Minolta DiMAGE X Review
Timings & File Sizes
Overall the DiMAGE X is a quick camera with a very fast startup time (just under 2 seconds), fast operation as well as a sufficiently large internal buffer to avoid having to wait between shots. The only time I suffered a 'wait' was switching from record to play mode with several buffered images still being written to the storage card.
Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 1600 x 1200 Fine JPEG image (approx. 800 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 64 MB Dane-Elec MMC card.
|Power: Off to Record||Lens cover opening||1.8|
Power: Off to Play *1
|Power: Record to Off||Lens cover closes||1.8|
|Power: Play to Off *1||<0.5|
|Mode: Record to Play||Image displayed||1.4|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens cover already open||1.1|
|Play: Thumbnail view||6 images||1.9|
|Play: Image to image||1600 x 1200 FINE||1.9|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||Full zoom from 37 mm to 111 mm (3 x)||2.5|
|Auto Focus LAG||Wide angle (37 mm)||~0.8|
|Auto Focus LAG||Telephoto (111 mm)||~1.4|
|Shutter Release LAG||Using viewfinder||<0.1|
|Shutter Release LAG||Using LCD monitor||0.1|
|Total LAG||*1||0.9 - 1.5|
|Off to Shot Taken||2.2|
|Shot to Shot||Zoom at wide angle||2.2|
|*1||Depending on focus|
Auto Focus LAG is (roughly) the amount of time it takes the camera to autofocus (a half-press and hold of the shutter release button), this timing is normally the most variable as its affected by the subject matter, current focus position, still or moving subject etc. This timing is an average.
Shutter Release LAG is the amount of time it takes to take the shot after autofocus, this timing assumes you have already focused (half-pressed the shutter release) and now press the shutter release button all the way down to take the shot. This timing is an average.
Total LAG is the total time it takes (not just the two above added together)
if you haven't pre-focused, that is no finger touching the shutter release
button, press it all the way down in one movement, this new timing is
how long it'd take if you were in one of those spur-of-the-moment situations.
This timing is an average.
The table below shows the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. The media used for these tests was a 64 MB Dane-Elec MMC card.
|Mode||Image Type||Frames per sec||Max no. of frames *1||
|Continuous||1600 x 1200 Fine||2.5 fps||9||16.4 sec|
|Continuous||1600 x 1200 Standard||2.5 fps||21||10.7 sec|
|Continuous||1280 x 960 Standard||2.5 fps||28||4.7 sec|
|Continuous||640 x 480 Standard||2.5 fps||93||3.2 sec|
|*1||In a single "burst", finger held down on shutter release until the camera stops shooting.|
|*2||You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer, writing continues "in the background".|
Kudos to Minolta for not ignoring performance in their mission to produce an ultra compact. In continuous drive mode the DiMAGE X shoots quickly and is able to buffer a large number of images. Indeed its performance in this respect is enough to put other 'prosumer' 2 and 3 megapixel digital cameras to shame.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the MMC/SD storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed (shutter click was heard) and stopped when activity indicator LED beside the viewfinder stopped blinking. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task".
SD vs. MMC
One thing which became obvious early on was the difference in performance between the supplied Panasonic 8 MB SD card and my 'standard' Dane-Elec 64 MB MMC card. The SD card providing FAR faster write and read performance than the MMC card. SD cards have an extra piece of logic onboard which enables the data written to them to be encrypted with a unique key, data can then only be read back by the device which wrote it. This functionality was developed for portable music players (Secure Digital Music Initiative - SDMI), not digital cameras and the encryption technology in the SD card is NOT used by digital cameras.
The most noticeable difference was found when saving TIFF (Super-Fine) files. Using the X's on-screen "Saving to Card" display (this is only shown when saving TIFF's) it was possible to calculate that the write speed of the MMC card was a disappointing 125 KB/sec but that the SD card managed an impressive (and shockingly different) 910 KB/sec. The difference is less for smaller size files.
