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Konica Minolta Dimage G600 - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 06/04/05
Buy Now: £219 / $249
Rating: Recommended!


Introduction: The Konica Minolta Dimage G600, is available for £219 / $249 - the Dimage G600 is a compact 6 megapixel digital camera, with a 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 39-117mm on a 35mm camera), and a 1.5" TFT screen. The camera is enclosed in a silvery grey (metal coloured) metal body. It records 320 x 240 / 15fps videos with sound. The camera's quite compact with the following size: Approx. 94 x 56 x 29.5 mm. (without protruding parts), and weighs 195 g (without the battery and memory card)

Konica Minolta have this on their website about the camera:

"EXCEPTIONAL IMAGES, IMMEDIATELY

* Superior 6M quality from Hybrid A*IPS technology
* High-precision GT HEXANON Lens with 3x optical zoom
* Rapid 1.3 second startup and stress-free operation
* Wide selection of creative imaging features
* PictBridge compatibilty for quick, easy printing
* Dual compatibility: SD Memory Card and Memory Stick"

More information can be found on their site.

The Camera: It's compact and made out of silver/grey metal.
(Photos of the camera taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3)


Front - Camera off. (The sliding lens cover is the on/off switch)


Front - Camera on, lens extended, flash, blue self-timer leds (under lens), optical viewfinder, flash sensor (under flash).


Back - the 1.5" TFT screen, play, display, delete buttons, optical viewfinder, zoom control, menu button, 4-way controller.


Top - shutter, and the microphone hole.


Bottom, under the camera there is a plastic tripod mount, and the battery / memory (SD / Memory stick) compartment.


Left Side (from back).


On this side is the USB connector. (the camera is very easily marked with fingerprints)

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.


Size comparison with the Olympus Mju Digital 500.

Specifications / Features:

  • 6.0 million pixels
  • 3x Optical zoom - 8-24 mm (35mm film camera equivalent: 39 -117 mm), f/2.8-f/4.9, 7 elements in 6 groups
  • 1.5" screen
  • Macro mode from as close as 6cm
  • Movies: Max. 30 seconds with monaural audio at 15 fps (320 x 240)
  • Manual exposure: 15 - 1/1000 seconds
  • Auto, ISO 50 / 100 / 200 / 400 equivalent
  • 1.3 second startup time
  • Store images on Memory Stick or Secure Digital (SD) memory cards

Full Specifications can be found on their site.

Box Contents:

  • Camera
  • Lithium-Ion battery NP-600
  • Battery Charger BC-600
  • Neck strap
  • SD Memory Card (16mb)
  • USB Cable
  • Dimage Viewer CD-Rom
  • Dimage Viewer manual
  • Camera Manual
  • Warranty Card

Average box contents - A case would have been nice as would more memory.

Battery usage: The Dimage G600 uses a proprietry Konica Minolta battery, the 'NP-600', it is a 3.7v, 860mAh battery. Unfortunately the camera doesn't use AA batteries, so a backup battery is recommended. Battery life seemed average - I managed about 100 images before the battery went flat. According to Konica Minolta, you should get around 160 shots with the screen on.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the play button.

Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:

Photo mode Photo Menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen is a fairly decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. There is no live histogram available.
Optical Viewfinder: The optical viewfinder is a bit small for me as I wear glasses.

Menu options are: Resolution, Movie on, Exposure, White balance, AE (center, spot), Monochrome (Black and White, Sepia), Digital zoom (on,off), Monitor adjust (brightness, r,g,b), Voice recorder, Add recording (to an image already taken - why have this in the photo menu?), Slow shutter, Manual Exposure on/off, Quality (ISO, Flash, Saturation, Contrast, Sharpness, Colour (R,G,B).

Manual mode Setup Menu

Setup menu options are accessed through the photo menu or the playback menu, the options are: Language, Add Rec Set, Custom (Flash, Macro, AF AE AWB, Continous (on, off)), Default, Transfer mode, Format, Record menu (basic, details), Quick view, Info display (on, off), Sound, Date set, Self timer (10seconds, 3seconds), Auto power off, Number reset, Memory priority (SD, MS).

Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:

Playback mode Playback Menu

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is a bit slow. The zoom is quick up to 14.7x, as is panning around the photo.

Playback menu options: Index, Copy, Delete, Monitor adjust, DPOF, Resize, Protect, Move, Slide show, Add Recording.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 14mb internal memory provided with the camera:

Size / Quality: Number of Photos Stored
  Fine Normal
6mp (2816 x 2112) 5 8
4mp (2272 x 1704) 8 16
2mp (1600 x 1200) 16 33
VGA (640 x 480) 66 133
Video 320x240 15fps 30 second clips

You can fit a small number of images on the built in memory - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is an okay choice of image sizes, and there is an okay choice regarding image compression (normal or high).

A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb or 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Konica Minolta Dimage G600:

128mb SD memory card - £11.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
256mb SD memory card - £19.00 from Amazon.co.uk.
512mb SD memory card - £33.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
1gb (1000mb) SD memory card - £59.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

Speed: The camera is very quick to switch on and take photos - however the camera can occassionally 'hunt' for the focus in darker indoor conditions. The screen updates are quick and smooth. The playback mode is also quite quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 14.7x. The camera has a fairly quick continuous shooting mode - although the flash is not available. The shot-to-shot time in normal mode is only marginally slower, but allows you to use the flash.

Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, despite the camera having a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use, although the 4-way controller could be a bit small for some. The menus are fairly confusing but responsive. There are various settings such as the continuous shooting mode that are hidden away (in the setup menu, or elsewhere). The camera is compact and fits very easily into pockets. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well, although the self timer is accessed by pressing the macro button, which could cause some confusion. Some people may find the camera and some buttons a bit small. The lens position, which is very close to where your hand holds the camera seems like a good idea and should help stabilise the camera when taking pictures - the design also meant that my fingers never got in the way of the flash.

Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower Group Photo

Inside: The camera has excellent colour. It has a decent flash, and copes quite well with group photos - it also does a good job of keeping noise low. The camera struggled to focus in low light. The camera also had a problem with red-eye.

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (50, 100, 200, and 400).


Noise Test Photo (Flash on)

ISO50 - Actual pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels
ISO200 - Actual pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels

Noise seems quite low at ISO50 and ISO100 - at ISO200 noise is acceptable, and at ISO400 noise becomes a problem so should probably be avoided.

Outside:

Unisys Building Lesley and Heather

Outside, the camera had very good colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was very good detail although images could be improved by being sharpened. Noise seemed quite low. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.

Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 3x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what these features do, although I would strongly recommend you avoid using digital zoom.

Wide-angle 3x Optical zoom 3x Optical Zoom + digital zoom

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is fairly quiet. The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are around 6 steps between wide and telephoto giving you good control on how you frame your subject.

Other Image Quality issues: I didn't notice purple fringing.

Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you press the macro button - it lets you use the lens at wide angle as well as telephoto (and all the steps in between). You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 6cm away from the subject from the front of the lens.

Macro Watch Actual Pixels (100%)

The macro mode is good - the camera does a good job of toning down the flash, and colours and detail are very good.

Movie: 320x240 at 15fps with sound - videos are limited to a maximum of 30 secons. The movie is recorded as an .AVI file. Unfortunately you can't use the optical zoom whilst recording videos.


Japanese Restaurant - 320x240 movie - Download. (right click, save target as, 2.17mb) (saved as Zip file)

The quality of the movie(s) is quite good, colour is quite good, the camera also does a good job in low-light. The frame rate is fairly average and the videos are limited to 30 seconds.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality is very good, the images have good colour, saturation, contrast, and detail - however images benefit from sharpening. I didn't notice any purple fringing. The camera did a good job focusing - although indoors it did struggle. Noise was controlled well the majority of the time. I didn't notice any vignetting in the corners . There is an okay range of image sizes and not much in the way of compression options. The macro mode is good. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be very good. Red-eye was a problem. The movie mode is average, and unfortunately lacks sound.

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is compact and is designed well. The camera will fit easily into pockets. The camera is easy to use, although the menu system could definitely be better. There is a good layout of buttons and controls, although some people may find them a bit small. There is a very good choice of features and options, such as shutter/aperture settings, fixed focus settings (hidden in menu, setup, custom, macro!), saturation, contrast, sharpness, flash power, slow shutter etc - although some may be dissapointed to find that there is no live histogram, and suprisingly no custom white balance. The camera speed is very good, with a very good switch on time, very good focusing time, and very good shutter response.

Alternative 6 megapixel digital cameras: Olympus Camedia C-60, HP Photosmart R617, Casio QV-R61/62, Casio EX-P600, Fuji Finepix E550, Fuji Finepix F10, Fuji Finepix F810, Kodak Easyshare DX7630. Check amazon.co.uk / kelkoo.co.uk or amazon.com for the latest prices.

Summary: The Konica Minolta Dimage G600 has some appealing qualities, most notable is the very good image quality and manual controls this compact 6 megapixel digital camera offers. The camera is compact, stylish, and very responsive - this enables you to capture the moment - instead of missing it. The camera has very good image quality, with especially saturated colours - however the camera is let down by image softness, poor indoor performance, and the limited length videos. The G600 is good value for money for a compact 6 megapixel digital camera. I would recommend this camera to anyone looking for a compact high resolution digital camera for mainly outdoor use.

Further to this, I think it would be a shame if there was no update to the G600 line of cameras - If Konica Minolta do release an updated version of this camera with the following, I think they'd have an excellent, and hugely popular camera: 2" or larger screen, unlimited VGA/30fps video mode, AF-assist lamp, updated Konica Minolta menu system (not the Konica menu system featured in the G600!), custom white balance.

Konica Minolta Dimage G600 Rating: Recommended!
Buy now: £219 / $249.

Don't forget to buy an SD memory card to go with the camera: 128mb SD memory card - £11.99, 256mb SD memory card - £19.00, 512mb SD memory card - £33.99, 1gb (1000mb) SD memory card - £59.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

What I like:

  • Very good image quality
  • Rich saturated colours
  • Very fast switch on time
  • Good value for money
  • Blue lights at front
  • Quick shot to shot time (including flash)
  • Manual controls (aperture/shutter/fixed focus)
  • Quality controls (flash, saturation, contrast, sharpness, colour (r,g,b))
  • Stylish, compact, metal.

What I don't like:

  • Small 1.5" screen
  • Slightly soft images (can be fixed by turning up sharpness in camera)
  • 4-way controller a bit small
  • Red-eye was a problem indoors
  • No custom white balance (!)
  • Tripod mount positioned at very edge of camera
  • Struggles to focus in low light
  • Confusing menu system

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.