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DCRP Review: Konica Minolta DiMAGE X60
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: August 3, 2005
Last Updated: February 26, 2008
The Konica Minolta DiMAGE X60 ($350) is the latest revision of the DiMAGE X-series of cameras. Like the X50 before it, the X60 features a 5 Megapixel CCD, folding lens technology, point-and-shoot operation, and a fast startup time. Changes since that model include the addition of 15MB of internal memory, a slightly more powerful zoom lens (3X versus 2.8X), a larger LCD display (2.5" versus 2.0"), and a slightly different design. The optical viewfinder was eliminated on the DiMAGE X60.
The X60 competes in the very crowded ultra-compact category, which means that it has its work cut out for it. How does it perform? Find out now in our review.
What's in the Box?
The DiMAGE X60 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Instead of including a memory card, Konica Minolta instead built 15MB of memory right into the DiMAGE X60. That holds just six photos at the highest quality setting, so buying a larger memory card is a must. The X60 can use Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMedia (MMC) memory cards, and I recommend sticking with the former for best results. I'd say that a 256MB card is a good size to start with. A high speed memory card does not seem to be a necessary purchase.
The DiMAGE X60 uses the same NP-700 rechargeable lithium-ion battery as its predecessor. This little battery packs just 2.4 Wh of energy, so don't expect miracles in the battery life department. Here's how the X60 compares to other cameras in its class in terms of battery life:
As you can see, the X60 has some of the worst battery life in its class. I know Minolta knows how to make cameras with good battery life, so the X60's numbers are a little disappointing.
While I prefer cameras that use AA batteries, you won't find too many of those in this class of camera. Remember that lithium-ion batteries are expensive ($45 a pop) and that you can't use off-the-shelf batteries when your rechargeable dies.
When it's time to charge the battery just pop it into the included external charger. It takes about 90 minutes for the battery to be fully charged. This isn't one of those handy battery chargers that plugs right into the wall -- you must use a power cable.
A sliding lens cover is built into the X60 so there are no clumsy lens caps to worry about. The lens cover doubles as the power switch for the camera.
There are just a few accessories worth mentioning. The coolest one is the MC-DG500 underwater case ($275), which lets you take the camera up to 40 meters deep. The only other things I could find were an AC adapter ($40) and metal neck chain ($19).
Minolta includes version 1.0 of their new DiMAGE Master Lite software with the X60. This is sort of an enhanced version of the old DiMAGE Viewer software, and it's not bad. It's definitely more responsive than it used to be. The main screen has the usual thumbnail view of your photos, with several sizes available. Double click on one and you'll get the edit screen:
Here's the edit screen, with histogram and EXIF data shown on the left. In this mode you can adjust fun stuff like the tone curve, contrast, color balance, sharpness, and more. A handy comparison view shows you what your photo looks like before and after your changes. You can also use the software to add the date, file name, or user comments to a photo. DiMAGE Master Lite also supports basic batch processing for image rotation and resizing.
Also included is version 4.0 of Kodak's EasyShare software, which is one of the best packages of its kind on the market. Since I've written extensively about the software before, I'm going to point you to my Kodak EasyShare Z740 review if you're looking for more information about the it. It's definitely very capable and worth trying out.
I've always been a fan of the manuals included with Minolta's cameras. They have lengthy explanations of features and not too much fine print. Definitely above average.
Look and Feel
The DiMAGE X60 is a compact metal camera that's small without being too small. The body is well put together, though I'm not a fan of the battery cover. It's easy to hold and operate with just one hand, and all the controls are in the right place.
The X60 uses the same folding lens design as many other cameras in its class. Instead of having the lens going from the front to the back of the camera, incoming light instead goes through the front of the lens before hitting a prism and going toward the left, where it eventually hits the CCD. As such, the lens never protrudes from this thin camera. For more on how this works, check out this page on KM's site.
Now let's see how the X60 compares to the competition in terms of size and weight:
While it may not look like it in the pictures, the X60 is actually one of the smallest and lightest cameras in this class.
Okay, enough about that, let's start our tour of the camera now.
The DiMAGE X60 features an F3.3-4.0, 3X optical zoom lens (the X50 had a 2.8X lens). The focal length of the lens is 6.3 - 18.9 mm which is equivalent to 38 - 114 mm. The lens is not threaded, which shouldn't come as a surprise.
As I said a few paragraphs up, light enters the lens and takes a left. The CCD is actually somewhere behind that blue KM logo.
Above the lens is the X60's built-in flash. The flash has a working range of 0.2 - 2.4 m at wide-angle and 0.5 - 2.0 m at telephoto. That's not great, but unfortunately it's typical of cameras in this class. An external flash cannot be attached to the DiMAGE X60.
