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  Minolta Dimage F300 7/10. Date Posted 31/08/2003.

Minolta has a good reputation in the field of photography, not quite in the Canon or Nikon league, but very much one of the top 3 or 4. With their Dimage range of cameras, Minolta have tried to cover the digital camera market right from the 2 megapixel entry levels to the prosumer 5 megapixel cameras.

This Dimage F300 model sits somewhere in the top half of their range. Looking at it from all angles its a very well designed camera. The build quality is excellent, with a solid metal body. Inspite of this it only weighs around 200g, making it one of the lightest 5 megapixel cameras you can buy. The batteries are two ordinary AAA and it takes SD cards, further minimizing the weight. I prefer CompactFlash cards though, as they are often a lot cheaper! However, the rectangular shape makes it not as nicely pocket sized as Canon's Ixus Digital range.

In terms of ease of use the Minolta caters well for photographers who prefer fully automatic usage. Although you can get fully manual control by switching the top dial to M mode, it can get a bit fiddly changing settings like Aperture through the menu. It would have been nicer to include both aperture and shutter priority modes on the dial! Other settings like ISO can also be changed, which go as low as ISO64 for virtually noise free pictures.

Something which I did not expect was the speed that this camera operates. Although not quite instant the shutter lag compares very well with other cameras at this price range. The lag once the subject has been autofocused in virtually unnoticable. However, if the subject has not been autofocused, the lag is still quite long. The autofocus itself has a special tracking feature, so you it follow moving subjects. One feature I really liked was the way the Minolta buffers photos when viewing them back. This meant I could scroll through my saved photos.

The picture quality is very good, not quite as detailed as some of the more expensive and bulkier "prosumer" 5 megapixels around, but nevertheless very good, with more than enough detail to produce a great A4 print.

The Minolta makes a very good buy for those people who want 5 megapixel quality but do not want to lug around a heavier and more expensive "prosumer" camera and can sacifice a few features.