Konica Minolta DiMAGE G600 Review
By Movable Type Admin
The Minolta DiMAGE G600 is the 2004 upgrade to Konica Minolta's 5-megapixel G500 that we tested last year. It's a very compact point-n-shoot 6-megapixel digital camera that can be carried in your pocket or worn with the long neck strap that's provided. It lacks the scene modes offered by its competitors, but the G600 provides full control of its exposure system; ISO, exposure compensation, sharpness, contrast, saturation and white balance can be controlled via the camera's menu system, and manual exposure allows the advanced photographer to set shutter speed and aperture independently. The G600 will appeal to users who want the simplicity of a point-n-shoot without giving up the flexibility of manual controls.
The G600's all metal body is both stylish and durable. Despite its small size, the camera controls are well laid out and easy to use. The optical viewfinder suffers from its small size, but the LCD is useful in most lighting conditions. The only fault I found with the camera body is the absence of a latch to retain the battery when the memory/battery door is opened. The G600 can use Secure Digital (or MMC) and Memory Stick or Memory Stick Pro cards at the same time. Secure Digital cards go up to 512MB and Memory Stick Pro to 1GB, so with one of each in the camera you have a respectable amount of storage space. This is a 6-megapixel camera capable of creating up to 2.8MB size images so the larger the media capacity, the better.
Overall the G600 is a good performer. From power-on till the first image was captured measured 2.5 seconds, a remarkably quick time that will allow you to capture unposed spontaneous moments. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was a fast 1/10 second when pre-focused, and about 1/2 second including autofocus time. Shot-to-shot delay averaged about 2.7 seconds without flash and 3 seconds with flash, while continuous mode captured 3 images at a rate of about 1 frame every 1.3 seconds, with subsequent shots taken at 1.7 second intervals. These results were obtained using a 256MB Sandisk Ultra II SD memory card with the camera set to 2816x2112 image size and fine quality, and include viewfinder delay, photographer response time, and image capture - they are numbers you can reproduce in the real world.
We were pleased with the G600's outdoor shooting results. The lens produced sharp results throughout its 39-117mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range, with a moderate degree of barrel distortion at extreme wide-angle. Chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) were well controlled and nearly absent from our test shots. Our test images were both well exposed and nicely saturated, with colors true to the original subject.
Because of the limited flash range and 39mm wide angle focal length, you'll realize the best indoor results when shooting portraits of individuals and small groups; capturing an image of a large banquet room is beyond the G600's capability. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits because the DiMAGE G600 is equipped with both a tripod socket and self-timer. Red eye reduction flash mode was not very effective; you'll need to post-process G600 flash portraits to remove red eye. The LCD viewfinder was useful in normal room lighting, but you'll want to use the optical viewfinder in dimly lit conditions. Closeup macro shots with the flash were excellent as the camera "throttles down" the flash for nearly perfect exposures every time; the G600 would be a good choice for shooting close-up images of small objects for inclusion in online auction listings.
The G600 autofocus system suffered from the absence of a focus-assist lamp; indoor shots frequently failed to achieve focus lock, and occasionally the G600 gave a false indication of focus confirmation. When autofocus fails, you can set manual focus at distances of infinity, 4m , 2m, and 1m.
The G600's movie mode is simple but effective. It records audio with the 320x240 motion video; as a result, you can't use the optical zoom once you start recording. Clips are limited in length to 30 seconds; it will never replace a dedicated camcorder in quality, recording length or ease of use, but it's a handy feature when you need it.
Image playback has several features worthy of mentioning. Images can be magnified up to 14.7x, allowing for critical examination in the field. Images can also be resized in-camera to 640x480 or 320x240, allowing you to attach reasonably-sized files to your email messages without using an image editor. When in playback, all it takes is a touch of the shutter button to return to record mode; the G600 is a shooting-priority camera.
The battery, although small, seems to hold up fairly well if you don't use the color LCD too much. Minolta claims about 160 shots with the color LCD on; we experienced 122 shots, but with a great deal of LCD use to field check images and explore the menu system. Because the battery is proprietary and there's no other way to power the camera, I suggest that you buy a spare one -- the included charger needs over 1 hour to recharge a fully depleted battery pack and batteries always die when you need them the most.
The Konica Minolta DiMage G600 offers a unique combination of small size, stylishness, durability, high resolution and overall image quality. At a street price of under $500 at the time of this review, it represents a good value for families that want point-n-shoot simplicity without sacrificing versatility, image quality or responsiveness. Please have a look at our sample photos to see for yourself what the G600 is capable of.
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