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Minolta announce DiMAGE S304 / E201

May 23, 2001 at 04:00 GMT

We first heard of the DiMAGE S304 at PMA 2001, today Minolta have officially announced it and released full specifications. The S304 features a 3.34 megapixel CCD sensor, 4x optical zoom lens and a variety of manual features. Minolta have also announced a second 'entry level' digital camera, the DiMAGE E201 which features a 2.3 megapixel sensor and fixed focal length lens.


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Minolta DiMAGE S304

Click here for full specifications

Offering a 3.34 Million Pixel CCD and MINOLTA GT LENS With a 4x Zoom Ratio

Minolta is pleased to announce the introduction of the DiMAGE S304, a new compact digital camera which sets a new standard in performance. It offers exceptionally high quality image processing, a dynamic zooming range, advanced autofocus and autoexposure performance plus fast, effortless operation.

The DiMAGE S304 is a product of Minolta's latest technological developments used in the top of the range DiMAGE 7 and DiMAGE 5 SLR type digital cameras. With the introduction of the DiMAGE 7 and DiMAGE 5, a new class of high performance optics has been created: Minolta GT LENSES. The DiMAGE S304 is fitted with a 4x zoom ranging between 35-140mm equivalent in 35mm format. The DiMAGE S304's GT LENS is apochromatic (APO) and incorporates an AD (anomalous dispersion) glass element and aspheric elements to bring out the best in the camera's 3.34 million pixel CCD. The developments also include Minolta's exclusive CxProcess technology for CLEAR and EXCELLENT images with minimum noise. Innovative autofocus technology for which Minolta is renowned incorporates both a wide focus area and the Focus Area Selection which allows photographers to move the focusing point on the LCD monitor. Also employed is the latest high speed LSI chip, which achieves responsive camera operation from start-up to recording and viewing. Multi segment exposure metering guarantees accurate exposure.

The DiMAGE S304 offers diverse automatic and manual image control options including the DiMAGE 7's Digital Effects Control.

The DiMAGE S304 from Minolta a new compact digital camera providing exceptional performance, high quality images, a versatile zoom lens, creative control and ease of use.

Main Features

High Quality Images

High Quality 1/1.8 inch type CCD with 3.34 Million Pixels

The DiMAGE S304 is equipped with a high quality 1/1.8 inch type CCD with a total of 3.34 million pixels for high resolution images. The resolution allows for exceptional B4-size prints at 150 dpi and photo quality 13 x 17 cm prints at 300 dpi. The camera is supported by Epson's latest PRINT Image Matching technology which can effortlessly make prints that reflect the original image.

High Performance MINOLTA GT LENS

All glass APO 4x Zoom Lens with AD Glass and Aspheric Elements

The DiMAGE S304's Minolta GT LENS is optically superb to provide clear, vivid images. It is a high resolution, all glass, apochromatic lens featuring both an AD (anomalous dispersion) element and two double sided aspheric elements. This remarkable combination, rarely available in compact digital cameras, minimises chromatic aberration and reduces curvilinear distortion, giving high quality images. As small as conventional 3x zoom lenses on the market, this new Minolta GT LENS will produce sharp, detailed images at all focal lengths and has the potential to form a high resolution image on a five million pixel 1/1.8 inch type CCD. The Minolta GT LENS series was created to provide professional quality lenses for Minolta digital cameras. The DiMAGE S304, DiMAGE 7, and DiMAGE 5 are the first cameras to use these lenses.

CxProcess - New Image Processing Technology

Images formed on the CCD are enhanced by Minolta's exclusive CxProcess, a new image processing technology borne from the concept of providing Clear and eXcellent images that faithfully reproduce the photographer's vision. The "x" also signifies that the processing technology multiplies image clarity. The CxProcess will evolve with the advancement of hardware technology. In image processing, too much emphasis on natural colour produces flat desaturated colour pictures, while over emphasising the colour range creates an unnatural colour scheme. The CxProcess balances both extremes by optimising colours. It critically controls the elements indispensable for image quality: sharpness, colour reproduction, tonal gradation, and noise.

12-bit A/D Conversion

The camera's extraordinary 12 bit A/D conversion can handle seamless gradations and billions of colours. The difference between the standard 10 bit A/D, conversion with a limit of 1,024 levels per channel, and Minolta's advanced 12 bit A/D conversion, with fine tonal gradations with up to 4,096 levels in each R/G/B channel, is plainly obvious in portraiture as it offers a smooth complexion, rich shadows, luminous highlights and fine eye and hair detail that bring the subject to life.