To the left of the flash is the self-timer lamp, followed by the microphone. There is (unfortunately) no AF-assist lamp on the X60.
The LCD on the DiMAGE X60 has grown a bit since the X50 was around -- it's now 2.5" instead of 2.0". Of course, this comes at the expense of the optical viewfinder, which has been eliminated. While the screen is big, the resolution is not -- there are just 115,000 pixels. And while that's not horrible, I did wish that images were a little sharper on the screen. In low light the screen "gains up" a bit, though not as much as I would've liked.
Now let's talk about all that stuff to the right of the LCD. At the top-right of the photo is the zoom controller, which moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1.1seconds. I counted eight steps throughout the 3X zoom range.
Below that are buttons for playback, display (toggles what is shown on the LCD), and menu. Continuing downward we find the four-way controller, which is used for menu navigation and also:
There are two continuous shooting modes on the X60. Continuous mode will take up to four shots in a row at 1.6 frames/second. The LCD "blacks out" very briefly between shots. The multi frame feature takes nine shots in a row at about 2 frames/second and puts them into a collage.
On top of the X60 you'll find the microphone, mode switch, and shutter release button. The mode switch moves the camera between:
Nothing to see here.
Over here you'll find the SD/MMC card slot and the camera's two I/O ports. The memory card slot is covered by a fairly sturdy plastic door, and the USB+A/V port has a sliding cover of its own. The port at the top is for the optional AC adapter.
The X60 supports the USB 2.0 Full Speed standard which is just as slow as the original USB. Come on Minolta, how hard would it be to add USB 2.0 High Speed support?
On the bottom of the camera you'll find a plastic tripod mount and the battery compartment. I was NOT a fan of the door over the battery compartment. While it's a little flimsy, what really bothered me is how easy it was to open. On several occasions just putting the camera into my bag was enough to open the door, leading the battery to fall out. This door needs a lock!
The included NP-700 battery is shown at right.
Using the Minolta DiMAGE X60
The DiMAGE X60 starts up very quickly. Minolta claims a 0.5 second startup time but it seemed more like 0.7 seconds based on my tests. Either way that's very fast.
Autofocus speeds on the X60 were about average, typically taking around 0.5 - 0.7 seconds depending on the subject. Low light focusing was poor, due in part to the lack of an AF-assist lamp.
I did not find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds where it often crops up.
Shot-to-shot speed is very good, with a delay of about 1.5 seconds before you can take another shot, assuming the instant playback feature is turned off.
There's no way to delete a photo right after it is taken -- you must enter playback mode.
Now, here's a look at the resolution and quality choices on the DiMAGE X60:
And now you know why I recommended buying a larger memory card in the first section!
The DiMAGE X60 does not have a RAW or TIFF mode.
The camera saves images with a name of PICT####.JPG, where #### = 0001-9999. The camera will maintain the file numbering, even as you erase/replace memory cards.
The DiMAGE X60 uses the same menu system as other Minolta cameras. It's nice looking and easy to navigation, though a little slow. The options in the record menu include:
There's not much to talk about up there. As you can see, this is a 100% point-and-shoot camera: there are no manual controls.
Let's move on to the setup menu now. The items here include:
The RemoteCamera transfer mode option lets you use the X60 as a webcam or for videoconferencing (Windows only).
Okay, enough menus, let's talk about photo quality now.
The macro test shot is okay, but it could be better. The problem here is due to white balance: since there are only presets and no custom options, the camera wasn't able to get accurate color using my 600W quartz studio lamps. Now if you shoot in more "normal" lighting this is not an issue -- but if you have "special" lighting you may want to consider another camera. The subject itself is nice and sharp though -- it's just that bluish cast that's the problem.
In normal shooting you can get as close to your subject as 10 cm at wide-angle and 50 cm at telephoto. Put the camera into the super macro mode (via the Digital Subject Program feature) and the distance drops to 5 cm. The lens will be locked in the middle of the zoom range while in super macro mode and it cannot be adjusted.
I actually took the night shot twice. The first time was in the regular shooting mode and it came out too dark. Then I tried using the night portrait scene (with the flash turned off) which resulted in the photo you can see above. It brought in enough light, but it unfortunately did that by increasing the ISO to 160. This, as you can see, results in quite a bit of noise in the photo. There's no way to manually set a shutter speed on the X60 so you're sort of at the mercy of the camera. You can play around with the ISO a bit, but don't expect miraculous long exposures from this point-and-shoot camera.
Small camera = big redeye. If you've read enough camera reviews then you shouldn't be surprised by the X60's test results. Remember, this test is performed with the redeye reduction feature turned on.
