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"Picky Details" for the Minolta DiMAGE Xt 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 Xt:

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 Xt Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
2.05
Time from power-up to first shot captured. Pretty darn fast! (No lens to extend.)
Shutdown
2.15
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
1.32/0.89
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
1.26/1.21
First time is with lens at telephoto, second for wide angle. Both times are rather slow. - Probably the DiMAGE Xt's single biggest failing.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.15
Time to capture, after half-pressing Shutter button. Somewhat faster than average.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
2.65/2.51
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. In large/fine mode, can capture 8 shots this fast before having to wait for memory card to catch up. After that, times average 5.25 seconds. In small/basic mode, there's no apparent buffer limitation. (The addition of buffer memory to the Xt is one of the significant advances over the previous Xi model.)
Cycle Time, TIFF (uncompressed) 29.6 Time between uncompressed TIFF-mode shots. Fairly typical.
Cycle Time, continuous mode 0.77/0.71
1.3/1.4 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 different than between subsequent shots - shorter for large/fine files, longer for small/basic ones. Camera can capture ~8 shots in large/fine mode before having to pause, up to ~60+ in small/economy mode.


Based on the timing results above, shutter lag seems to be the weak point of the DiMAGE Xt, as it was with the Xi before it. The cycle time has been significantly improved over that of the Xi though, as the 8-shot buffer memory now seems to be used in single-shot mode, as well as in continuous shooting mode. (The Xi had an 8-shot buffer in continuous mode, but it apparently wasn't used when the camera was in single shot mode.) Continuous mode is once again fairly quick, although a bit slower than that on the Xi. Overall, still not likely to be your first choice for shooting sports or other fast action, but much better cycle times than with the Xi.

Power
The DiMAGE Xt uses a tiny, flat LiIon cell (NP-200 form factor), but displays surprisingly good battery life given the minuscule dimensions of both the camera and battery. - I still strongly recommend picking up a second battery when you buy the camera though, as digicam batteries invariably run out at the worst possible time.

The table below shows the DiMAGE Xt's actual power drain in various operating modes, and projected battery life, based on a 750 mAh battery capacity:

 

Operating Mode
Power
(@4.7 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(3.7v, 750mAh LiIon cell)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
492 mA
72
Capture Mode, no LCD
6.4 mA
92 hours(!)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
500 mA
71
Half-pressed w/o LCD
346 mA
102
Memory Write (transient)
541 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1033 mA
n/a
Image Playback
304 mA
117

 

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 Xt's battery life as outstanding, but as it is, you need to rely on the LCD for any accurate framing, cutting battery life significantly.

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 Xt 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
Super Fine
Fine
Standard
Economy
2,048 x 1,536 Images
(Avg size)
1
9.4 MB
9
1,640 KB
18
853 KB
34
460 KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1 6:1 11:1 21:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
2
5.8 MB
15
1,032 KB
29
542 KB
51
311 KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
6:1
11:1
19:1
1,280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
4
3.7 MB
23
674 KB
42
542 KB
75
311 KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
6:1
11:1
20:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
16
0.9 MB
75
213 KB
108
147 KB
163
98 KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
5:1
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 548 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.)

Xt Review
Xt Test Images
Xt Specifications
Xt "Picky Details"
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