Minolta DiMAGE S304 Review
Timings & File Sizes
Overall the S304 was a good performer, its slowest function was power up, which is fairly normal for a camera with an extending lens. What's slightly curious though is that the actual lens extension only takes 1.2 seconds, the rest of the time is taken up with the camera 'thinking'. The lens extends no matter what mode you switch to.
Shuter lag and focus times were good slightly faster (certainly at telephoto) than its bigger brothers the DiMAGE 5 and 7. Shot to shot times are good if you disable instant playback and wait for the focus bracket to re-appear.
Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Supplied CF card (Lexar 8x 16 MB) was used for timings. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2048 x 1536 FINE JPEG image (approx. 1.1 MB per image).
|Power: Off to Record||Lens always defaults to wide||5.8||Lens takes 1.2 secs *1|
|Power: Off to Play||5.1||Image is displayed|
|Power: Record to Off||4.1||Lens retract *2|
|Power: Play to Off||4.1||Lens retract *2|
|Mode: Record to Play||2.3||Image is displayed|
|Mode: Play to Record||1.5|
|Play: Magnify||To x2.0||3.1||*3|
|Play: Browse delay||Delay between images||~0|
|Rec: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||0.7|
|Auto Focus LAG||Wide focus mode||0.9 - 1.7||Average - Fast *4|
|Auto Focus LAG||Selected AF area mode||0.8 - 1.7||Fast *4|
|Shutter Release LAG||0.1||Fast|
|Total LAG||1.0 - 2.0||Fast to Average|
|Off to Shot Taken||6.9||Average|
|Shot to Shot||2048 x 1536JPEG FINE||2.0||Very Fast *5|
|*1||There is a 2.6 second delay between turning the power dial to 'ON' and the lens beginning its extension.|
|*2||Power off takes 5.2 seconds if lens is at telephoto position.|
|*3||Subsequent zoom levels take approximately half a second.|
|*4||At either wide angle or telephoto with sufficent light. If auto focus can't lock it may take up to a second longer before the red dot appears.|
|*5||Instant playback disabled, must wait for focus brackets to re-appear before pressing shutter release otherwise shutter release is locked.|
Continuous drive mode
The table below shows the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames at a selection of image resolution / quality settings and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take the next shot.
|Image Type||Frames per sec
||Max no. of frames||
|2048 x 1536 FINE||1.4 fps||4||3 sec|
|2048 x 1536 STANDARD||1.2 fps||9||3 sec|
|1600 x 1200 STANDARD||1.0 fps||45||3 sec|
|1280 x 960 STANDARD||~1.0 fps||-||-|
|640 x 480 STANDARD||~1.0 fps||-||-|
|*1||You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background"). Timings taken using the supplied Nikon branded SanDisk CF card.|
For some odd reason the S304 actually slowed down for smaller size (file size) images in continuous mode, however at anything less than 1600 x 1200 STANDARD the frame rate and write speed of the CF card 'broke even' which means you can just about shoot until the card is full (but only at one frame per second).
File Flush / Display Timing
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the Compact Flash card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed (shutter click was heard) and stopped when activity indicator LED beside the storage compartment went out. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". Supplied CF card (Lexar 8x 16 MB) was used for timings.
File size *4
on a 16 MB
Compact Flash card
|2048 x 1536||S.FINE TIFF *2||24.2||n/a||6,254 KB||1|
|2048 x 1536||FINE||6.8||3.2||~1,580 KB||9|
|2048 x 1536||STANDARD||5.6||2.7||~810 KB||16|
|2048 x 1536||ECONOMY||5.0||2.2||~540 KB||26|
|1600 x 1200||FINE||6.0||2.6||~970 KB||15|
|1280 x 960||FINE||5.3||2.3||~700 KB||22|
|640 x 480||FINE||4.5||1.8||~250 KB||55|
|*1||Instant playback disabled. With instant playback enabled CF writing only starts once the playback image has been displayed, thus either 2 or 10 seconds after the image has been taken and processed.|
|*2||Screen is blank and camera is inoperative during writing period.|
|*3||The S304 displays all images almost instantly in 'browse' mode (pressing the 4-way controller left or right to view images), the only delay (actually reading the image) occurs if you press the magnify button. You can not magnify TIFF images.|
|*4||With JPEG it's difficult to predict the exact size of an image file because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.|
We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:
- Take 4 shots without flash
- Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
- Take 1 shot with flash
- Wait 1 minute
All batteries had been fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
Prosumer / SLR-Like
|Battery||Power||Battery life||Number of shots|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 14 mins||125|
|Minolta DiMAGE 5||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 56 mins||195|
|Nikon Coolpix 5700||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 08 mins||215|
|Canon PowerShot S40||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 13 mins||225|
|Minolta DiMAGE S304||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 18 mins||235|
|Canon PowerShot S45||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 28 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 4500||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 27 mins||250|
|Fujifilm FinePix 6900Z||NP-80||4.1 Wh||2 hr 29 mins||250|
|Nikon Coolpix 990||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 995||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 5000||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 32 mins||260|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Canon PowerShot Pro1||BP-511A||10.2 Wh||2 hr 36 mins||265|
|Canon PowerShot S50||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Minolta DiMAGE S404||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Sony DSC-V1||NP-FC11||2.8 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Olympus C-7000 Zoom||LI-12B||4.5 Wh||2 hr 44 mins||280|
|Nikon Coolpix 8700||EN-EL1||5.0 Wh||2 hr 45 mins||280|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7i||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 46 mins||270|
|Olympus E-20||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Canon PowerShot G1||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 00 mins||300|
|Nikon Coolpix 5400||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||3 hr 06 mins||315|
|HP Photosmart 850||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 12 mins||325|
|Sony DSC-S75||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 15 mins||330|
|Nikon Coolpix 8800||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||3 hr 27 mins||350|
|Fujifilm FinePix S602Z||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 29 mins||350|
|Canon PowerShot G2||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 32 mins||355|
|Casio QV-4000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 38 mins||365|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||380|
|Casio EXILIM EX-P700||NP-40||4.5 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||385|
|Sony DSC-S85||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 50 mins||400|
|Sony DSC-F717||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 02 mins||405|
|Pentax Optio 750Z||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 03 mins||415|
|Sony DSC-V3||NP-FR1||4.4 Wh||4 hr 05 mins||415|
|Nikon Coolpix 8400||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||4 hr 09 mins||420|
|Sony DSC-F707||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 20 mins||440|
|Fujifilm S7000 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||4 hr 23 mins||445|
|Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2||NP-400||11.1 Wh||4 hr 26 mins||450|
|Canon PowerShot G3||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 32 mins||455|
|Canon PowerShot G5||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 33 mins||460|
|Pentax Optio 550||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 36 mins||465|
|Minolta DiMAGE A1||NP-400||11.1 Wh||5 hr 02 mins||515|
|Leica Digilux 2||BP-DC1-E||10.1 Wh||5 hr 05 mins||515|
|Sony DSC-F828||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||5 hr 28 mins||540|
|Fujifilm FinePix S5000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||5 hr 31 mins||555|
|Canon PowerShot G6||BP-511A||10.3 Wh||5 hr 38 mins||570|
|Olympus C-8080 WZ||BLM-1||10.8 Wh||5 hr 52 mins||595|
|Other test notes:|
| LCD monitor is left on during
the battery test
The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set
About what we've come to expect of AA powered digital cameras, approximately 2.5 hours. Interesting to note that the S304 did considerably better than its bigger brother the DiMAGE 7. It also got less hot (although still warm).
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