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Dennis Hissink : August 6th 2003 - 08:59 CET

Minolta unveiles 5MP DiMAGE F300 digital camera


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MinoltaThree quarters of a century's expertise and experience in optical technologies are reflected in Minolta's DiMAGE F300, one of the world's smallest and lightest 5-megapixel cameras with a built-in zoom lens. The striking harmony of form and function seen in its predecessor, the F100, has been taken one step further to create a digital compact camera characterised by high-quality, high-resolution images, advanced automatic functions and fast, effortless operation. In its looks the DiMAGE F300 is a clear homage to its predecessor, the F100 - the camera that launched Minolta's F Series with its philosophy of elegant design and sophisticated imaging performance.
The same slick chic minimalist design is evident in the F300 with a rich aluminium exterior in silver or indigo-blue and stainless-steel accents around the lens barrel. It is also one of the world's smallest and lightest 5-megapixel cameras at 11.1 x 5.25 x 3.25 cm and only 185 g.
In terms of imaging performance the F300 takes its technology from the top-of-the-line DiMAGE 7Hi with a high-precision electro-optical system designed to maximise image quality. The system is built around a CCD delivering 5.0 million effective pixels for fine high-resolution images or, in practical terms, A3+ prints at 150 dpi and A5+ prints in photo quality.
You won't see much of the F300's spectacular zoom lens - after all, it's only 24 mm long when retracted - but with a focal length equivalent to a 38-114mm 35mm zoom lens it can range from wide angle for landscapes and interiors to telephoto for intimate portraits and details of distant landmarks. The 3x opti-cal zoom ensures sharp, high-contrast images at all focal lengths and the 4x digital zoom seamlessly takes over from the maximum focal length of the optical zoom without interrupting the monitor image. This digital zoom can extend the optical zoom performance by a factor of four in 0.1X increments to give the F300 an equivalent of a 456mm lens on a 35mm camera - in all, an amazing 12X zoom range from a camera that fits in a pocket.

New features include a centrally weighted metering mode, ultra-high-speed (UHS) continuous recording at seven frames per second and two clever functions that deal with the limitations normally imposed by low light levels. An automatic monitor amplification function adjusts monitor gain so that colour images are visible under less than ideal lighting conditions and an improved night movie mode is automatically activated when light levels fall beneath a certain point.
Despite its wealth of sophisticated features, the F300 is still a camera distinguished by its fast and virtually effortless opera-tion. The kind of simplicity that will make Minolta's new 5-megapixel digital compact camera an interesting proposition to hobby or business photographers alike. The DiMAGE F300 is due to be released in February 2003.




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