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Konica Minolta DiMAGE G500 Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date
05/12/2004
User Level
Novice
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design
Compact Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
Very High, 5.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
4x6, 5x7, 8x10 and larger
Availability
September, 2003
Suggested Retail Price
(At introduction)
$399

Introduction

Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Sample Pictures
Specifications
Conclusion

The Konica Minolta DiMAGE G500 is one of the first products to ship, following the merger between Konica and Minolta in 2003. The Konica Minolta DiMAGE G500 is actually little more than a rebadged Konica KD-510Z, a product developed by Konica before the merger took effect.. With 5.0 megapixels, a 3x optical zoom lens, and a compact, all-metal body with fully retracting lens, the G500 has the profile of an excellent travel companion. The benefit of automatic or full manual exposure control ought to please a range of user levels, and the flexibility of image color, sharpness, and a range of exposure adjustments will satisfy the needs of more experienced users.

Camera Overview

Minolta's latest DiMAGE digicam bears a striking resemblance to the Konica KD-510Z digital camera, no surprise, since it's essentially the same camera with a new logo. Thanks to a merger between the two companies, the DiMAGE G500 is simply Minolta's repackaging of the previous Konica model. The dual-slot digicam accepts both SD memory cards and Sony Memory Sticks, a feature that first debuted on the Konica KD-400. Adding to the G500's attractions are its tiny size and stainless steel alloy body, as well as a high-resolution, five-megapixel CCD. Compact and rugged, the G500 should stand up to heavy usage, another bonus when traveling. The sliding lens cover design eliminates the need for a lens cap, and keeps the camera front smooth and pocket-friendly. Small enough for the average shirt pocket, the G500 comes with a wrist strap for easy toting. The 3x zoom lens and 5.0-megapixel CCD capture high resolution, print quality images, with great color and detail. With high-tech simplicity and ease-of-use forefront in the G500's design, the camera's point-and-shoot operation is quick to learn and convenient.

Equipped with a telescoping, 3x, 8-24mm Hexanon lens (39-117mm 35mm equivalent), the G500's tiny size doesn't compromise its optics. Focus remains under automatic control, and ranges from 1.64 feet (0.5 meters) to infinity in normal mode, and from 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) to infinity in Macro mode. (The G500's macro capabilities are pretty good, its minimum macro area is a fairly small 2.85 x 2.14 inches or 72 x 54 millimeters.) Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8.3, with actual values depending on the zoom setting. A green AF illuminator light strip on the front of the camera shines a (somewhat dim) light on the subject when shooting in low-light situations, and lights up playfully when the camera is powered on. In addition to the camera's 3x optical zoom, as much as 3x digital zoom is also available, effectively increasing the G500's zoom capabilities to 9x. (I always remind readers though, that digital zoom typically decreases the overall image quality because it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image. Resulting images generally have softer details and higher noise levels.) Both a real-image optical viewfinder and 1.5-inch color LCD monitor are available for composing images. The unusually bright and contrasty LCD monitor features an information display that reports limited camera settings information, including the shutter speed and aperture settings (when the Shutter button is halfway pressed).

The G500 offers either full manual or full automatic exposure control (the Manual setting is accessed through the Record menu). Limited external controls keep the user interface simple, but also mean greater reliance on the LCD menu system. That said, the G500's LCD menus are straightforward and uncomplicated, with a scrolling page layout. The sliding lens cover serves as the power switch, triggering the lens to extend forward when opened. Macro, Self-Timer, and Distant View (landscape) photography modes are accessed via the left arrow of the Four-Way Arrow pad. By default, the G500 employs a TTL center-weighted metering system, but a Spot metering option is available through the Record menu. An Exposure Compensation adjustment lightens or darkens the overall image from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to one second in normal shooting mode, but the Slow Shutter option and Manual record mode offer maximum exposure times up to 15 seconds. The camera's White Balance adjustment offers Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, and Tungsten options, for shooting under different light sources. You can also opt to record images in Black-and-White or Sepia monotones. The G500's built-in flash operates in Auto, Forced, Red-Eye Reduction, Suppressed, and Slow-Sync modes. A menu option lets you control flash power, from -1 to +1 EV.

