Minolta DiMAGE S404 Review

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First Look posted 1/8/02
Full review posted 3/20/02

Click to take a QuickTime VR tour of the DiMAGE S404
Click on the DiMAGE S404 to take a QuickTime VR tour

The DiMAGE S404 is a compact digital camera featuring a 4x optical Minolta GT zoom lens (35-140mm in 35mm equivalent) and a 4-megapixel CCD imager, housed inside of a highly durable aluminum body. Based on similar technology used in the Minolta DiMAGE 7, the DiMAGE S404 offers the superb image quality, innovative functions and quick response usually found only in top performing SLR-type digital cameras. Fundamental to the design of this new camera is the core technologies of a ultra high resolution apochromatic lens (Minolta GT LENS), Minolta's innovative CxProcess Image Processing Technology, plus a high speed Large Scale Integration (LSI) chip and advanced autofocus technologies.

The image formed on the CCD is enhanced by Minolta's exclusive CxProcess image processing technology to optimize sharpness, color reproduction, tonal gradation and noise to create clear and natural images. The wide dynamic range is provided by 12-bit A/D conversion to ensure natural color and tonal reproduction. Innovative autofocus technology includes both a wide focus area and a focus area selection, allowing photographers to move the focusing point on the LCD monitor.

The DiMAGE S404 offers diverse automatic and manual image control options, including the Digital Effects Control where users can adjust the color saturation, contrast and exposure before saving the image to the Type I CompactFlash Card. The DiMAGE S404 is physically identical to the 3-megapixel DiMAGE S304.

DiMAGE S404 Features:

  • All-glass 4x Minolta GT zoom lens (35-140mm in 35mm equivalent)
  • 4-megapixel CCD imager for images up to 2272 x 1704
  • Records up to 60 secs of 320 x 240 motion JPEG with audio
  • 5 or 10 second voice memos can be attached to images
  • 12-bit A/D conversion and high-speed image processing
  • 3-point wide autofocus area
  • Five user-selectable focusing points
  • Single or Continuous autofocus
  • Program AE, Aperture priority and Manual modes
  • Up to 15 second exposures with noise reduction
  • 270-segment Multi or Spot metering
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing (0.3, 0.5 or 1EV steps)
  • Adjustable image contrast and saturation
  • ISO sensitivity of 64, 100, 200 or 400
  • White balance has four presets plus custom
  • CompactFlash Type I card slot
  • Highly durable aluminum body
  • High-speed USB port

Physical Views

Minolta DiMAGE S404

Minolta DiMAGE S404

Minolta DiMAGE S404Minolta DiMAGE S404

Minolta DiMAGE S404

Minolta DiMAGE S404

Sony DSC-S75 and Minolta S404

The Minolta S304 and the Sony DSC-S75 for size comparison.

