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Konica Minolta Dimage X1 in Black

Konica Minolta Dimage X1 - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 24/09/05
Rating: Worth Considering
Buy now: £260 | $399


Introduction: Announced on the 15th of July, the innovative Konica Minolta Dimage X1 (available in Black, Red, and Silver) features a Konica Minolta 3x optical zoom lens, an 8 megapixel sensor, and a large 2.5" screen. The Konica Minolta Dimage X1 is not only the most compact 8 megapixel digital camera currently available, but it's also the only digital camera to feature an anti-shake CCD sensor and lens unit. The Konica Minolta Dimage X1 is available from around £260 | $399 , making the Dimage X1 good value for money. The camera's 3x optical zoom lens is equivalent to 37 – 111mm on a 35mm camera. The camera is enclosed in a silver aluminium body. It records unlimited 640 x 480 / 20fps videos with sound. The camera's very compact (it will easily fit into trouser pockets), takes a rechargable lithium-ion battery and measures: 95 x 68 x 19.5 mm (without protruding parts), and weighs 135g (without batteries and memory card)

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 Minolta’s 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.
(Photos of the camera taken with the Konica Minolta Dynax / Maxxum 5D with KM AF DT Zoom 18-70)


Front - Camera off.


Front - Camera on, flash, led, microphone.


Back - the 2.5" TFT screen, zoom control, play/record, display, 4-way control / OK button, menu, delete/flash button.


Top - mode, on/off, shutter release.


Bottom, under the camera there is a metal tripod mount, and docking port.


Left Side (from back) speaker.


Battery / memory card compartment.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized compact 35mm film camera.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.


Size comparison next to the 5 megapixel Pentax Optio S55.

Specifications / Features:

  • 8 Megapixels
  • 3x optical zoom lens
  • Anti-shake CCD and lens
  • Audio recording
  • VGA 640 x 480 / 320x340 - 20fps Movie mode
  • The movie mode lets you use the optical zoom and digital whilst recorinding (with sound + antishake), includes Night mode, and Continuous / Single AF
  • AUTO / Manual ISO 50, 100, 200
  • Macro mode: 5cm
  • Scene modes: Portrait, Super Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night View, Night Portrait and Text

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Battery charger / Docking station
  • Lithium-Ion Battery
  • AV cable
  • USB connection cable
  • Strap
  • CD-ROM software
  • 32mb SD Card


Dimage X1 Docking Station (with USB port, and power connector at back) - the docking station also has a battery charger which can be used for a second battery when the camera isn't in the docking station.

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:

Photo mode (magenta) Photo Menu

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).

Scenes Setup menu (blue)

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 (green) Playback Menu

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:

Size / Quality: Number of Photos Stored
  Fine Standard Economy
8mp (3264x2448) 9 14 28
5mp (2560x1920) 16 23 45
3mp (2048x1536) 25 35 68
2mp (1600x1200) 40 57 104
VGA (640x480) 186 235 332
Video 640x480 20fps 29 seconds

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, 256mb: £16.99, 512mb: £22.99, 1gb (1000mb): £38.99.
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

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:


X1 Anti-shake moves both the optical zoom and the CCD sensor, as explained by Konica Minolta below:

"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."


Anti-Shake light to let you know Anti-shake is working.

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:

Heather and Flower (ISO:50) Group photo (Auto ISO:160)

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 test photo - flash off

Anti-Shake ON Anti-Shake Off
ISO50 - Actual Pixels 1sec/f3.5 ISO50 - Actual Pixels 1sec/f3.5
ISO100 - Actual Pixels 1sec/f3.5 ISO100 - Actual Pixels 1sec/f3.5
ISO200 - Actual Pixels 0.8sec/f3.5 ISO200 - Actual Pixels 0.8sec/f3.5

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:

Shops Super Lamb Banana

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.

Wide-angle 3x Optical zoom 3x Optical + 4x digital zoom

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.

Macro Watch Actual Pixels (ISO:160)

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.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality is good, the images have good colour, saturation, contrast and detail - however noise is high, and some images were quite soft. Images tend to come out of the camera looking good, however blown highlights occured in the clock tower photos, and ISO should be set to 50 to get the best photos. The camera did a good job focusing the majority of the time, only struggling in low light. I did not notice vignetting in photos, but I did notice barrel and pincushion distortion. There is a good range of image sizes and a good choice of compression options. The macro mode is good, allowing you to be as close as 5cm away from the subject, this provides good detail. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be good. Red-eye was noticable. The movie mode is feature packed for an ultra compact camera at 640x480 / 20fps with sound, optical zoom, anti-shake and night mode.

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is very compact / ultra slim and is designed well - the camera feels well built. The camera is easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there is a good layout of buttons and controls. The camera is aimed at beginners, and with the built in scene modes, and anti-shake, it should be easy for all users to take blur free photos. The camera speed is average, with an very good switch on time, average focusing time, good shutter response, average flash recharge time, slightly slow playback mode, and slightly slow menus. The camera's audio recording combined with the camera's ultra small body means discreet recording should be possible.

Alternative digital cameras: See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

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.

Konica Minolta Dimage X1 Rating: Worth Considering
Buy now: £260 | $399

What I like:

  • Very stylish / compact and pocketable
  • Anti-shake CCD/Optics really works!
  • Very low purple fringing
  • Quick switch on time
  • Good movie mode (optical zoom / anti-shake / night mode)
  • Easy to use (easy to use menus etc)
  • Good macro mode
  • Audio recording facility
  • Contrast / Sharpness controls (although saturation would be a nice addition)

What I don't like:

  • Anti-shake stops working when battery is low
  • No custom white balance
  • Noticable barrel (wide-angle) and pincushion (telephoto) distortion
  • High noise, especially indoors with ISO left on Auto
  • Slightly sluggish performance (focusing in low light / playback zoom / menus)

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