Minolta DiMAGE S414 review
Inexpensive for a 4 MegaPixel with 4x Optical Zoom
Uses Non-Proprietary NiMh AA Batteries
Feels Great In The Hand (especially on a cold day)
Thankfully They've Discontinued This Model
Inexpensive (Sucks people like my wife in)
Battery door VERY difficult to close with batteries installed (something you'll be doing often with this model). Feels like it will quickly break off.
Eats batteries for lunch but makes a great hand warmer within a couple minutes of turn on. At least it uses inexpensive NiMH rechargeables.
Flash in wrong position (easy to cover with finger, OUCH, that's hot).
Flash cannot be boosted. The Olympus offered 2 full f-stops of flash enhancement and boy, is it bright.
Zoom function on the 4 way toggle rather than separate control.
Side to side scrolling in display mode hit and miss.
Auto Focus rarely successful at properly locking indoors, even in well lit rooms.
Pictures appeared to have a yellowish cast to them in the viewer and this was confirmed when they were downloaded, irregardless of white balance settings.
Doesn't matter how inexpensive it is if the pictures are unsatisfactory.
Unimpressive cycle times using an Ultra Hi-speed 512 Meg Compact Flash 1 Card.
Let me begin by saying that the camera which really tugs at my heartstrings is the Panasonic FZ20 but not at current Canadian pricing.
I bought this Minolta S414 on the insistence of my wife during a weak moment at a Costco close-out for $299 Canadian (she's always hot for a deal) but not before returning home and reading very favourable reviews from Steves Digicams and Imaging-Resource.com. I also confirmed that Costco would let me return this display model if unhappy.
From the outset, this was to be a stopgap camera for me while I await price reductions on newer improved models. My wife said she would take it for her own when that time comes so I figured, what the heck. I REALLY wanted to like this camera as I have used a Minolta XE5 35mm SLR since 1974 with superb results. But alas, I'm getting older and want my digital camera to be a decent Point & Shoot for my wife (and me) as well as having Manual Capability for those creative moments.
I've successfully used a 3 MegaPixel Olympus 3020 extensively for about 3 years at work with very impressive results. In fact at Christmas 2004, I was able to take excellent shots of 28 people with this little marvel which my son-in-law couldn't capture with his $1,500 Nikon D70 using its internal flash. Boy was he ticked and embarassed. Although not perfect, the Olympus 3020 indoctrinated me enough to know what I'm looking for in a digital camera. On paper, the Minolta S414 appeared to smoke the Olympus in virtually every category, and heh, it's only $299. Unfortunately, you can't take pictures with paper. To be fair, I haven't taken one picture outdoors yet, (everythings white here anyway) but I've shot several hundred pictures indoors using all modes and can't say I've seen one yet that really had me saying, now that is a great shot! Although I'm very proficient with hi power Image Editing Software, I'll be damned if I'm gonna mess around for minutes post editing every shot I take.
Sorry Minolta. Your S414 is going back to Costco tonight. Perhaps I can only be satisfied with another Olympus or that Panasonic FZ20.
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