Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Minolta Digital Cameras > Minolta DiMAGE S414

Minolta DiMAGE S414

DiMAGE technology and optics in a compact, stylish four megapixel design.

<<S414 Photo Gallery! :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

S414 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 07/31/2003

Digital Cameras - Minolta Dimage S414 Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Pretty good job, with contrast and saturation adjustments.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the S414 had just a little trouble with the harsh lighting at its default settings.

The shot at right was taken with a no exposure compensation adjustment, at the low contrast and vivid color settings. (Here's a shot at the default contrast and color settings, with a +0.7 EV exposure adjustment.) The lower contrast setting helps out the midtones, although he camera still loses a fair bit of detail in the harsh highlights. I chose the Daylight white balance as the most accurate overall. Both the Auto and Manual settings produced warmer images. I also snapped images with the camera's Warm, Normal, and Cool color filters.

Skin tones look good, and the blue flowers in the bouquet are nearly right, just slightly dark with purplish tints. The S414 did a good job with the strong reds and greens, as well. Resolution is excellent, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame, even in the shadows. Details are also sharp, and image noise the shadows is low. With the camera's contrast and saturation adjustments, results are quite good.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV (with the low contrast and vivid color settings), see files S414OUTMCVDP0.HTM through S414OUTMCVDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Here's a progression of images showing the individual adjustments that made up the final image above:
 
Contrast was very high with the camera's default contrast setting, under the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. Color also was a little flat. The Vivid color setting brightens color, though contrast remains unaffected. The contrast adjustment worked reasonably well, though highlights are still brightened a bit as well. The Vivid color setting also helps punch up color, for a much better-looking overall image.

 





 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail, although the low contrast setting is once again called for.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the S414's 4x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. Detail is excellent, especially in Marti's face and hair. Details are also really sharp. (Probably more detail than Marti would care to see full screen.) The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, with a low contrast setting, as the default exposure had very high contrast. Highlights are still bright in this shot, but detail is stronger in the midtones. Shadow detail is again strong, with only moderate noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV with the low contrast adjustment, see files S414FACMCDP0.HTM through S414FACMCDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+0.7 EV

Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, good color as well.

The S414's built-in flash has good intensity, though it was just slightly dim at the default setting. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened the exposure just enough. Coverage is fairly even across Marti's features, and overall color looks good. An orange cast on the back wall is the result of the background incandescent lighting, and spills onto Marti's features slightly. Still, a good job.

 




 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Though slightly orangish, best overall color with the Auto white balance. Quite a bit of exposure compensation required, however.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. Though orangish, the S414's Auto white balance produced the best overall color here (with an exposure adjustment). The Incandescent and Manual settings produced nearly accurate results, though the Manual setting was greenish, and the Incandescent setting brownish.

The main shot required a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, about average for this test. The exposure at +1.0 is a bit dark, but at +1.3 EV, I felt it became quite washed out.

ISO Series:
The S414 shows low noise at the ISO 64 setting, increasing steadily with the sensitivity setting. (As you'd expect.)

ISO Series
ISO 64
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Great resolution, detail, and color.

The S414's Auto white balance setting produced the most accurate white value on the house trim, although overall color is just slightly cool. Still, I preferred it over the warmer color balances of the Daylight and Manual settings. Resolution is high, as the tree limbs and shrubbery show a lot of fine detail. Details are fairly sharp throughout the frame, though appear to be defined more by high contrast than sharpness.



 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, and very pleasing color, although contrast is high at the default setting.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the S414 does an excellent job in this regard. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, especially in the leaf patterns. In-camera sharpening does a good job here, with crisp details from corner to corner. (The sharpness in the corners is evidence of the quality of the S414's lens.) The camera picks up only the strongest detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is much stronger in the shadow area above the front door, however, showing that the shot is possibly just slightly overexposed. (More detail held in shadows than highlights, although the counterpoint would be that the midtones look very good.) Contrast is high in this shot, which affects the S414's highlight performance. Overall color looks good. Here's a sample image shot with the camera's uncompressed TIFF setting. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, contrast, sharpness, color, and a filter series.

Resolution Series:
(Normal and Basic compression settings shown only for the largest file size to conserve server space, but are available in all sizes.)

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Basic"
JPEG
2,272 x 1,704
S414FARLF
S414FARLN
S414FARLE
1,600 x 1,200
S414FARMF
-
1,280 x 960
S414FARSF
-  -
640 x 480
S414FARTF
-  -


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 64
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High

Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Low
Normal
High

Filter Series:
The following color filter options adjust the overall color balance, useful for correction Auto white balance when needed.

Filter Series
Warm
Normal
Cool

Color Series:
The S414 offers a nice selection of creative color effects, which also do a good job controlling saturation.

Color Series
Black and White
Sepia
Natural Color
Vivid Color
Solarize




 

Lens Zoom Range

Better-than-average 4x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (4x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The S414's lens is equivalent to a 35-140mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to an average wide angle to a pretty good telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
4x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Pretty good color, though slightly reddish, with the Daylight white balance. Good detail as well.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The S414's Daylight white balance setting did the best job here, though color balance is slightly reddish overall. The Manual setting looked pretty good, though slightly cool, and the Auto setting was much too cool. (Just the opposite of the problem most cameras have on this shot.) Skin tones look pretty good in the Daylight setting, and the blue robe is nearly accurate, without strong purplish tints in the shadow areas. Resolution is very high, with great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe. (The original data file for this poster was only 20 megabytes, so cameras like the S414 are definitely capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Good macro performance with good color and detail.