There's moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the X60's lens. There is also some vignetting (dark corners) which showed up in some of my real world photos as well.
Overall, the DiMAGE X60's photo quality was a mixed bag. Sometimes it was good, other times I was disappointing. On the positive side, photos were well-exposed with very little purple fringing and noise. Colors were good most of the time, but in several photos I noticed a pronounced green/blue color cast (example). In addition, there is noticeable softness around the corners and edges in many photos (example 1, example 2), which sort of goes with the territory on these folded optics cameras. In other words, you have to be willing to accept the tradeoffs of a smaller camera like this one.
With that in mind, have a look at our photo gallery. Look closely and the photos and print them if you can. Then decide if the X60's photo quality meets your expectations.
The movie mode on the DiMAGE X60 isn't terribly exciting. You can record video at 320 x 240 (30 frames/second) with sound until the memory card is full. That takes just 21 seconds using the built-in memory, so you'll want a larger memory card for longer movies. By reducing the frame to 15 frames/second you can double the effective recording time.
The X60 offers a "night movie" mode, which brightens the scene in low light. Another neat feature is the ability to do a frame grab from a movie. When the movie is paused, just press "up" on the four-way controller and you can save a frame at the same resolution of the movie. And finally, you can use the movie editing feature to trim unwanted footage from the beginning or end of your clip -- in fact, I did this for the sample below.
Here's a sample movie for your enjoyment:
Click to play movie (6.5 MB, 320 x 240, 30 fps, QuickTime format)
Can't play it? Download QuickTime.
The X60 has a pretty standard playback mode. Basic playback options include slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll. The camera is PictBridge-enabled for direct printing to a compatible photo printer.
The zoom and scroll feature (my term) allows you to zoom in as much as 6X (in 0.2X increments) into your photo, and then scroll around. This is useful for making sure that your subject is in focus.
You can also rotate and crop photos, add a voice caption, or create a smaller picture for e-mailing. A copy function lets you move photos from one memory card to another.
The X60 also features a rather bizarre Image Pasting feature, which lets you super impose a photo (actually, part of a photo that fits into a shape like a square, thought bubble, etc) over an existing photo.
One other feature that I appreciate is the ability to delete a group of photos, instead of just one or all.
Unfortunately the X60 doesn't tell you anything about your photos other than what you can see above. Some exposure info would've been nice.
The camera moves between photos very quickly, moving from one image to the next almost instantly.
How Does it Compare?
While once a pioneer in the ultra-thin camera world, the latest revision of Konica Minolta's X-series of cameras isn't much of a standout anymore. The DiMAGE X60 has its charms, but I was disappointed with its photo quality, lack of manual controls, outdated movie mode, and below average battery life.
The X60 is a compact (but not tiny) camera made mostly of metal. It's easy to hold and operate with one hand. A sliding door covers the lens and also doubles as the power switch. I was not a big fan of the battery door, which comes open way too easily. The X60 has a large 2.5" LCD with so-so resolution and low light capability. There is no optical viewfinder.
Performance is generally very good. The camera turns on very quickly and shutter lag and shot-to-shot times are all comparable to other cameras in this class. Focus speeds could be a little better, and low light focusing was quite poor due to the lack of an AF-assist lamp. The X60 is a 100% point-and-shoot camera -- and so is most of the competition. Still, something like manual white balance would've been nice, especially if you shoot under unusual lighting like I do for these reviews.
The X60's photo quality was a mixed bag. Most of the time it was good, but some others times there was a noticeable color cast, which is not something I see very often. There was always blurring in the corners and around the edges of photos, which is something that comes along with the folding lens design used by the X60. Purple fringing and noise levels were okay, though. The camera's movie mode was disappointing compared to the competition. A few years ago a 320 x 240 / 30 fps movie mode would be okay, but now most cameras offer VGA movie recording so the X60 isn't so hot anymore.
A few other complaints include a not-very-surprising redeye problem, below average battery life, and the lack of USB 2.0 High Speed support (remember, most of the competition has it now).
If the competition wasn't so good I'd be more excited about the DiMAGE X60. Unfortunately there are better cameras out there for your hard earned dollars, and I've listed some of them below.
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
Some other compact cameras worth looking at include the Canon PowerShot SD400, Casio Exilim EX-Z57 and EX-S500, Fuji FinePix Z1, Kodak EasyShare V550, Nikon Coolpix 5900 and S1, Olympus Stylus Verve S, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX8, Pentax Optio S5z, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T5.
As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the DiMAGE X60 and its competitors before you buy!
Want to see how the photo quality turned out? Check out our photo gallery!
Want a second opinion?
Read more reviews at Steve's Digicams and CNET.
Feedback & Discussion
If 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.
To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.
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