Konica Minolta DiMAGE X31 Review
The DiMAGE X31 is an ultra-compact camera that offers users a 3.2 megapixel imager coupled with a 3x optical zoom. This is an entry level point-n-shoot with minimal exposure options for white balance, color modes, special effects, drive mode, image size/quality, and exposure compensation. Users can either capture still images in record mode, with an option for a portrait mode, or they can record motion JPEG movies at 320x240 without audio.
Ergonomics are average, the controls are well placed and your thumb and index finger fall naturally over them. However, the 4-way (joystick) selector is very difficult to use. Not only is it very small, but when using it to zoom the lens in and out, it sometimes doesn't move the lens until you find the "sweet" spot. Also the "trick" to using this camera is to pinch it with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, this keeps your fingers out of the way of the lens. If you hold this camera the way you hold other cameras, you will find your index finger in the upper left hand corner of the picture way too often. This is because the lens is positioned very close to the edge of the camera. Once you learn this "pinching" technique you won't have the "finger in the frame" problem anymore. You can see an example of this by looking at image PICT0047.JPG on our samples page.
I was disappointed with the quality of its 1.5-inch LCD. Considering that this is the only viewfinder on this camera, I would have thought they would have made it with an anti-reflective coating. When taking sample photos outdoors, I found it very difficult to use in bright sunlight. And it doesn't do much better in low-ambient light, though it does "gain up" to help brighten your subject, it is very grainy.
Shooting performance was typical for a camera in this class. Power up to first image captured measured approx. 3.5 seconds. The all important shutter lag averaged about 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and 5/10 of a second including autofocus. The shot-to-shot delay measured approx. 3 seconds without the flash and 5 seconds including the flash. When using the continuous burst mode, I was able to capture 6 frames in just over 12 seconds. Multi Frame mode captured 9 frames in approx. 2.6 seconds, then saved them as a single 2048x1536 image. Switching from Record to Playback takes less than 1 second. All tests were done using a SanDisk Ultra II 512MB SD card, size/quality set at 2048x1536/Fine, preview off, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The overall image quality in 2048x1536 Fine mode was good. Outdoors it produced nice images, though they were a little soft, and there was an average amount of noise in high/low contrast areas. Indoors it produced similar results and most of our flash pictures were a bit warm. However, the Macro capabilities of this camera are good. Though it does not have a dedicated macro mode, it can cover from 3.9 inches (0.1 m) to infinity at any focal length. I also found that the flash "throttles down" well to ensure you don't over-expose the subject.
Bottom line - The DiMAGE X31 will be a good choice for anyone who is just entering the digital world or someone who plans on taking mostly outdoor and macro images. With a price tag of around $199, it offers a good overall value. For the price, I would consider looking at either the Canon A75 which costs about $50 more or the Olympus D540 Zoom , which can be had for around the same price.
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