The 5-megapixel Konica Minolta Dimage X60 will appeal to snapshot photographers who want a no-fuss, no-muss camera that looks good and can be carried everywhere. This model updates the earlier X50 with a new internal 3X zoom lens, a 2.5-inch LCD, and a burst mode. It won't overwhelm anyone with its list of features and doesn't offer much in the way of manual controls, but it gives casual shooters all the tools they're likely to need.
The pocketable Konica Minolta Dimage X60 measures a mere 1.8 by 1.2 by 3.3 inches and weighs only 5.5 ounces with its battery and an SD/MMC card installed. A sliding lens cover protects the nonprotruding 3X zoom lens and powers the camera on and off. Even when bounced around in a purse, the lens cover remained closed, so there was no danger of the battery being accidentally drained or the lens being scratched.
Solidly built, the Dimage X60 is comfortable to hold and well designed. The Mode switch, which moves from left to right between photo capture, scene modes, and movie and audio recording, sits on the camera's top edge next to the shutter-release button. The back of the camera is home to a large 2.5-inch LCD that works well in all but extreme lighting conditions. There's no optical viewfinder on this model, as there was on the X50, so you'll have to use the LCD exclusively as a viewfinder.
Playback, display, and menu activation buttons as well as a four-way controller take up the remaining space. The display button reveals only basic shooting information on the LCD, while the four-way controller arrows access flash settings and also self-timer and continuous-shooting features. For convenience, you can program the left and right arrows to access exposure compensation, white balance, light sensitivity, or color mode.
This Dimage features a three-tabbed menu system. Each listing fits on the screen, so you need only to move from tab to tab rather than scrolling up and down. The menu works well and is clear and easy to understand. Our only gripe is that the menus are transparent, and their text can be a difficult to read when the camera is pointed at a distracting background.
The small SD/MMC slot on the side of the camera is protected by a relatively sturdy cover that's easy to use but can't be knocked open by accident. A small, Tootsie-Roll-shape, rechargeable lithium-ion battery slides into a compartment on the bottom of the camera. Although the cover closes securely, there's no latch to secure the battery inside, so make sure you hold the camera upside-down or sideways when you're removing the battery to keep it from falling out. The compact charger that's included with the Dimage X60, although not quite as convenient as those that plug directly into the wall, comes with a short AC cord, so it takes up less space than most when traveling.
The Konica Minolta Dimage X60's feature set is streamlined to the basics. Considering what some other cameras in its class offer, the X60 isn't very competitive when it comes to features. But snapshooters who just want to keep it simple will find this camera's feature set more than adequate. The 3X zoom lens gives you a rather narrow focal-length range of 37mm to 114mm (35mm-camera equivalent), so the X60 isn't the best choice for shooting in tight spaces.
In addition to a programmed automatic mode, the X60 features Konica Minolta's Automatic Digital Subject Program Selection, which analyzes the scene you're shooting and selects a suitable option from the camera's short list of scene modes: Super Macro, Portrait, Sports Action, Landscape, and Sunset. These modes, along with Night Portrait and Text, can also be selected manually.
Ranging from 4 seconds to 1/1,000 second, the shutter speed is adequate for basic shots, although the lens's maximum aperture of f/3.3 to f/4.0 is a little slow--pokier than the X50's, thus, not as well suited for low-light shooting. Slow shutter speeds and dark conditions trigger automatic noise reduction, but because it's automatic, we couldn't tell when it had been applied. However, when the camera's sensitivity is set on Auto, the sensitivity range is limited to ISO 50 to ISO 160, which helps keep noise levels down. You can also set sensitivity manually at ISO 50, ISO 100, ISO 200, and ISO 400.
White balance is limited to basic presets, but there's a choice of multiarea and spot metering as well as AF, black-and-white or sepia color effects, and exposure compensation. Four resolution and three compression settings provide enough flexibility for snapshot photographers to choose the quality they need.
The camera's 320x240 movie mode is on a par with the X60's basic feature set; it's fine for casual use, but don't expect to send it to the big screen. You can also record audio clips, although each one is limited to 15 seconds. A continuous-shooting mode as well as a multiframe option that captures as many as nine images in a grid are also available.
In playback mode, an E-mail Copy function makes it easy to create a small version of your photo to send via the Internet. You can also paste one image into another, choosing from one of several shapes; trim a still image; or capture a frame from a video.
If you happen to be a scuba diver or snorkeler, you'll be happy to know that there's an underwater housing for the X60 that's depth-rated to 130 feet.
In our tests, the Konica Minolta Dimage X60 wasn't quite as fast as the sprightly X50. Start-up to first shot extended slightly longer than 2 seconds, including the time it took to slide the lens barrier open. We had to wait almost 3 seconds between shots without flash. With the flash, the recycling time extended our wait to 3.24 seconds.
At high resolution, the 1.59fps continuous shooting nearly matched Konica Minolta's estimate of 1.6fps and maxed out at 4 images. Low-resolution continuous shooting was only slightly faster at 1.73fps and also captured 4 images.
Without an AF illuminator to help, the X60's low-light focusing ability was about average at 1 second. Shutter lag was less evident under bright light at 0.7 second. Although the lens moved smoothly through its focal-length range, the camera's autofocus took a split second to catch up.
The flash range is only about 8 feet in wide angle and drops to a maximum of 6.6 feet in telephoto, so you need to be relatively close to your subject in dim light.
The little Konica Minolta Dimage X60 delivered good image quality for its class, with nicely saturated colors and accurate exposures under some difficult conditions. With its decent dynamic range, the camera held onto highlights fairly well, even though shadows were sometimes blocked.
We saw a moderate amount of noise in our photos, and it was a bit hard to control since noise reduction is applied automatically and isn't selectable. But in general, images shot at ISO 200 were usable, and ISO 400 shots, although noisy, weren't the worst we've seen at high sensitivity.
Super Macro mode, which focuses down to 2 inches, worked relatively well, although details were a little soft at that distance. The flash's weak output worked well for close-up shots, too.
While purple fringing was evident in some shots, it was less prominent than we'd expected.