Konica Minolta Dimage Z10 review: Konica Minolta Dimage Z10

In movie mode, the camera can record 640x480-pixel M-JPEG video without sound at 15fps (frames per second) or 320x240 clips at 30fps. Video-segment length is limited only by your card capacity.

Power the camera with four AA cells.

Like the Dimage Z2 before it, the Konica Minolta Dimage Z10 incorporates a Switch Finder mechanism that lets you view the camera's 1.5-inch LCD in the normal fashion or, by way of a mirror, through the eye-level viewfinder. Although small, the LCD is sharp and easy to see indoors and out when viewed normally in monitor mode. Even though we were viewing the same LCD in viewfinder mode, the image seemed harsher and less sharp, and the system is equal only to mediocre electronic viewfinders on other cameras. The LCD shows 100 percent of the actual image in monitor mode and 98 percent in viewfinder mode.

Konica Minolta touts the speed of the Z10's autofocus system, and it is indeed fast when it has a prominent target in good light. We found, however, that the system is often indecisive, adding a few extra tenths of a second to the focus time. On the other hand, autofocus speed drops only somewhat in low light, meaning the Z10's performance is comparatively good in those conditions. The manual-focus system, which uses the left and right buttons on the four-way controller to set focus distance, is slow, but the magnified LCD image is adequate for judging focus.

Konica Minolta also touts the Z10's fast start-up time, which is a quick 2 seconds. Shot-to-shot time is also 2 seconds (2.2 seconds with flash), which is about average for this camera's class. In good light, shutter delay, including autofocus time, is about 0.8 second when the autofocus system locks on decisively. The delay lengthens to about 1.2 seconds in dim light. In its continuous-shooting mode, the Z10 can fire a slowish 1.5 pictures per second for at least six frames. It also has a continuous mode, called Progressive, which shoots at 1.3fps for as long as you hold down the shutter release and saves the last six images captured before you lift your finger.

The maximum range of the built-in flash is 12.4 feet at ISO 100. At ISO 200, the highest sensitivity the camera can set in its auto ISO mode, flash range is 17.4 feet.

Pictures from the Konica Minolta Dimage Z10 compare quite well with the best of the 3-megapixel class. Sharpness and detail are top-notch, though we felt the default in-camera sharpening level was a little too high. Colors are fairly vivid at default settings, and contrast is on the punchy side. Electronic noise is quite low at ISO 64 and ISO 100. At ISO 200, it's visible but not particularly bad; at ISO 400, it's definitely evident but a bit lower than average.

A fair percentage of our test shots were modestly underexposed, which we consider a minor annoyance. We also noted some reddish skin tones in outdoor shots in shade or under overcast conditions, and this appears to be caused by slight white-balance errors. Purple fringing was moderate in our test pictures, and the lens exhibits modest barrel distortion at its wide-angle setting and about the same level of pincushion distortion at the telephoto end.