|The Command Dial on top of the camera gives access to a number of main functions. AUTO offers some four pre-set scenes at which the camera gives priority to a certain setting in order to get a certain result. The values of the shutter speed and aperture but also the type of light metering are shown in the viewfinder and the LCD monitor. I am all for it, because beside photographing fully automatic, slowly but surely the user will get more knowledge of the different values in different circumstances. It makes the step to let go of the pre-set scenes easier.
In spite of the many buttons present, I lack a quick button to adjust the resolution or the file format directly. I can imagine that especially on high resolution digital cameras, the difference between compression and resolution setting differs a lot with regard to the storage capacity. I myself take many shots in a lower resolution and a normal compression, images that I put a considerable effort into and of which I expect a lot in RAW format. A quick function button would decrease the use of the menu.
The buttons present are easy to operate and easily accessible. Placing buttons on the side of the camera solves the lack of space. The disadvantage of it is that the camera has to be turned frequently to be able to see which button has to be pushed. It takes time getting used to the fact that a few actions have to be taken in order to be able to activate the desired setting.
The 7x optical zoom can be operated quickly and precisely. In most cases I prefer a manual zoom in stead of an electronic zoom. The manual adjustment of the zoom has to happen very precisely and you are involved more directly in the composition you are trying to capture. When taking a macro image a macro switch has to be turned on the zoom ring. This will lock the wide angle or telephoto mode. The DMF (Direct Manual Focus) comes in handy then. Activating this function enables fine-settings by pressing the release button half-way down in both positions. Locking the wide angle seems useless in my opinion.
|From 50/60mm to telephoto is an obvious choice because the wide angle image usually experiences some distortion too. At maximum aperture a visible vignetting occurs which can be removed by increasing the aperture value (from f5.6). Otherwise the lens performs greatly, focusing works quickly without problems. The amount of digital noise is controllable up to and including ISO 400, above this value the internal noise suppresser has to work hard and the images seem to become softer. Switching over to the RAW format will give the user the experience that the overall image quality improves tremendously. Especially when the internal software did his job the RAW format will show a severe difference compered to the JPEG format. Personally I prefer working with RAW format images. It means a lot more labour but the fantastic end result is the reward in the end. The DiMAGE A2 is a so called prosumer camera and its real performance will show when using all the possibilities! What strikes me is the fact that a camera like the DiMAGE A2 is not equipped with an AF assist illuminator. Despite the lack of it, the focus of the camera performs well under all circumstances.
The operation of the A2 is quick and direct. It is a camera with a high learning process. Meaning: the first steps in automatic mode are made quickly but to get the full use of the camera one will have to dig into the many possibilities the camera offers. The menu is clear and well-organised. For example; the menu in record mode has 4 tabs with 6 settings each, beside that direct access to the Set-up menu is possible with another 4 tabs with 6 settings each.
If you take the time to get to know the DiMAGE A2 thoroughly you can completely dig into the possibilities offered. It seems to me quite a job to keep the A2 user-friendly. Konica Minolta did a good job, but still I see possibilities to place certain functions under a quick button and place present functions back into the menu. A solution for a camera like the A2 could be to give the user the opportunity to set part of the available buttons to his own wish?. Something for the next generation?