The G500 also features a Movie mode, activated through the Record menu. The camera captures moving images with sound for as long as 30 seconds per clip, at 320 x 240 pixels. (The amount of available memory card space also determines the length of movie files.) As with most cameras offering sound recording with their movie options, you can set the G500's lens to whatever zoom position you like prior to the start of recording, but once recording has begun, the focal length is fixed. This prevents the noise of the zoom motor from affecting the audio track. You can also record short sound clips to accompany images, for a maximum of 30 seconds (or as long as the memory card has available space.) Audio clips can be recorded with an image or anytime afterwards. A Continuous shooting mode is hidden in the camera's Setup menu, and once activated, shoots a rapid sequence of images for as long as the Shutter button is held down. The camera's Self-Timer mode offers a short delay (either three or 10 seconds) between the time the Shutter button is pressed and the shutter actually opens, giving you time to zip around in front of the camera for a self-portrait. Through the Record menu, the G500 also offers an ISO adjustment, with equivalent settings of 50, 100, 200, and 400. Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation can also be adjusted, as well as the individual red, blue, and green levels.

As I mentioned above, the G500 stores images either on Sony Memory Sticks or on SD/MMC memory cards, both available separately in a variety of storage capacities. A 16MB SD card ships with the camera, but I'd recommend picking up a higher-capacity card, especially given the camera's maximum 2,592 x 1,944-pixel resolution. Two megabytes of internal flash memory provide a small buffer that temporarily saves images, and that permits the copying files between memory cards. The camera utilizes a rechargeable DR-LB4 lithium battery pack for power, which comes with the camera, along with a battery charger. (An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory, and uses a "dummy" battery to plug into the camera.) The G500 features a USB jack and cable for downloading images to a computer. Two CD-ROMs also come with the camera, one loaded with DiMAGE Viewer software for downloading and organizing images, and the other loaded with the instruction manuals. (The necessary USB drivers are also provided.)

At the end of the day, the DiMAGE G500 is a very competent little camera, my main criticism of it being a very sluggish shutter response. While compact digicams often have shutter lag times (the delay between pressing the shutter and the camera actually snapping the picture.) on the slow side of average, the G500's 1.30-1.45 second shutter delay range was quite a bit longer than that of other contenders. Apart from this, the G500 performed nicely in my tests.

Basic Features

  • 5.0-megapixel CCD delivering maximum 2,592 x 1,944-pixel resolution images.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD monitor.
  • Glass, 3x 8-24mm Hexanon lens (equivalent to a 39-117mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • 3x digital zoom.
  • Automatic and full manual exposure control.
  • Aperture range from f/2.8 to f/8.3.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to 15 seconds.
  • Built-in flash with five modes, and an adjustable intensity setting.
  • SD/MMC and Sony Memory Stick card storage, 16MB SD card included.
  • 2MB internal memory.
  • Power supplied by lithium-ion battery pack or optional AC adapter (battery and charger included).
  • DiMAGE Viewer imaging application included, for Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Special Features

  • Movie with sound recording mode.
  • Three or ten-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Continuous Shooting mode.
  • Sepia and Black-and-White color modes.
  • Adjustable ISO setting.
  • Contrast, Saturation, and Sharpness settings, as well as individual Red, Blue, and Green adjustments.
  • White balance (color) adjustment with five modes.
  • Voice caption recording.
  • Spot metering option.
  • Distant View record mode for landscape shots.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).

Recommendation

With its dual-format memory card slot, tiny size, and simple, point-and-shoot operation, Minolta's DiMAGE G500 is a rugged, portable option for techno-savvy consumers. Accepting both SD/MMC cards and Sony Memory Sticks, the G500 is geared toward those consumers who want to make the most of their techno-gadgets by throwing a very compact digicam into the mix. The camera's stainless steel alloy body is perfect for travel, as is the small size and pocket-friendly design. The 5.0-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom are enough to satisfy advanced pros looking for a general-purpose camera with great image quality, and the option for automatic or full manual exposure control welcomes a range of experience levels.

 

Design

Trim, compact, and light weight, the G500 is ready for travel. Its stainless steel alloy body can withstand some wear and tear, and the very small size is perfect for pockets. The sliding lens cover keeps the front panel smooth whenever the camera is shut off, making it easy to stash it in a pocket at a moment's notice. Measuring 3.75 x 2.25 x 1.19 inches (94 x 56 x 29.5 millimeters), the G500's easily pocketable, though its thickness and semi-sharp edges are better for a purse or bag. Despite its metal body, the camera remains light weight at just 7.1 ounces (200 grams) without the battery or memory card. A wrist strap secures the camera while in-hand. Those wanting to maintain its nice sheen should get a soft case.

