of accessories
available for the Z10. The most interesting is the
ZCW-200 wide-angle conversion lens kit ($100), which
lowers the wide end of the lens down to 26.6 mm. The
conversion lens adapter is included with the lens so
that's one less thing you need to buy. Other accessories
include an AC adapter ($50) and soft case ($18).
Included with the camera is version
2.3.6 of Minolta's DiMAGE Viewer software for Mac (including
OS X) and Windows. It's certainly not a substitute
for something like Adobe Photoshop, but it does basic
editing fairly well. A handy "variations" tool
shows you how different adjustments will effect your
If you're just looking to connect
your camera and transfer files, you'll be pleased to
hear that the Z10 is Windows XP and OS X compatible
-- and you probably won't have to install any drivers.
Konica Minolta's manuals continue
to be better than average, with lengthy explanations
and not too much fine print.
Look and Feel
The DiMAGE Z10 is the ultra zoom camera
of the future -- or at least that's what it looks like.
The body is made entirely of plastic, and while it
feels a little "cheap", I'm not concerned
about it falling apart. The important controls are
all well-placed, though I'm not thrilled with the feel
of the zoom controller. It's easy to hold, with a substantial
right hand grip and plenty of room for your left hand
Let's take a look at the dimensions
of the Z10 and how they compare with the other ultra
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
PowerShot S1 IS
x 3.1 x 2.6 in.
x 3.2 x 3.1 in.
x 3.4 x 3.4 in.
x 3.2 x 3.2 in.
Minolta DiMAGE Z3
x 3.1 x 3.3 in.
Minolta DiMAGE Z10
x 3.2 x 3.7 in.
x 2.9 x 3.4 in.
x 2.6 x 2.1 in.
C-765 Ultra Zoom
x 2.4 x 2.7 in.
C-770 Ultra Zoom
x 2.7 x 3.3 in.
x 3.4 x 4.2 in.
As you can see, the Z10 fits right
in the middle of the pack!
Enough numbers -- let's start our
tour of this camera now!
Is this a futuristic-looking camera
or what? Cool.
The Z10 has the least amount of zoom
in the DiMAGE Z-series, but at 8X it's still no slouch.
This F3.2-3.4 lens has a focal range of 6 - 48 mm,
which is equivalent to 36 - 290 mm. The lens barrel
is threaded for the optional wide-angle adapter and
possibly filters as well (though I don't know the thread
measurements). The lens never extends out of the body
-- it's all internal.
Directly above the lens is what Minolta
calls Rapid AF -- basically an external autofocus sensor.
This helps the camera focus quickly in good light.
I've seen mixed results in terms of low light focusing
performance on other cameras with these AF sensors.
One thing that always helps with low light focusing
is an AF-assist lamp, which the Z10 does not have.
Continuing upward, we find the built-in
flash. This flash has an excellent working range of
0.6 - 5.3 m at wide-angle and 1.6 - 5.3 m at telephoto.
Unlike the DiMAGE Z2 and Z3, you cannot attach an external
flash to the Z10.
The only other thing worth mentioning
here is the self-timer lamp, which is located on the
The Z10 has a small (1.5 inch) but
beautiful LCD display. The most impressive thing about
this screen is the 60 fps refresh rate. The resolution
of the screen is 113,000 pixels, so everything is nice
and sharp. In low light the screen automatically brightens
you can see still see what you're looking at (though
it's a bit grainy).
Above the LCD is the Switch FInder,
which was also used on the DiMAGE Z1 and Z2. When you
activate the Switch Finder, a mirror flips in front
of the LCD screen, reflecting it up to the viewfinder.
So now you're looking at the LCD as if it was an optical
viewfinder. You cannot use the LCD and Switch Finder
at the same time, of course -- it's one or the other.
A diopter correction knob on the side of the Switch
Finder will focus what you're looking at.
Since the Z1 I've been concerned about
how the Switch Finder holds up. I have received numerous
reports of the Switch Finder failing on those old models,
so proceed with caution. The fact that Minolta uses
an EVF, rather than the Switch Finder, on their high
end DiMAGE Z3 should tell you something.
Below the LCD is a switch which moves
the camera between playback, record (LCD), and record
(Switch Finder) mode. The power button is in the middle
of all that. Switching between the LCD and viewfinder
is bizarre the first time you do it, with a noticeable "thunk" when
the mirror moves.
To the right of the LCD is the four-way
controller, which is used for menu navigation, manual
controls, and adjusting exposure compensation (-2EV
to +2EV, 1/3EV increments).
