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Konica Minolta DiMAGE Xg digicam

The idea point'n'shooter?

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Review If you want a small, easily pocketed yet stylish digicam the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Xg might be the one for you. Opening the box and removing this little beauty for the first time makes a real impact. At 2cm thick and weighing in at only 120g, the Xg is remarkably small and swish. And betters the original DiMAGE X for sheer exuberance, thanks to its red livery, writes Doug Harman.

Konica Minolta DiMAGE XgThe small size comes from the Xg's superb folded optics - all the X series Konica Minoltas sport this innovative optical design. Working in the same way as a submarine's periscope, the 3x optical zoom lens is housed vertically within the camera's body. Nothing protrudes from the front of the camera - even when in use.

Turn the camera on and a small metal lens protector slides silently out of the way. When you zoom through the lens's 37-111mm (35mm equivalent) focal range. There's even a remarkably clear optical viewfinder to help framing if you want to conserve battery power by switching off the 1.6in colour screen.

You also get a nice 3.2 megapixel CCD to capture your shots. It provides enough resolution for shots up to A4 with ease. SD storage is housed under a silver, push-and-flip-out hatch. Underneath the slot rests the camera's ultra-thin lithium-ion battery.

It's all very neat hardware but what are the pictures like? Konica Minolta claims the Xg has the "world's fastest start-up time of 0.8 seconds" as of 1 January 2004, and it's certainly quick to get ready to start shooting.

You get a five-zone wide-area autofocus (AF) set up, which works reliably. The built-in flash is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a little underpowered but there are four automatically selected scene modes of portrait, sports, landscape and sunset. The camera assesses the scene and chooses what it thinks is the right setting; you can manually override the auto selection if needed.

Exposure compensation to +/- 2EV, and colour and saturation filters allow fine tuning of your shots and a noise reduction mode has been included too, although my shots were remarkably noise free at all ISO settings from 50 to 200, with only slight noise evident in low light at ISO 400, the maximum setting available on this camera.

Handling is a little bit of challenge, mainly due to the camera's small size - folks with sausage-size fingers, beware. A small thumb-operated joystick-style button rests between one 'left' and one 'right' button which, between them, scroll through menus and images in playback mode. A flip-round switch adjacent to these controls selects modes. On/off button and shutter releases are the only controls on the top plate and are straightforward in use, the shutter release having a nice two-step feel to it.

Below the camera's 1.6in colour screen - which has a useful anti-reflection coating - four more buttons provide a menu, Quick View, displayed information and flash control options. Each brings up a contextual menu scrolled as detailed above.

Image quality is good but with a couple of reservations: there's a lot of red and blue pixel fringing at the extremes of the images, otherwise, white balance, colour, spectral highlights and detail are all good.

Verdict

Overall, given the camera's sheer must-have design, its nice build and generally good image quality, the Xg is shoe-in for anyone wanting a small, stylish digicam with enough resolution for reasonably sized prints.

It's fairly basic in terms of manual controls, but given its target point-and-shoot market, this is not a major problem. The DiMAGE Xg is surely one of the nicest point'n'shooters on the market - it comes in silver, red and blue liveries) - and should be near the top of your list if you're in the game to buy just such a digital camera.

Pocket-Lint.co.uk

Konica Minolta DiMAGE Xg
 
Rating 80%
 
Pros — Ultra-compact and stylish design; neat 'folded' optical 'periscope' zoom lens; great image quality.
 
Cons — Red and blue pixel fringing at extreme edges of images; small size makes handling fiddly.
 
Price £200
 
More info The Konica site

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