Minolta DiMAGE G500 Review

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Minolta DiMAGE G500

Steve's Conclusion

The Minolta DiMAGE G500 is the same as the Konica Digital Revio KD-510Z. Just recently Konica and Minolta merged their camera operations and the G500 is the first relabeled Konica digicam to hit the market.

The Minolta DiMAGE G500 is a very compact "pocket size" point-n-shoot 5-megapixel digital camera. It's physically identical to its Konica siblings (KD-500Z, KD-400Z) and employs the same high quality Hexanon 3x optical zoom lens, state of the art image processing hardware, and adjustability of the image contrast, sharpness and color (with adjustments for the red, green and blue channels). The user can select the ISO sensitivity (Auto, 50, 100, 200 or 400) and set the exposure manually with control of both the shutter speed and aperture. The aperture is only capable of two settings, fully open or fully closed, the actual aperture number is dependent on the lens' focal length. The shutter speeds are very flexible from 1/1000 sec all the way out to 15 seconds with many intermediate steps. Long exposures will benefit from automatic noise reduction that's applied to the image after capture.

The G500 can use Secure Digital (or MMC) and Memory Stick cards at the same time. The G500, Konica KD-500Z, KD-400Z and KD-310Z are the only cameras -not- made by Sony that use Memory Sticks. It is not Memory Stick Pro compatible so only original Memory Sticks, 128MB or smaller can be used. You can use the new Memory Stick Select card which is a double-128MB card with a switch to select one of two memory banks. Secure Digital cards go up to 512MB so with one of each in the camera you have a respectable amount of storage space. This is a 5-megapixel camera capable of creating up to 2.5MB size images so the larger the media capacity, the better.

Overall the G500 is a good performer considering that SD and MS media is not very fast at Read or Write operations - unless using the latest hi-speed Panasonic, Toshiba or exar SD cards. From power-on till the first image was captured measured 4 seconds. This time is very dependent on the size of the installed memory card, in this case 512MB, as the cameras operating software performs memory testing during initialization; power-on responsiveness can be improved by using smaller cards, but at the obvious expense of image capacity.

(11/28/03 update: We have learned that Minolta only approves of 256 and 512MB Panasonic and Toshiba brand SD cards and their OEM equivalents; Lexar, SimpleTech. See the Minolta USA G500 compatibility chart. Use of other brand large capacity cards can cause slow startup times and/or errors.)

Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was 2/10 second when pre-focused, and about 1 second including autofocus time; these results were obtained using a 512MB SD memory card with the camera set to 2592x1944 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. Shot-to-shot delay averaged about 3 seconds, while continuous mode captured images at a rate of about 1 frame every 1.2 seconds, the number of continuous shots limited only by the size of the installed memory card. Using the flash during rapid shooting adds a delay of up to 3 seconds during recharging; the length of this delay is dependent on the distance to the subject in the previous shot.

We were pleased with the G500'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. Our test images were both well exposed and nicely saturated. 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 G500's capability. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits because the DiMAGE G500 is equipped with both a tripod socket and self-timer. Although it's not equipped with a focus-assist lamp, the G500 autofocus system worked surprisingly well in conditions of low ambient light, as did LCD viewfinder. Closeup macro shots with the flash were excellent as the camera "throttles down" the flash for nearly perfect exposures every time; the G500 would be a good choice for shooting close-up images of small objects for inclusion in online auction listings.

When shooting movies be prepared to wait about twenty seconds as it processes and stores the short video clips. It records audio with the motion video and as is the case with most digicams with sound capability, you can't use the optical zoom once you start recording. You can preset it before you start however. The reason for this is simple, the zoom mechanism is noisy and would be easily picked up by the microphone. Movie clip capability is nice but it will never replace a dedicated camcorder in quality, recording length or ease of use.

The battery, although small, seems to hold up fairly well if you don't use the color LCD too much. Minolta claims about 100 shots with the color LCD, and that's about what we experienced in our testing. 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 about 2.5 hours to recharge a fully depleted battery pack and batteries always die when you need them the most.

I give the G500 high marks in styling, durability and overall image quality. Whether you need to print big enlargements, post some pictures on your web site or attach to your email, this camera can handle it. And despite its small size, the G500 wasn't at all awkward or uncomfortable to use. At a street price of under $500 at the time of this review, the Minolta G500 represents a good value as a 5-megapixel digicam for families that want to make large prints of portraits, travel, and family events.

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