The three buttons below that are Menu,
QuickView/delete photo, and info (i+). Pressing QuickView
quickly (ha ha) puts you in playback mode, where you
can review photos. The i+ button toggles what is shown
on the screen -- it's basically the same as the display
button on other cameras.
The final item to talk about is the
zoom controller, located at the top-right of the photo.
It takes just 1.8 seconds to move the lens from wide-angle
to telephoto. You can make precise adjustments to the
focal length by quickly pressing the controller. I
should add that I didn't care for the feel of the controller
-- there wasn't enough "play" when you pressed
One of the main differences between
the DiMAGE Z10 and Z2/Z3 can be found in this photo.
Unlike the Z2 and Z3, the Z10 does not have a hot shoe,
so you're stuck with the built-in flash.
What you can see is the mode
dial and three buttons. The items on the mode dial
| Automatic mode
||Point-and-shoot mode, many menu options
||More on this later
||Still automatic but with full menu access
|Aperture Priority mode
||You pick the aperture, the camera picks
the appropriate shutter speed. You are stuck
with just 3 choices at all times: F3.2-3.4
(depending on the focal length), F4.8 and
|Shutter Priority mode
||You choose the shutter speed and the camera
picks the correct aperture. You can choose
from a number of speeds ranging from 15 sec
- 1/2000 sec.
|Full Manual mode
||You pick the aperture and shutter speed.
See above for values. A bulb mode is also
available for exposures as long as 30 seconds.
Pick the situation and the camera uses the
I should add that there's a feature
called Automatic Subject Program Mode which is only
used in Automatic mode. This chooses between normal
auto shooting and one of five scene modes, depending
on the subject. If you want to choose the scene yourself,
you can do so on the mode dial.
Above the mode dial are three buttons,
including the shutter release button. The two buttons
just above the mode dial adjust:
- Macro (on/off)
- Flash setting (Auto, auto w/redeye
reduction, fill flash, slow sync, flash cancel)
The flash button's function can be
customized in the setup menu to change other camera
settings, if you wish.
The only thing to mention here is
the DC-in port, which surprisingly is not projected
by any kind of cover.
On the other side of the camera is
the SD/MMC slot as well as the USB + video out port
(one for both). One thing that concerns me a bit (and
other folks who have seen the Z10) is that the memory
card slot doesn't have the traditional door seen on
most cameras. Hopefully that little plastic flap will
keep dirt, dust, sand, etc. out of the slot.
The included 16MB SD card can also
be seen here.
We end this part of the tour with
a look at the bottom of the camera. Here you'll find
a plastic tripod mount as well as the battery compartment.
The battery compartment, which holds four AA batteries,
is covered by a fairly sturdy plastic door (with a
Using the Minolta DiMAGE
The Z10 starts up almost instantly,
with just a 1.1 second delay before you can start shooting.
You can think the self-contained lens for that!
Yay, a live histogram!
Focusing speeds on the Z10 were very
good, ranging from about 0.4 seconds for easy subjects
at wide-angle to a second for more difficult subjects.
Low light focusing performance was poor -- guess that
Rapid AF sensor isn't so hot for those conditions.
Shutter lag was not an issue, even
at slower shutter speeds where it sometimes appears.
Shot-to-shot speed is excellent, with
a delay of a little over a second before you can take
another shot, assuming instant playback is turned off.
If you're using instant playback, you can half-press
the shutter release to go back to shooting immediately.
To delete a photo after it is taken,
you must first enter QuickView mode and then delete
Now, here's a look at the resolution
and quality choices on the DiMAGE Z10:
||Approx. File Size
||# images on
The DiMAGE Z10 does not have a RAW
or TIFF mode.
