Review: Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: February 11, 2004
February 14, 2004
Minolta DiMAGE G400 ($349) is an ultra-compact, metal camera
with a 4 Megapixel CCD and 3X optical zoom lens. Its most unique
feature is a dual memory card compartment, supporting both
SD/MMC and Memory Stick cards. Although it says Minolta on
the front, this was originally a Konica camera (the two companies
merged last year). So if you're familiar with Minolta cameras,
this one's a little different. That's not necessarily a bad
are quite a few cameras in this class. How does the G400 stack
up against the competition? FInd out now in our review!
in the Box?
DiMAGE G400 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
4.0 (effective) Megapixel DiMAGE G400 camera
Secure Digital card
lithium-ion rechargeable battery
manual + software manual (both on CD!)
Viewer Utility + DiMAGE Software CDs
included 16MB Secure Digital (SD) memory card won't hold many
4 Megapixel photos, so I recommend buying a larger card right
away. The G400 is somewhat unique in that it has both SD/MMC
and Memory Stick card slots. In addition to regular Memory Sticks,
the camera can use the new Memory Stick Pro cards as well (256MB,
512MB, and 1GB cards have been tested by Minolta).
is the case with most ultra-compact cameras, the G400 uses a
proprietary lithium-ion battery. The included NP-600 battery
has 3.2 Wh of energy, which isn't much, but competitive to other
cameras in its class. Minolta estimates that you can take about
185 pictures with 50% flash and the LCD on, or you can spend
200 minutes in playback mode.
batteries are pretty hard to avoid on cameras this small. Keep
in mind that an extra battery (a recommended purchase) will set
you back $40.
it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included
charger. This isn't one of those cool "plug right into the
wall" chargers -- you must use a power cord. It takes 2
hours to fully charge the battery.
sliding lens cover is part of the design of the G400. This is
also the main power switch for the camera. As you can see, this
is one small camera.
for the G400 are fairly limited. You can pick up an extra battery,
an AC adapter, or a carrying case.
with the camera is version 2.2.2 of the Minolta DiMAGE Viewer
software. It's certainly not a substitute for something like
Photoshop Elements, but it does basic editing fairly well. The
software is Mac OS X native. If you're just looking to connect
your camera and transfer files, you'll be pleased to hear that
it's Windows XP and OS X compatible -- and you probably won't
have to install any drivers.
this is really a Konica camera, you won't get the nice printed
manual normally associated with Minolta cameras. In fact, you
won't get a printed manual at all -- it's a PDF file on a CD-ROM
(boo!). The manual itself is about average in terms of quality.
G400 is a compact, attractive all-metal camera. Build quality
is quite good, though be aware that metal cameras scratch very
easily. The important controls are easy-to-reach, though the
user interface is a little confusing (more on that later).
a look at how the G400 compares with the competition in terms
x 2.2 x 1.1 in.
x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
x 2.2 x 0.9 in.
x 2.2 x 1.2 in.
x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
x 2.2 x 1.3 in.
x 2.6 x 1.3 in.
x 2.3 x 1.0 in.
x 2.4 x 0.8 in.
you can see, the G400 is the smallest camera out there, except
for the super-thin Sony DSC-T1.
take a deeper look at this camera now.
DiMAGE G400 has an F2.8-4.9, 3X GT Hexanon zoom lens. The lens
has a focal range of 5.6 - 16.8 mm, which is equivalent to 34
- 102 mm. Conversion lenses are not available for this camera.
the top-right of the photo is the built-in flash. The flash has
a working range of 0.5 - 2.3 m at wide-angle, and 0.8 - 1.3 m
at telephoto. The flash has a relatively short recharging time
of 4 seconds (it seemed even shorter than that). An external
flash isn't supported on the G400.
below the flash is the front side of the optical viewfinder.
To the left of those are the passive AF sensors, which greatly
improve focusing speeds. It doesn't work in the same way as an
AF-assist lamp, but the end result is the same.
the right of the flash (under the Minolta logo) is the microphone,
with the self-timer lamp below that.
back of the G400 is where all of the "action" is.