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Page Two

DiMAGE S404 Specifications

Number of effective pixels 3.95 million (2272 x 1704)
CCD 1/1.8 inch-type interline primary-color CCD Total pixels: 4.13 million
Camera sensitivity Auto, ISO 64, 100, 200, 400 (equivalent)
Aspect ratio 4 : 3
Lens construction 11 elements in 9 groups (includes 1 AD glass element and 2 double-sided aspheric elements)
Focal length 7.15 - 28.6 mm (35 mm equivalent: 35-140 mm)
Max. aperture f/ 3.0 - f/ 3.6
Focusing range W: 1.6 ft (0.5 m) to infinity (from the CCD)
T: 3 ft (0.9 m) to infinity (from the CCD)
Macro mode (focal length: 15.5 mm): 6.3 to 23.6 inches (16 cm to 60 cm)
Optical zooming control Power zoom
Filter diameter 35.5 mm
Autofocus system Video AF
Autofocus areas Wide focus area / Focus Area Selection
Focus mode Autofocus
Full-time AFD is available in the autofocus mode.
Manual focus
Focus lock By pressing the shutter-release button partway down
White-balance control Automatic, Preset (Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Cloudy), Custom
Metering Multi-segment, Spot
Multi-segment metering: 270 segment
Shutter CCD electronic shutter and mechanical shutter
Shutter speeds: 1/1000 - 4 seconds, Bulb (max. 15 seconds)
AE lock By pressing the shutter-release button partway down
Exposure modes Programmed AE, Aperture priority, Manual
Digital Subject Program Selection (Macro, Portrait, Landscape, Night portrait, Text, Macro + Text)
Exposure Bracketing 1.0, 0.5, 0.3 EV increments
Digital Effects Control Exposure, Color saturation, Contrast
Sharpness 3 levels (Soft, Normal, Hard)
Exposure compensation ±2 EV in 1/3 increments
Flash mode Autoflash, Autoflash with red-eye Reduction, Fill-flash, Fill-flash with red-eye Reduction, Flash Cancel
Flash range Wide: approx. 1.6 - 11.5 ft (0.5 - 3.5 m)
Telephoto: approx. 3 - 9.8 ft (0.9 - 3.0 m) (Camera sensitivity: auto)
Recycling time 7 seconds (approx.)
Viewfinder type Optical real-image zoom viewfinder
Field of view 80% (approx.)
Eye-relief 18.5 mm / 0.7 inch (from the eyepiece)
13 mm / 0.5 inch (from the eyepiece frame)
A/D conversion 12 bits
Recording media Type I CompactFlash card
File format Exif2.1 (JPEG, TIFF), Motion JPEG (AVI): with audio
DCF 1.0-compliant
DPOF-compliant (Supported by printing functions in ver.1.1)
Printing output control PRINT Image Matching
Number of recorded pixels 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480
Movie clips: 320 x 240
Color modes Color, Black and white
Image-quality modes Economy, Standard, Fine, Super Fine
Delete functions Single, multiple, or all frames can be deleted.
A frame can be deleted in quick view mode (recording modes).
Lock function Single, multiple, or all frames can be locked.
Format function Available
Date imprinting Year / month / day (Format can be changed.)
Imprinting can be disabled.
LCD monitor 1.8 inch (4.6 cm) TFT color
Total number of pixels: 122,000
Display format Recording modes: Live image, Various statuses
Quick view / Instant playback
Playback modes: single-frame playback, Index playback (4 or 9 frames), Enlarged playback* (scrollable), Slide Show, Movie playback.
Various statuses
Self-timer 10 seconds (approx.)
Remote control IR Remote Control RC-3 (sold separately)
Movie recording Up to 60 seconds (AVI), with audio @ 15fps
Number of recorded pixels: 320 x 240 (per frame)
Audio With movie clips: 60 seconds (max.)
With still images (voice memo): 5 or 15 seconds (max.)
Digital zoom 2.2x
Audio signals Tone indicates operation. Includes "shutter" sound effect.
Audio signals can be disabled.
Batteries* 4 x AA batteries (Ni-MH or Alkaline) * Use of Ni-MH recommended.
External power source 6V DC with specified AC adapter (sold separately)
Battery performance* Number of recorded images (Ni-MH, 50% of flash use):
Approx. 150 frames (LCD monitor on)
Approx. 150 frames (LCD monitor on)
* Minolta measurement
PC interface USB Ver.1.1
AV output NTSC and PAL (selected on the camera)
Dimensions (WxHxD) 113.5 x 64.5 x 58.5 (56.7 in lens area) mm
4.5 x 2.5 x 2.3 (2.2 in grip area) inches
Weight Approx. 335 g / 11.8 ounces (without batteries or recording media)
Operating temperature 0 - 40 degree centigrade
System requirements IBM PC/AT compatible computer with Windows XP, Windows Me, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 98* or Windows 98 SE* and a USB port as standard interface.

Apple Macintosh models with preinstalled Mac OS 8.6** - 9.2.1 or MacOS X v10.1 and a USB port as standard interface.
* Users of the Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE must install dedicated driver software included in the DiMAGE S404 package. ** Users of the Mac OS 8.6 must download free dedicated driver software from the Apple Computer web site and install it.

Accessories Standard: Neck Strap, Lens Cap, USB Cable, AV Cable, 16MB CompactFlash Card, AA alkaline batteries, DiMAGE software CD-ROM for DiMAGE S404 (includes DiMAGE Image Viewer Utility), CD-ROM for ArcSoft PhotoImpression

Optional: Camera Case CS-DG304, IR Remote Control RC-3, External High Power Battery Pack Kit EBP-100, AC Adapter AC-1L

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