Review: Minolta DiMAGE G500
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: October 25, 2003
October 25, 2003
Minolta DiMAGE G500 ($499) may say Minolta on the front,
it's pretty much a rebadged Konica KD-510Z. As it turns out,
that's not a bad thing (for the most part).
G500 is an ultra-compact metal camera with a 5 Megapixel CD,
3X optical zoom lens, manual controls, and dual memory card slots.
are quite a few other cameras in this class. How does the G500
compare? Find out now!
in the Box?
DiMAGE G500 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
5.0 (effective) Mpixel DiMAGE G500 camera
Secure Digital card
lithium-ion rechargeable battery
manual + software manual (both on CD!)
Viewer Utility + DiMAGE Software CDs
16MB Secure Digital (SD) memory card does not go far on a 5MP
camera. So consider a larger one your first purchase after the
camera. I recommend 256MB as a good starting point. The G500
is somewhat unique in that it has both SD/MMC and Memory Stick
card slots. Please note that it does NOT support the new Memory
Stick Pro cards (why, I do not know).
G500 actually has 2MB of on-board memory as well, but you can
only save 640 x 480 images to it. (I don't know why they bother
doing this if you're going to put so little memory in the camera).
with most of these ultra-compact cameras, the G500 uses a proprietary
lithium-ion battery. The included NP-500 battery has 3.0 Wh of
power, which is typical for a camera like this. Minolta estimates
that you can take about 150 pictures with 50% flash use, or spend
90 minutes in playback mode. That's a bit lower than other cameras
in this class.
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 2.5
hours to fully charge the battery.
sliding lens cover is part of the design of the G500. This is
also the main power switch for the camera. I found it too easy
to turn the camera on and off -- I prefer a button myself. Also,
the lens cover slides in the opposite direction that you'd expect
it to -- not a complaint, just an observation.
for the G500 are fairly limited. You can pick up an extra battery,
an AC adapter ($50), or a carrying case.
with the camera is version 2.2.1 of the Minolta DiMAGE Viewer
software. It's certainly not a substitute for something like
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
this is really just 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 CD (boo!).
G500 is a compact and attractive all-metal camera. It's not super
small like the Minolta DiMAGE X series, but it's still very pocketable.
The build quality is excellent, though the camera loves to show
fingerprints. Controls are well-placed, and the camera is easy
to operate with one hand.
official dimensions of the G500 are 3.8 x 2.3 x 1.2 inches (W
x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs 200 grams empty.
Ready for our tour?
what I mean about fingerprints? You need to take good care of
this camera to keep it looking nice! It's also quite hard to
photograph from this angle.
DiMAGE G500 has an F2.8-4.9, 3X Hexanon zoom lens. The lens has
a focal range of 8 - 24mm, which is equivalent to 39 - 117 mm
(not a camera for those who love wide-angle photos). Lens accessories
are not supported.
above the lens is the built-in flash. The flash has a working
range of 0.5 - 3.5 m at wide-angle, and 0.5 - 2.0 m at telephoto.
You cannot use an external flash with this camera.
only other items of note are the light sensor (just below the
flash) and the self-timer light (a strip of LEDs below the lens).
The self-timer light also lights up when a picture is about to
no AF-assist lamp on the G500. The new Minolta G400 has a passive
AF system, so maybe the next revision of the G500 will as well.
G500 has an average-sized (for a compact camera) 1.5" LCD
display. The LCD is high resolution, with 117k pixels, which
shows your photos crisply. The refresh rate is excellent, as
well. Both the brightness and color of the LCD are adjustable
in the setup menu.
the top-center of the photo is the G500's optical viewfinder.
It's on the (very) small side, and it lacks a diopter correction
the left of the viewfinder are three buttons. They are for entering
playback mode, toggling what is shown on the LCD, and deleting
the opposite side is the zoom controller, which very quickly
moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in under a second.
at the very bottom of the picture is the four-way controller
and the menu/set button. The four-way controller is used for
navigating the menus, and is also adjusts the flash (auto, auto
w/redeye reduction, fill flash, slow sync, flash off) and focus/drive
settings. The focus/drive settings are macro, landscape, self-timer,
self-timer + macro, self-timer + landscape, and 1m/2m/4m manual
focus. Most people won't care, but do note that cannot do self-timer
with those preset focus distances.
can customize what the up/down buttons do by using the setup
mode (described later).
it's pretty simple on the back of the camera.
