Minolta DiMAGE S304 Review

Steve's Digicams

First Look posted 8/25/01
Full review posted 9/8/01

Click to take a QuickTime VR tour of the DiMAGE S304
Click on the DiMAGE S304 to take a QuickTime VR tour

The DiMAGE S304 is a compact digital camera featuring a 4x optical Minolta GT zoom lens (35-140mm in 35mm equivalent) and a 3.34-megapixel CCD imager, housed inside of a highly durable aluminum body. Based on similar technology used in the Minolta DiMAGE 7 and DiMAGE 5, the DiMAGE S304 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 S304 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.

DiMAGE S304 Features:

  • All-glass 4x Minolta GT zoom lens (35-140mm in 35mm equivalent)
  • 3.34-megapixel CCD imager for images up to 2048 x 1536
  • Records up to 60 secs of 320 x 240 motion JPEG with audio
  • 15 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
  • 256-segment Multi or Spot metering
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing (0.3, 0.5 or 1EV steps)
  • Adjustable image contrast and saturation
  • ISO sensitivity of 100, 200, 400 or 800
  • White balance has four presets plus custom
  • CompactFlash Type I card slot
  • Highly durable aluminum body
  • High-speed USB port

Physical Views

Minolta DiMAGE S304

Minolta DiMAGE S304

Minolta DiMAGE S304Minolta DiMAGE S304

Minolta DiMAGE S304

Minolta DiMAGE S304

Sony DSC-S75 and Minolta S304

The Minolta S304 and the Sony DSC-S75, both 3mpixel and $699.

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Page Two

DiMAGE S304 Specifications

Number of effective pixels 3.17 million (2056 x 1544)
CCD 1/1.8-type interline primary-color CCD with a total of 3.34 million pixels
Camera sensitivity Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800 (ISO 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: 0.5 m / 19.7 inch to infinity (from the CCD)
T: 0.9 m / 35.4 inch to infinity (from the CCD)
Macro mode (focal length: 15.5 mm):16 cm to 60 cm / 6.3 inch to 23.6 inch (from the CCD)
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: 256 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 View / Night portrait, Text)
Digital Effects Control Exposure, Color saturation, Contrast
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. 0.5 - 3.5 m / 19.7 - 137.8 inch (from the CCD)
Telephoto: approx. 0.9 - 3.0 m / 35.4 - 118.1 inch (from the CCD) (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 2048 x 1536, 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
Sharpness settings Three levels (Soft, Normal, Hard)
Storage capacity
(simulation) (frame)
Approximate storage capacity of a 16 MB CompactFlash card
2048 x 1536 1600 x 1200 1280 x 960 640 x 480
ECO. 27 41 54 104
STD. 16 26 38 81
FINE 9 15 23 57
SUPER FINE 1 2 4 16
Movie 70 seconds
The actual number of images may vary depending upon the subject.
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 4.6 cm (1.8 inch) 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 60 seconds (max.), with audio
Number of recorded pixels: 320 x 240 (per frame)
Audio With movie clips: 60 seconds (max.)
With still images (voice memo): 15 seconds (max.)
Digital zoom 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. 280 frames (LCD monitor off)
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. 320 g / 11.3 ounces (without batteries or recording media)
Operating temperature 0 - 40 degree centigrade
Standard accessories AA Alkaline Batteries / Neck Strap (NS-DG304) / Lens Cap (LF-236) / AV cable (AVC-100) / CF Card (16MB) / USB Cable (USB-200) / DiMAGE software CD-ROM for DiMAGE S304 / Bundle software: ArcSoft PhotoImpression

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