The G500's front panel is fairly smooth with the lens cover closed, with the exception of some very small protrusions. Sliding open the lens cover triggers the 3x zoom lens to telescope outward into its shooting position. I'm accustomed to sliding lens covers opening from left to right, but the G500's operates in the opposite direction, which took some getting used to. The lens comes out very quickly, in under one second, and the camera can capture its first shot in as little as 1.6 seconds after being turned on. In addition to the lens, the camera's flash, optical viewfinder window, AF assist lamp, and a small light sensor are also beneath the sliding cover. The thin, horizontal AF assist lamp below the lens shines a cool green when lit, adding to the G500's stylish features. Though the camera doesn't have much of a hand grip, a sculpted, curving ridge on the front panel serves as a finger grip, reinforced by a slight thumb rest on the back panel.

On the right side of the camera is an eyelet for attaching the wrist strap, as well as the USB jack.

The opposite side of the camera is smooth and flat. At the very bottom of the panel is a small, removable section of the battery compartment. This provides an opening for the AC adapter cord, which attaches to a "dummy" battery.

A smooth, flat Shutter button and the camera's microphone are the only features on the top panel, which is also very flat.

The remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, along with the LCD monitor and optical viewfinder. The tiny optical viewfinder eyepiece doesn't have a diopter adjustment, but does have a moderate eyepoint. I could see the full view a short distance from the eyepiece, so eyeglass wearers may be more comfortable framing images with the LCD monitor. Two LED lamps on the right side of the eyepiece light or blink to indicate camera status, such as when focus is set or the flash is charging. The Playback, Display, Erase, and Zoom buttons flank the eyepiece. Just below the Zoom buttons (which are in the top right corner) is the camera's speaker. The 1.5-inch color LCD monitor dominates the left side of the back panel, and directly to the right of it are the Menu/Set and Four-Way Arrow pad rocker buttons.

The G500's bottom panel is also smooth and flat. A plastic threaded tripod mount sits to the far right (when looking from the back), which may encourage the camera to sit slightly tilted on a tripod head. (This is easily remedied by tilting the tripod head itself, but I thought it worth mentioning.) Also on the bottom panel is the battery and memory card slot, covered by a sliding, hinged door. The slot houses both Sony Memory Sticks and SD/MMC memory cards, as well as a lithium-ion battery pack. While I lacked the necessary power connector to perform my usual battery-life tests, it bears mentioning that the battery life of the G500's Konica-branded sibling was amazing, often sitting for over a month and still operating for several hours of on time. This is a good trait for a "purse camera."

 

Camera Operation

The G500's limited external controls make it less daunting to approach than more complicated control layouts, but also mean that you'll need to access the LCD menu system to change most camera settings. Still, the external controls offer basic image erase, flash mode, and capture mode functions, about all that the typical point & shoot user will need for normal operation. The LCD menu system is fairly straightforward, with about two to three pages of options per menu. The arrow keys scroll through menu items, and you can easily exit the menus by pressing the left arrow until the main LCD display returns. Because of the camera's point-and-shoot nature, you'll likely spend more time shooting than sifting through menu items. Given the fairly intuitive user interface, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes to get the gist of things. A hardcopy Quick Guide is all you'll need to get up and running, though a full copy of the instruction manual accompanies the camera on CD-ROM.

Record Mode Display: In Record mode, the G500's LCD reports the type of memory card in use, date and time, level of battery power, number of available images, and the file resolution and quality settings. When the Shutter button is halfway pressed, the display also reports the selected aperture and shutter speed settings (in auto mode). Pressing the Display button once cancels the information display, while a second turns off the LCD monitor entirely. A third press restores the default display.

Playback Mode Display: In Playback mode, the LCD reports the file name, series number, date and time, type of memory card, and the resolution and quality settings. Pressing the Display button simply dismisses and recalls the information display. A Playback zoom feature is available using the Zoom controls, as is a nine-image index display.

