Xt ($499) is the latest addition to Minolta's unique and
popular DiMAGE X series. The DiMAGE Xt is very similar to its
predecessor, the DiMAGE Xi (see
our review), with its most notable
feature being its new "vertically-oriented" design.
case you don't know the rest of the story, the DiMAGE Xt has
a 3.2 Megapixel CCD, and innovative 3X optical zoom lens, which
actually runs down the body, instead of towards the back (if
that makes any sense).
you're ready to learn more about this camera, and if its right
for you, read one. First, a little disclaimer: since this camera
is so similar to the DiMAGE Xi, I'll be reusing a lot of that
in the Box?
DiMAGE Xt has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.2 (effective) Mpixel DiMAGE Xt camera
Secure Digital card
- NP-200 Li-ion
battery (rechargeable) w/charger
page camera manual + software manual (both printed)
Viewer Utility + DiMAGE Software CDs
DiMAGE Xt is bundled with a 16MB Secure Digital (SD) memory card.
It'll be a good card to start with, but you'll probably want
larger one soon after your camera purchase. The Xt works with
both SD and MultiMedia (MMC) cards.
most ultra-small cameras, the Xt uses a small, proprietary battery.
Long time readers of this site know that I'm not a huge fan of
these expensive batteries ($40 a pop), but they are really unavoidable
on cameras like this. This particular lithium-ion battery, known
as the NP-200, has 2.8 Watt/hours of power. Minolta estimates
that you can take about 200 photos, or spend 120 minutes in playback
mode, on a
single charge -- an improvement over earlier models.
Battery charging method #1
includes an external battery charger with the camera. Just pop
in the battery, plug the whole thing into the wall, and charge
away. It takes 80 minutes to recharge the NP-200.
Battery charging method #2
way to charge the battery is just to pop the whole camera in
the charger. Do note that it takes 120 minutes to charge the
battery this way. I'm not sure why Minolta offered two ways to
do the same thing, and had one way be slower than the other.
Xt has as built-in lens cover, so there is no need to worry about
lens caps. As you can see, it's a very small camera.
accessory line-up has expanded a bit since the DiMAGE X. You
can now buy the MC-DG200 Marine Case ($200), which lets you take
your camera up to 30 m underwater. Other options include a regular
camera case ($14), AC adapter ($50), and a camera case ($10).
with the camera is version 2.1.3 of the Minolta DiMAGE Viewer
software. The good news is that it's now Mac OS X compatible
(and it actually works, unlike v. 2.1). It's certainly not a
substitute for something like Photoshop Elements, but it does
basic editing fairly well. The camera works fine with iPhoto
DiMAGE's manual is pretty good as well, with long explanations
and not a lot of fine print. Much better than the average camera
most obvious difference between the DiMAGE Xt and its predecessor,
the Xi, is the look and feel. While the Xi (and original DiMAGE
X) was square, the Xt is more rectangular, as you can see above.
engineering behind the DiMAGE X series is very impressive. Minolta
has managed put a 3X optical zoom lens into a camera less than
an inch thick. What they've
done is put a prism at the back of the lens, and then put all
the moving parts and additional optics down the camera body.
The CCD sensor is actually on the bottom of the camera. This
page explains it visually better than I can describe it
Xt has an all-metal body, which, as you might imagine, feels
very solid. Do watch out though, as metal cameras can scratch
pocket better than almost any camera out there. The official
are 3.5 x 2.6 x 0.8 inches (W x H x D) and it weighs just 120
grams empty (slightly less than the DiMAGE Xi).
begin our tour of this camera now.
DiMAGE Xt has the same F2.8, 3X optical zoom as its predecessor.
The focal range of the lens is 5.7 - 17.1 mm which is equivalent
to 37 - 111
mm. Obviously, there are no lens
accessories for this camera available.
thing you really have to watch out for with the DiMAGE Xt is
your finger. It's very easy to put your finger near
that lens and thus into the picture.
to the left of the lens, you can see the optical viewfinder,
self-time lamp, and the flash. The Xt's flash has
a working range of 0.15 - 3.2
at wide-angle and 0.15 - 2.5 m at telephoto. These numbers are
a slight improvement over the DiMAGE Xi.
toward the bottom is the Xt's microphone.
with the DiMAGE X and Xi, there is no autofocus-assist lamp.