The S414 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.06 x 2.3 inches (78 x 58 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are slightly soft in the background and dollar bill, likely due to a limited depth of field. Overall color looks good, as does exposure. The S414's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, and overexposed the shot.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slight overexposure at the default setting, but good color.

The Auto white balance produced the best color here, with the most accurate white value in the mini-resolution target and large, white color block. Both Manual and Daylight settings produced warm images. The S414's default exposure setting overexposed the shot slightly, so I lowered the exposure compensation to -0.3 EV for a more even exposure. (Here's a shot at the default setting.) The S414 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well, up to the B range. Colors are about right in the large color blocks, albeit slightly less saturated than in real life. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes has strong detail, with low noise, and the last steps of both gray scales are barely distinguishable. Overall, a very good performance.



 

Low-Light Tests

Excellent low-light performance, with good color and exposure, even under very dark conditions.

The S414 offers optional full manual exposure control, and an adjustable ISO setting, which results in strong low-light shooting capabilities. Surprisingly too, the S414's autofocus system works well down to light levels of 1/4 foot-candle and even a bit below, even though it doesn't have an autofocus-assist illuminator. - That's about 1/4 the brightness of a city night scene, under typical street lighting. The S414 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at the 100, 200, and 400 ISO settings. At ISO 64, exposures were bright as low as 1/8 foot-candle (1.1 lux), though you could arguably use the shot taken at 1/16 foot-candle. Color was good, if not a little cool, with the Auto white balance. Noise was low at the lowest sensitivity setting, but climbed with increasing ISO, becoming objectionable at the ISO 400 level. The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

 

  1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
64
Click to see S414LL0603.JPG

4 secs
F3
ISO: 64

Click to see S414LL0604.JPG

10 secs
F3
ISO: 64

Click to see S414LL0605.JPG

15 secs
F3
ISO: 64

Click to see S414LL0606.JPG

15 secs
F3
ISO: 64

Click to see S414LL0607.JPG

15 secs
F3
ISO: 64

ISO
100
Click to see S414LL1003.JPG

2 secs
F3
ISO: 100

Click to see S414LL1004.JPG

4 secs
F3
ISO: 100

Click to see S414LL1005.JPG

10 secs
F3
ISO: 100

Click to see S414LL1006.JPG

15 secs
F3
ISO: 100

Click to see S414LL1007.JPG

15 secs
F3
ISO: 100

ISO
200
Click to see S414LL2003.JPG

1/1 secs
F3
ISO: 200

Click to see S414LL2004.JPG

2 secs
F3
ISO: 200

Click to see S414LL2005.JPG

4 secs
F3
ISO: 200

Click to see S414LL2006.JPG

10 secs
F3
ISO: 200

Click to see S414LL2007.JPG

15 secs
F3
ISO: 200

ISO
400
Click to see S414LL4003.JPG

1/2 secs
F3
ISO: 400

Click to see S414LL4004.JPG

1/1 secs
F3
ISO: 400

Click to see S414LL4005.JPG

2 secs
F3
ISO: 400

Click to see S414LL4006.JPG

4 secs
F3
ISO: 400

Click to see S414LL4007.JPG

7 secs
F3
ISO: 400



 

Flash Range Test

A powerful flash, without any significant falloff even at the furthest distance, but a little "cheating" from the camera.

In my testing, the S414's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without any significant decrease in intensity. Like most consumer-level digicams I've been testing lately though, the S414 "cheats" a little by boosting its ISO setting to 200 when the flash is used in dark surroundings. This significantly increases the flash's range, but at the cost of higher image noise. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

 

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see S414FL08.JPG

1/125 secs
F3.6
ISO: 200

Click to see S414FL09.JPG

1/125 secs
F3.6
ISO: 200

Click to see S414FL10.JPG

1/125 secs
F3.6
ISO: 200

Click to see S414FL11.JPG

1/125 secs
F3.6
ISO: 200

Click to see S414FL12.JPG

1/125 secs
F3.6
ISO: 200

Click to see S414FL13.JPG

1/125 secs
F3.6
ISO: 200

Click to see S414FL14.JPG

1/125 secs
F3.6
ISO: 200




ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very high resolution, 1,100+ lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion.

The S414 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines. (Arguably, 1150 lines in the horizontal direction.) "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,300 lines.

Optical distortion on the S414 is slightly better than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.7 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I couldn't find even a pixel of barrel or pincushion distortion. The S414's lens is very sharp corner to corner, with only a little softness in the upper right-hand corner, and chromatic aberration is very low, showing only very slight coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Overall, the S414 has one of the best lenses I've seen on a consumer digicam. (!)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,272 x 1,704
S414RESWLF
S414RESWLN
S414RESWLE
1,600 x 1,200
S414RESWMF
- -
1,280 x 960
S414RESWSF
- -
640 x 480
S414RESWTF
- -

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,272 x 1,704
(Fine, Tele)
S414RESTLF




 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor, but a slightly tight optical viewfinder.

The S414's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing 83 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. This is a bit tighter than the standard 85% viewfinder. (Which is still too tight, IMHO.) The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, showing nearly 100 percent accuracy at both zoom settings. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the S414's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard. Flash distribution is fairly even in the center of the frame at wide angle, with falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform, but slightly dim.

 


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD



Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Minolta DiMAGE S414!



<<S414 Photo Gallery! | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate