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Minolta DiMAGE S414

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

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Page 11:Video, Power, Software

Review First Posted: 07/31/2003

Video Out
The S414 includes an AV video cable for connecting to a television set. A setting under the Setup menu sets the timing of the video signal as NTSC or PAL. All images that would normally appear on the LCD are routed to the external video display so that the television screen becomes an enlarged version of the LCD monitor and can be used both for image playback and composition.

The S414 uses four AA batteries for power, either alkaline or NiMH types. As always, I suggest picking up a couple of sets of rechargeable NiMH batteries, and keeping a spare set freshly charged at all times. A battery indicator in the status display panel reports the current charge level of the batteries. When battery power gets too low, a red battery icon flashes in the LCD monitor and the camera eventually shuts itself off. The S414 offers an Auto Power Save option through the Setup menu, which lets you specify how long the camera will wait without user input before shutting itself off. Additionally, the inclusion of the status display panel on top of the camera means that you can easily operate the camera with the LCD monitor switched off, as several camera settings are reported there. Working without the LCD monitor active greatly increases the operating time for a set of batteries. An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory, a useful addition for time-consuming tasks such as reviewing images or downloading them to a computer. Minolta also offers the External High-Power Battery Pack Kit (EBP-100) as a separate accessory. The kit contains a high-power lithium-ion batter pack and charger. (The lithium-ion battery should significantly increase the amount of operating time over AA batteries.)

As usual, I measured actual power consumption in various operating modes, and projected run times based on a set of 1600 mAh rechargeable NiMH batteries. (This is the standard battery capacity I've used for AA-equipped digicams since I started tracking power consumption. Modern high-capacity cells are available with true (not claimed) capacities of 2000 mAh or higher. Using such cells would boost the run times shown here by about 25%.) The results of my testing appear in the table below:

Operating Mode
Power Drain
(@ 6 v)
Estimated Minutes
(1600mAh, 4.8v
4 NiMH Cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
868 mA
Capture Mode, no LCD
398 mA
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
870 mA
Half-pressed w/o LCD
613 mA
Memory Write (transient)
569 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
1,345 mA
Image Playback
639 mA

The S414 is a relatively power-hungry camera, although the latest high-capacity NiMH AA cells can potentially provide worst-case run times approaching two hours, not a bad number at all. Running with the LCD off cuts power more than in half, but the optical viewfinder is only average in its accuracy, meaning you'll have to resort to the LCD for critical framing.

Definitely plan on purchasing at least two sets of high-capacity NiMH cells and a good-quality charger along with your S414. See my Battery Shootout page for the latest info on how various brands and models of rechargeable AA cell batteries perform, and read my review of the Maha C-204F charger to learn why it's my longtime favorite.

Included Software
Packaged with the S414 is a software CD containing the DiMAGE Image Viewer Utility and USB drivers, for both Windows and Macintosh platforms. The DiMAGE Image Viewer Utility allows you to download images from the camera, view them, and organize them.

Included Hardware
Included in the box are the following items:

  • Minolta DiMAGE S414 digital camera.
  • Neck strap.
  • Lens cap with strap and holder.
  • A/V cable.
  • USB cable.
  • Four AA-type alkaline batteries.
  • 16MB CompactFlash card.
  • Software CD.
  • Instruction manuals and registration information.

Lost Images? - Download this image-recovery program so you'll have it when you need it...
Since we're talking about memory and image storage, this would be a good time to mention the following: I get a ton of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. It's tragic when it happens, there are few things more precious than photo memories. Corrupted memory cards can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. "Stuff happens," as they say. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

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