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 G500 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 G500. You can see the plastic
(boo!) tripod mount, battery compartment, and dual memory card
slots. As I mentioned earlier, the G500 can read SD, MultiMedia,
and Memory Stick formats. Memory Stick Pro cards are not supported.
The plastic door covering all this is on the flimsy side.
on the left, you can spot the included SD memory card and NP-500
the Minolta DiMAGE G500
G500's startup speed blew me away -- it took around 1.3 seconds
for the lens to extend and then the camera was ready to shoot.
camera's autofocus speeds were average -- it took approximately
one second (maybe a little less) to lock focus in most cases.
Indoor focusing in low light wasn't great -- at least there's
a manual focus feature (though it's somewhat limited).
lag was quite low, even at slower shutter speeds. Nice.
histogram in record mode
speed is good. If you turn off the Quick view feature, you can
take another shot in about 2 seconds.
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
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 16X as many photos as
a 16X, to multiply by that).
G500 does not have a TIFF or RAW mode.
G500 saves images with a name of PICT####.JPG, where #### = 0001-9999.
The camera will maintain the file numbering, even as you erase/replace
the biggest flaw of the G500 is its menu system, which it inherited
from the Konica side of the business. While it's attractive,
I found it to be difficult to navigate, with options strewn all
over the place. Minolta's own menu system, while not perfect,
would be a vast improvement (G510 anyone?).
here are the menu options on the G500:
on - enters movie mode (described later)
(-1.5EV to +1.5EV, 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, tungsten)
[metering] (Center-weighted, spot)
(Off, sepia, black & white)
zoom (on/off) - using the 3X digital zoom will lower your photo
tone (one for each: red, green, and blue)
memo - record up to 30 seconds of audio
rec - add a 30 sec voice note to a photo (this is different
than the previous option)
flash (1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 sec)
flash or slow sync (1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15 sec)
exposure on - see below
set (Off, 1, 2)
(Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400)
(-1EV to +1EV, 0.5EV increments) - adjust the flash strength
(-2 to + 2, 1 step increments)
(-2 to + 2, 1 step increments)
(-2 to + 2, 1 step increments)
(-2 to + 2, 1 step increments, for each color [red, green,
- described below
G500 has a strange mix of manual controls. It has some manual
controls, but Konica Minolta didn't go "all the way" (limited
manual focus and aperture, no manual white balance). The way
to get to those is to use the "man exposure on" option
described above. There, you can use the four-way controller to
select both the aperture and shutter speed (there's no "priority
modes" on this camera). The shutter speed range is 15 -
1/1000 sec, while the apertures are much more limiting: you can
only choose from two apertures at any point. At the wide-angle
position, choose from F2.8 and F4.7, while at telephoto, it's
F4.9 and F8.3. In between those positions are other values. This
isn't as nice as a camera where you can choose from a full range
color controls in the image quality section are a nice touch,
addition to the record menu, there's a setup menu, which has
the following options:
(SD, MS, internal) - format the memory card or internal memory
menu (Basic, details) - basic mode shows a very stripped
down version of the menu. I described the detailed menu above.
view (on/off) - shows photos on LCD immediately after they
display (on/off) - whether to show info on LCD
- turn the beeps and blips on and off
delay (3, 10 sec)
power off (Off, 3, 10 min)
reset (on/off) - reset the file numbering
priority (SD, MS) - decide which memory card is used first,
if you have both types inserted
(Japanese, English, French, German)
rec set (If selected, always) - whether to always record a
voice clip when you take a photo
- choose which flash modes are available
- choose which focus/drive modes are available (macro,
landscape, self-timer, manual focus, etc)
compensation - lets you adjust this via the "up" button
on the four-way controller
balance - adjust the WB using the "down" button
lock - lock the focus using the "left" button
lock - lock the exposure using the "right" button
- returns camera to factory settings
what I mean about confusing menus? There are some things buried
here that should be easier to get to (continuous shooting being
a good example).
of which, the continuous mode will take photos until the memory
card is full. When I first tried it, I was disappointed with
the 5 second delay between shots. Then I thought "maybe
I should turn off the Quick view feature", and that helped
dramatically. I was then able to take photos at roughly one second
don't know about you, but I am tired of menus. Let's move on
to photo quality.
the background has a brownish cast to it, the subject itself
looks good. The colors are accurate, and the photo is detailed
enough to count the dust on the figurine. You can get as close
as 6 cm to your subject at wide-angle, and 50 cm at telephoto.
definitely could've exposed the night shot for a few more seconds.
