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"Picky Details" for the Minolta Dimage Xi digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

Timing
Since they're rarely reported on but very important to the picture-taking experience, I measure both cycle times and shutter delay times for all the cameras I review, using a test system I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the Minolta Dimage Xi:

NOTE: My qualitative characterizations of camera performance below (that is, "reasonably fast," "about average," etc.) are meant to be relative to other cameras of similar price and general capabilities. Thus, the same shutter lag that's "very fast" for a low-end consumer camera might be characterized as "quite slow" if I encountered it on a professional model. The comments are also intended as only a quick reference: If performance specs are critical for you, rely on the absolute numbers to compare cameras, rather than my purely qualitative comments.

Minolta Dimage Xi Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
1.84
Time from power-up to first shot captured. Pretty darn fast! (No lens to extend.)
Shutdown
1.89
Lens cover closes before shutdown. About average
Play to Record, first shot
1.16
Time until first shot is captured. Faster than average.
Record to play
1.65/0.76
Time to display an image after capture. First number is for large/fine, second is for small/economy. Both times are quite fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.27/1.20
First time is with lens at telephoto, second for wide angle. Both times are rather slow. - Probably the Dimage Xi's single biggest failing.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.17
Time to capture, after half-pressing Shutter button. Somewhat faster than average.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
4.65/3.41
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Rather slow, probably because it doesn't use any buffer memory.
Cycle Time, TIFF (uncompressed) 22.26 Time between uncompressed ("Super Fine") shots. Fairly typical.
Cycle Time, continuous mode 0.60/0.53
1.7/1.9 fps
First numbers are for large/fine files, second for small/economy. Lower figures are frames per second. Note that the interval between the first two shots in a series is longer than that between subsequent ones. - 1.02 seconds for large/fin, 0.70 seconds for small/economy. Camera can capture ~8 shots in large/fine mode before having to pause, up to ~140 in small/economy mode. (So why can't it have a faster cycle time between shots in normal shooting mode? - There's obviously a sizeable buffer memory here.)


Based on the timing results above, shutter lag and cycle time seem to be the weak points of the Dimage Xi. It's slower than average in both categories, by a fair margin. It's fairly quick in continuous mode though, and can actually capture a surprisingly long series of images before having to pause to dump them to the memory card. - This left me wondering why it was so slow between shots in normal shooting mode, as it obviously has plenty of buffer memory to work with. Whatever the case, the Dimage Xi wouldn't be your first choice if you need to capture fast-breaking action.

Power
The DXi uses an NP-200 LiIon rechargeable battery, providing 750 mAh at 3.7 volts. It displays average battery life for a subcompact camera (that is, fairly short) when the LCD is on, but excellent life when the LCD is turned off. The table below shows the DXi's power consumption in various modes, and approximate run times for each, based on a true 750 mAh capacity for its NP-200 battery pack:

 

Operating Mode
Power
(@4.7 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(NP-200 battery pack)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
597 mA
59
Capture Mode, no LCD
5.3 mA
(111 hours)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
599 mA
59
Half-pressed w/o LCD
390 mA
91
Memory Write (transient)
732 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1084 mA
n/a
Image Playback
367 mA
97

 

This is fairly typical (that is, short) battery life for a subcompact camera. The excellent news though, is the nearly zero power consumption in record mode when the LCD is left turned off. This means you can literally leave the camera on and ready to shoot all day without putting so much as a dent in your battery life. - If the optical viewfinder were more accurate, I'd rate the Dimage Xi's battery life as outstanding, but as it is, you need to rely on the LCD for any accurate framing.

As always, I strongly advise purchasing a second battery along with the camera, to avoid running out of juice at an inconvenient moment.

Storage Capacity
The Dimage Xi stores its photos on SD (Secure Digital) memory cards, and a 16 MB card is packed withthe camera. As always, I strongly recommend buying at least a 32MB card, preferably a 64MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings. The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 16MB card at each size/quality setting, and the approximate amount of image compression applied in each mode. (The more image compression that's applied, the smaller the image files, but the lower quality the photos will be.)

 

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
16MB Memory Card
Super Fine
Fine
Standard
Economy
2,048 x 1,536 Images
(Avg size)
1
9.4 MB
12
1,600 KB
12
815 KB
26
415 KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1 6:1 12:1 23:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
2
5.8 MB
39
996 KB
12
515 KB
12
266 KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
6:1
11:1
22:1
1,280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
4
3.7 MB
49
648 KB
12
332 KB
12
183 KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
6:1
11:1
20:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
16
0.9 MB
122
183 KB
12
100 KB
12
66 KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
5:1
9:1
14:1

 

Download Speed
The Dimage Xi connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my 500 MHz PowerMac G4 (OS 9.1), I clocked it at 517 KBytes/second, and on my fast new Sony VAIO desktop running Windows XP, it came in at 576 KBytes/second. Both numbers are well at the upper range of digicams I've tested. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast ones run as high as 600 KB/s.)

 

DXi Review
DXi Test Images
DXi Specifications
DXi "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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