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Digital Cameras - Minolta Dimage Xi Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Dark exposure and color with a limited dynamic range, though resolution is good.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open up the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Dimage Xi had just a little trouble with the harsh lighting.

The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, which resulted in slight underexposure overall, even though the highlights were actually a bit blown out. For some reason, I neglected to shoot my usual exposure series for this shot, so I don't have versions with increased exposure to show you here. - I'll try to reshoot this soon, but no promises, given my schedule these days..) I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Daylight setting produced similar results (just slightly cooler).

Skin tones are pretty good, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are very dark, more so than I'd think would be accounted for by the slight overall underexposure. The red and greens in the bouquet are also rather dark, but color accuracy is generally pretty good.

Resolution is high, with good detail visible throughout the frame, and moderate detail even in the shadows. Details are also sharp, and image noise in the shadows is low.


 

Closer Portrait:

(Sorry, this photo is missing - I'll try to shoot it if/as/when I can manage to reshoot the one above.)


 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
(+1.0 EV)
Twilight Portrait Mode
(+1.0 EV)

Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, good color as well. Nice light balance with slow-sync flash.

The Dimage Xi's flash does a good job of illuminating the subject here, although it required a full +1.0 EV of exposure compensation to get the brightness up where it needed to be. (The default exposure was very dark.) I was particularly pleased by how well the slow-sync mode worked, producing a very natural balance between the room lighting and the flash. The resulting image carried a lot of the warmth of the room lighting, but the overall effect was quite pleasing, and there were no bright blue highlights from the flash itself.


 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

Best (and surprisingly good) color with the Auto white balance setting.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The Dimage Xi seemed up to the challenge though, with its Auto setting producing surprisingly good color. There was still a slight warm cast, but really just about the right amount to convey the warmth of the original room lighting. The Incandescent setting resulted in a much warmer cast, too yellowish for my tastes. (But still better than many digicams I've tested.)


ISO Series:
The Dimage Xi has ISO options ranging from 50 to 400, and I shot the images linked in the table below to show the results you can expect with each. At ISO 50, the noise is pretty low, but it grows with each step of increasing ISO, becoming very prominent by the time you reach ISO 400. Full-sized digicams with larger CCD chips will generally give better noise performance than subcompacts like the Dimage Xi, but the noise level at ISO 400 was still quite a bit higher than I'd expected to see.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good resolution and detail, though slight color casts.

The Dimage Xi's Auto white balance setting produced nearly accurate results here, though with a slight reddish tint. Daylight white balance also produced good results, but with a yellow cast. Resolution is high, with good detail in the tree limbs and shrubbery. Details are a bit soft however, especially in the front shrubbery. The softness increases slightly at the corners of the frame as well. (Most of the subcompact digicams that I've tested seem to produce softer images than their full-sized brethren of the same CCD resolution.) Exposure is just a little bright, but overall performance is good.


 

Far-Field Test

Good resolution and detail, but high contrast limits dynamic range.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the Dimage Xi performed pretty well. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, as does the house front. Details are reasonably sharp, though the corners betray some softness, like many other subcompact digicams I've tested. The camera's somewhat high inherent contrast leads it to pick up only the strongest details in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is also minimal in the shadow area above the front door, further evidence of a limited dynamic range. The bulk of the image is quite dark, due to the high contrast and the camera's attempt to hold at least some detail in the strong highlights. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and sharpness series.

Resolution Series:
The table below holds links to images shot across the DXi's range of resolution settings. These days I don't bother shooting every combination of resolution and quality setting, choosing instead to show the effects of the lower quality settings only for the highest resolution option.

 

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
DXIFAR2048F
DXIFAR2048N
DXIFAR2048E
1,600 x 1,200
DXIFAR1600F
   
1,280 x 960
DXIFAR1280F
   
640 x 480
DXIFAR0640F
   


ISO Series:
The series below shows the results obtained with the DXi at each of its ISO settings. Image noise is pretty low at ISO 50, but gets pretty high at 400. (More than you'd see on a full-sized 3 megapixel digicam, with larger pixels on its CCD.)

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 

 



 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled (both 2x and 4x digital telephoto settings). The Dimage Xi's lens is equivalent to a 37-111mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a fair telephoto, and is very slightly weighted toward the telephoto end relative to the 3x zooms found on most cameras. (Which typically range from 35-105 mm.) Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
2x Digital Telephoto
4x Digital Telephoto


 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

A little trouble with color balance here, but good resolution and detail.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The Dimage Xi's Auto white balance setting fell victim to this trap, producing a pronounced yellow cast. The Daylight setting fared better, though it still showed a slight magenta cast. As a result, skin tones are slightly pinkish. Despite the pink cast, the blue robe has greenish highlights, and slight purplish tints in the deep shadow areas. Resolution is high, with good detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.


 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Good macro performance, with good resolution and color.

The Dimage Xi performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.47 x 2.61 inches (88 x 66 millimeters). (This is a bit better than average for subcompact digicams.) Resolution is high, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch, though details are just slightly soft. Corner softness is again present, but not to the extent I'm accustomed to seeing with this shot. The Dimage Xi's flash throttled down for the macro area a little too well, and underexposed the shot. Overall, pretty good macro performance for a subcompact digicam.


