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Turning 25 filled my head with a varied selection of thoughts, from the good (gaining respect, a learned knowledge of society), to the bad (going bald, going clubbing and realising everyone is far younger than you are), to the ugly (developing an interest in gardening, finding people in their fifties attractive). One thing I have never managed to sustain is a relationship around the time of my birthday, but following a year of companionship I was finally afforded the luxury of being showered with gifts (more of a brief drizzle) by my girlfriend. Another thing I have never acquired is a camera, but the digital era in full flight has barged into my life with a camera that has far exceeded my expectations in several departments. Keen photographers and statisticians may wish to avert their gaze at this point for I will dissect the multi-layered, handheld beast that is the Dimage X20 in layman?s terms, in a positive and negative light as I deem fit: POSITIVE POINTS 1) It is pocket sized and lightweight The X20 can be placed alongside mobile phones in the area of carriage. It weighs around the same as a standard Nokia mobile and fits easily into a trouser pocket. 2) You can pick up and use it instantly. Switch it on: up pops the viewfinder and you?re away taking pictures. That?s all there is to it. Read on however and the full range of features elevate the X20 onto a different plane. 3) The user interface is easy to follow. The camera is supplied with an instruction booklet that illustrates brief instructions, the full manual is provided on an accompanying cd rom. However, the camera is easy to use should you be unwilling to rifle through the 100+ pages on the disc. The back features a digital viewfinder that shows the image curre
ntly being displayed (3.5cm x 2.5 cm), three navigational buttons, a menu key and a picture preview key. The menu is a basic interpretation of Microsoft Windows. Take a picture and you can zoom in and out, add time and date, sort it into other folders, add a brief audio message to it using the in-built microphone and change the light and colour to your suiting. It would be easy for me to elaborate further on the features in this area, but safe to say there are limitless ways of editing pictures to keep enthusiasts content until their perfect image is saved. 4) It is PC and TV compatible. This is perhaps a an archaic fact to some, but the use of a USB cable allows you to view your photographs on your computer, giving you the chance to email them instantly, rather than waiting to have them developed before sending them in the post. The inclusion of phono leads allows you to view photographs on your TV. I have a 28-inch screen and the definition of the pictures is quite stunning. 5) The auto-focus is lightning quick To take a picture you press down gently on the shutter release button. The camera automatically focuses for you and determines if the picture will come out by displaying a white or red dot accordingly. If you choose to continue, press the shutter release down fully and the picture is taken and stored. 6) A massive amount of pictures can be stored with a memory card. Pictures are stored on a memory card and although there is one provided with the camera it will only let you store the equivalent of a standard film (approximately 30 exposures). I purchased a 64MB card and this allows me to store over 400 pictures in the standard 15 x 10 cm format. A memory card is definitely worth the investment. WHAT?S WRONG WITH
73;T? Initial use showed very little wrong with the X20. The camera functions well and is simple to use, it weighs little and isn?t a burden on your person. Pictures can be taken quickly and easily and you can upload to your pc in seconds. However one problem was enough given the scale it is on. 1) It eats up batteries at a phenomenal rate. Problems arise in an area familiar to the majority of us who use portable equipment: battery lifespan. Using the batteries supplied by the retailers (Jessops) my camera lasted short of an hour before power gave up. Since then I have bought rechargeables on the advice of a friend and although this will cut long-term cost, power was yet again lost after about an hour. When uploading pictures to your pc I would advise using an AC adaptor if available, or making an investment in the aforementioned batteries. You can pick up some set with a charger for under £20 on Ebay. This is one of the few faults on an otherwise impressive package and this no doubt plagues other digital cameras, but the bottom line is you can?t afford to be away from a wall socket or corner shop for too long if you want consistent use out of your camera. 2) It takes too long to ready for the next shot. There is a function allowing you to take rapid shots catwalk style but this compromises on quality. Take a picture and waiting for the flash and viewfinder to reset can often taken a few seconds, but this could be the few seconds in which the picture you really want is gone forever. OVERALL The X20 is a thoroughly modern camera that exemplifies products of the digital age. It is surprisingly easy to use and records superb quality pictures without the need for a tripod or flask-sized zooms lens attached to it. There are other features that would hav
e been too laborious for me to list here and they are all extension of what has been mentioned. There is a video camera facility, but this only allows recording time of approximately three minutes, proving that you would be better off purchasing a specialised digital video camera. In the two weeks it has been in my possession I have had considerable fun and satisfaction taking pictures of the quality I believed would cost hundreds to achieve, coupled with a learned knowledge of photography. Minolta was a name I recognised in the field of photography and it has complimented itself with this impressive product. Just don?t venture into the Australian outback without a trunk full of batteries?