Konica Minolta's Dimage Z10 is the lowest-end unit in the company's Z series of unusual-looking megazooms. It pairs a 3-megapixel CCD with an 8X zoom lens and offers respectable performance as well as a feature set flexible enough for midlevel photographers. Other Z-series models, past and present, might have bigger zooms, higher-resolution sensors, or antishake stabilization, but the Z10 offers plenty to bargain-hunting megazoom lovers. Like the rest of the Z-series family, the Konica Minolta Dimage Z10 looks like it was stolen from an "amazing world of the future" exhibit at a 1950s science fair. You either like its looks or you don't, but its shape, though not compact, turns out to be functional, allowing a comfortable and secure grip. The plastic two-tone gray and silver body, while far from luxurious, feels reasonably well built for the Z10's price level. The camera weighs 13 ounces with batteries and media installed, which is light for a megazoom--the wonder of plastic, as they might have said at that science fair.
The Z10 retains the power/viewing-mode switch that we praised on the Dimage Z2. It works well and is placed on the lower left of the camera back where you'd be unlikely to switch it accidentally. Other shared design touches include the very functional four-way control pad and the easily accessible exposure compensation--simply touch the left or right buttons on the four-way controller.
By default, important settings such as white balance, metering, and ISO sensitivity can be accessed only through the menu system. That modest drawback is somewhat offset by the fact that the flash-mode button, which sits on the top of the grip near your right forefinger, can be programmed to control any one of several functions, including the aforementioned white balance and sensitivity as well as drive mode. The menu system itself is clear, logically laid out, and quick to navigate.
The unusual shape of the Konica Minolta Dimage Z10 houses a big 8X zoom lens that covers a range from 36mm to 290mm (35mm-camera equivalent). At its widest-angle setting, the maximum aperture is f/3.2, which is a bit worse than average, but it narrows to only f/3.4 at the zoom's most telephoto position, which isn't bad at all. An optional 0.7X wide-angle converter (ZCW-200) can be attached to the threaded lens barrel.
The Z10's extensive exposure-control system leaves no room for complaint. There's a fully automatic "subject program selection" mode, which tries to guess what kind of scene you're shooting and make the appropriate settings. In addition, you have all four standard exposure modes and five selectable scene modes. You can use the live histogram to determine your own exposure settings or rely on any of the camera's three light-metering modes: multisegment, center-weighted, and spot. Exposure compensation to plus or minus 2EV is available, as is a three-shot exposure-bracketing function. White-balance choices are auto, any of five manual presets, and custom. You can set the camera's sensitivity to auto or ISO 64, ISO 100, ISO 200, or ISO 400.
The Z10 saves still images on SD/MMC cards in JPEG format only. You have a choice of four resolutions and three compression levels. Image parameters such as in-camera sharpening, contrast, and color saturation are adjustable.