Canon A80 vs. Minolta S414

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by NoSpam, Dec 17, 2003.

  1. NoSpam

    NoSpam Guest

    While I have many years experience shooting 35mm SLR, this is going to be my
    first digital camera. I've done a lot of reading, so I have a lot of theory
    but very little practical experience. I can't afford a Sony DSC-F717, let
    alone a Canon EOS 300D, but I want to be able to take as good a picture as
    possible within my budget.

    I have been looking at cameras in the low $300's, and the two best seem to
    be the Canon A80 and the Minolta S414.

    The advantages of the A80 include:

    * Orientation sensor (none in S414)
    * Shutter to 1/2000 (1/1000 in S414)
    * Swivel 67K pixel LCD (fixed 122K pixel LCD in S414)
    * 32MB CF Card (16MB in S414 - but both need bigger)
    * f/2.8 wide (vs. f/3 wide in S414 - but A80 has
    f/4.9 @ 114mm tele vs. S414 f/3.6 @ 140mm tele)
    * AF assist lamp
    * Smaller and lighter than S414
    * Built in lens cover (tethered lens cover in S414)

    While I don't plan to use it, the A80 can take a 320x240 movie for up
    to 3 minutes, while the S414 has a 1 minute maximum.

    The advantages of the S414 include:

    * 35-140mm lens (vs. 38-114mm in A80)
    * JPEG and TIFF formats (JPEG only in A80)
    * 1.8" 122K pixel LCD w/ adjustable brightness
    (1.5" 67K pixel swivel fixed brightness LCD in A80)
    * Exposure bracketing (none in A80)
    * Live histogram (playback only histogram in A80)
    * Moderate barrel distortion @ full wide
    (strong barrel distortion @ full wide in A80)
    * Almost no pincushioning @ full tele
    (some pincushioning @ full tele in A80)

    (I only have one source for the barrel distortion/pincushioning stats, so
    they may not be accurate.)

    Additionally, the S414 includes additional picture adjustments that aren't
    in the A80 that I doubt that I would use, preferring to do my fine tuning in
    Photoshop Elements.

    Some of my open questions include:

    * How big a difference is the quality of the LCDs between the two?
    Does the convenience of swiveling in the A80 make up for lower
    resolution, smaller size and a lack of brightness adjustability?

    * For those with A80's, how often do you swivel your LCD in
    order to frame a shot, versus how often do you either use it
    flat on the camera back or just use the optical viewfinder?

    * How important is an AF assist lamp? A lot of cameras don't have
    one. What is the practical lower limit that the S414 can focus
    in? A dimly lit room? Outside at late twilight?

    * How important is having TIFF format instead of only JPEG if I
    plan to do post processing of my images?

    * How useful is a live histogram? Is it something that you use
    often, or do you tend to just let the AE take care of things
    and just look at the picture & histogram after you've shot it?

    * For those of you who have actually seen images from both, is there
    a noticeable difference in image quality? (This is probably the
    most important question on the list.)

    Any and all comments are welcomed (including any other cameras in this price
    range that you feel are better than these two).

    Thank you for your assistance,

    Simcha-Yitzchak Lerner
     
    NoSpam, Dec 17, 2003
    #1
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  2. Guenter Fieblinger, Dec 17, 2003
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  3. NoSpam

    SLerner Guest

    It isn't that simple - it takes more than a good sensor to make a good
    camera. The lens is just as important, if not more so. Also, the
    in-camera processing can ruin otherwise good photos if it's too
    aggressive.

    Some additional facts that I've dug up since my original post:

    The A80 has user reported problems of red eye, purple fringing
    (chromatic aberrations), a bit of vignetting and some low light focus
    problems despite the AF assist lamp. Also, its 1.5" 67K LCD is not
    sharp enough to use for accurate manual focusing, making manual focus a
    bit of a guessing game. Also, the A80 seems to blow away (overexpose)
    the sky under a number of not unusual exposure conditions.

    On the other hand, the S414 often indicates that it has focus lock when
    in fact it doesn't have a good focus.

    In summary, it seems that the A80, while a more convenient camera in
    terms of size and features, does not take as good a picture as the S414,
    although you have to be careful to verify that you really get good focus
    with the S414 (maybe use of focus lock with spot focus will help?).

