The Konica Minolta Dimage A200 takes the basic formula of its older stablemate, the excellent Dimage A2, and scales it back somewhat. The A2's remarkable electronic viewfinder is gone, and the new model's performance is noticeably less impressive. But what remains is a well-designed, easy to use 8-megapixel camera with an impressive 7x zoom lens and antishake image stabilization for enthusiasts who don't want to spring for the top-of-the-line unit.
Although the Konica Minolta Dimage A200 shares the same basic shape as the Dimage A2, it's somewhat smaller and less chunky. At 567g with batteries and media installed, it's also about 57g lighter. Nevertheless, the black plastic body feels solid, and the grip is very comfortable.
In other ways, the A200 retains the design virtues of its predecessor. Most importantly, there are manual rings on the lens for both zooming and manual focus. The zoom ring, especially, is far more usable than power controls. Advanced photographers will be pleased that most of the camera's important features are controlled by dedicated external buttons. Most of them are clustered on the right side of the camera's back and top cover where they are accessible to your thumb and forefinger.
Menu navigation and some camera settings are activated by a four-way pad; other camera settings are changed with the command dial at your right forefinger. We had no complaints about control placement, and the menus, while extensive, are logically laid out and quick to operate.
With a few minor exceptions, the Konica Minolta Dimage A200 enjoys the same extensive feature set as the Dimage A2. This includes the now venerable but still impressive 7x apochromatic GT zoom lens that is used on the A1 and the A2. It covers the useful range of 28mm to 200mm (the 35mm-film equivalent) and opens to a variable maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/3.5. The A200 also incorporates Konica Minolta's unique antishake image-stabilisation system, which works by shifting the CCD rather than moving elements inside the lens as most other systems do.
The A200's comprehensive exposure control options include all four traditional exposure modes; four scene modes; light-sensitivity settings from ISO 50 to ISO 800; multisegment, centre-weighted, and spot metering; both flash and ambient exposure compensation to plus or minus 2EV; a live-image histogram; and exposure bracketing. White-balance options include Auto as well as seven presets and the ability to save two custom measurements.
The camera saves images to a CompactFlash card, and you can capture JPEG, raw, or raw-and-JPEG files. For JPEGs, you can choose from six resolutions and three compression levels. The included Dimage Viewer software generates RGB images from your raw files, and it offers decent raw-conversion controls on both Windows and Mac computers. In movie mode, the A200 can capture 800x600-pixel MJPEG video clips at 15fps or 640x480-pixel footage at 30fps. It records sound in mono, and clips can be as long as 15 minutes.