This greatly aids in low light focusing, and it's a shame
continues to ignore this valuable feature.
the back of the DiMAGE Xt. The camera has an average-sized, high
resolution 1.5" LCD
display. The LCD is bright and fluid, and the brightness is adjustable
optical viewfinder, found at the upper-left, is very small,
and lacks a diopter correction feature (forgivable on such a
the LCD is the mode dial. There are just four options on it: record,
playback, movie/audio recording, and setup. I'm not covering the
audio recording feature in this review, so here's just a quick summary:
you can record up to 3 hours of continuous audio on the Xt, though
the 16MB SD card can only hold about 30 minutes.
the right of the mode dial is the four-way switch, which is also
used for adjusting exposure compensation (±2EV, 1/3EV
increments) and operating the zoom lens. The lens moves from
wide-angle to telephoto in just two seconds, though
bit of a delay between the time you press the button and the
moment the lens actually moves. Instead of adjusting exposure
compensation, you can choose other functions for the left/right
buttons to control in the record menu.
the LCD there are four buttons. They are for:
/ Delete Photo - QuickView is a way to review the last shot
- Toggles LCD on/off
(Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, fill-flash, flash cancel, night
to the right of those buttons is the speaker.
The only things to see up here are the power and
shutter release buttons.
you read the DiMAGE
Xi review, you'll notice that Minolta has
moved the microphone away from the top of the camera (where your
finger could inadvertently cover it). They've also changed the
on/off switch a bit, as before it felt too much like the shutter
at all to see here.
the other side of the camera you'll find the I/O ports, SD/MMC
memory card slot, and battery compartment. The USB port (top)
is normally covered with a plastic slider. The DC-in port (for
optional AC adapter) can be seen at the bottom.
sturdy mirrored door covers the memory card and battery compartments
-- quite an improvement over the cheapo door on the older models.
here is the bottom of the DiMAGE Xt. You can see the contacts
for the battery charger, as well as the plastic tripod mount.
The tripod mount is neither centered nor inline with the lens.
the Minolta DiMAGE Xt
its predecessor, the DiMAGE Xt has an incredibly fast startup
time of about 1.5 seconds. Autofocus speeds are just okay --
about half a second in good light (on subjects that are easy
to focus) and a second or so if the AF has to "hunt" a bit.
Despite not having an AF-assist lamp, the Xt did a pretty good
job focusing in dim light. Shutter
lag is short, but still noticeable, especially when the camera is
using a slower shutter speed.
speed is very good. If you turn off the instant playback feature,
you can take another shot in under 2 seconds. It'll be more
like 3.5 seconds if instant playback is on, but you can half-press
shutter release to go back to shooting immediately.
a look at the resolution and quality choices on the DiMAGE Xt:
on included 16MB card
you can see, the DiMAGE Xt has a TIFF mode, which is rare on
a point-and-shoot camera. Note that the camera will be locked
up for 20 seconds while the TIFF is recorded (which isn't that
bad, compared to some cameras).
Xt saves images with a name of PICT####.JPG (or .TIF), where
#### = 0001-9999. The camera will
maintain the file numbering, even as you erase/replace memory
DiMAGE Xt has the same simple and easy to navigate menu system
as the Xi. The menu items include:
mode (Single-shot, continuous shooting, self-timer)
size (see chart)
balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent)
Key function (Exp. compensation, white balance, drive,
sensitivity, color mode) - define what the left/right
buttons on the four-way controller do.
[ISO] (Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400)
mode (Multi-segment, spot)
compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
reduction (on/off) - reduces noise in photos with 1 sec or
slower shutter speed
reset (on/off) - whether camera saves settings when powered
- Color mode (Color, black & white, sepia)
memo (on/off) - add a 15 second sound clip to each photo
imprint (on/off) - prints the date/time on your
shooting mode will let you take images consecutively at a maximum
rate of 1.3 frames/second. You can take 5-20 shots in a row at
x 1536, depending on the quality setting. You cannot shoot
in TIFF mode, however.
DiMAGE Xt also has a setup menu, which is accessed via the mode
dial. The interesting setup options include:
number memory (on/off)
name (Standard, date form)
(Japanese, English, German, French, Spanish)
signals / Shutter FX - mess around with beeps and phony shutter
sounds; You can even record your own sounds.
off (1, 3, 5, 10, 30 mins)
output (NTSC, PAL)
mode (Data storage, remote camera) - see below
"remote camera" option is new to the DiMAGE Xt. It allows people
with Windows-based PCs to use the camera for videoconferencing,
using software like Microsoft NetMeeting. Being a Mac guy, I did
not try it.
move on to photo quality now!