    In truth, the steady complaints from users of both models makes me wish
    that I had a larger budget.
     
    SLerner, Dec 18, 2003
    #3
  4. NoSpam

    Double D Guest

    In article <>,
    says...
    > It isn't that simple - it takes more than a good sensor to make a good
    > camera. The lens is just as important, if not more so. Also, the
    > in-camera processing can ruin otherwise good photos if it's too
    > aggressive.
    >
    > Some additional facts that I've dug up since my original post:
    >
    > The A80 has user reported problems of red eye, purple fringing
    > (chromatic aberrations), a bit of vignetting and some low light focus
    > problems despite the AF assist lamp. Also, its 1.5" 67K LCD is not
    > sharp enough to use for accurate manual focusing, making manual focus a
    > bit of a guessing game. Also, the A80 seems to blow away (overexpose)
    > the sky under a number of not unusual exposure conditions.
    >
    > On the other hand, the S414 often indicates that it has focus lock when
    > in fact it doesn't have a good focus.
    >
    > In summary, it seems that the A80, while a more convenient camera in
    > terms of size and features, does not take as good a picture as the S414,
    > although you have to be careful to verify that you really get good focus
    > with the S414 (maybe use of focus lock with spot focus will help?).
    >
    > In truth, the steady complaints from users of both models makes me wish
    > that I had a larger budget.



    You could probably find a new G2 on the web for $350 or $400. This
    extra cash would buy you a faster/sharper lens, a hot shoe, and
    several other advantages. The Olympus C-4000 is a decent camera too. They
    are selling for about $350.

    DD
     
    Double D, Dec 18, 2003
    #4
  5. NoSpam

    NJH Guest

    "SLerner" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > It isn't that simple - it takes more than a good sensor to make a good
    > camera. The lens is just as important, if not more so. Also, the
    > in-camera processing can ruin otherwise good photos if it's too
    > aggressive.
    >
    > Some additional facts that I've dug up since my original post:
    >
    > The A80 has user reported problems of red eye, purple fringing
    > (chromatic aberrations), a bit of vignetting and some low light focus
    > problems despite the AF assist lamp. Also, its 1.5" 67K LCD is not
    > sharp enough to use for accurate manual focusing, making manual focus a
    > bit of a guessing game. Also, the A80 seems to blow away (overexpose)
    > the sky under a number of not unusual exposure conditions.
    >
    > On the other hand, the S414 often indicates that it has focus lock when
    > in fact it doesn't have a good focus.


    I had that problem with some shots with my older S404, but I've only had one
    out-of-focus shot with my S414. I've read the firmware has been improved
    with the S414 model to correct or at least improve this problem, and that
    does seem to be the case. With either model, when the shot is out of focus
    it's usually BADLY out of focus, such that you can see it on the LCD and
    reshoot.

    Even with the S404, http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/minoltas404/ which wrote
    up this occasional false focus lock (and illustrated one example in its
    review) still give the camera their "Highly Recommended" rating. In the
    out-of-focus example they show, a second shot taken immediately after the
    the bad one was in perfect focus.


    >
    > In summary, it seems that the A80, while a more convenient camera in
    > terms of size and features, does not take as good a picture as the S414,
    > although you have to be careful to verify that you really get good focus
    > with the S414 (maybe use of focus lock with spot focus will help?).


    There's an S404/S414 forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DimageS404/
    which has some posts about this. What seems to have solved the false focus
    lock problem for some users is to use the M (multi-function) setting on the
    control dial rather than Auto. Apparently it's the wide-area autofocus used
    in the Auto setting which causes the problem, and selecting M instead uses
    only the central focus point which doesn't have that problem. Using the M
    setting also opens up various other user options, but the camera still
    remains in full-auto mode as far as focus, exposure etc. are concerned
    unless other changes are deliberately made. Many users PREFER limiting to
    the central focus point anyway, as this allows the old familiar method of
    selecting the subject to focus on, and locking focus there by pressing the
    shutter release half way.

    Also, the S404 and S414 allow manual focus, done in steps, 0.5m, 0.7m, 1m,
    etc. (the increments vary according to focal length used, longer f.l.s using
    smaller increments because of the reduced depth of field) which show in the
    LCD. Although this is obviously less convenient than autofocus it does offer
    an alternative, for those situations in which autofocus may be a problem.

