Looking for style on a budget? Consider this lower-cost addition to Konica Minolta's deservedly popular Dimage X line. The 2-megapixel X20 lacks the deluxe finish and some of the design and performance virtues of its upper-crust cousins, but it retains several of their other strengths, including a 3X zoom lens and adjustable light sensitivity.
Measuring 3.4 by 2.6 by 0.9 inches, the X20 is remarkably slim, and it's a lightweight 6.1 ounces with batteries and media installed. The camera body is nearly all plastic, but it feels adequately well built, and we like its faux-aluminum look. While there's no optical viewfinder, we have no complaints about the fairly sharp 1.6-inch LCD, which works well even in outdoor light. We're less pleased with the way the few controls cluster under your right thumb, and we're unfavorably impressed by the inconsistent, mildly confusing, and somewhat time-consuming menu system.
You'll find few advanced features on the X20, but it has the snapshot bases nicely covered. The 3X zoom lens spans focal lengths from 37mm to 111mm (the 35mm-camera equivalents), with a maximum aperture ranging from f/2.8 to f/3.7. The only exposure mode is programmed auto, but you can easily adjust exposure to plus or minus 2EV. There's no custom white balance, but you get an automatic setting and four scene modes. Worthwhile bonuses include light sensitivities from ISO 64 to ISO 400, a 1.5-frame-per-second continuous-shooting mode, and voice-memo recording. In addition to JPEG still images, the X20 can record 320x240-pixel QuickTime movies in clips as long as your media card's capacity allows.
The X20's performance, though not bad for this class of camera, is a bit less satisfactory than its feature set. Start-up and shot-to-shot times are acceptable at about 2 to 3 seconds, but slow autofocus makes for a substandard 1.5-second shutter delay, even in good light. In dim conditions, AF speed decreases significantly. The 8.2-foot flash range is adequate, however. And battery life is good; on a single charge of two nickel-metal-hydride cells, we managed to get around 450 shots, more than half of them with the flash firing.
The X20's image quality, like its performance, is mediocre. Our test pictures were smooth, and their sharpness and detail were passable if not exceptional for this camera's 2-megapixel class. But rather extreme contrast caused too many blown-out highlights, and under many different lighting conditions, colors had a warm, yellow-magenta cast. Purple fringing was also a problem in high-contrast areas.