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Dimage X1 - Digital Camera Review
Konica Minolta have this to say about the camera:
"Aiming to create the ultimate digital camera for image quality, function, design, and size, Konica Minolta proudly announces the DiMAGE X1. A fusion of Konica Minoltas best imaging technologies combined with the DiMAGE X series sleek digital camera design, the new DiMAGE X1 offers you exquisitely beautiful images within a body that takes your breath away.
The DiMAGE X1 boasts a newly developed type of Anti-Shake system that complements its folded optics and allows for a more miniaturisation. Offering unrivalled stability, this new type of Anti-Shake system can provide the equivalent of up to 3 steps assistance to help compensate for camera shake, and is effective for taking pictures in low light conditionsand using slow shutter speeds around 1/6th of a second at the Wide-Angle."
You can find more information on their website. Dimage X1 Anti-Shake explained further later in this review.
The Camera: It's
very compact and made out of silver metal.
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized compact 35mm film camera.
Specifications / Features:
Decent box contents, although with the camera's 32mb of memory, you will need to buy a larger memory card.
Battery usage: Up to 150 pictures with the supplied battery. Battery life seemed decent for an ultra-compact, and the figure for the included battery is about average for a compact digital camera.
Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the top switch.
Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen resolution with 118,000 pixels is about average, although it updates smoothly and the colours appear accurate. The screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: There is no optical viewfinder.
Photo menu options: (these are limited in scenes mode) Drive mode (single, self-timer, continuous, advanced modes), Image size, Quality, White Balance, Anti-shake (Display + Exposure, Exposure, Off), Sensitivity, Metering mode, Exposure compensation, Instant playback, LCD Backlight (Bright, Normal), Colour mode (Colour, Black and White, Sepia) - a vivid mode would be nice, Sharpness (+/-/normal), Contrast (+/-/normal), Digital zoom, Date imprint, Key function (4-way controller).
Scene modes available (Above left): Portrait, Super Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night View, Night Portrait and Text.
Setup menu options: LCD brightness, Auto reset, Language, Audio signals, Focus signals, Shutter FX, Volume, Power save, Reset default, File memory, Folder name, Date Time set, Video output, Transfer mode, Firmware version (Ver 1.10).
Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:
Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick. The zoom starts off slow, as it displays "Please wait" as soon as you press the zoom button, but is quick after that and zooms up to 6x. Playback mode displays limited photo information, as shown above.
Playback menu options: Delete, Format, Audio caption, Lock, Slide show (disolve), Crop frame, DPOF set (date print, index print), Email copy.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 32mb memory provided with the camera:
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 a good choice of image sizes, and a good choice regarding image compression.
A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 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 X1:
Find the latest
prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 128mb: £9.99,
1gb (1000mb): £38.99.
Speed: The camera is very quick to switch on and take photos - focusing seemed a bit slow, especially in low-light, and especially when compared to the lightening fast Olympus Mju Digital 800. The screen updates are fairly quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is also fairly quick, however when you first zoom you have to wait while the camera displays a "Please wait" sign. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 6x. The camera shutter response seemed fairly quick when pre-focused - and shot to shot time was also fairly quick. The flash recharge time also seemed quick. The cameras menu's seemed a bit sluggish.
Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, although the camera does not have a lot of options. The controls on the back of the camera are very easy to use - the menus are fairly responsive and very easy to read and navigate. The camera is very compact and slim and fits very easily into trouser pockets. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a basic mode for simple point and shoot operation, as well as scene modes to help beginners.
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. I thought the camera felt quite good ergonomically, although the small size may not be suitable for some people. There isn't much in the way of a hand grip. The zoom control seemed decent. The back of the camera picked up finger prints very easily. It does feel nice, and feels like a solidly built camera.
Konica Minolta's Anti-Shake Technology:
"A Completely New Type of Anti-Shake System - For the first time ever in the X series, the DiMAGE X1 offers an Anti-Shake system, whichmakes it easy to take clear, steady shots of scenes that are normally difficult to shoot byhand. Offering unrivalled stability, the Anti-Shake system can compensate up to 3 EVexposure stops lower, making it ideal for taking handheld, wide-angle shots in low lightconditions indoors, or after sunset with shutter speeds at 1/6 of a second at wide-anglesetting. For example, in dark settings, such as the light of a candle or tungsten bulb, youcan shoot without using a flash and retain the atmospheric look of the scene.