    Neil
     
    NJH, Dec 23, 2003
    #5
  6. NoSpam

    SLerner Guest

    Well, it seems that the focus problem of the S414 can be dealt with by
    putting it in spot focus mode instead of leaving it in wide focus.

    Any A80 users out there with feedback regarding their experience?

    * Have you found the LCD resolution usable?
    * Do you often use the LCD tilt feature?
    * Have you found objectionable lens distortion?
    * Have you had redeye problems?

    So far, barring additional feedback, it seems that the list of problems
    without any answers or work arounds for the A80 is long enough that I
    will be going with the S414.
     
    SLerner, Dec 23, 2003
    #6
  7. "SLerner" <> writes:
    >Well, it seems that the focus problem of the S414 can be dealt with by
    >putting it in spot focus mode instead of leaving it in wide focus.


    That's generally good advice for any camera, if you want to be in
    control of what's in focus. The A80 is the same: leave multi-zone focus
    (AiAF) turned on when you give the camera to your grandmother, but turn
    off AiAF and use P mode instead of Auto if you're shooting yourself.

    >Any A80 users out there with feedback regarding their experience?


    > * Have you found the LCD resolution usable?


    It's usable for composing shots, and reading all of the setting
    information that is displayed during shooting and playback. It's not
    particularly usable for manual focus, even with the focus point
    magnified. But the difference between a 1.5" (A80) and 1.8" LCD is not
    going to make much difference in this. (My G2 has a 1.8" LCD)

    > * Do you often use the LCD tilt feature?


    All the time, in 2 ways. First, I keep the LCD folded facing the camera
    with its back exposed when I'm not actually shooting, or if I'm using
    the optical finder. This protects the LCD. Second, I often have the
    camera either above or below eye level, and rotate the LCD for optimum
    viewing from that position.

    I hardly ever rotate the LCD around so it's visible from the front of
    the camera; I don't take self-portraits like that. So, for me, a LCD
    that simply allows some amount of tilt (e.g. the twist-body Nikons)
    would be fine, but a LCD permanently fixed in the camera (e.g. S414)
    would be definitely less useful. (I have used such a camera too).

    > * Have you found objectionable lens distortion?


    No. Like most P&S zooms, there is some, but I don't expect distortion-
    free imaging from any wide-to-tele zoom.

    > * Have you had redeye problems?


    I haven't used it to shoot people with flash yet. I expect it will
    produce redeye, like every camera that has the flash so close to the
    lens.

    >So far, barring additional feedback, it seems that the list of problems
    >without any answers or work arounds for the A80 is long enough that I
    >will be going with the S414.


    The 414 looks like a nice camera too. But are you sure that it's better
    than the A80 in the areas you are concerned with? It does have a longer
    zoom, and a top-panel LCD that the A80 lacks. It displays a histogram
    in record mode; the A80 does so in playback mode only. Those are
    reasons I might choose it over the A80.

    But the 414 is definitely going to produce redeye, like any camera of
    this design. The LCD is fixed, and only slightly larger. The lens has
    barrel distortion at wide angle, almost the same as the A70 (dpreview
    hasn't done a full test of the A80, but I assume it's similar). The
    macro close focus limit is 10 cm for the S414, 5 cm for the A80.
    Judging by the S404 and A70 tests, the 414 and A80 will both produce
    colour fringing around off-centr high-contrast edges. It looks like the
    A70 fringing is brighter and blue in colour, while the 404 though dimmer
    extends further beyond the edge, and changes colour from blue to purple
    close to the edge.

    Looking at the reviews, it isn't at all clear that either camera is
    better than the other in actual performance.

    Dave
     
    Dave Martindale, Dec 23, 2003
    #7
  8. NoSpam

    NJH Guest

    "Dave Martindale" <> wrote in message
    news:bsa3mc$nh5$...
    > "SLerner" <> writes:

    [ . . . ]
    >
    > > * Have you found objectionable lens distortion?

    >
    > No. Like most P&S zooms, there is some, but I don't expect distortion-
    > free imaging from any wide-to-tele zoom.
    >
    > > * Have you had redeye problems?

    >
    > I haven't used it to shoot people with flash yet. I expect it will
    > produce redeye, like every camera that has the flash so close to the
    > lens.
    >
    > >So far, barring additional feedback, it seems that the list of problems
    > >without any answers or work arounds for the A80 is long enough that I
    > >will be going with the S414.

