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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

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

Image Quality

The Minolta DiMAGE Xt is a point-and-shoot digital camera, so you shoot on Program AE letting the camera decide the settings for correct exposure. All the pictures on this and the other pages (including the navigation pictures at the top of each page) have been taken by the Xt for this review. The pictures on this page provide a good sample of what the Xt is capable of and I have provided the original unretouched pictures for your review. Please open and download only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks.

To decide on the correct exposure, the Xt has two metering modes which are selectable via menu: multi-segment metering, which uses 256 segments to measure overall luminance and color; and, spot metering, which uses a small area depicted by a circle on the LCD to calculate exposure. Multi-segment metering is the preferred default for most situations, but when your picture includes extremely bright and/or dark areas, spot metering will meter for a precise area of your image, e.g. your main subject.

Unless otherwise specified, all pictures on this page are taken in 2048x1536 pixels Fine, Program AE mode. All are original, direct from the Xt, and unretouched (except for the Panorama picture at the end of this section). Clicking on a picture will display the original image in a separate window. Leave that separate window up for all the other original images will also display in that same separate window. Note that these files are large. Please open and download only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks. [After you have examined the downloaded images in detail, try running them as a slide show.]

Wishing Well at Edwards Garden: 1/750 sec., F2.8 and ISO 160 with fill-in flash (File size: 1.1 MB)As expected, the Xt gives very good results in even lighting situations. In this picture, taken at Edwards Garden, the scene is well lighted and the multi-segment metering accurately exposes the sky, trees, grass and even the shaded areas. The Xt has captured the fine mist from the sprinkler behind the Wishing Well, and you can just about make out the speed limit on the street sign. The color reproduction is faithful to the scene. The tree trunk to the right would have come out dark except I used the Xt's flash to fill in the details. The Xt selected a shutter speed of 1/750 sec., an aperture of F2.8, and ISO 160 with fill-in flash. [File size: 1.1 MB]

Children's Playground: 1/180 sec., F6.7 and ISO 50 (File size: 1.0 MB)This picture also demonstrates the faithful color reproduction of the Xt. Notice the subtle differences in color of the roof, the slides and the iron fence. The skin tone is also reproduced surprisingly well even at this distance. It was taken at about 11:37 a.m. and the dark shadows cast by the strong sun can be seen in the leaves. Shutter speed 1/180 sec., aperture F6.7 and ISO 50. [File size: 1.0 MB]

Colorful vegetables: 1/45 sec., F2.8 and ISO 160 with fill-in flash (File size: 1.0 MB)I want to get a better idea of the color reproduction capabilities of the Xt, and decide to pop into my favorite grocery store to pick up some bread -- and snap some shots of the vegetables neatly arranged in rows. Red, yellow and orange peppers, green English cucumbers, and red hot house tomatoes make for quite a colorful arrangement. This is a quick point and shoot, no time to compose, situation, all Auto mode. I took only one very quick furtive shot and I'm quite satisfied with how the Xt handled this difficult indoor situation under mostly fluorescent lighting. Shutter speed 1/45 sec., aperture F2.8 and ISO 160. Flash automatically fired. White Balance was left on AUTO and did a pretty good job. [File size: 1.0 MB]

Hydro meter: 1/1,000 sec., F2.8 and ISO 50 (File size: 435 KB)No camera test would be complete without a macro shot. The Xt does not really have a macro function per se; it just focuses as close to 15 cm. (5.9 in.). That's about the distance from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my little finger with my hand opened wide. So it's a no brainer to guesstimate the closest distance. This closeup of my hydro meter demonstrates the Xt's ability to resolve letters and numbers clearly even through a dirty plastic cover. Here, the camera is set at 1280x960 Standard setting to give an idea of the quality of the image at this setting. Not bad at all. Shutter speed 1/1,000 sec., aperture F2.8, ISO 50. [File size: 435 KB]

Bee among white flowers: 1/500 sec., F3.6 and ISO 160 with fill-in flash (File size: 462 KB)Here is another close up, again shot at the 1280x960 Standard setting. I have to zoom in to get a tight composition. The bee is in some shade, so I set the fill-in flash on. This bee survived the Canadian Winter and seems happy to be among the flowers again. There's also a bunny that came to stay in our garden and made its abode just to the right of where the bee is, under some dense foliage. It unfortunately did not poke its head out for a candid shot. Shutter speed 1/500 sec., aperture F3.6, ISO 160 with fill-in flash. [File size: 462 KB]

