Minolta DiMAGE Xi Review
The DiMAGE Xi is the upgrade of the popular DiMAGE X and is identical in physical appearance. It employs the same f/2.8 "folded" 3X optical 37-111mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens. We're pretty much only going to discuss the upgraded or new features here so make sure you read the DiMAGE X review conclusion as well as this one. The main upgrade is the CCD imager which went from 1.96 to 3.2 megapixel and now yields up to 2048 x 1536 pixel images. Other enhancements include user-selectable ISO settings, optional date imprinting, spot autofocus, an improved anti-reflective LCD and automatic e-mail file copy creation.
The contrast and color issues of the DiMAGE X have been remedied and I was quite impressed with the image quality. Even heavily backlit subjects were metered and rendered well which is quite a feat for a micro-size 3x zoom digicam. The adjustable ISO is a real asset, when locked at ISO 50 it insures the best color with the least amount of "noise" in the image. Once selected it 'stays' even after power down or battery change. I'm not a real fan of tiny cameras as they are often difficult to hold with average to large size hands. Care must be taken with the DiMAGE X and Xi to not hold the camera with the left index finger along the top of the camera. This is the "normal" way to hold a camera but it blocks the microphone and it's easy to include one of your fingers in the picture. The lens is mounted in the upper left corner of the camera and it can capture any part of your finger hanging over the top when in full wide angle. This is best demonstrated by our own 'finger in the frame' shown on the playback features page. This camera should be held by pinching the lower part of it with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand.
The 1.5 inch LCD is somewhat improved for outdoor use with the new less-reflective covering. I still found myself cupping a hand around the LCD to make it easier to see in bright light. When not using the LCD as a live viewfinder, the eye-level optical viewfinder makes it easy to compose the picture in daylight and by not using the power consuming LCD, battery life is extended. The viewfinder has a field of view of approx. 85% of the captured image. The "Slow No Wake" photo on the Sample Photos page is shot using the optical viewfinder and framing the sign in the upper left corner of the viewfinder. It shows the additional image area captured that isn't seen through the viewfinder.
The optional date imprinting feature consists of overlaying the date on the image like the Quartz Date film cameras do. This can be useful when something requires photo-documenting for business purposes. However I prefer to view the image's Exif data in a graphic viewing program like ThumbsPlus . This way, it's not necessary to have the date permanently imprinted on the image in case printing is desired later. The optional E-mail image copy can be useful, it captures a full size image for printing and also creates a second image file that is the "proper sized" for transfer in E-mail messages.
One of our readers emailed to remind me of the improved image delete function. The DiMAGE X required 6 button presses to delete an image during playback as it had to be done from the menu. The DiMAGE Xi now lets you delete an image by simply pressing the flash mode/delete button on the back. And the AUTO RESET menu option when set to "Off" lets the camera remember all current settings including LCD on/off when the camera is powered down. No more having to turn the LCD off everytime the camera is powered up - it remembers flash and drive modes and other settings too.
The Dimage Xi is an excellent choice for business users, tourists, extreme sports enthusiasts or anyone that needs a compact and durable, high resolution digicam. This is a point-n-shoot camera that can be easily operated by novices or experienced digi-photographers. The 2048x1536 size images can make photo-quality prints up to 11x14-inch size. Thanks to the optional Marine Case MC-DG100, the Dimage Xi (or DiMAGE X) can now be used at the beach, on the water, underwater and in any weather condition.
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