With its wallet-like shape and size, the Minolta DiMAGE Xt is targeted at consumers wanting some control over the settings of a digital camera, but yet small enough to do away with the unsightly bulge in their clothing pocket. It has a suggested retail price of S$699* but a quick check with local stores shows that it can be purchased around the low S$600* price range.
The Minolta DiMAGE Xt lacks preset shooting modes often found in regular point and shoot digital cameras that beginners might find otherwise useful. The user is forced to manipulate focusing settings (wide and spot) and exposure settings such as the ISO, exposure compensation, type of metering (multi-segment and spot), and flash modes. To achieve the best possible exposure and effect for different shooting scenarios, the user now has to play around with the functions offered by the camera instead of being able to automatically switch to a preset mode.
A whole new method of holding the camera has to be adapted as well as the camera easily captures any stray finger (or fingers) hanging over the top of the camera. The Minolta DiMAGE Xt was also found to have slow focusing in the low light conditions, while sometimes not being able to find a focus lock at all. There is nothing commendable about the poor flash reach of the camera, which is a susceptible trait among some ultra-compact cameras. We also felt that the DC Jack looked vulnerable to water and dust without a protective cover.
On the flip side, we were able to find an abundance of plus points. The user manual supplied with the Minolta DiMAGE Xt is one of the more user friendly ones we have read with informative side panels on Minolta's History, shooting tips, and camera notes. With a start up timing of 1.2 seconds (one of the fastest among its peers), the Minolta is good for those spontaneous shots. Minolta takes away the need to switch the camera into macro mode during close up shots, thus ridding the camera body of an extra button or function to switch to. The lens is also able to surprisingly squeeze down to capture a macro area of 4.7cm cross screen length with crisp detail of the object.
Being able to capture long movie clips with duration limited only by the memory card offers flexibility for the user to shoot under impromptu situations. With the help of the noise reduction feature, the camera is also able to counter the presence of hot pixels in photos with long exposures. Also noteworthy is the Minolta DiMAGE Xt's ability to allow the direct printing of still images from the camera as well as functioning as a remote camera for video conferencing.
The Minolta DiMAGE Xt performed fine for a 3.2Mpixel ultra-compact camera, but beware of its substandard performance in low light conditions, such as poor flash reach, pale skin tone, slow auto focus and an orange tinge in the night scene test shots. After weighing the pros and the cons, we decided that the Minolta DiMAGE Xt warrants a 3.5 out of 5 stars rating.
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