Minolta have introduced their next generation SLR-type digital camera, the DiMAGE A1. Abstracting the best features from the DiMAGE 7 series, the DiMAGE A1 has a 5 megapixel display and a 7X optical zoom, equivalent to a 28 - 200mm 35mm zoom lens. Offering CxProcess II, the latest image-processing technology, Minolta say this camera providing the tools to fully capture the power of digital imaging.
The DiMAGE A1 has the world's fastest AF speed among 5-megapixel SLR-type digital cameras with a non-interchangeable 5x or greater optical zoom.(1) Full-time AF continually focuses when the grip sensor is activated to reduce focusing time as well as to continually display a sharp image on the monitors.
All cameras suffer from a slight delay between pressing the shutter-release button and when the image is captured. Especially at long focal lengths, this slight delay can be significant with fast moving subjects. With continuous AF, the DiMAGE A1 uses the new 3-D Predictive Focus Control to track the subject from the time when the shutter-release button is pressed until the exposure is made, all while ensuring optimal focus. This new predictive focus control continually follows the subject through 3D space to not only provide the sharpest images possible, but to also reduce focusing time to catch the perfect moment.
The DiMAGE A1 is the first digital camera to employ CxProcess II, Minolta's newest image-processing technology. CxProcess II controls the essential image qualities of color, contrast, and sharpness, all while minimizing noise. Brilliant, saturated color remains vibrant without becoming unnatural or flat. Subtle contrast is rendered to retain the richness and depth of the subject while preserving details in the highlights and shadows. Sharpness is controlled by balancing resolution with acutance to show fine detail and minimze hard, unnatural edges. Dark noise can be reduced with exposures of one second or longer with the noise-reduction menu option.
At the heart of the DiMAGE A1 is a new high-speed image-processing LSI for increased performance. Power consumption has also been greatly reduced.
The new Anti-shake function minimizes the effect of camera shake, a slight blurring of the image when the camera is handheld, to provide the sharpest image possible. The Anti-shake system is valuable when shooting at long focal lengths or in low-light conditions without a tripod. This allows the camera to be handheld with exposures approximately eight times longer than usual. When using the camera at the telephoto setting, approximately 90% of the images recorded will be sharp with a shutter speed of 1/25s. The Anti-shake button glows to indicate the function is active.
The DiMAGE A1 has an incredible top shutter speed of 1/16,000 of a second. This is not only an advantage in sport photography, but also gives greater control over depth of field in brightly lit environs by allowing the entire aperture range to be used. In low-light conditions, shutter speeds up to 30 seconds can be selected as well as thirty-second bulb exposures.
The DiMAGE A1 is built around a high-precision, electro-optical system designed to maximize image quality. The system starts with a 5.3 megapixel 2/3-type progressive primary-color CCD with 5.0 million effective pixels for fine high-resolution images. The pixel resolution of the CCD will produce 32.5 X 43.3 cm 150dpi prints or 16.3 X 21.7 cm photo-quality prints, thereby printing sizes larger than both A3 and A5, respectively.
The DiMAGE A1 incorporates Direct Manual Focus (DMF). DMF is found in professional-level film cameras like the award-winning Dynax 7. After the AF system has focused and locked on the subject, the focus can be futher fine-tuned manually.
The DiMAGE A1 is fitted with a 1.8-inch low-temperature high-contrast color LCD monitor that can be tilted from -20° to +90°. The monitor has an extended color, contrast, and dynamic ranges. As the monitor has a wide-viewing angle, the camera does not need to be held perpendicularly to clearly view the live image.
The redesigned Digital Hyper Viewfinder gives the camera the same feel as an SLR. It can be tilted between 0° and 90° for comfortable shooting at low angles or in confined spaces. The viewfinder has a new precision 235,000-pixel TFT monitor, and as the viewfinder LCD is shielded, it makes the perfect tool when working under bright light.
The DiMAGE A1 is wrapped in a feather-light magnesium-alloy case with a professional black finish. Completely redesigned, significantly smaller than a compact 35mm SLR camera with a built-in flash and zoom lens, this sophisticated imaging system can easily and slip into any bag.
Unique to digital imaging, the DiMAGE A1's real-time histogram shows the luminance distribution of the image before it is captured. Displayed with the live image, the histogram allows the subject brightness and contrast to be evaluated to optimize the camera's exposure and contrast controls. The luminance distribution of recorded images can be checked with a playback histogram.
(1) as of July 1st, 2003