Konica Minolta DiMage Z6
At a Glance
Konica Minolta Dimage Z6
Offers a 12X zoom, but shutter lag and low image quality are detractors. Photos looked noisy, with fuzzy details.
For getting close to the action with your camera, a longer zoom is better. And the Konica Minolta DiMage Z6 has the look of a winner in that respect: Its 12X optical zoom is longer than most. And at a street price of $400, the DiMage Z6 is pretty cheap for an advanced camera. But a number of missing features make this a poor pick for advanced camera users who want extensive control over their pictures.
The camera includes a basic exposure bracketing mode, but it lacks white balance bracketing. And because the ISO speed maxes out at 320, shooting in low light can be difficult (most advanced cameras we've tested reach at least ISO 400). Similarly, the DiMage Z6's maximum shutter speed is 1/1000 second, which poses a problem for action fans who want to capture the moment; most of the advanced cameras in our test set can snap a shot at 1/2000 second or faster.
The model's curved case looks stylish and should stand up to rough treatment: though plastic, it feels sturdily built and fits comfortably in the hand. The zoom control falls naturally under the thumb, and the shutter button under the index finger. With one hand you can change scene modes, change flash mode, go into macro mode, and navigate the on-screen menu; all of the appropriate buttons are within reach. This is a big plus if you want to use the viewfinder without having to look at which buttons you're pressing. The only buttons you can't reach while using the camera with one hand are the on/off button and the one for switching between play and shooting mode (which also switches between the screen and the LCD viewfinder). The mode dial has the usual options, including a fully manual mode and five scene modes.
The camera takes its time starting up--about 3.5 seconds from when you press the on button to when you can start shooting--in part because the zoom lens has to extend. There's also a significant pause (around half a second) between when you press the shutter and when it takes the shot. The autofocus is relatively zippy in good light, but it bogs down a bit in low light and at the longer zoom settings: We found that it often spent some time hunting for the right focus.
The image quality scores awarded to the DiMage Z6 by our jury for pictures taken in the PC World Test Center were the lowest of any recently tested advanced camera. We saw obvious fuzziness, leading to loss of details, and a significant amount of noise even at low ISO settings. Color fringing was noticeable and got worse when we used the zoom. This may have been due to compromises that the designers had to make to squeeze the long lens into the case. Colors were dull, and skin tones looked pale. The camera's vivid color mode, on the other hand, went too far the other way: Colors became artificially bright, exacerbating the noise in the images.
The battery life supported by the camera's four AA nonrechargeable batteries was also a little disappointing. The DiMage Z6 lasted through 323 shots, which is plenty for a trip of a few days; but other cameras (such as the Fujifilm FinePix S5200) using the same type of batteries have reached the 500-shot limit we enforce for this test. You can replace the AA cells with NiMH rechargeable batteries, but Konica Minolta supplies neither these nor an AC adapter with the camera as standard equipment.
All of these issues limit the DiMage Z6's appeal. It's undeniably a step up from a point-and-shoot (and it doesn't cost much more than many of them), and the long zoom is a nice feature. But if you're after advanced features, you'll soon find that you want more than this camera can offer, and the mediocre image quality is a serious drawback for those who take their photos seriously.
The DiMage Z6's unimpressive image quality and missing features make it a poor choice for photo enthusiasts.