Minolta GT LENS with an Exceptional 4x Optical Zoom Ratio

The Minolta GT LENS is a versatile tool that can be used for expansive landscapes or intimate portraits. The 4x zoom is equivalent to 35mm - 140mm lens in the 35mm format. Unlike many 3x optical zooms on the market, the DiMAGE S304's dynamic 4x zoom ratio gives extra reach at the telephoto range to capture the action or intimacy of friends or relatives at important moments. Photographers can capture objects as close as 50 cm without the use of the macro function.

*The minimum focus distance is measured from the CCD.

2x Digital Zoom

A distant subject can be brought even closer with the digital zoom function, which doubles the effect of the optical zoom, up to an equivalent of 280mm in the 35mm format, resulting in impressive images.

Macro Capability

The lens' macro capability provides high resolution close-up photographs of small objects from as close as 10cm from the lens. An area of 5.6 x 7.4cm can be covered by the camera.

High Performance Autofocus and Autoexposure

The Wide Focus Area

The Main AF control uses a wide focus area consisting of three AF sensors. The cross-hair AF sensor in the centre effortlessly and accurately determines subject distance regardless of horizontal or vertical subject contrast.

Focus Area Selection

The Focus area Selection offers great flexibility in composition. Photographers can move the focusing point to single out a specific subject from a number of objects at varying distances.

Full Time AF

Users have the option of full time AF. The full time autofocus continually adjusts the focus to keep the live image on the monitor sharp and reduce autofocusing time so important moments are not lost.

High Performance Autoexposure

Exposure is controlled by accurate multi segment exposure metering, ensuring beautiful images with fine highlight, shadow and colour reproduction. With 256 segments, the multi segment metering technology uses both light values and colour information. With emphasis on the main subject, the luminance patterns on the CCD and AF information are used to accurately calculate the exposure.

At the same time, the multi segment metering system employs the white balance controls to evaluate the colour distribution of the image. If there is a large proportion of yellow in the image, the metering system assumes that the subject's reflectance is high and will adjust the exposure accordingly. The Result is natural, well exposed colour images. For selective control autoexposure, spot metering mode is included.

Fast, Effortless Operation

High speed LSI for Digital Imaging and Signal Processing

The DiMAGE S304 performs quickly and effortlessly from the moment it is turned on. The new high speed LSI chip is responsible for the responsive performance from start-up to recording and viewing. The DiMAGE S304 shares the same high speed LSI chip found in the new 5.24 million pixel DiMAGE 7 SLR type camera. The chip incorporates a fast 32-bit RISC CPU, and is connected to a large capacity SDRAM through a 32 bit data bus.

Easy to Use Control Layout

The DiMAGE S304's ergonomic control layout and design reinforce the ease and simplicity of the camera. Frequently used shooting functions are allocated to button controls for quick access, while functions controlling advanced imaging or camera operation are set using the four way controller and simple menus displayed on the LCD monitor. The dual still image recording system includes automatic recording, offering automated settings for effortless operation and multiple function recording, providing greater creative control.

Shooting Controls

With its experiences as a professional camera manufacturer, Minolta has given the DiMAGE S304 extensive functions and dynamic control. Automatic or manual, the DiMAGE S304 performs brilliantly.

Exposure Mode Selections

P/A/M Exposure Modes

Shutter speeds range from 4 seconds to a fast 1/1000th second and the maximum aperture is a bright f/3.0. The Programmed AE mode automatically selects the optimum shutter speed and aperture combination for quick, easy shooting. The aperture priority mode allows for various experiments with depth of field by manually selecting the aperture settings; the camera will choose the appropriate shutter speed to ensure accurate exposures. In manual mode, photographers have total control over shutter speed and aperture settings and are able to make Bulb exposures of night scenery.

Digital Subject Program Selection

Unlike subject program modes on conventional film cameras, the digital subject program selection combines exposure control with image processing to optimise results under specific conditions. Macro mode permits sharp close-up photographs of small objects. Portrait mode emphasises the subject's skin tone to produce a solid, yet smooth, complexion. Landscape mode provides dynamic landscape images. Night portrait mode reproduces spectacular night scenery with rich, smooth, noise free shadows and bright vivid colours and when employing the flash unit, the flash and ambient light are controlled to ensure the subject and background exposures are properly balanced. In the text mode, exposure control and image processing produce sharp images of type on white backgrounds.

