Minolta DiMAGE A2


Last Updated 31 May 06
Copyright 2006 by Stephen Vermeulen


More general information on digital photography.

A casual comparison of the A2 to the Panazonic TZ1.

The Minolta A2 is starting to appear in final form in March 2004. The first full review of the Minolta A2 appears to be from The Luminous Landscape, who have also looked at the Sony F828. Steve's Digicams has a review of it too. This camera stands out from the 8M pixel crowd due to its:
  • built in anti-shake technology
  • very high resolution electronic view finder (finally high enough to focus with?)
  • much faster handling of RAW files
  • manual zoom control

Filters

A subtle advantage is that it uses standard 49mm threaded filters and the end of the lens does not rotate when zooming or focusing (which would be handy for polarizing filters). There appears to be some concern that some (many?) filters (especially thicker ones like polarizers and macro) can cause vinegetting (especially at the very wide angle settings). I find this to be the case with my Vivitar CPL filter when the lens is wider than about 35mm.

This thread discusses the vignetting present on circular polarizing filters when the A1/A2 is zoomed out to wide angle view, it looks like the B&W Circular Pol-filter (49mm slim) has very little corner darkening. A kenko 49mm cpl for WIDE might also work well (it has no front thread).

This thread discusses filters and vignetting on the A2, turns out that Minolta actually makes one that avoids the issue.
More on the use of 49mm filters with the A2.

Teleconverters

It can take an Olympus B300 tele-converter, which works quite nicely to give you about a 340mm telephoto.

This thread is talking about using an Olympus teleconverter with an A1.

The Olympus WCON-08B looks like a nice wide angle converter for the A2.

Raynox add on lenses for the Minolta A1/A2, including 180 degree fixh eye, 1.8x telephoto and closeup.

Using the Raynox 2.2x teleconverter with the A2.

View finder

Some people who wear glasses have been running into difficulty using the view finder, not being able to see the whole image without moving the camera around, so if you wear glasses check this issue in the store. I wear glasses and did not find this to be a problem.

Reviews

Another review of the A2. The DPReview of the A2.

DCRP has a photo gallery of their A2 test pictures. Here are some more test shots.

DPhoto.US has a review of the A2.

Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape took his A2 on a trip to Spain, and this is his review of it after 2000 shots.

Infrared

Does it have any infra red capability? Test pictures I have made show this to be very poor, guess I'll be keeping my old Canon G1 for this.

This message thread is discussing the posibility that the diagonal noise that some A2s seem to have may be related to the type of compact flash card that is being used.

Flashes

A flash hotshoe adapter that should allow the use of standard hot shoe mount flashes on a Minolta body.

A Sigma flash (also here) that can be used with a Minolta. A thread that mentions using the Sigma (SigmaPhoto.com web site) flash in wireless mode and this thread gives more details on how the Sigma EF-500DG interacts with the A2 (more followup here).  Adorama carries these. The Sunpak PZ40X flash looks like it will work with Canon, Nikon and Minolta camera in full auto mode (including TTL and ADI).

The Metz 40Mz3i flash may also be able to work with the A2 with an adapter called: SCA3302 M4. Metz'z website. Adorama carries these.

Using the Metz 44 AF-4M flash with the A1.

Sunpak makes a couple of flashes that look like they can be used with the A2.

Other flashes that have been used with the A2: Metz 44 AF-3M, Sunpak PZ5000AF,

Articles

The Minolta Ax (i.e. A1 and A2) FAQ.

A good write up on the various focusing options that the Minolta A1 and A2 provide.

Battery Packs

Battery Barn has replacement NP-400 battery packs, and so does DigitalBug. I purchased an NP-400 pack from Battery Barn in Sept 2004 and they shipped it to me by air mail, took about 2 weeks to arrive (which is pretty typical for mail that crosses the US/Canada border). It works well with the A2, and since it was less than 1/3 of the price (even including shipping and taxes!) of a Minolta branded battery pack bought from a local dealer its really worth considering. The battery pack is packaged by Vidpro Corp., their customer service is 1-718-523-2956. They claim a 2 year warranty where they will replace the failed battery within 2 years if you send it back to them, with proof of purchase and $8.95 to cover shipping to Vidpro Corp., Dept W, 148-05 Archer Ave., Jamaica, NY 11435.  The UPC code on the package is: 0-26127-84229-3 and the part number is "ACD-229 Minolta NP-400".

RAW File Format and Tools

Converting Minolta RAW files with dcraw (a free package).

The GIMP now has an MRW reader plug-in, its mentioned in this thread and the development site is here.

This thread discusses using the Dimage Viewer to do batch conversion of RAW images to JPEG using the in-camera settings.

PolyView from PolyBytes can read and convert MRW format files.

RawDeal is another package for conversion of MRW files, this one is freeware.

Odd Things

This thread shows a home made remote shutter and focus switch unit. More on making an IR remote. I have made a similar device based on the receiver I extracted from a small radio controller car, see my page minolta-a2-radio-control.html.

A note about problems focusing near bright lights.

Controlling focusing on the A2, and some notes on the magnifier mode.

It appears v1.12 of the firmware will be available soon, it has shown up on the Japanese Minolta web site according to this thread, and it may solve some of the focusing issues (see thread).

This thread talks about issues with getting the grip sensor wet.

A plug in for sharpening A2 images.

Does anyone know of aquatic housings for the A2?

Underwater cases for the A1 (and maybe A2).

Adding handstraps to an A1/A2.

This thread discusses a lens correction plugin and application that has settings for the A2.

How to see the correct exposure on the LCD display.

The P-mode f/7.1 issue, seems if you are using either the "S" or "MF" focus settings then the P-mode will often (always?) pick f7.1 and an inappropriately low shutter speed (say 1/50th when the lens is zoomed to 200mm!), however with v1.12 firmware this does not happen with the continuous focus mode.

Simulating ISO 3200 on the A2 but intentionally underexposing.

Image Noise

Some of the high ISO noise may be due to the image processing algorithms, see this thread.



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