 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slight underexposure but accurate hues and appropriate saturation.

The Auto white balance produced the best color here, though with a slight magenta cast in the mini-resolution target and large, white color block. Daylight setting produced a warmer image. The DXi's default exposure underexposed the image a bit, but the camera has no trouble distinguishing the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. Colors are slightly dull in the large color blocks, with low saturation. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes has moderate detail, with fairly low noise.


 

Low-Light Tests

Limited low-light performance, trouble focusing at lower light levels.

The Dimage Xi has a maximum exposure time of only two seconds, which limits its low-light shooting abilities quite a bit. That said, the adjustable ISO does help things out, though the camera has trouble focusing at lower light levels.

The Dimage Xi produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level at the ISO 400 setting, with good color (though focus is quite soft). At ISO 200, images were bright as low as 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux), and ISO 100 went down only to one foot candle (11 lux). As was expected, ISO 50 only captured bright images as low as two foot-candles (22 lux), though you could arguably use the one foot-candle image at this ISO setting. Given that average city streetlighting corresponds to an illumination level of about 1 foot-candle, the Dimage Xi should work pretty well for photographing well-lit outdoor night scenes.

The Dimage Xi automatically employs a Noise Reduction system at slower shutter speeds, which seems to do a good job controlling image noise. Even at ISO 400, noise is only moderately high. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

  2fc
22lux
1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
50
Click to see DXILL0502.JPG
1.3 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see DXILL0503.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see DXILL0504.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see DXILL0505.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see DXILL0506.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see DXILL0507.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 50
ISO
100
Click to see DXILL1002.JPG
1/2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see DXILL1003.JPG
1.7 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see DXILL1004.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see DXILL1005.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see DXILL1006.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see DXILL1007.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
ISO
200
Click to see DXILL2002.JPG
1/3 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see DXILL2003.JPG
1/1 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see DXILL2004.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see DXILL2005.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see DXILL2006.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see DXILL2007.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200
ISO
400
Click to see DXILL4002.JPG
1/5 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see DXILL4003.JPG
1/3 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see DXILL4004.JPG
1.3 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see DXILL4005.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see DXILL4006.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see DXILL4007.JPG
2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400


 

Flash Range Test

A flash range of ~10 feet.

In my testing, the Dimage Xi's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, but the intensity fell off a bit beginning at around 10 feet. Flash power was slightly dim at the eight foot distance, but dropped off fairly slowly beyond that point. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

 

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see DXIFL08.JPG
1/100 sec
F/3.6
ISO: 160
Click to see DXIFL09.JPG
1/100 sec
F/3.6
ISO: 160
Click to see DXIFL10.JPG
1/100 sec
F/3.6
ISO: 160
Click to see DXIFL11.JPG
1/100 sec
F/3.6
ISO: 160
Click to see DXIFL12.JPG
1/100 sec
F/3.6
ISO: 160
Click to see DXIFL13.JPG
1/100 sec
F/3.6
ISO: 160
Click to see DXIFL14.JPG
1/100 sec
F/3.6
ISO: 160


 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Good resolution, 950 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion, higher than average pincushion though.

The Dimage Xi performed about average for its three-megapixel class on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 950 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,150 lines. The Dimage Xi's images are a bit softer than the best full-sized three-megapixel cameras, but compare favorably with those from other three-megapixel subcompact models. The extreme corners of the images are blurred somewhat, particularly on the left-hand side of the res target shot. The softness doesn't extend very far into the image area though, minimizing its likely impact on a user's photography.

Optical distortion on the Dimage Xi is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.8 percent barrel distortion. (This is about average among cameras I've tested, but I'd really like to see much less geometric distortion in digicam images overall.) The telephoto end fared only slightly better, as I measured a 0.5 percent pincushion distortion, higher than most cameras I've tested. Chromatic aberration is a mixed bag, as there's relatively little color showing, but what's there is spread out quite a bit by the corner softness. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle

Wide Angle Uncompressed "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536 DXIRESWLU
DXIRESWLF
DXIRESWLM
DXIRESWLE
1,600 x 1,200  
DXIRESWMF
   
1,280 x 960  
DXIRESWSF
   
640 x 480  
DXIRESWTF
   

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,048 x 1,536
(Fine, Tele)
DXIRESTLF



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, but pretty accurate LCD monitor.

The Dimage Xi's optical viewfinder is tighter than average, showing 80 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and only 77 percent at telephoto. Images framed with the optical viewfinder also have extra space at the top and left sides of the frame, which is something to consider when framing images. The LCD monitor is actually just slightly loose, as the darker measurement lines I typically use were just cut off in the final images. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Dimage Xi's LCD monitor does quite well in that respect. - I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder though. Flash distribution is fairly even at wide angle, with just a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is even more uniform.

 


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD


DXi Review
DXi Test Images
DXi Specifications
DXi "Picky Details"
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