    >
    > The 414 looks like a nice camera too. But are you sure that it's better
    > than the A80 in the areas you are concerned with? It does have a longer
    > zoom, and a top-panel LCD that the A80 lacks. It displays a histogram
    > in record mode; the A80 does so in playback mode only. Those are
    > reasons I might choose it over the A80.
    >
    > But the 414 is definitely going to produce redeye, like any camera of
    > this design.


    Mine hasn't so far, but then I don't usually shoot people looking into the
    lens with flash. I agree, any camera with the flash close to the lens axis
    is likely to produce redeye, and the closer it is the more likely to produce
    it.


    The LCD is fixed, and only slightly larger. The lens has
    > barrel distortion at wide angle, almost the same as the A70 (dpreview
    > hasn't done a full test of the A80, but I assume it's similar).


    Actually the S414 lens (same as S404) is remarkably distortion-free by any
    standards. I don't think I've ever seen a test report of ANY zoom lens that
    does not produce at least some barrel distortion at the short end. From the
    S404 review at dpreview: "Very little barrel distortion at wide angle and no
    measurable distortion at telephoto, an impressive performance for a compact
    four times optical zoom lens. The 0.8% barrel distortion is below what we
    would expect (around 1 - 1.1%). Kudos Minolta."

    From the A70 review: "The A70's exhibited 0.9% (below average) barrel
    distortion at wide angle but surprisingly also exhibited some (slight)
    barrel distortion at telephoto (0.3%). While not unheard-of it is unusual to
    see barrel distortion at the telephoto end of zoom, where we would expect
    either some pincushion distortion or no distortion at all."

    So yes, at the short end the S414 is only slightly better than the A70, but
    at the long end the S414 has no distortion while the A70 still has some
    barrel distortion, which is unusual.

    Neil

    [ . . . ]
     
    NJH, Dec 24, 2003
    #8
  9. NoSpam

    NJH Guest

    Oops. I should have checked first before passing on that "fix."

    On the S414 at least I find that is NOT true. The camera in M mode still
    uses wide-area autofocus. There does not seem to be any difference between
    that and Auto mode, which USUALLY uses the central focus area as well, or at
    least that's what the LCD focus indicator indicates. I presume that's why
    some user thought the M mode was restricting AF to the central area.

    Nor does there seem to be any other way to limit the camera to the central
    focusing area.

    Neil



    "NJH" <> wrote in message
    news:y%ZFb.44130$...
    >

    [ . . . ]
    >
    > There's an S404/S414 forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DimageS404/
    > which has some posts about this. What seems to have solved the false focus
    > lock problem for some users is to use the M (multi-function) setting on

    the
    > control dial rather than Auto. Apparently it's the wide-area autofocus

    used
    > in the Auto setting which causes the problem, and selecting M instead uses
    > only the central focus point which doesn't have that problem. Using the M
    > setting also opens up various other user options, but the camera still
    > remains in full-auto mode as far as focus, exposure etc. are concerned
    > unless other changes are deliberately made. Many users PREFER limiting to
    > the central focus point anyway, as this allows the old familiar method of
    > selecting the subject to focus on, and locking focus there by pressing the
    > shutter release half way.
     
    NJH, Dec 24, 2003
    #9
  10. "NJH" <> writes:

    >> But the 414 is definitely going to produce redeye, like any camera of
    >> this design.


    >Mine hasn't so far, but then I don't usually shoot people looking into the
    >lens with flash. I agree, any camera with the flash close to the lens axis
    >is likely to produce redeye, and the closer it is the more likely to produce
    >it.


    Yes. Given the design of all these cameras, the main factor determining
    whether redeye shows up is how dilated the pupils of the subject are,
    and where they're looking when the flash fires.

    >So yes, at the short end the S414 is only slightly better than the A70, but
    >at the long end the S414 has no distortion while the A70 still has some
    >barrel distortion, which is unusual.


    So they both have some distortion, but both are lower than average.
    They're very close, particularly at wide angle. This says to me

    (a) if you don't like the 0.9% distortion of the Canon, you won't like
    the 0.8% distortion of the Minolta, and what you really need is at
    least a fixed focal length lens mand maybe even a macro lens, the only
    type designed for near-zero distortion

    (b) if you don't mind the Minolta's distortion, you probably won't mind
    the Canon's either.

