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Eegakan Feb 11, 2004 6:08 PM

Digital Cameras not so good these days! My final choices
This is kind of long so please bear with me; I really need some second opinions before I purchase a camera real soon. I find myself comig back to Minolta since I've been looking for a camera for a couple of months. I am looking for a digital camera that will stay a head of its time, so like a couple years from now it won't be too outdated. I would like to take pictures for my business, website and trips so an ability to take professional looking photos would be nice. My budget is under $300. After doing a lot of reviewing and comparing I have narrowed my search down to these three choices

Minolta DiMAGE S414 (By far my favorite but is it dated?)

Minolta DiMAGE G400 (Hate the battery pack idea, but it is newer, quick and small. It also has a unlimited video with sound).

Casio QV-R40 (Uses AA batteries but I have heard complaints about the fuzziness in pictures and checked out some pics myself and don't really like them either compared to the others but it is the cheapest at $223 but at the same time missing some serious features like sound and continuous capture shooting mode).

I also have the following criteria for the camera that I choose:

1) I would like a good 4 mega pixel camera but if any one knows about a 3+ mega pixel camera that can be just as good please let me know.

2) Picture quality has to very sharp, rich, and crisp. I would like a camera without fuzziness and can produce a little larger than letter size paper pictures with good quality.

3) No lithium Ion battery crap. This has to be the most disappointing feature to me out of all the recent deployments of digital cameras. This criterion will only change if the camera has other highly exceeding qualities/features. The main reason for this is because I have an AA battery charger that can charge in 15 minutes so waiting 2 hrs for a battery pack to charge that costs double the price of NiMH is just way too long for me.

4) A pocket size camera would be nice but not a necessity. I don't want one too big though.

5) The camera should be able to turn on and take pictures quickly (less than 2 sec)

6) No xD memory cards because they don't work with my PC for some reason.

7) I am pretty much a beginner but would like to get to at least intermediate status but when I want to take quick pictures fast and with good quality I want to be able to do so (I also want to know if the manual features on these cameras are good enough for me to fine tune my photos and make them rich in color and brightness).

8 ) Video with sound and only limited by memory is a nice plus but not a necessity but if I'm going to pay close to $300 I expect sound with video.

srvsd Feb 12, 2004 12:20 PM

A couple of comments (my 2 cents)

1. Anything you buy will be somewhat outdated in a couple of years, but will still take the same quality pictures. There will always be more megapixels, bells and whistles for the same price down the road.

2. I'm not sure what you mean about LiIon "crap" but a lot of photographers get a second battery and just keep one charged. When one gets weak, pop in the new one and put the other on the charger.

It seems, IMHO, that you are asking a lot for $300. Every camera at a certain price level is a compromise. Many 4MP cameras produce excellent images and are surprisingly affordable. Get the one with the most features that are important to you. It sounds to me like you should get the S414.

Eegakan Feb 12, 2004 2:53 PM

Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I think I might be asking a little more than I should but I don't want to end up with a camera that has poor image quality or I find myslef in a situation down the road that it can't handle. It just seems like the newer cameras have a big trade off with a certain feature. I still like the Minolta S414 the best, if it was a little smaller it would be the perfect camera for me. I just hope it's size won't be too much of an annoyance and the focusing won't be too much trouble even if i have to go into manual mode to fine tune it, those are the only two problems making me question if I really want it. I really feel like I have to check it out before I buy it (I don't know any local stores that have it) or purchase it and return it then get it on the net for a cheaper price :D I don't want to get stuck with it if I don't like it, like some other stuff I have bought over the net!

About the Lithium Ion battery packs, my problem with them is that they take too long to charge and are more expensive than AA batteries. The companies seem to be doing this only to make a higher profit by adding a specialized necessity like with printers and ink cartridges. I would go with the G400 if it wasn't for this issue, which is a big issue for me.

srvsd Feb 12, 2004 5:01 PM

Size is still a little subjective. I worried about the size of the FZ-10 (= HUGE!, especially coming from a 4300 user), but it hasn't bothered me that much at all. I do think being able to try one out to see how it feels in your own hands is very important, but you will not be able to get the full potential out of any camera in 5 minutes at the store. If it is that important of a decision, perhaps a drive to the nearest larger city could help.