The 4 second exposure was evidently not enough. Thankfully, the
manual mode on the G500 will let you use shutter speeds as slow
as 15 seconds. Noise and purple fringing were non-existent in
you'd expect on an ultra-compact camera, there is some noticeable
redeye. It can be removed fairly well in photo editing software.
Note that the crop above was enlarged and had its levels adjusted
for easier viewing.
distortion test shows moderate barrel distortion at the wide-angle
end of the lens and no vignetting. I see some blurriness in the
bottom-left corner, which you'll also spot in many of my real
world photos as well.
was pleasantly surprised by the photo quality on the G500. For
a compact camera, they are very good. Minolta definitely has
the sharpness cranked up, which adds a tiny bit of noise to the
images. Color and exposure were also good. Purple fringing /
chromatic aberrations were nowhere to be found (except for a
little in the torture
test). I guess the blurry corner is my only real complaint
-- good job Konica/Minolta!
take my word for it -- have a look at the gallery and
decide for yourself!
G500 isn't going to win any awards for its movie mode. While
it would've been decent in the year 2000, it's pretty lacking
in late 2003. You can record up to 30 seconds of 320 x 240 video,
to movie mode is a little odd, too -- it's an item in the record
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.
sample below is one of those "hold the camera in the air
and hope you get something interesting" movies:
to play movie (1.4MB, AVI format)
play it? Download QuickTime.
G500 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 12X, and then scroll around. This feature is well-implemented
on the G500.
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 (or internal memory). One other feature
that I appreciate is the ability to delete a group of photos,
instead of just one or all of them.
first glance, it appears that the G500 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 at an average clip, with a 2 second
delay between high res photos.
Does it Compare?
not a perfect camera, the Konica Minolta DiMAGE G500 can keep
up with the best of them. It features an ultra-compact metal
body, 5 Megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom lens, and quite a few
manual controls. Photo quality is very good, with my only complaint
being slight blurriness in the corners. The camera starts up
faster than almost any other camera with an extending lens, though
I found it too easy to accidentally turn the camera on and off.
When taking pictures, the G500 offers average focus and shot-to-shot
speeds, and very low shutter lag. Downsides include a clunky
menu system, outdated movie mode, so-so battery life, and redeye
(which is normal for a camera like this). While the manual controls
are nice, things would be better with shutter and aperture priority
modes, true manual focus, and manual white balance. It would've
been nice to see Memory Stick Pro support and histograms as well.
Despite all these things, the G500 gets my thumbs up thanks to
its great photo quality (and high resolution), small body, and
street price of under $400.
those who don't need the 5 million pixels (which should be many
of you), the DiMAGE
G400 may be worth considering. It's 4 Megapixel, and it adds
a hybrid autofocus system, even faster startup time, better continuous
shooting, a modern movie mode, and more.
good photo quality
all-metal body (which is hard to keep clean)
fast startup time
a few manual controls (more would be nice)
for SD, MMC, and Memory Stick formats
continuous shooting mode (albeit at 1 frame/sec or so)
high resolution LCD display
I didn't care for:
corner in several pictures; redeye
menu system; no organization, hard to navigate
easy to accidentally bump and power on/off the camera
support Memory Stick Pro cards
AF illuminator or video out
histogram in record or playback mode
ultra-compact 4 and 5 Megapixel cameras to consider include the
Canon PowerShot A80, S45, S50,
EX-Z4U and QV-R40, Fuji
FinePix F700, Kyocera Finecam L4v and S5R,
Konica Minolta DiMAGE F300 and G400, Nikon
Coolpix 4300, Olympus C-50Z and Stylus
Lumix DMC-LC43, Pentax Optio 555 and S4,
an the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P92 and DSC-P10.
A long list, I know, but it means that there are many good choices
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try
out the DiMAGE G500 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
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due
to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
a personal recommendation.
in mind that this review is just one person's opinion. Your
conclusion may be different than the one above.