Experienced photogs will appreciate the real-time histogram display and the ability to select metering mode--multisegment, center-weighted, and spot--as well as the built-in hotshoe for use with Konica Minolta external flash units. Absent, however, is the ability to save images in either raw or TIFF formats.The Konica Minolta Dimage Z2 is a responsive camera for its class. You can power it up and take a shot in just a hair more than 3 seconds, and the shutter lag is less than half a second without prefocusing. Typical shot-to-shot time is just 1.7 seconds. The Z2 lives up to its promise of fairly quick autofocus, too--in good light. Dim conditions slow it considerably, as the camera lacks an AF assist lamp. The flash range is rated to 20 feet at the widest setting and performed well in our tests.
The Dimage Z2's continuous-shooting specs aren't impressive: about 2.6 shots per second for a maximum of 5 images in normal continuous-advance mode. An ultra-high-speed (UHS) continuous mode produces 15 images at about 8.3 shots per second but at only the 1,280x960-resolution setting. Shutterbugs who want to capture action with that smooth megazoom have another high-speed option: progressive-capture mode. In this mode, images are captured at the same respective rates (regular or UHS), but the camera continues to shoot until you take your finger off the shutter release; at that point, the 5 images at the end of the series are saved.
The LCD, though measuring just 1.5 inches, is wonderfully clear and bright, with accurate colors; it's easy to see in most lighting conditions. Its 60fps refresh rate means you also see very little delay in unfolding action. Thanks to Minolta's Switch Finder setup, the LCD monitor can also be seen through the viewfinder, resulting in a remarkably clear and smooth, action-friendly version of an electronic viewfinder.The Konica Minolta Dimage Z2's image quality is overall quite pleasing: colors are saturated but natural (a Vivid color setting is also available); detail and definition are good, though not exceptional; and pictures are usually free from any significant aberrations. In our tests, exposures were generally right on. Flash-lit photos were usually exposed properly, although they were susceptible to underexposure in certain tricky situations--when subjects were wearing white shirts, for example.
Noise is certainly present in low-light shots, although in most cases not enough to cause serious image degradation. Jack up the ISO to 400, however, and image noise is definitely a problem. This isn't uncommon in cameras of this class, and we'd recommend avoiding ISO 400 entirely--even ISO 200 produced far, far better results. Skin tones generally reproduced well, although darker skin was particularly prone to image noise in low-light conditions.
We noticed very slight barrel distortion in some of our test images at the widest setting but saw no evidence of pincushion effects on the other end of the spectrum. The Super Macro mode revealed particularly detailed images, and the SVGA movie mode, in good light, produced some of the best-looking video we've seen from a digital still camera, albeit at only 15fps.