Manual focus is a little difficult from a LCD screen because the resolution isn't the greatest. Other problems can be that the sensitivity of the mechanism may not be that great causing over or undershooting the desired focus target. The FZ-10 has an intuitive focus ring around the lens, but even with an enlarged center to help focus, it can be a little difficult to see on the LCD. I guess my point is that as much as I love the FZ-10, there are still strengths and weaknesses, and I paid $600. Look at $1000 cameras, and you'll still see people complaining about low-light focus, etc.

voxmagna Feb 12, 2004 5:53 PM

........1) I would like a good 4 mega pixel camera but if any one knows about a 3+ mega pixel camera that can be just as good please let me know................

Used Fuji S602 - Great Camera, low on CA as well!
Oh dear....... this is the Minolta section. VOX

NikonAISNo1 Feb 12, 2004 11:12 PM

Hi- I have a S414- I got it at factory refurbished for 216 bucks and does a pretty good job. Any camera will have it's own specific limitations, and this one is no exception. May i suggest checking out a Nikon 880 or 890 in Steve's reviews . You can find one pretty cheaply (3.2mb I think) if you search at Unless you need 11X14 + prints or images. That will do fine I liked the pics I saw in the review Steve did.This is a good camera too but I'm not happy with it for shooting subjects that have close lines in them or shooting the city I live near from across the river. It's not an easy camera to work with in low light situations either - it takes a few trys to get it focused enough. But for daylight non criticallly detailed pictures- it's really very good. I've taken some really outstanding pictures with it on subjects that are fairly close - or can fill the frame- then I dont have much to complain about at all. :lol: Or you could just get a Canon A70 or 80 lol they're small and have been getting very good reviews. I really like the size and feel of this one (S414) I like heavy- it's easier to hold steady in lower shutter speeds :D

Eegakan Feb 13, 2004 2:25 PM

Thank you all for replying. I have noticed something about the photos taken by the S414 that bothers me alot. I browsed around and found some photos taken by owners of S414 and ALL of them have a darkness to them as if the flash is highly inadequate even when there is plenty of light out. Also when some pictures are brightened I notice more speckle/noise in them.

I also checked out photos taken by the Canon A70 and they were nearly flawless. The contrast between light and dark was perfect and so realistic. There also seemed to be less speckle/noise

Don't get me wrong on S414, it's detail is amazing and the zoom is much better but the flash seems very poor. Is there a way to fix this? If the S414 is capabale of taking a shot like the pictures below I will buy it.

If not I will just go with the Canon. The Casio is terrible IMO bad flash and too much haze and noise. Especially for a 4mp.

Anyways finding the right camera is turning out to be harder than I thought. What would I be giving up by going from a 4mp camera to a 3.2 mp camera?

Eegakan Feb 13, 2004 11:04 PM

I checked out the Minolta and it is really a beautiful camera. It looks like a complex piece of work which I like but it's pretty big and has quite a width to it. Unfortunately I couldn't upload any of the images but if what you see on LCD is pretty much what uploaded images will look like then it has a very good optical zoom and focus from a far distance than the A70. If someone could please answer my previous question though that would be great.

John Richmond Feb 15, 2004 4:42 AM

I've had a S414 for about a month now and, although conditions haven't been ideal, I've managed to take some reasonable shots. Have a look at for these. Most were taken without flash although the few flash shots I have taken seem OK within the limitations of a small, on camera, un-diffused unit.

For the price (I bought mine for 199 in the UK) it's a good camera. Solid, well built and with good image quality. I'm happy with my first dip into the digicam waters.

hendo Feb 15, 2004 7:14 AM

I've had an S414 for a couple of months now and so far I've been very happy with it although I must admit that I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to using its many features.

