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Konica Minolta’s Dimage highly successful X-series represents the original ultra-compact digital camera range. When the first of the line, the 1.9 megapixel Dimage X, was launched in early 2002, it was by far the smallest and lightest digital camera on the market, and also had one of the fastest start-up times. It achieved both of these feats thanks to an innovative lens design.
The 3x optical zoom lens was mounted vertically completely inside the camera body, looking at the outside world via a 90-degree reflecting prism, in the manner of a submarine’s periscope. This meant that the camera could be much thinner – just 20mm – than contemporary models with conventional lenses, and without the delay of extending a long zoom lens it could be ready to take a picture in just 1.8 seconds, which at the time was unbelievably fast and is still pretty respectable today. There have been eight further models in the series, all sharing the same basic core technology.
The latest addition to the X series is this, the X1, and as its numeral would suggest, it represents something of a re-launch for the line. After the competent but rather pedestrian X50 and X60 models, the X1 also represents a return to the spirit of innovation and style that made the series successful in the first place.
The innovation comes in two parts; a highly effective anti-shake system that allows hand-held shooting at shutter speeds as low as 1/6th of a second, and an impressive 8 megapixel CCD - unprecedented in a camera this small. Measuring 95 x 68 x 19.5mm, the X1 is shorter and thinner than the original Dimage X.
The new style is immediately apparent from the pictures accompanying this review. Everyone who has seen this camera while I have been testing it has commented on how good it looks. The X1 is available in three coloured finishes; an attractive wine red, a stunning gunmetal black and the satin-finish silver version pictured here. The all-metal case is has a futuristic rounded capsule-like design that slips easily into a shirt pocket, with a metal cover over the lens and a flat one-piece rear panel covering the big 2.5in, 118,000-pixel LCD monitor. There are indicator lights concealed behind the mirror finish of the rear panel, and the minimalist control layout is both attractive an easy to use. It’s an extremely pretty camera, although the glossy finish does show up fingerprints, so you’ll be polishing it a lot.