DiMAGE Xt has an automatic macro mode -- you don't turn it on
like with most cameras. You can get as close to your subject
as 15 cm, regardless of the focal length (a rare feature). The
shot above came out pretty well, though the colors aren't terribly
night test shot was mediocre. Being a point-and-shoot camera,
you're at the mercy of the camera's brain when it comes to choosing
a shutter speed. While the Xt chose the longest shutter speed
-- 4 seconds -- it's still not long enough to nicely capture
the skyline and bridge. Noise levels were very low, though.
not as bad as other small cameras, there is definitely some redeye
on the DiMAGE Xt. Having the flash close to the lens is usually
the cause. The solution is to fix it in software. Note that I
enlarged the crop slightly so you can see the detail.
distortion test shows several things For one, it shows moderate
barrel distortion (look at how the lines curve as you get further
from the center). Another thing that may be hard to see is vignetting,
or darkened corners. You can see a real life example of this
here. Finally, there's some blurriness in the corners. I guess
all three of these issues are tradeoffs for that unique lens
quality on the DiMAGE Xt is much the same as on the Xi. Color
and exposure are nice, but there's still this softness to them,
reminiscent of a video capture. It's certainly not bad, but not
as good as a camera with a "regular" lens. For people
who are interested in website photos and small prints, the image
is fine. Perfectionists and fans of larger prints may want to
just take my word for it, though -- have a look at the photo
gallery and decide for yourself!
DiMAGE Xt has a better movie mode (known as XR -- Extended Recording
Mode) than the other two DiMAGE X models. You can now record
full -- do note that the included 16MB card only holds 41 seconds.
There are two resolutions to choose from: 320 x 240 and 160 x
with most cameras that record sound with movies, the optical
zoom is disabled during filming. You can, however, use the digital
is a sample movie for your enjoyment. You may want to turn the
volume down before you press play.
to play movie (4.5MB, QuickTime format)
play it? Download QuickTime.
DiMAGE Xt's playback mode is pretty standard. Basic options include
slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail
mode, and zoom and scroll.
zoom and scroll feature (my term) allows you to zoom in as much
as 6X into your photo, and then scroll around. This feature has
been nicely improved since the DiMAGE Xi.
helpful feature for some is the E-mail Copy option. This will
create a 640 x 480 or 160 x 120 version of a photo, perfect for
thing I appreciate is the ability to delete a group of photos,
instead of just one or all.
the Xt doesn't give you any information about exposure settings
in playback mode. The camera takes about 1.5 seconds to move
Does it Compare?
Minolta DiMAGE Xt is a small update to their DiMAGE Xi, adding
just a few features here and there, along with an even more unique
design. In terms of photo quality, the Xt isn't going to win
any awards, with above average barrel distortion, vignetting,
some fuzziness in corners, and a "video capture" look
-- but then again, most cameras don't have the Xt's one-of-a-kind
and those people who do smaller prints won't mind, but as I
said earlier, enthusiasts may want to find a more traditional
if photo quality is your number one priority. The DiMAGE Xt is
a point-and-shoot camera, with no manual controls at all. The
mode has been
improved, the microphone moved away from your fingers, and the
Xt can now be used for videoconferencing (at least on Windows).
Like its predecessors, the Xt's startup and shot-to-shot speeds
are excellent. But the DiMAGE Xt's biggest selling point is undoubtedly
its ultra-thin body,
photo quality with accurate color, no purple fringing
smaller body, with same unique 3X zoom lens
startup, shot-to-shot speeds
movie mode: record until card is full, with sound
more sturdy door over memory card/battery compartment
be used for videoconferencing (Windows only)
I didn't care for:
vignetting, fuzzy corners in images; images often have "video
than average barrel distortion
manual controls -- not even white balance
ultra-small 3 Megapixel cameras include the Canon PowerShot
Casio EX-Z3 and QV-R3,
Fuji FinePix A303 and
Nikon Coolpix 3100 and 3500, Olympus
Stylus 300, Panasonic
DMC-LC33, Pentax Optio 330GS/S,
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P72 and
and the Toshiba
PDR-3310. A long list, yes, but there
of cameras to consider in this class!
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try
out the DiMAGE Xt and its competitors before you buy!
to see how the photo quality turned on? Check out our photo
a second opinion?
out the review of the DiMAGE Xt over at Steves
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.