The camera saves images with a name
of PICT####.JPG, where #### = 0001-9999. The camera
will maintain the file numbering, even as you erase/replace
The DiMAGE Z10 uses the standard Konica
Minolta menu system. The menu is divided into three "tabs",
each with its own set of options. Note that most of
the options below are locked up in the auto and scene
modes. The menu options are:
- Drive mode
- Single-frame - for normal
- Continuous - takes up to
five shots (at the highest JPEG quality) in
a row at 1.5 frames/sec; the LCD turns off
briefly between each shot, making tracking
a moving subject difficult
- Progressive capture - takes
pictures at 1.3 frames/second until you let
go of the shutter release button. When you
do so, the last six photos are saved. This
is handy when you're waiting for something
- Bracketing - camera takes
three shots in a row, each with a different
exposure; you can choose ±0.3, ±0.5,
or ±1.0EV as the bracketing interval
- Image size (see chart)
- Quality (see chart)
- Auto DSP (on/off) - essentially
an automatic scene mode feature; available in auto
record mode only
- White balance (Auto, custom, daylight,
cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, flash) - custom mode
lets you shoot a white or gray card in order to get
perfect color in any light
- Flash key function (Flash mode,
drive, white balance, focus mode, color mode, sensitivity)
- redefines the function of the flash button on the
top of the camera
- Focus mode (Single AF, continuous
AF, manual) - see below
- Full-time AF (on/off) - camera
is constantly trying to focus; puts extra strain
- Flash mode (Auto, auto w/redeye
reduction, fill flash, slow sync, flash cancel) -
for changing the flash mode when you've redefined
the flash button
- Flash compensation (-2EV to +2EV,
1/3EV increments) - adjust the flash strength
- Metering mode (Multi-segment, center-weighted,
- Sensitivity [ISO] (Auto, 64, 100,
- Digital zoom (on/off) - using this
will reduce the quality of your photos
- Color mode (Natural, vivid, black
and white, sepia)
- Sharpness (Soft, normal, hard)
- Contrast (Low, normal, high)
There are three focus modes on the
DiMAGE Z10. Single AF is your everyday "press
the shutter release halfway and then the camera tries
to focus" mode. Continuous focus mode will always
be focusing the lens, even when you're not halfway
pressing the shutter release. This reduces AF lag and
is also good when your subject is in motion, at the
expense of your batteries. Manual focus mode lets you
use the four-way controller to focus the lens. A guide
is shown on the LCD displaying the current focus distance,
and the camera will enlarge the center of the image
so you can verify that your subject is in focus.
Let's move on to the setup menu
now. The items here include:
- LCD brightness (-5 to +5 in 1-step
- Power save (1, 3, 5, 10 mins)
- Instant playback (Off, 2, 10 sec)
- how long photo is shown on LCD after it is taken
- Lens accessory (None, wide converter)
- Language (Japanese, English, German,
French, Spanish, Chinese)
- File # memory (on/off)
- Folder name (Standard, date) -
choose the naming system for folders
- Noise reduction (on/off) - used
to reduce noise in exposures 1 second or longer
- Date/time set
- Date imprint (on/off) - print the
date on your photos
- Reset to defaults
- Audio signals (Off, 1, 2) - menu
- Focus signal (Off, 1, 2) - the
focus confirmation sound
- Shutter FX (Off, 1, 2) - fake shutter
- Volume (1-3)
- Video output (NTSC, PAL)
- Transfer mode (Data storage, PictBridge)
- Self-timer (2, 10 secs)
Let's move on to photo quality now!
The DiMAGE Z10 took a nice, "smooth" shot
of our usual macro subject. Colors are accurate and
quite saturated as well. The Z10 has a very impressive
macro mode, allowing you to get just 1 cm from your
subject at wide-angle (and 60 cm away at the telephoto
The night shot test turned out nicely
as well. Thanks to its full manual controls, the Z10
easily took in enough light to make this shot look
good. There is some purple fringing here, and using
a smaller aperture (higher F-number) would certainly
reduce that (and probably get rid of those halos as
Using that same shot, let's have a
look at the effect of the ISO sensitivity on noise
As you can see, noise levels stay
pretty low all the way through ISO 200. Even ISO 400
isn't bad! I can't say that for the DiMAGE Z3, though...
but you'll have to wait for that review to see what
Minolta has got redeye reduction down
on the Z-series cameras. There's very little redeye
to see here -- mostly just flash reflection.
The distortion test shows moderate
barrel distortion at the wide-end of the lens. You'll
notice barrel distortion when you take pictures indoors,
or of buildings with straight edges. I see no evidence
of vignetting or blurry edges here.
Overall the DiMAGE Z10's photo quality
was very good. Images were well-exposed, colorful,
and sharp, and noise levels were low. Konica Minolta
definitely cranked up the in-camera sharpening as I
saw a few "jaggies" on sharp edges at times.
Purple fringing is above average, though, which is
pretty typical of ultra zoom cameras like this one.
As always, don't let me decide if
the Z10's photo quality is satisfactory. Look at our
extensive photo gallery and
print the photos just as you would if you took them.
Then decide if the Z10 meets your expectations!
While the Z10's movie mode is pretty
good, I was a bit surprised to see that the 800 x 600
resolution from the DiMAGE Z2 didn't make it to this
model (or the Z3 for that matter). On the Z10 you can
record at 640 x 480 (15 frames/sec) until the memory
card is full. You can also record at 320 x 240, and
you can select from 15 or 30 frames/sec at that resolution.