It took me a long time to decide which camera was right for me - looked at all the models mentioned in this thread - and finally settled on the S414 as the best model for my needs and at a very decent price.

Many people talk about it being a battery hog - and maybe it is, but with a Maha smart charger and a handful of batteries that isn't an issue for me. People also talk about how big it is - but that's a relative term - as someone who carried a standard SLR around for years, it sure seems small to me! The truly micro cameras out there are great if you really need to carry a camera in your shirt pocket, but that wasn't important to me. It's kind of like cell phones - how small is small enough?

As for darness to the photos/weakness of the flash - I do mostly outdoor photography so again that hasn't been a huge issue - but you can always take care of that in a jiffy in the post-processing.

Good luck in your decision!

Eegakan Feb 21, 2004 4:06 PM

Thanks all for the replys but I'm going to wait for the Canon A75. I like the smaller size of the A70 and the what I really like about it are the bright photos compared to the S414, So the A75 should be all that and then some.

voxmagna Feb 21, 2004 5:26 PM

.......I like the smaller size of the A70 and the what I really like about it are the bright photos compared to the S414, So the A75 should be all that and then some...........

Yes I tried the A70 and A80 before I bought a S414. I wanted something that was a bit more compact than my Fuji S602, cheap enough for party stuff BUT comparable on pic quality.

I discounted the A70/A80 real quick on CA and blue colour casts in dull daylight (white bal errors). However, at first look I admit the Minolta pics did not look as 'bright' as the Fuji - but they did look more natural.

Now the curious thing about the S414 is it's extremely conservative on levels (is this a Minolta trait?), but noise is low enough up to 200 ISO to get the look you want afterwards. Unlike other cams that are running whites into the clipper and oversaturating to give more noise in colours. I've now discovered that applying some 10-20% extra colour saturation , put the whites into the clipper in photoshop, I can make the S414 as 'bright' as the Fuji. But I'd rather have the latitude, than have the camera peak for max smoke and get it wrong.

The S414 does have offer a custom choice of natural or vivid colour and at least you can see something of the histogram on its display - unlike the Canon A's!. VOX

selvin Feb 22, 2004 3:22 AM

I own the earlier version of the S414 which is the S404. The camera is great, very durable, excellent rapid shot, a nice piece of glass lens and many other features too numerous to mention.
The 414 improves on the 404 by creating the shots in standard color space and a few other changes apparently not too obvious.

As much as I like it and it was my main camera for over 10,000 shots

you should be aware of some quirkiness. Incidentally, I would suspect all cameras have a certain amount of quirkiness.

1) Minolta needs to fix the damn on/off switch. Getting it wrong once in the 404 was forgiveable but they used exactly the same design in the 414. It is too easy to turn the camera on accidentally. There are workarounds but after one version they should have done something better.

2) The strength of the flash fades after 9-10 feet very rapidly. It is much better than the HP I used to have but from what I've read, the strength of the flash is still not one of their strong points. I now also own an Olympus 730UZ and it clearly has a stronger flash unit.

3) Battery drain is about as close as you can get to "it sucks" with being there. Yes, the advent of 2000+MA NIMH batteries just about solves that problem though.

Actually the three points I stated above aren't fatal flaws they are primarily inconveninces that I was willing to live with because the unit took really good pictures. Some can be seen on my web site.


voxmagna Feb 22, 2004 4:58 PM

........) Minolta needs to fix the darn on/off switch. Getting it wrong once in the 404 was forgiveable but they used exactly the same design in the 414.......

I'd agree with everything. BUT the worst thing on the 414 was they seem to have picked a WB for flash, which isn't daylight! If you're outside and leave the flash on auto and the light level drops, your WB gets screwed 'cos the flash kicks in with its own preset WB. I always use preset daylight WB now for flash and keep the auto flash off!

I fixed my 414 by cutting a piece of plastic shaped like a doughnut with a 'V' slot in it. Slipped it under the function rotary switch. Nice bit of increased friction, been working great for 3 months. VOX

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