    Either way, it's not something that distinguishes one camera from the
    other. It makes more sense to choose based on substantial differences,
    like a histogram visible before exposure or the swivel LCD.

    Dave
     
    Dave Martindale, Dec 24, 2003
    #10
  11. NoSpam

    NJH Guest

    "Dave Martindale" <> wrote in message
    news:bsbcrh$c2k$...
    > "NJH" <> writes:
    >
    > >> But the 414 is definitely going to produce redeye, like any camera of
    > >> this design.

    >
    > >Mine hasn't so far, but then I don't usually shoot people looking into

    the
    > >lens with flash. I agree, any camera with the flash close to the lens

    axis
    > >is likely to produce redeye, and the closer it is the more likely to

    produce
    > >it.

    >
    > Yes. Given the design of all these cameras, the main factor determining
    > whether redeye shows up is how dilated the pupils of the subject are,
    > and where they're looking when the flash fires.
    >
    > >So yes, at the short end the S414 is only slightly better than the A70,

    but
    > >at the long end the S414 has no distortion while the A70 still has some
    > >barrel distortion, which is unusual.

    >
    > So they both have some distortion, but both are lower than average.
    > They're very close, particularly at wide angle. This says to me
    >
    > (a) if you don't like the 0.9% distortion of the Canon, you won't like
    > the 0.8% distortion of the Minolta, and what you really need is at
    > least a fixed focal length lens mand maybe even a macro lens, the only
    > type designed for near-zero distortion


    I agree, sort of. But someone that fussy can get near-zero distortion with
    the S414 by staying at the longer focal lengths. Unfortunately the review
    doesn't give distortion specs for intermediate f.l.s, but presumably
    distortion would be intermediate there too.

    You're right of course about the macro lens being the only one designed for
    close to zero distortion. Even single focal length wide angles often show
    quite a bit of barrel distortion. I had one (admittedly cheap) 28mm lens
    many years ago that had a really horrendous amount of barrel.


    >
    > (b) if you don't mind the Minolta's distortion, you probably won't mind
    > the Canon's either.


    True, both lenses are reported as better than average. And most users would
    probably be satisfied with average.

    I also have to take back my remark about the S414 having given me no redeye
    as yet. The last batch of photos I took, which until last night I had not
    looked at except on the camera's LCD, includes one shot which on a full
    monitor screen shows a ghastly amount of redeye in one subject. Curiously,
    the girl is not even looking at the camera. I have noticed this before with
    a 35mm compact camera: sometimes it seems a certain angle, where the
    subject's eyes are directed about 45 or 60 degrees to the side, will show a
    great blob of redeye. This has happened to me only rarely and seems an
    entirely unpredictable thing. I never use redeye reduction (I have no faith
    in it) and seldom am bothered by redeye anyway.


    >
    > Either way, it's not something that distinguishes one camera from the
    > other. It makes more sense to choose based on substantial differences,
    > like a histogram visible before exposure or the swivel LCD.


    I agree.

    Neil
     
    NJH, Dec 24, 2003
    #11
  12. NoSpam

    SLerner Guest

    "NJH" wrote in message news:Zc8Gb.8363$...
    > Oops. I should have checked first before passing on that "fix."
    >
    > On the S414 at least I find that is NOT true. The camera in M mode still
    > uses wide-area autofocus. There does not seem to be any difference between
    > that and Auto mode, which USUALLY uses the central focus area as well, or

    at
    > least that's what the LCD focus indicator indicates. I presume that's why
    > some user thought the M mode was restricting AF to the central area.
    >
    > Nor does there seem to be any other way to limit the camera to the central
    > focusing area.
    >
    > Neil


    Actually, when in M mode, you can switch between wide and spot focus.
    Acording to the manual:

    Switching between the wide focus area and the spot
    focus areas is simple. Press and hold the controller
    until the wide-focus-area frame lines change to the
    spot-focus-area display. Press and hold the controller
    again to return to the wide-focus-area frame lines.

    Once the camera has been switched to spot focus mode, you can use the
    controller to move the focus spot around, although I would suspect that it
    would be easier (unless you are on a tripod) to leave it at the center, aim
    at your subject, focus lock by half pushing the shutter, and then compose
    the final shot.