You'll want to use 30 fps for smoother video.
The downside? Sound is not recorded.
In fact, the Z10 doesn't even have a microphone. You
can, however, use the zoom lens during filming.
The included 16MB SD card won't hold
many seconds of movies, so if you're serious about
movies, buy a larger memory card. Minolta says the
16MB card can hold 26 seconds at 640 x 480 (15 fps)
and 21 seconds at 320 x 240 (30 fps).
The Z10 offers a "night movie" mode,
which brightens the scene in low light.
Another neat feature is the ability
to do a frame grab from a movie. When the movie is
paused, just press "up" on the four-way controller
and you can save a frame at the same resolution of
Due to a major screwup on my part,
there will be no sample movie in this review. I apologize
The Z10 has a pretty standard playback
mode. Basic playback options include slide shows, DPOF
print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and
zoom and scroll. The camera is PictBridge-enabled for
direct printing to a compatible photo printer.
The zoom and scroll feature (my term)
allows you to zoom in as much as 6X (in 0.2X increments)
into your photo, and then scroll around. This is useful
for checking that your subject is in focus.
By entering the picture info screen
(shown below), you can rotate photos (by pressing the "down" button).
You can also downsize images for e-mailing, and copy
images from one memory card to another.
One other feature that I appreciate
is the ability to delete a group of photos, instead
of just one or all.
This review is sponsored by Nasarel.
No, I'm kidding. By default, the Z10 doesn't give you
a lot of information about your photos. However, press "up" on
the four-way controller and you'll see much more, including
The camera moves between photos very
quickly, switching from one to the next virtually instantly.
How Does it Compare?
For those seeking a real bargain in
the ultra zoom category, the Konica Minolta DiMAGE
Z10 is it. You'll have to give up a few things compared
to the competition, but overall it's a great camera
for the money. You won't find too many cameras with
a street price well below $300 that have this many
While it doesn't have quite as much
zoom power as some other models, the DiMAGE Z10's 8X
optical zoom lens is more than adequate for most people.
If the 36 mm starting point bothers you, then consider
the optional wide-angle conversion lens. The lens is
contained within the body at all times which speeds
up the startup time dramatically. The camera performs
very well in all areas except low light focusing. The
camera turns out almost instantly, and focus and shutter
lag times are very low. The Z10 offers a full suite
of manual controls, including shutter speed, aperture,
white balance, and focus. Photo quality is very good,
though images may be a little over-sharpened. The Z10's
1 cm macro mode and superb battery life are also hard
The downsides? The Z10's plastic body
does feel a little cheesy, but ultimately this is subjective.
I'm still concerned about the longevity of the Switch
Finder, and I'm not thrilled about the exposed SD card
slot either. While the Z10 has a VGA movie mode (albeit
at 15 fps), you cannot record sound, which kind of
defeats the purpose in my opinion. Finally, you can
expect some purple fringing in your images, as is the
case with most ultra zoom cameras.
All-in-all, this is a great ultra
zoom camera for the money, as long as you don't mind
What I liked:
- Excellent value
- Very good photo quality
- Full manual controls
- Supports wide-angle conversion
- High quality (but small) LCD
- LCD still usable in low light situations
- Good redeye test performance
- Nice macro mode
- Can use optical zoom in movie mode
- Histograms in record and playback
- Great battery life
What I didn't care for:
- Above average purple fringing;
some jaggies in images
- Low light focusing wasn't great;
no AF-assist lamp
- No sound in movie mode
- Plastic body feels a bit cheap
- Continued concerns about durability
of Switch Finder
- No door over memory card slot
- Camera bundle is not great
Other low-cost ultra zooms worth looking
at include the Canon
PowerShot S1 IS (image stabilizer), Fuji
FinePix S5100, HP
Photosmart 945 (EVF usable in low light), Kodak
EasyShare DX6490 and DX7590, Konica
Minolta DiMAGE Z3 (image stabilizer), Kyocera
Finecam M410R, Nikon
Coolpix 4800, Olympus C-765/770 Ultra
Zoom, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 and DMC-FZ15 (both
have image stabilizers).
As always, I recommend a trip to your
local camera store to try out the DiMAGE Z10 and its
competitors before you buy!
Want to see how the photo quality
turned on? Check out our photo
Want a second opinion?
Read a different opinion over at Steve's
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this
review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me
asking for a personal recommendation.
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