Dimage X: Prototype reviewed! (UPDATED)|
(Tuesday, January 8, 2002 - 22:08 EST)
To coincide with Minolta's official launch, we're proud to bring you a review of the company's tiny ultra-compact 3x optical zoom digicam...
Over the last year, Minolta's really made some waves in the digicam world, starting with the first "prosumer" level 5 megapixel digicam, the Dimage 7, first announced last February. Now, they've pulled another rabbit out of their corporate hat, announcing the world's smallest 2 megapixel digicam with a 3x optical zoom lens.
The new Dimage X is the tiniest camera I've tested to date, thanks to a clever lens design that mounts the lens vertically *inside* the camera's body. (An internal prism at the top directs light down into the lens/CCD assembly.) The resulting camera looks more like an MP3 player than a camera, appearing as a sleek square of aluminum, just slightly more than three-quarters of an inch thick.
While I've tested a number of cameras now that qualify as "pocket sized", the Dimage X is without a doubt the most deserving of that description. A side benefit of the internally-mounted zoom lens is that there's no waiting for a telescoping lens to rack out when you turn the camera on: A little metal shutter slides back and you're ready to go. (Time from power on to first shot is a scant 2.7 seconds.)
While the model I tested was only a prototype, I was quite encouraged by the picture quality as well - It's quite acceptable for a two megapixel camera, with seemingly little tradeoff for the diminutive size. Another happy surprise (for an all-automatic camera) was that it did pretty well in relatively dim lighting, snapping pictures around the house even in rather dimly-lit rooms.
I see this as possibly the ultimate "always with you" digicam, a great unit for most anyone, including the enthusiast who doesn't want to lug their uber-camera along with them all the time. Overall, a very appealing package, and one that gets the rare "I wouldn't mind having one of these myself" stamp of approval. ;-) Check it out!
UPDATED 2002-01-08 21:10ET: Our friends at the Digital Photography Review have also posted their review of the Minolta DiMAGE X, concluding:
"What a neat little camera, and it's got a 3x zoom to boot! The 'X' may well be one of the most innovative digital cameras to date, it's super-slim proportions, great looks and excellent startup times are just what we'd expect from a modern digital camera. Unfortunately you know what a stickler I am for image quality. The X's images just don't live up to a modern compact / ultra-compact 2 megapixel, they're soft and have visible ghosting artifacts (probably from the prism mirror)." The folks at Steve's Digicams, meanwhile, have a first look review online...