There is little doubt, from the specifications of this camera, that it is aimed squarely at the beginners' end of the market. There is no manual exposure mode: instead the camera has five modes aimed at specific subjects on top of a more normal P (program) mode, although there's no way to control this mode. Each mode has an icon that is displayed in the top panel LCD and one large button is used to step through them.
Focus is detected with a single wide-area sensor in the middle of the frame. The camera has a Predictive AF algorithm to maintain focus of a moving subject after the shutter button is pressed. The built-in GN12 flash fires completely automatically when the camera deems it necessary for correct exposure; coverage is wide enough for up to a 28mm focal length. It uses pre-flash to help reduce or eliminate 'red eye' and will recycle in around 2 seconds with a new battery. Film speed is detected by DX pins in the film chamber covering speeds from 25-5000 ISO, but they only recommend up to 1000 ISO speed film for flash use. The shutter ranges from 30 seconds up to 1/2000 with a flash sync of a reasonable 1/90. Ambient metering is achieved with an 8-segment matrix - there are no alternate metering modes. Viewfinder information is extremely simple, with just 4 LEDs to indicate:
- Portrait mode: the camera opens the lens up, reducing depth of field to a minimum thus making the subject stand out as much as possible from the background
- Landscape mode: almost the opposite of the above, the camera opens up the lens to maximise depth of field. This mode is also suited for group shots
- Close-up mode: very similar to portrait mode, again the lens is opened up to reduce depth of field
- Sports action mode: makes the camera use continuous focus and maximises shutter speed
- Night portrait mode: uses large depth of field combined with the built-in flash to illuminate the foreground
The camera can take any Minolta AF mount lens via its plastic-bayonetted lens mount, and flash power can be augmented by any of the 'Improved ISO' shoe flashes (eg: 2000xi, etc.) and it can even make use of remote, wireless, off-camera flash when using the accessory remote controller (its not entirely clear if the internal flash can be used to trigger the remote flashes).
- Camera shake warning
- Focus lock
- Flash charged
- Flash required
Film load and wind is, not surprisingly, motorised, but the frame rate cannot exceed a rather pedestrian 1 frame per second. It is possible to force the camera to rewind before the end of the roll is reached. A 10 second self-timer is provided.
Power is provided by one 6 volt 2CR5 lithium battery, said to last up to 70 24-exposure rolls with no flash useage at 20 deg. C.
Weight is a mere 380g without film, lens and battery, which makes it lighter than some camera's dedicated vertical grips! Dimensions are 147 x 101 x 68mm.
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Last updated 23 October 1999