Exposure Compensation and Exposure Bracketing

The calculated camera exposure can be compensated by 2 Ev's in 1/3 increments. Exposure bracketing makes an automatic bracket of a scene to ensure the best possible exposure has been captured.

Camera Sensitivity Control - Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, and 800

The DiMAGE S304 offers automatic camera sensitivity control, as well as preset camera sensitivity levels: 100, 200, 400, and 800 (ISO film speed equivalent). The preset levels can extend the flash range or prevent camera shake when not using the flash in low light conditions.

Spot Metering

Photographers can have precise control over exposure metering in the spot metering mode.

Digital Effects Control

The Digital Effects Control lets photographers control image characteristics and view the effect instantly on the LCD monitor before shooting. The Digital Effects Control can compensate contrast, colour saturation and exposure to change the values in the scene.


Automatic, Prest and Custom White Balance Control Allow Flexible Colour Temperature Control

The automatic setting provides simple camera operation where the white balance automatically adjusts under each lighting condition. If required, photographers can use preset white balance settings for common light sources such as daylight, tungsten, fluorescent and cloudy. For critical applications, the custom setting allows the white balance to be calibrated to a specific lighting situation.

Manual Focus

The DiMAGE S304 offers manual focus control by pressing the four way key on the controller on the back of the camera.

Voice Memo

Thoughts and comments can be recorded with a still image. Audio can be recorded after an image is captured.

Movie Recording

Not only can still images be made of important movements, but also the entire moment can be captured. Movie clips can be recorded as 320 x 240 pixel (QVGA) motion JPEG files for a maximum of 60 seconds.

Remote Control

Self portraits are easy with the built-in self timer or the optional IR Remote Control RC-3.

Sophisticated and Compact Design

The DiMAGE S304 feels great in the hands. The metal (aluminium) exterior has a silky bright metallic finish to accentuate the sleek sophisticated contours.

DiMAGE Image Viewer Utility Software

This software allows the photographers to view and make corrections to images. There are various correction tools to choose from: tone curve/histogram, brightness/contrast/colour pallet, hue/saturation/lightness adjustments and sharpness filters. Other handy functions include the Colour Correction Job that saves correction settings so they may be applied to different images. With the variation function, photographers can choose the best image from a series of automatically bracketed corrections. The Graphic User Interface is simple to use having been based on the user friendly Minolta film scanner driver software. The unique sharpness correction method is easy and effective. The colour matching is compatible with most colour spaces. The ICC profiles can provide accurate colour reproduction. The software also shows the date, focal length and exposure used when the image was captured.

Minolta DiMAGE E201

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2.3 Million Pixel High Quality Compact Digital Camera More Advanced and More Capable

Minolta is pleased to introduce a new addition to its digital camera line-up, the DiMAGE E201. A new movie recording feature, a responsive new processor and a simplified computer connection has taken the high quality entry level Dimâge 2300 and prepared it for the 21st century. The E201 inherits its predecessor's effortless high quality images and sleek compact body.

Simply press the shutter button and the DiMAGE E201 will deliver impressive, crisp, detailed images. The camera boasts a 2.3 million pixel CCD*, incorporating quality optics with aspheric elements. A new responsive processor powers the E201. The ease of operation is achieved thanks to the camera's automatic control over focus, exposure, white balance and flash with all control buttons immediately familiar. Despite its sophisticated automation, the DiMAGE E201 still allows control over exposure, white balance, image quality and image size. It is a fun and flexible camera packed with features such as movie recording and a digital zoom.

Effortless recording is complemented by simple in-camera viewing and editing. Transferring images to a personal computer is just as easy with a USB cable and the camera acting as a mass storage device. Simply install the bundled Adobe PhotoDeluxe to retouch and manipulate images to create impressive presentations.

With high quality images, effortless operation and simple PC connection, the DiMAGE E201 is an ideal compact digital camera for entry level users and those who care about quality and value.

*total number of pixels

Main Features

The DiMAGE E201 allows users to capture high quality images with ease, download them onto a personal computer quickly and display them as printouts or on the net easily.