 

External Controls

Sliding Lens Cover: Sliding from right to left across the front of the camera, the lens cover acts as the power switch and enables the lens to telescope forward when slid fully open. Closing the cover signals the lens to retract, and shuts off the camera.


Shutter Button
: Located on the far right side of the top panel, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed.


Wide and Tele Zoom Buttons
: Positioned in the top right corner of the camera's back panel, these buttons control the optical and digital zoom in Record mode.

In Playback mode, these buttons control the digital enlargement of captured images.


Erase Button
: Directly to the left of the viewfinder eyepiece on the back panel, this button erases a single image in Playback mode. If pressed in Record mode, the most recently captured image is displayed with an option to erase it.


Display Button
: To the left of the Erase button, this button controls the LCD display mode in Record and Playback modes, cycling through information displays and disabling the LCD itself.


Playback Button
: The far left control on the camera's back panel, this button activates Playback mode while the camera is in Record mode. If the camera is powered off, pressing and holding this button activates the camera in Playback mode. A second press shuts the camera off.


Menu / Set Button
: Adjacent to the bottom right corner of the LCD monitor, this button activates the LCD menu in any mode. It also confirms menu selections.


Four Way Arrow Pad
: Just to the right of the Menu / Set button, this rocker-style arrow pad has four arrows, one in each direction. Through the Setup menu, the arrow keys can be programmed to handle a few other functions. In any settings menu, these arrows navigate through menu selections.

In Record mode, the left arrow cycles through the available capture modes: Macro, Distant View, Self-Timer, Self-Timer with Macro, and Self-Timer with Distant View. The right arrow key controls the flash mode, cycling through Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Slow-Sync, and Suppressed modes. If Manual exposure mode has been enabled, the up and down arrows control aperture, while the left and right arrows adjust shutter speed.

In Playback mode, the left and right keys scroll through captured images on the memory card. When an image has been enlarged, all four arrow keys move around within the enlarged view. In normal display mode, the up arrow displays exposure information, such as shutter speed, lens aperture, flash mode, and file size.

 

Camera Modes and Menus

Record Mode: Activated whenever the camera is powered on by sliding open the lens cover, this mode records moving or still images. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Resolution: Sets the image resolution and compression level. Resolution choices are 2,592 x 1,944; 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; or 640 x 480 pixels, and JPEG compression settings include Fine and Normal. (secondary screen)
  • Movie On: Turns Movie mode on or off.
  • Exposure Compensation: Increases or decreases exposure from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third step increments. However, the numeric amount of adjustment is not displayed, just a graphic bar across the bottom the screen.
  • White Balance: Places color balance under Auto control, or sets it for Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, or Incandescent light sources. (secondary screen)
  • Auto Exposure (AE) Mode: Places the exposure metering in Center-Weighted (default) or Spot modes.

  • Monochrome: Records images in sepia-tinted or black-and-white monotones.
  • Digital Zoom: Turns the 3x digital zoom option on or off.
  • Monitor Adjust: Controls the brightness of the LCD monitor display, as well as the level of red, blue, or green in the display. (secondary screen)
  • Voice: Enables voice recording for sound clips to accompany images (sound clips recorded immediately following image recording). (secondary screen)
  • Add Record: Adds a voice tag to a previously recorded image. You can also erase previous recordings. (secondary screen)

 

  • Slow Shutter: Enables Slow Shutter mode, which extends the shutter speed range to 15 seconds. Slow shutter speeds are selected according to the flash mode. (secondary screen)
  • Manual Exposure: Turns manual exposure mode on or off. If on, you can adjust both shutter speed and aperture settings. (secondary screen)
  • Quality: Accesses ISO (Auto, 50, 100, 200, or 400), Flash Intensity, Saturation, Contrast, Sharpness, and RGB settings. (secondary screen)
  • Setup: Accesses the Setup menu (described below).
  • Return: Dismisses the LCD menu and returns to the normal display.

