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Minolta Dimage S414 Review

The Minolta DiMAGE S414 is a full feature 4 megapixel camera at $399. It replaces the highly popular DiMAGE S404. The camera has a solid metal body with a 4.1 megapixel CCD, a 4X Minolta GT APO zoom lens, and a 12-bit A/D conversion, with complete manual controls for exposure, color, contrast, saturation, white balance, camera sensitivity, and focus. The S414 also records 60 second video clips.

What's included:
Minolta DiMAGE S414 digital camera
4 AA alkaline batteries
Lens Cap
16mb compact flash card
AV cable
USB cable
DiMAGE Viewer Software
DiMAGE Viewer instruction manual
Camera manual (111 pages)
Warrenty Card


High-Performance 8.8X Zoom
(4X Optical, 2.2X Digital)
The DiMAGE S414 is equipped with a Minolta GT apochromatic zoom lens. This sophisticated 4X lens provides focal range of 7.15mm to 28.6mm -- equivalent to a 35 - 140mm zoom lens on a 35mm camera.
The lens focuses down to 4 inches for extreme close-ups. Two double-sided aspheric lens elements and AD (anomalous dispersion) glass ensure sharp images at all focal lengths.

Wide-Area Autofocusing with Focus Area Selection
Wide-area AF makes accurate focusing simple. Within the large focus area are three AF sensors left to right. The camera automatically locates the subject within the focus area and confirms the point of focus by briefly displaying the active AF sensor. You can also easily switch by holding down the controller button until the 5-point array spot focus areas appear and then select the spot focus area.

Processing Power
With the same processor as Minolta's top-of-the-line DiMAGE 7Hi, an internal memory capacity of 32MB, the DiMAGE S414 is a fast performer.

Manual Focus
In addition to the autofocus system, the camera can be focused manually while monitoring image sharpness on the monitor. Thru the Basic Menu, set the focus mode to MF and then the center button on the zoom controller toggles the zoom switch between focusing and zooming the lens.

Metering modes
The DiMAGE S414 uses 270 metering segments to calculate the exposure based on subject and background brightness, also available is spot metering.

6 Program modes available
In addition to a fully automatic point & shoot Program mode, Digital Subject Programs can be selected, which optimizes the camera's exposure, white-balance, and image-processing controls for specific scenes and subjects. Six subject programs are available:
Macro: Ensures maximum depth-of-field for sharp details in close-up pictures.
Portrait: Reproduces warm, soft skin tones and creates slightly defocused backgrounds.
Landscape: Ensures sharp images of expansive scenes.
Night Portrait: Balances the flash illumination on the subject with the background ambient light. This setting can also be used to capture the romantic ambience of illuminated night scenes such as city skylines.
Text: For crisp reproductions of black text or line art on a white background.
Text & Macro: Accurately reproduces small text or line art.
Manual controls
The DiMAGE S414 has ISO levels of: 64, 100, 200, or 400.
And to ensure the best exposure possible, an automatic three-frame bracket can be made in 0.3, 0.5, or 1.0Ev steps.
Bulb exposure up to 15 seconds.
Minolta's CxProcess helps create realistic images while minimizing noise.
12-bit A/D conversion
The DiMAGE S414's real-time histogram shows the luminance distribution of the image before the image is captured allowing you to get the perfect exposure.

Display modes:
Standard display
Focus Frame only
Real-time Histogram
Scale - a ruler type crosshatch is displayed horizontally and vertically
Live image only

Image-Processing Tools
The S414 includes sharpness, contrast, and filter controls.
The filter control makes an image warmer or cooler.

Quick View Mode
Captured images can be easily accessed in the recording mode. Simply press the Quick View button to display the recorded images. Toggle the controller up to view the histogram and exposure information. Push the zoom button to zoom into the image, up to 3.5x zoom is available with smooth scrolling. The S414 is immediately available to take a picture from quick view mode. Touching the shutter button puts the camera back into shooting mode.

Fast Action
Using the big 32meg buffer allows the DiMAGE S414 to continuously record still images at a rate of approximately 8 frames in 5 seconds (1.6 fps).

Movie and Audio Functions
To catch extended action as it unfolds, 60-seconds of digital video with audio can be recorded. Additionally, thoughts and comments can be recorded alone or with a still image. Voice Memo allows an audio track up to 15 seconds to be attached to an image when the image is captured. Movie clips and audio tracks can be played back in the camera.
Only play, pause, and continue controls are available on movie playback, single-step, and reverse are highly missed!

Color Mode
The color mode has five options:
Natural Color
Vivid Color
Black & White

White Balance Control
Four preset white balance settings: daylight, cloudy, tungsten, and fluorescent, can be selected and for critical control over color, the custom setting allows the camera to be calibrated to the lighting conditions at the scene which is quite useful when a mixture of lighting types are illuminating the scene.


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