The autofocus system is not the camera’s strongest point. Taking around half a second to lock on in normal light it is a little slow compared to some rival models. It gets even slower in low light, and frequently won’t lock at all. Since it is possible to take a picture without a focus lock, this result is some disappointing out of focus low light shots. Considering that the camera’s primary use will most likely be social photography at parties, this below average low light performance could be a real handicap.
Automatic white balance also seems to have a bit of a problem. It has a disturbing tendency to over-compensate for strong colours in an image, so for example in an image containing predominantly blue tones the camera will add a strong red tint to try to compensate for the blue. It is possible to get round this by using the manual white balance settings, but these are not available in the scene mode option.
Other than that, image quality is very good. In normal light, colour reproduction, dynamic range and contrast are excellent, and the level of detail available with the huge 8MP images is incredible. Exposure and focusing are very accurate, and I was particularly impressed by the macro performance. Image noise is well within acceptable limits, although it does creep into darker areas at the maximum 200 ISO.
Flash range is a competent five meters, but the low-light focusing problems will limit its usefulness. The only gripe is a small amount of lens distortion in the corners of the frame at wide angle, and some minimal blue fringing on very high contrast edges, but neither of these problems are particularly serious, and overall image quality is very good.
The Dimage X1 is a camera for those who appreciate style and innovation and are prepared to pay a premium to get it, especially if they don’t want to be bothered by a lot of technical details but still want good picture quality. It is compact, very easy on the eye, and the anti-shake system and 8MP CCD ensure good results under most normal circumstances. Problems with low-light focusing may limit its usefulness as a party camera, but other than that it performs very well.