Playback Mode: This mode lets you review captured images on the memory card, erase them, protect them, set them up for printing, etc. The Playback button on the back panel enables the mode, whether the camera is powered on or off. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

 

  • Index: Displays as many as nine thumbnail-sized images on the LCD monitor.
  • Copy: Copies an image file from one memory card to another. (secondary screen)
  • Delete: Erases a single image, selected images, or all images from either memory card.
  • Monitor: Adjusts the brightness of the LCD display, as well as the red, blue, and green levels.
  • DPOF: Accesses the camera's DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) settings, which setup images for printing. You can specify individual images or all images, as well as the number of copies to print. (secondary screen)



 

  • Resize: Reduces the current image size. (secondary screen)
  • Protect: Write-protects the currently-displayed image, or removes protection. You can also mark selected images or all images for protection.
  • Move: Moves image files from one memory card to another. (secondary screen)
  • Slide Show: Plays back all images on the selected memory card automatically, with short intervals in between.
  • Add Record: Records a voice tag for previously captured images, or removes voice tags.
  • Setup: Accesses the Setup menu.
  • Return: Dismisses the LCD menu and returns to the normal display.

Setup Menu: Enabled via either the Record or Playback menus, the Setup menu has the following options:

 

  • Format: Formats the specified memory card, erasing all files, even protected ones. There is also an option to format the camera's internal memory.
  • Record Menu Settings: Changes the contents of the Record menu to either Basic or Details. (The Basic setting eliminates some menu options.)
  • Quick View Settings: Enables or disables a short post-capture display.
  • Info Display: Turns the LCD information display on or off.
  • Sound: Turns the camera's beep and sound effects on or off. (secondary screen)
  • Date Set: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar. (secondary screen)

 

  • Self-Timer: Sets the Self-Timer's countdown time to 10 or three seconds.
  • Auto Power-Off: Turns on or off the camera's auto shut-down feature, and sets the shutoff time period to 10 or three minutes.
  • Number Reset: Determines whether the camera resets file numbering with each new memory card, or continues number in sequence, regardless of card.
  • Memory Priority: Specifies which memory card to access first, SD or Memory Stick, if both are inserted into the camera.
  • Language: Changes the camera's menu language. (secondary screen)
  • Add Record Set: If set to On, this function lets you record a voice tag with each image. If Off, you must enable the recording feature through the menu system.

 

  • Custom: Lets you assign specific functions to the arrow keys of the Four-Way Arrow pad. Exposure Compensation, White Balance, AF Lock, AE Lock, Flash, Macro, and Continuous settings are available. (The Continuous setting enables a Continuous Shooting mode, which takes a sequence of images for as long as the Shutter button is held down.)
  • Default: Resets menu settings to their defaults.
  • Return: Returns to the main Record or Playback menu screen.


In the Box

The following items are included in the box:

  • Minolta DiMAGE G500 digital camera.
  • Wrist strap.
  • 16MB SD/MMC card.
  • Lithium battery pack.
  • Battery charger.
  • USB cable.
  • Two software CD-ROMs.
  • Quick start manual and registration card.

 

Recommended Accessories

Recommended Software: Rescue your images!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. I get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Specifications

See camera specifications here.

 

Picky Details

Cycle times, shutter lag, battery life, etc. can be found here.

 

User Reviews

 

Sample Pictures

See the full set of my sample pictures and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of my test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.

Outdoor
Indoor Flash
Indoor
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy



Photo Gallery
Check out our Photo Gallery for a selection of more aesthetic image shot with the G500.

 

Test Results
In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the DiMAGE G500's "pictures" page. For a selection of more "pictorial" images, check out the G500's Photo Gallery.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the G500 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how the G500's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

  • Color: Pretty good color, but some color casts from the white balance system. Overall, the G500 did a pretty good job with color, though I noticed slight warm and reddish color casts in most shots. Saturation was typically about right, though bright reds were definitely a little hot, especially in the Outdoor Portrait. The camera was also thrown off by the large amount of blue in the composition of the Musicians poster, which resulted in stronger reddish color casts. Indoors, the camera had some trouble with the incandescent lighting, producing a rather pinkish cast. That said, the outdoor house shot, House poster, and Macro shot all had nearly accurate color. Skin tones were about right in the Outdoor Portrait shot, though slightly pink, and the blue flowers there were about right. The large color blocks of the "Davebox" test were a bit warm, but overall saturation here was pretty good (just a little strong in the additive primary color blocks).