High Quality Imaging in a Compact Package

A Compact Body Packs a 2.3 Million Pixel CCD and All Glass Aspheric Lens

The sleek compact body fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The DiMAGE E201 produces crisp, detailed images with a 2.3 million pixel CCD that delivers impressive 150 dpi printouts as large as 30 cm x 20cm. Making the most of the 2.3 million pixel CCD, the quality all glass optics include four aspheric surfaces that minimise chromatic and spherical aberration.

Movie Recording

Not only can still images be made of important moments, but also the entire moment can be captured with the DiMAGE E201. Movie clips of up to 60 seconds can be recorded. The 320 x 240 pixel (QVGA) motion JPEG files can be sent to friends by e-mail or used to add spice to web pages.

Smooth Operation

The DiMAGE E201 is fun and easy to use. It can be powered by AA size alkaline batteries, or rechargeable Ni-MH batteries. The traditional control layout and the high tech LCD displays make camera operation natural and intuitive, even for novices. Thanks to the new responsive processor, the camera operates smoothly from start up to viewing.

Recording

Completely Automated for Optimum Results

With the DiMAGE E201, capturing a great looking picture could not be easier. Simply set the camera to a recording mode, frame the picture and press the shutter release button; the autofocus and programmed autoexposure system and automatic white balance control will accurately produce sharp, clear, colourful images. In low light conditions, the built-in flash fires automatically.

Exit 2.1 (JPEG, TIFF) universal file format

The camera's Exif 2.1 (JPEG/TIFF) universal file format saves the uncompressed, high quality super fine images in a TIFF file format. The other image quality settings produce JPEG files with varying rate of compression. The image files have an Exif tag that provides data on when the image was taken and the camera settings used.

Versatility

Users can take control of the final image by using a simple combination of buttons. Changes to settings and their result on the image are displayed instantaneously on a colour LCD monitor at the back of the camera.

Exposure, white balance, image quality, image size, and camera sensitivity can be changed if users want to take charge of the camera's settings. The calculated camera exposure can be compensated by +/- 2Ev's in 0.5 increments. The white balance can be matched to daylight, tungsten, or fluorescent light sources. Four image quality settings (super fine, fine, standard, and economy) and two file size settings (full and half) give control over the final image and recording capacity of the CompactFlash card. The sensitivity of the camera can be enhanced from an 85 to a 340 ISO equivalent, extending the flash range, or reducing camera shake when not using the flash in low light conditions.

The simple controls offer a range of possibilities over different shooting conditions. Users can select five versatile flash settings, which include fill flash, red-eye reduction, and flash cancel. The digital zoom magnifies the image by 1.4x or 2x to provide vivid shots of distant subjects. Getting close to your subject is possible with the macro mode. From as close as 30cm, an area about the size of a sheet of A4 paper can be captured as a full frame image. Self portraits are easy with the built-in self timer or the optional IR Remote Control RC-3.

Viewing and Editing

Images can be viewed and edited directly on the camera's colour LCD monitor. Images can be viewed singularly or on a nine image index display. For closer examination, a single image can be enlarged by up to three times with the press of a button. The images can also be presented in an automated slide show; they can be displayed in order, in reverse order, or randomly. Deleting or locking images as well as formatting CompactFlash cards can be done quickly and easily on the camera.

By simply connecting the television to the camera, images can be played back to family and friends. The camera is compatible with the NTSC and PAL standards, making it an international traveller.

Because the camera is supported by DPOF, images can be printed without the need of a computer. Simply create a print order file on the camera and take the CompactFlash card to a photofinisher or service bureau to get standard size photographs or index prints. Prints can also be made with DPOF compliant printers.

Simple PC Connectivity

Quick and Simple Connection---USB Mass Storage

The supplied USB cable allows quick and simple access to images. Simply plugging the USB cable between the camera and the computer enables the camera to be recognised as an external storage device; users can directly open image files, or drag and drop them into the computer's hard disk.

Fun Photo Retouching Software---PhotoDeluxe

Included on the supplied CD-ROM is Adobe PhotoDeluxe. This easy to use software allows novices to use their pictures in many ways. The program provides simple but powerful retouching tools as well as effects to transform images beyond the ordinary. PhotoDeluxe Version 2.0 is available for Macintosh users and Home Edition 4.0 is provided for Windows users.