Minolta DiMAGE S414 review
Here are some real pros to this camera that I really wish would be incorporated into ALL digital cameras:
1) Regular AA batteries. This is a MUST for me on a camera. I don't want a bunch of expensive, strange, and/or proprietary batteries and/or chargers. ALL digital cameras eat batteries quickly. Get a camera that uses regular (like AA) batteries, lots of high-capacity rechargable AA batteries, and a quick (15-minute) battery charger. Batteries will then NEVER be a problem.
I have ruled out many otherwise excellent cameras due to weird batteries.
2) Lossless compression as an option. I will not buy any camera that does not offer lossless compression and/or no compression. JPEGs are an altered image that have already suffered 2 generations of image quality loss (the first being the capture of the image to the camera itself, the second being a lossy compression). If you are going to edit your pictures and resave them to JPEGs, then you are then causing a third (or more) generation loss.
I have ruled out many otherwise excellent cameras because they did not offer a lossless compression and/or no compression.
3) At the time this camera came out, it had the highest optical zoom for a digital camera (4x). Digital zoom is ALMOST worthless to me. So this was a major plus.
High optical zooms increase a camera's versatility. My next camera will probably have a 8x-12x optical zoom (since those are available now).
4) The media is CompactFlash. I really like CF. It is available in larger capacities and faster speeds than other removable card media for cameras. It is also widely accepted in many other devices. Get a high-capacity (.5 GB or larger), high-speed card from a high-quality card manufacturer like Lexar for use with this camera.
I have had portability/incompatibility problems with SD/MMC cards. I have never had this problem with CF.
Manufacturers take note:
You can make a really great camera, but PLEASE make sure it has the following features (or I won't buy it):
* Regular batteries (a MUST)
* Lossless and/or NO compression options (a MUST)
* High optical zoom available (a MUST)
* Decent-sized LCD screen for previewing (a MUST)
* CF is preferred, but widely available/widely portable removable media is also a MUST
Here are the problems with this camera (short list):
1) DO NOT buy this camera for taking pictures in low-light conditions. The auto-focus does not work well if light is not already present (and it isn't present until the flash fires). If you force the flash OFF, the the shutter time is too long, and you will still end up with a blurry picture. Use this camera for well lit pictures.
Image stabilization would be an improvement to this camera.
2) It needs a faster processor. Taking high-resolution pictures and/or lossless compression pictures takes too long to write to the card. Speed it up. Delays between snaps mean missed shots.
Faster writes/Faster snaps would be an improvement to this camera.
3) It's a bit bulky, and a little bit heavy. I consider these to be minor inconvieniences. If compact is your thing, buy something else. Compact isn't my thing. It's small enough for me.
4) I once took 1500 pictures in a 6-hour period. I only used two sets of freshly-charged batteries (with the LCD display ON), but the battery compartment got awfully hot as the camera never got a chance to rest. If you are going to take a LOT of pictures in a short time, you probably need something with better heat dissapation. This I also considered to be a minor inconvienience.
I've seen people complain about the battery useage on this camera. There is no reason to complain about it. ALL digital cameras eat batteries quicly. Keep a quick-charger (15 minutes) around, and at least two sets of batteries, and this will never be a problem. Also, buy a card reader for your PC, so you don't have to use the camera as the card reader for your PC. This will also save your batteries.