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"Picky Details" for the Minolta DiMAGE X20 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 X20:

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 X20 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
2.6
Time from power-up to first shot captured. Fairly fast, but a bit slower than the Xt.
Shutdown
2.57
Lens cover closes before shutdown. About average
Play to Record, first shot
1.13
Time until first shot is captured. Faster than average.
Record to play
4.61/3.93
Time to display an image after capture. First number is for large/fine, second is for small/economy. Both times are somewhat slow.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.764/0.765
First time is with lens at telephoto, second for wide angle. Both times are fairly fast, and a significant improvement over the equivalent times of the Xt.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.107
Time to capture, after half-pressing Shutter button. Quite fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
1.88/1.93
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. In large/fine mode, can capture 3 shots this fast before having to wait for memory card to catch up, which takes about 6 seconds. After the 6-second pause, the next two shots again take 1.88 seconds, after which there's another 6 second pause, and so on. In small/basic mode, there's no apparent buffer limitation.
Cycle Time, continuous mode 0.735/0.600
1.36/1.67 fps
Top numbers are for large/fine files, second for small/economy. Figures underneath are frames per second. Shot to shot intervals are quite variable in large/fine mode, ranging from 0.6 to 0.81 seconds. In small/basic mode, the first shot takes 0.73 seconds, while subsequent ones take 0.6 seconds. Camera can shoot 3 large/fine shots or ~24 small/basic ones before slowing for card writes. In large/fine mode, it slows to 1.25 seconds between frames, while in small/basic mode it varies greatly, between 1.9 and 3.0 seconds.
Cycle Time, multi-frame continuous mode 0.393
2.55 fps
This mode records nine shots inside a single full-res frame. After last shot is captured, the camera takes 4.66 seconds to combine the images and write the final file to the memory card.


Shutter lag was the weak point of the DiMAGE Xt, but the newer and less-expensive X20 turned in better than average numbers in this important area. Shot to shot cycle times are pretty good, although the camera has only a 3-frame buffer in large/fine mode. Continuous-mode performance is also pretty good for a compact digicam.

Power
The DiMAGE X20 eschews the tiny, flat LiIon battery used by other X-series cameras, using instead ordinary AA cells. The result is a little more bulk, but much better battery life.

The table below shows the DiMAGE Xt's actual power drain in various operating modes, and projected battery life, based on a (true, not rated) 1600 mAh battery capacity:

Operating Mode
Power
(@3 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(2.4v, 1600 mAh dual NiMH AA cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
636 mA
121
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
636 mA
121
Memory Write (transient)
691 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1260 mA
n/a
Image Playback
340 mA
226

 

This is much better than average battery life for a subcompact camera. The downside is that there's no optical viewfinder, so you have to leave the LCD on all the time. While the X20 has excellent battery life, I still strongly recommend purchasing a couple of sets of high-power NiMH AA cells and a good-quality charger.As always, I strongly advise purchasing a second battery along with the camera, to avoid running out of juice at an inconvenient moment.
(See my Battery Shootout for the latest ratings of high-power NiMH AA cells, or read my review of the Maha C-204F charger to see why it's my longtime favorite.)

Storage Capacity
The DiMAGE X20 stores its photos on SD (Secure Digital) memory cards, and a 16 MB card is packed with the 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
Fine
Standard
Economy
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
15
1,049 KB
29
548 KB
50
315 KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1
11:1
18:1
1,280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
23
681 KB
41
382 KB
74
216 KB
Approx.
Compression
5:1
10:1
17:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
74
216 KB
107
149 KB
160
100 KB
Approx.
Compression
4:1
6:1
9:1

 

Download Speed
The DiMAGE Xt connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony VAIO desktop (2.4 GHz) running Windows XP, it came in at 605 KBytes/second. This is well at the upper range of USB v1.1 digicams I've tested. (Cameras with slow USB 1.1 interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast ones top-out around 600 KB/s.)

X20 Review
X20 Test Images
X20 Specifications
X20 "Picky Details"
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