1.5" LCD is average-sized for a compact camera, and it has
a relatively low resolution of 77k pixels. The screen is bright
and movement is smooth, though. Not only can you adjust the screen's
brightness, but you can adjust the color (for red, green, and
blue) as well. That's not something you see everyday!
the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is a little small. There's
no diopter correction feature, which you would use to focus what
you're looking at through the viewfinder.
the right of the viewfinder are two buttons: one for entering
playback mode, and the other for deleting a photo. Next, we find
the four-way controller, which is used for menu navigation, selecting
manual settings, and adjusting the macro, flash (auto, flash
on, flash off), exposure compensation, and white balance.
next buttons over are for controlling the zoom lens. The lens
moves from wide-angle to telephoto very quickly -- in
about a second. The zoom has about 8 positions, so being precise
the right of the LCD are three buttons:
- switches between the following:
- point-and-shoot, most menu items locked up
select - choose one of the scenes below, camera uses
mode - take movies (more on this later), add voice captions,
or record audio only; there's no limit on how much audio
you can record (aside from available space on the memory
mode - full access to settings, plus shutter speed and
- opens the menu
/ display - in menus it's the "ok" button; when shooting,
it turns the LCD on and off.
of those need some further explanation. First, what are those
two bizarre scenes (snap and angel) all about? The snap scene
focuses in the 0.8 - 2.5 m range, so you can just fire away without
worrying about autofocus. This feature works best at wide-angle,
according to the manual. The angel feature gives priority to
a fast shutter release, so you can capture your little angels
who rarely sit still.
mode unlocks all the menu items on the camera, and it also gives
you program, aperture priority, and full manual modes. In aperture
priority mode, you can choose from two (yes, just two) apertures.
At wide-angle, they're F2.8 and F4.7, while at telephoto they're
F4.9 and F8.3. In the middle, there are other options. There's
no shutter priority mode on the G400, so if you want to play
with the shutter speed, you'll need to use full manual mode.
Here you set both the aperture (same ranges as above), plus the
shutter speed (range of 15 - 1/1000 sec). I'll list all of the
options available in manual mode later in this review. Now, back
to the tour.
only things worth mentioning on the top of the camera are the
microphone and the shutter release button.
to see here.
this side of the camera, you can see the sole I/O port on the
camera. It's a USB (1.1) port. The G400 lacks a video out port.
There's no DC-in port either -- the AC adapter kit uses what
is called a DC coupler, which is basically a battery with a wire
coming out of it.
here is the bottom of the DiMAGE G400. You can see the plastic
(boo!) tripod mount, battery compartment, and dual memory card
slots. As I mentioned earlier, the G400 can read SD, MultiMedia,
and Memory Stick formats. Memory Stick Pro cards are supported.
The plastic door covering all this is quite flimsy.
the Minolta DiMAGE G400
No histogram to be found
G400 has the fastest startup time of any zoom camera (that must
extend its lens) that I've tested. Slide open that lens cover
and it's ready to go, instantly.
having that passive AF system, focusing speeds were average.
Typically it took around one second for the camera to lock focus
-- sometimes a little longer. I was not impressed with the low
light focusing ability of the G400. Along those lines, the LCD
was too dark to be usable in low light conditions.
lag was not an issue when the shutter speed was fast, but there
was a noticeable delay at slower speeds.
speed is excellent. If you turn off the Quick View feature, you
can take another shot in about a second.
delete a photo after it is taken, you just press the "trash" button.
here's a look at the resolution and quality choices on the DiMAGE
G400. There aren't many, as you can see:
images on 16MB card (included)
find out how many pictures a larger card can hold, just do some
multiplication (e.g. a 256MB card holds 16 times as many photos
as a 16MB, so multiply by 16).
G400 does not have a TIFF or RAW mode.
G400 saves images with a name of PICT####.JPG, where #### = 0001-9999.
The camera will maintain the file numbering, even as you erase/replace
not a huge fan of the overlay-style menu system on the G400.
A more traditional hierarchical menu system would've been easier
to use, in my opinion. Anyhow, here are the options in the menu
system (assuming you're in manual mode):
mode (Program, aperture priority, manual) - described earlier
shooting / bracketing (Single shutter, continuous, super continuous,
exposure bracketing, focus bracketing) - see below
size (see chart)
priority (SD, MS) - choose which slot is used if you have cards
in both of them
(Off, 3, 10 sec)
(Standard, black & white, sepia, warm color, cold color)
compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, tungsten) - no
custom setting to be found
(Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400)
focus (AF, infinity, 2.5, 1.2, 0.8 m)
- hides a ton of settings, which will be added to your menu
if you turn them on; you can have two sets of custom settings;
these options include:
brightness (-1EV to +1EV, 1/2EV increments)
(-2 to +2, 1-step increments)
(-2 to +2, 1-step increments)
(-2 to +2, 1-step increments)
(-2 to +2, 1-step increments) - you can do this separately
for red, green, and blue
shutter speed - choose the slowest shutter speed the
camera will use for both flash and non-flash situations
quick note about the continuous shooting modes. Standard continuous
mode will take an infinite number of shots consecutively, but
the interval between shots is very long. Super continuous is
much better; you can take three shots in a row at 2.5 frames/sec.