Duck: 1/180 sec., F2.8 and ISO 50 (File size: 1.0 MB)Here is a shot straight through my kitchen window with no setting modifications on the Xt. The autofocus locks properly on the plastic duck and the Xt exposes the scene correctly. Once again, colors are pretty well right on target. Shutter speed 1/180 sec., aperture F2.8, ISO 50. [File size: 1.0 MB]

Real Duck: 1/180 sec., F3.6 and ISO 50, +0.3EV (File size: 875 KB)A few of the ducks [real ones] have already gone to sleep (this is back at Edwards Garden), tucking their heads under their wings, but this one is still contentedly swimmingly along. As it passes close to where I am standing, I aim and take a shot. Quickly reviewing the image in the LCD (there's a dedicated QuickView button on the Xt to do just that), I see it is a bit too dark. Time to try out the Exposure Compensation: press the right controller key once to compensate by +0.3EV. This time I need to zoom in max (optical zoom since I disabled the digital zoom) for the duck is swimming away from me. Even at this distance, the 3x optical zoom of the Xt does an excellent job: you can make out the eye, the plumage, and the webbed foot of the duck under the somewhat murky water. Shutter speed 1/180 sec., aperture F3.6, ISO 50, Exposure Compensation +0.3EV. [File size: 875 KB]

Bridge over calm waters: 1/90 sec., F2.8 and ISO 50 (File size: 1.1 MB)I love pictures of reflections in water and take a number of pictures of the arched bridges at Edwards Garden. It is about 5:30 p.m., the sun is still very strong and its low angle in the sky means that I am either shooting into the sun or if I shoot with the sun behind me, then the sky in front of me is too bright. I decide to meter for the dark areas of the water (press shutter release halfway to lock exposure and reframe) and allow the sky to wash out. Enough details are preserved in the reflection of the bridge to make this an interesting shot and I am a happy camper. Shutter speed 1/90 sec., aperture F2.8 and ISO 50. [File size: 1.1 MB]

And lastly, I want to try taking a 'wide-angle' picture. Since I don't have a long tripod with me (it would really look funny with a small Xt on top), I handhold and snap three portrait pictures in a semi circle around the fountain. I load the three images into Photoshop Elements and run the Photomerge function, et voila! (Oh, some curves and brightness adjustments were performed to lighten the shadows slightly.)

3 portrait shots taken at 1/350 sec., F2.8 and ISO 50; combined in Photoshop Elements using the Photomerge function
3 portrait shots taken at 1/350 sec., F2.8 and ISO 50;
Combined in Photoshop Elements using the Photomerge function

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A Personal Word

The Minolta DiMAGE Xt is a very capable point and shoot digital camera. In Program AE, the Xt is capable of taking very good pictures. I had fun with this camera and I hope it shows in the pictures. In all, I shot about four 32MB worth of pictures (including the 'getting to know you' trial shots) and am glad I have a high number of keepers. Since I mostly love landscape and close up photography, the pictures I've taken here have reflected this inclination. Yes, I also wanted to take some action pictures, more indoors shots, and night scenes -- all of which I have not had the time or opportunity to do. So, I will not comment on how the Xt fares in these situations. If these are more your style of photography, then please visit these excellent digital camera review web sites to learn more how the Xt handles itself in these situations and to get the whole picture.

Do not take the pictures on this site as the final say on the image quality of the Xt, but only as one more resource to help you make your own decision. The ability (or lack thereof) of this amateur photographer should not be your only guide. As our Buyer's Guide emphasizes, get more than one opinion, and make your own decision. Only you know the kind of pictures you like to take.

As for any digital camera (and non-digital, too), there is a period of 'getting to know your camera' and if you pay attention to the number of the pictures we posted here, you will notice that we shot a lot of pictures. Since there is no film development and printing costs involved, shoot at your heart's content, experiment with the various settings, and learn how the Xt responds in different situations. Read the Xt Instruction Manual since it is well written and explains the various options clearly. I highly recommend that you spend some time getting used to the slightly different way required to hold the Xt (important to avoid camera shake), and familiarize yourself with the controls and tabbed menu. Learning all you can (or care) about some of the principles of photography, especially about exposure control, will also pay dividends and allow you to capture some great shots you'll be proud of.

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