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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Minolta DiMAGE Xt

Minolta Digital Cameras


Minolta DiMAGE Xt Review

Review Date: July 1, 2003

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Mouseover picture to see the back of the Minolta DiMAGE Xt.

Photoxels Awards
JeansPocket Certified: Easily fits in the front pocket of a pair of jeans OriGenial: Original design and ingenious internal zoom lens mechanism

Handling & Feel

The Minolta DiMAGE Xt is ultra compact with dimensions of 85.5W x 67H x 20D mm (3.4W x 2.6H x 0.8D in.) and weighs 120g (4.3 oz.) without the battery and recording media card. (The Lithium-Ion battery weighs about 20g.) It is constructed with an all-metal aluminum body and feels quite solid. The battery/recording media compartment door is a shiny metal and, in its closed position, that door becomes part of the distinctive handgrip (with the Minolta brand etched into it). The name 'DiMAGE XT' is slightly raised giving an overall feeling of craftmanship quality to the camera. The five tiny holes in a line near the front bottom of the camera is the built-in microphone and also add to the overall cool look of the Xt.

At the front top, the flash, self-timer lamp and optical viewfinder window form a trio, and the lens is at the very front top right. It is interesting that the viewfinder eyepiece at the back of the camera lines up with the lens at the front of the camera, giving the pleasant impression that you are looking straight through the lens. (This is accomplished with another clever mirror trick from the designer of the Xt.) The viewfinder is a real-image optical zoom, which means that it zooms in and out with the lens. The viewfinder eyepiece at the back is to the left of the 1.5 in. LCD and therefore avoids the 'oily noise syndrome' (that is common if the viewfinder were just above the LCD and your nose presses against the LCD, leaving an oily mark).

Oops, user error: top left dark smudge is my left index finger partially blocking the lensThe position of the lens at the very edge of the front top right corner means that you cannot put your left index finger there to steady the camera as I usually do. If you do so, you risk including said finger in your pictures -- as I did a couple of times. (See example picture at right -- Reflections in window: 1/250 sec., F2.8 and ISO 50.) Though the camera balances pretty well in your right hand, most people will probably still find the need to hold it steady with the left hand to prevent camera shake. There is a lot of empty space under the lens to pinch the camera with the left index finger and thumb of your left hand, and getting used to holding the camera this way fortunately catches on pretty fast.

They say that first impressions count. Well, when you open the box and first catch a glimpse of the Xt, it's a beautiful camera staring back at you. Picking it up, you notice it is not so light as to suggest 'cheap' but rather it has a nice weight. At the back of the camera, the controls are cleanly arranged. The buttons are spaced out enough so that you don't mistakenly push its neighbor in, and the mode dial is raised and indented so it turns easily. The sturdy battery/card door slides and swings out smoothly -- no cheap flimsy plastic door here.

The Xt can be easily carried all day in the front pocket of your jeans, in a shirt pocket, or a small fashion purse.The Xt easily earns our JeansPocket™ Certified Seal of Approval. I easily carried it in my front jeans pocket all the time. Though optional, I also received a soft leather case for review. The Xt fits nicely in it and it also has two internal pockets: one for an extra battery (which I highly recommend you purchase) and a smaller pocket for an extra SD card. The soft case is just slightly larger than the Xt but is a necessary protection if you plan to carry anything else in that same pocket (e.g. keys).

At first, I suffered from camera shake quite a bit as I got used to holding the Xt and pressing the shutter release gently. Since there was no cost involved, I just shot away until the recording media card was full, then uploaded them into my computer for review and wiping out the card for the next set of shots. After about snapshooting like this and filling up two cards worth of pictures, I found that I got the hang of it and then only the occasional slow shutter speed shot would suffer from camera shake.

I would recommend to Minolta that it makes the shutter release button a bit larger (especially wider). Currently it's about 12x4 mm and I would recommend at least 12x8 mm instead. While it is effortless to press the shutter partway to lock in the exposure and focus, I find that it takes a bit more effort to press it fully with only the tip of my index finger, and that is the point where camera shake occurs for me. A larger shutter release should eliminate this problem completely.

Every button on the back of the Xt has a positive responsive feel when you press it. The LCD brightness can be adjusted using the Set Up mode, and I find that the brightest setting works well for me. In very bright sunlight, it can sometimes be difficult to see the image in the LCD but that has so far not prevented me taking a picture. When needed, I use the real-image optical zoom viewfinder.

Daisies in the wind: 1/90 sec., F6.7 and ISO 160 with fill-in flash
1/90 sec., F6.7 and ISO 160 with fill-in flash

For macro pictures, I usually use a mini tripod whenever possible. The tripod mount on the Xt is hard plastic but I have not had any problem using it. Using the mini tripod and the self-timer to release the shutter is a good idea when using a slow shutter speed (the self-timer is accessed via the tabbed menu and is the very first item of the first tab). In this close up picture, the flowers were moving quite a bit in the slight breeze, so I manually set flash on (and use the self-timer) to freeze the movement.

A neat feature of the Xt is the ability to assign one of the functions to the control buttons left and right of the zoom button. By default, it is the exposure compensation function, and that's just perfect for me. You may choose to assign another function to them. It saves from having to go to the menu to select that function. The other function I use quite a lot is flash on or off, and there is already a dedicated button for that.

The Xt is at the same time origenial and ingenious, and earns our OriGenial Seal of Approval.The ingenious design of its internal zoom lens, the responsiveness of its controls, and the overall user-friendliness and intuitiveness of the Xt earn it our OriGenial™ Seal of Approval.

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