Exposure bracketing takes three shots in a row, each with a different
exposure setting (you cannot choose the interval here). Focus
bracketing does the same: three shots in a row, each with a different
also a setup menu, which has the following options:
view (on/off) - post-shot review
(on/off) - show or hide info on the LCD during shooting
(on/off) - decide whether LCD is on or off by default
LED (on/off) - turn on/off the blue light on the front
of the camera (which flashes when you turn the camera
on and off)
color - adjust the brightness and color of the LCD
reset (on/off) - maintain file numbering
(exo-AF on, exo-AF off) - turn the passive AF sensor
on and off
(Japanese, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish,
power off (Off, 10 min)
- activate the custom functions that I listed above
- reset the camera to factory settings
that stuff out of the way, now we can move on to photo quality.
anything funny about the macro test shot? Everything has a reddish
cast to it -- and that's due to bad white balance. I have two
600W quartz lamps which the G400 just couldn't handle. Since
there's no custom WB option, I had to adjust the color in Photoshop:
better! What does all this mean to you? If you're shooting in
non-standard lighting (like I do for these shots), you may want
to find a camera with a custom white balance option -- or get
used to Photoshop.
should add that aside from the WB issue, the photo was quite
G400 did a nice job with the night shot test. With manual shutter
speed control, you can take shots just like this. There was a
hint of purple fringing, but nothing too terrible. I also spotted
a couple of dead pixels.
to my surprise, there wasn't a whole lot of redeye on this ultra-compact
camera. I'm not sure exactly why, but your results may vary.
Since the flash doesn't have a long range, I had to set the ISO
to auto to get a decently-exposed shot.
distortion test shows mild barrel distortion (at wide-angle),
and no vignetting or blurring in the corners.
photo quality on the G400 was very good. If I had one complaint,
it's that noise levels were a little higher than I would've liked.
But images were sharp, well-exposed, and colorful. Purple fringing
was not a major problem, either. Don't just take my word for
it -- have a look at the gallery and
decide for yourself!
G400 lets you record 320 x 240 movies, with sound, until the
memory card is full. If you're using a MMC card, the limit is
to movie mode is a little odd -- it's an item in the record menu.
is typical with zoom cameras, you cannot use the optical zoom
during filming. Digital zoom cannot be used either, which is
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
a sample movie for you:
to play movie (3.3MB, AVI format)
play it? Download QuickTime.
G400 has a very complete playback mode. Basic features include
slide shows, voice annotations, thumbnail mode, image protection,
DPOF print marking, and zoom and scroll.
zoom and scroll feature lets you zoom into your image by as much
as 14.2X (wow), and then scroll around. This feature is well-implemented
on the G400.
of the nice "bonus features" include image resizing
(to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240) and the ability to copy or move photos
between memory cards. One other feature that I also appreciate
is the ability to delete a group of photos, instead of just one
or all of them.
first glance, it appears that the G400 doesn't show any exposure
information about your photos. But press "up" on the
four-way controller and you'll see the info shown in the above-right
camera moves through photos quickly, with a one second delay
between high-res photos.
Does it Compare?
not my favorite camera of the bunch, the Konica Minolta DiMAGE
G400 is a solid performer. Probably its most impressive trick
is the ultra-fast startup time -- really amazing. It also takes
very good photos, though they're slightly noisy. The camera did
surprisingly well in our redeye test, as well. While the G400
starts up quickly, the autofocus performance wasn't as impressive
-- especially in low light. The camera features quite a few manual
controls, including shutter speed, aperture, and color. The one
control I would've liked to have seen is manual white balance,
with the macro shot being a prime example of why its a useful
feature. The dual memory card slots are a nice bonus, especially
if you've already got an investment in Memory Sticks or SD cards.
The G400's movie mode is about average, and I'm not a huge fan
of the clumsy user interface, either. All-in-all, a nice camera
-- be sure to check out the competition closely, though!
good photo quality
fast startup time
a few manual controls
memory card slots support Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro +
continuous shooting mode (though at a sluggish 1 frame/sec)
redeye test performance
as a voice recorder
I didn't care for:
menu system; no organization, hard to navigate
are a little noisy
white balance would've been nice
AF speeds, poor low light focusing, despite the external focus
tripod mount, flimsy plastic door over memory card / battery
histogram in record or playback mode
ultra-compact 4 and 5 Megapixel cameras to consider include the
Canon PowerShot S410 and S500,
Casio QV-R40 and QV-R51, Fuji
FinePix F700 (I suppose), Kyocera
Finecam S5R, Minolta
DiMAGE G500, Nikon Coolpix 4200 and 5200, Olympus
Stylus 400, Pentax Optio S40 and S4i,
and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P73, DSC-P93, DSC-P100,
A long list, I know, but the competition in this arena is fierce!
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try
out the DiMAGE G400 and its competitors before you buy!
to see how the photo quality turned on? Check out our photo
a second opinion?
another review over at Steve's
Feedback & Discussion
you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking
for a personal recommendation.
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