Konica Minolta Z10
This is the first in the Z series of cameras since Konica and Minolta merged and is a direct descendent of the Minolta Z1 and Z2. Announced at the same time as the 4MP Z3, the Konica Minolta Z10 is a 3MP model and features an impressive 8x zoom lens that covers the 35mm equivalent of 36-290mm.
Camera shake at longer lengths is always a problem and with a maximum aperture of f/3.4 and a top ISO of 400, the Z10 can often be in danger of producing this picture spoiling effect. This is more so than it's big brother the Z3, which features Konica Minolta's ground breaking anti-shake CCD.
The Z10 does feature another Minolta innovation though, with the joint LCD monitor and Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). With this system, instead of two LCDs- one on the back and one in the finder- there is just one. In monitor mode, the screen is viewed on the camera back, as we have come to expect. In EVF mode, the screen drops back into the camera body by 45 degrees and a shutter type blind fills the gap left. A pentaprism system then allows the screen to be viewed through the finder, which is essential if you are shooting in bright light or with the lens at longer focal lengths (which is a more stable way of shooting and reduces camera shake). The system works well and on this model seems less clunky than on the older cameras.
Technology has always been Minolta's forte, and the merger has not dappened this ability. So, for example the Konica Minolta Z10 has inherited the AF of the older company, with predictive AF, which tracks the speed and movement of the subject so can predict where the AF should focus at the press of the shutter button. The camera's fast, with a half-second start up, focusing within three tenths of a second and fast shutter release time lag.
There is a slight delay between shots though as the screen blacks out which can make tracking moving subjects difficult. Another criticism is the lack of a door over the Secure Digital card slot. While the card feels fairly snug in the slot, I can't help worrying that a number of cards are going to be accidentally ejected and lost by careless owners.
The pictures from the camera are an improvement over the previous versions, with less, though still noticeable, fringing. Colour and sharpness is very good, particularly skin tones, while noise is well controlled in the lower sensitivity settings.