The significant performance difference between the card types is of course bad news for buyers, as a 64 MB Panasonic SD card is approximately $100, a 64 MB Sandisk MMC card is approximately $60. I can't recommend anyone buy MMC cards, pay the extra and get the SD variety.
Supplied Panasonic 8 MB SD card
8 MB SD Card *3
|1600 x 1200 Super-Fine||8.8||19.8||5,640 KB||1|
|1600 x 1200 Fine||1.9||0.7||~700 KB||6|
|1600 x 1200 Standard||1.5||0.6||~400 KB||13|
|1280 x 960 Standard||1.2||0.5||~280 KB||20|
|640 x 480 Standard||1.1||0.3||~90 KB||68|
Dane-Elec 64 MB MMC card
on 64 MB
MMC Card *3
|1600 x 1200 Super-Fine||47.5||33.3||5,640 KB||11|
|1600 x 1200 Fine||6.6||1.2||~700 KB||65|
|1600 x 1200 Standard||4.2||1.0||~400 KB||126|
|1280 x 960 Standard||3.4||0.8||~280 KB||195|
|640 x 480 Standard||1.5||0.7||~90 KB||652|
|*1||Timings taken with 'Instant Playback' disabled. With Instant Playback enabled you can add 2.5 seconds to these times.|
|*2||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.|
|*3||As estimated by the camera.|
We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:
- Take 4 shots without flash
- Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
- Take 1 shot with flash
- Wait 1 minute
Batteries are fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
Compact / Ultra compact
|Battery||Power||Battery life||Number of shots|
|Kyocera S3||BP-800S||2.1 Wh||54 mins||95|
|Canon PowerShot S300||NB-1L||2.5 Wh||1 hr 26 mins||155|
|Pentax Optio 430||D-LI2||3.3 Wh||1 hr 33 mins||160|
|Olympus C-40Z||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 33 mins||165|
|Nikon Coolpix 3100||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 42 mins||175|
|Minolta DiMAGE F100||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.3 Wh||1 hr 42 mins||175|
|Minolta DiMAGE X||NP-200||2.8 Wh||1 hr 45 mins||180|
|Pentax Optio 330||D-LI2||3.3 Wh||1 hr 48 mins||185|
|Canon PowerShot S330||NB-1LH||2.5 Wh||1 hr 48 mins||185|
|Sony DSC-P71||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 50 mins||185|
|Kodak DX4900||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.5 Wh||1 hr 51 mins||190|
|Sony DSC-P5||NP-FC10||2.4 Wh||1 hr 51 mins||190|
|Nikon Coolpix 3500||EN-EL2||4.1 Wh||1 hr 54 mins||195|
|Sony DSC-P9||NP-FC10||2.4 Wh||1 hr 59 mins||200|
|Nikon Coolpix SQ||EN-EL2||3.7 Wh||2 hr 03 mins||210|
|Minolta DiMAGE Xt||NP-200||2.8 Wh||2 hr 12 mins||225|
|Canon PowerShot S400||NP-1LH||2.5 Wh||2 hr 17 mins||230|
|HP Photosmart 812||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||2 hr 21 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 885||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 21 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 775||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 27 mins||250|
|Canon PowerShot SD100||NB-3L||2.9 Wh||2 hr 29 mins||250|
|Pentax Optio S||D-LI8||2.6 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Nikon Coolpix 2500||EN-EL2||4.1 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Fujifilm FinePix F601Z||NP-60||3.7 Wh||2 hr 47 mins||275|
|Casio EXILIM EX-Z3||NP-20||2.5 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Casio EXILIM EX-S3||NP-20||2.5 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Olympus C-50Z||LI-10B||4.0 Wh||2 hr 54 mins||295|
|HP Photosmart 935||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||3 hr 09 mins||320|
|Canon PowerShot A70||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||5 hr 08 mins||515|
|Other test notes:|
| LCD monitor is left on during
the battery test
The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set
A good performance considering the compact size of the DiMAGE X's Lithium-Ion battery. Lasting almost two hours in our torture test and racking up no less than 180 shots, it was just shy of Pentax's Optio 330 which has a larger capacity battery.
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