  • Exposure: Generally accurate exposure. High contrast under harsh lighting, good contrast otherwise. The G500's exposure system did a pretty good job throughout my testing, exposing my test targets, both indoors and out, pretty well. The camera produced high contrast under the harsh lighting of the Outdoor Portrait, though the subtle contrast adjustment did a reasonably good job of bringing up the midtones. Shadow detail was typically good, and the camera handled the harsh highlights of the outdoor house shot pretty well. On my "Davebox" test, the G500 distinguished the subtle pastel tones on the Q60 target well. The indoor portraits required an average amount of exposure compensation, though the Outdoor Portrait needed slightly more than average.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: High resolution, 1,300-1,350 lines of "strong detail." The G500 performed very well on my "laboratory" resolution test chart. Test patterns in both horizontal and vertical directions looked clean and clear as far as 900 lines, and even the artifacts that did show up were very minor. (Artifacts were strongest in the horizontal test patterns.) I found "strong detail" out to 1,300-1,350 lines, though vertically, you could argue for higher. (I suspect some reviewers would rate the G500's resolution here as high as 1,500 lines or more, but I tend to be a bit more conservative in my resolution ratings than some, feeling that resolution shouldn't be counted past the point where artifacts compete strongly with genuine subject detail.) "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,700 lines.

  • Closeups: A small minimum macro area, with good detail. Flash is blocked by the lens in the closest shots though. The G500 performed pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 2.85 x 2.14 inches (72 x 54 millimeters). Resolution was very high, showing a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill. However, the coins and brooch were soft due to the very short shooting distance (and probably some corner softness as well). There was also a fair bit of softness in the corners on the left side of the frame. The position of the G500's flash directly above the lens resulted in a dark shadow in the lower portion of the frame, so I'd recommend using an external light source for macro shots.

  • Night Shots: Good low-light performance, with usable images at the lowest light level of my test. The G500 has a manual exposure mode, adjustable ISO setting, and a maximum exposure time of 15 seconds. As you'd expect then, the camera performed well on my low-light test, capturing bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, at all four ISO settings. (The ISO 50 image was just slightly dim at this lowest light level, but still somewhat usable, and could potentially be brightened post-capture, in software.) The G500 automatically applies Noise Reduction on exposures longer than 1/2-second. However, I still found noise levels a little higher than I'd like at the ISO 200 and 400 settings, especially with the longer exposures. Color is pretty good overall with the Auto white balance, though the dim lighting resulted in a reddish cast.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: A tight optical viewfinder, but good accuracy from the LCD monitor. The G500's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing 83 percent of the final frame at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate in some respects, showing 98 percent frame accuracy at both zoom settings. However, images framed with the LCD monitor were just slightly cut off at the very left of the frame, so I'd recommend nudging in just a little extra space when tight framing is key. Still, given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the G500's LCD monitor performed pretty well here.

  • Optical Distortion: Slightly higher than average geometric distortion, about average chromatic aberration. Optical distortion on the G500 was slightly high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I measured 0.2 percent barrel distortion there. Chromatic aberration looked to be about average, as there was moderately strong coloration visible on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

  • Battery Life: No explicit battery-life test on this model, but plan on buying a second battery. I didn't have the necessary power adapter to measure the G500's power consumption directly, but my impression of its battery life was that it was fairly short (typical for a compact camera model), so my usual advice to purchase a second battery along with the camera definitely applies here. (On the other hand, it seems to be able to sit in its "sleeping" mode for quite a long time, without draining the battery noticeably.

Conclusion

Free Photo Lessons

Check out the Free Photo School program for lessons and tips on improving your photographs!
Simple pro lighting and use tips let you snap stunning photos. Check out our free Photo School area!

With the DiMAGE G500, Minolta took a clever Konica digicam, the KD-510Z, and repackaged it with the popular DiMAGE name. The camera's innovative design is flexible in its acceptance of both SD/MMC cards and Sony Memory Sticks for image storage, and the rugged, stainless steel body can withstand heavy usage. The 5.0-megapixel CCD and true, 3x optical zoom lens ensure high quality images with great color and detail, and the simple user interface should appeal to a wide audience, from novice to experienced pro. All controls are smooth, from the slick sliding door to the onscreen performance, with fast zoom and easy menu navigation. The LCD is unusually bright, with excellent contrast and daylight viewability. All in all, a nice little digicam,
bit its rather sluggish shutter response kept it from being chosen as a Dave's Pick.

 

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