I compared that camera with a couple more at DPReview.com, based on an article in this month's Outdoor Photography magazine (p. 64). It did not fare as well as the Canon Powershot Pro1 eight megapixel or the Nikon Coolpix 8700--for my needs and desires. (I am thrilled to report that my chef/client for the farm dinners bought the Canon Pro1 for me. I expect it to arrive on Monday. Be still, my beating heart.)
I'd still like to hear from anyone who's used (or even knows anyone who's used) the Konika Minolta Dimage A1. Unfortunately I'm not in a location where I can test drive any of these cameras, but I am going to the United States in a few weeks and would like to order one shipped to my destination so that I can pick it up there when I arrive. My current camera is an Olympus D-340L, an old war horse that is about to bite the dust, and I'm ready to do a big upgrade.
The obvious superiority is that the Minolta is only five megapixels, and both Canon and Nikon are eight.
In addition to the exquisite lens, it's got a macro of 3 centimeters. So I can photograph lobster nostrils, if I want. It'll be great for food photography.
I also purchased an extra 512MB extra fast memory card. I will accessorize gradually with filters and such; the next piece of business is a new hard drive for extra storage.
One thing I know: I never want to own a camera that doesn't have (as the Canon and Nikon both do) the viewfinder that flips open and twists around. It's invaluable for candid shots.
Other things about the Canon that are great:
1) Record voice annotation: allows for a voice annotation, like a verbal caption, with each photo, of a WAV file up to 60 seconds long.
2) Like all Powershot cameras, it has a "stitch assist" mode that enables panoramic shots. Sample panorama of UCSC's Life Labs garden classroom taken last weekend. (Note: that was taken on my Canon G1 Powershot. It's 2780x645 pixels, which is greatly reduced from the original size.) Canon has superior software, I think.
3) ISO of 50, 100, 200 and 400. (The Minolta has 800, but only goes down to 100.)
4) Wireless remote.
5) 235,000 LCD pixels on its 2" screen (double that of the Minolta).
6) Playback zoom up to 10x
I will be keeping my G1, too. It's a great camera for web work. The Pro1 is going to be used to produce a book, I think.
And as far as using a flash on food goes: I won't do it. I think it's unattractive and unnatural-looking. Before I had my tabletop tripod, I would get very creative about using things to stabilize the camera. That's how I got the shots at Amma that Suvir liked so much.