Differing from the DiMAGE A and Z series, which use the award winning CCD-Shift Anti-Shake, here a newly developed Anti-Shake is used that counters shaking by tilting theentire optical unit together with the CCD. It is designed to ideally complement the DiMAGEX1 folded optics technology that preserves the compact, thin body construction.
Both Konica Minolta Anti-Shake systems, achieve steady shots without moving anyparticular lens in the lens group. Ensuring these systems achieve Anti-Shake whileretaining the performance of the lens that is designed to deliver optimum performance.Anti-Shake represents a dedication to camera technology and respects optical performance."
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 Konica Minolta Dimage X1 Sample Photo Gallery!
Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo. It has a decent flash, and copes well with group photos. The camera did a good job at focusing the majority of the time - although did struggle in low-light. Red-eye didn't seem to be huge a problem, although it was noticable in these photos. Noise was high when the camera ISO setting was left on auto.
Noise / Anti-shake effectiveness: 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 (ISO50, 100, 200, 400) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings. You'll also find the test photos taken with Anti-shake on and off - these photos were taken without flash in low light.
Noise levels are the lowest at ISO50, although some is still visible. At ISO100 noise becomes more noticable but is still acceptable, at ISO160 (Auto) / ISO200 noise seems very high. Anti-shake can be seen making a big difference to the sharpness of these photos, despite the long shutter times used in these hand held photos!
Outside, the camera had very good colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail, although some images were slightly soft. Noise seemed fairly well controlled, although it was noticable. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.
Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x 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 the 3x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom is capable of.
Exposure / Metering on the photos of the clock tower seems quite good, leaving the main subject (the clock tower) correctly exposed at wide-angle, however it has resulted in burnt out highlights / burnt out sky. The telephoto zoom photo of the clock tower has left the clock tower slightly underexposed. Better results could probably be obtained by changing the exposure compensation of switching the metering mode to spot metering.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens is fairly quiet (although noticable when used when recording videos with sound). The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are about 8 steps between wide and telephoto! This gives you good control on how you frame your subject.
Other Image Quality issues: I couldn't find any purple fringing or vignetting in the photos I took - impressive! Unfortunately I noticed barrel (wide-angle) and pincushion (telephoto) distortion at full wide angle and full telephoto zoom positions - I wasn't purposely trying to find this, but I still noticed it in photos where there were stright lines near the edges of the photos.
Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you switch to scene / macro mode - the macro mode sets the lens at a set mid-zoom range. You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 5cm away from the subject from the front of the lens.
The macro mode is good - colour and detail is good, and the camera allows you to get close to the subject. Images did seem a bit soft - and benefitted from sharpening. The lack of custom white balance meant the colour in this photo wasn't as good as it could have been.
Movie: 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 20fps unlimited length videos with sound can be recorded. The movie is recorded as an .MOV file. You can use the optical zoom and digital (at 320 x 240) whilst recording videos, and anti-shake means videos shouldn't have too much camera shake. You can choose between single-focus or continuous focus, and there's also a night mode. When using the optical zoom and continuous focus the microphone pics up the sound of the lens moving and focusing. The quality of the movie(s) is quite good, colour is good, the camera also does a good job in low-light thanks to the night mode. The frame rate is good.
Summary: The 8 megapixel Konica Minolta Dimage X1 is a decent digital camera, it's large 2.5" screen, ultra compact body and anti shake technology will appeal to many. The easy to use camera is capable of good results, although there is high noise and images are slightly soft. The camera gives you a lot of video options, scene modes, etc, and would be best suited to beginners. The macro mode is good. The camera is very good value for money for an ultra compact 8 megapixel camera at around £260 / $399 - just a couple of months ago an ultra compact 8 megapixel digital camera was unheard of! I would say that this camera is definitely worth considering for someone looking for a ultra compact, ultra stylish, high resolution digital camera, although I was slightly disapointed by the cameras speed in some areas, and the higher than average noise.
If you're looking
for a compact low-light capable camera then this is a good choice thanks
to the unique built in anti-shake CCD and optics, however I'd also recommend
you have a look at the 6 megapixel Fuji
FinePix F10, or the 8 megapixel Olympus Mju Digital 800 - both have
high ISO settings, upto ISO1600, to enable good low-light photography.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.