    It seems from what I have heard here and elsewhere that the main points
    (beyond those in my initial post in
    news: ) that it boils down to:

    Pro A80:
    Smaller/lighter
    Tilt LCD - flexibility in shooting & protects when not in use

    Anti A80:
    More (much more?) purple fringing that S414, even at f/4.9!
    More red eye problem that S414
    Can't realistically manual focus on "low-res" LCD
    Tendency to "blow out" (overexpose) sky
    Plastic tripod mount
    VERY slow lens at tele (f/4.9 vs S414's f/3.6 at longer tele)
    Zooms in 7 steps only

    Pro S414:
    Live histogram
    AE bracketing
    TIFF files allow better post processing

    Anti S414:
    No shutter priority mode (!)

    Still a hard call. The features of the S414 (histogram and TIFF) are
    important for "fine" photography - //IF// I would use them in real life, and
    //IF// I won't miss shutter priority. The A80 seems a more "consumer
    friendly" camera, but the potential visual flaws leave me nervous.

    Canon is planning 20 new cameras in 2004, and others are introducing many
    new models too. This may be a situation that is best cured by sitting on my
    wallet and waiting to see what develops.

    Thank you everyone for all of your input.

    Simcha-Yitzchak Lerner
     
    SLerner, Dec 26, 2003
    #12
  13. NoSpam

    Paul L Guest

    Simcha, what about battery life differences? My S304 eats rechargables like
    crazy.

    "SLerner" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "NJH" wrote in message

    news:Zc8Gb.8363$...
    > > Oops. I should have checked first before passing on that "fix."
    > >
    > > On the S414 at least I find that is NOT true. The camera in M mode still
    > > uses wide-area autofocus. There does not seem to be any difference

    between
    > > that and Auto mode, which USUALLY uses the central focus area as well,

    or
    > at
    > > least that's what the LCD focus indicator indicates. I presume that's

    why
    > > some user thought the M mode was restricting AF to the central area.
    > >
    > > Nor does there seem to be any other way to limit the camera to the

    central
    > > focusing area.
    > >
    > > Neil

    >
    > Actually, when in M mode, you can switch between wide and spot focus.
    > Acording to the manual:
    >
    > Switching between the wide focus area and the spot
    > focus areas is simple. Press and hold the controller
    > until the wide-focus-area frame lines change to the
    > spot-focus-area display. Press and hold the controller
    > again to return to the wide-focus-area frame lines.
    >
    > Once the camera has been switched to spot focus mode, you can use the
    > controller to move the focus spot around, although I would suspect that it
    > would be easier (unless you are on a tripod) to leave it at the center,

    aim
    > at your subject, focus lock by half pushing the shutter, and then compose
    > the final shot.
    >
    > It seems from what I have heard here and elsewhere that the main points
    > (beyond those in my initial post in
    > news: ) that it boils down to:
    >
    > Pro A80:
    > Smaller/lighter
    > Tilt LCD - flexibility in shooting & protects when not in use
    >
    > Anti A80:
    > More (much more?) purple fringing that S414, even at f/4.9!
    > More red eye problem that S414
    > Can't realistically manual focus on "low-res" LCD
    > Tendency to "blow out" (overexpose) sky
    > Plastic tripod mount
    > VERY slow lens at tele (f/4.9 vs S414's f/3.6 at longer tele)
    > Zooms in 7 steps only
    >
    > Pro S414:
    > Live histogram
    > AE bracketing
    > TIFF files allow better post processing
    >
    > Anti S414:
    > No shutter priority mode (!)
    >
    > Still a hard call. The features of the S414 (histogram and TIFF) are
    > important for "fine" photography - //IF// I would use them in real life,

    and
    > //IF// I won't miss shutter priority. The A80 seems a more "consumer
    > friendly" camera, but the potential visual flaws leave me nervous.
    >
    > Canon is planning 20 new cameras in 2004, and others are introducing many
    > new models too. This may be a situation that is best cured by sitting on

    my
    > wallet and waiting to see what develops.
    >
    > Thank you everyone for all of your input.
    >
    > Simcha-Yitzchak Lerner
    >
    >
     
    Paul L, Dec 26, 2003
    #13
  14. NoSpam

    NJH Guest

    "SLerner" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "NJH" wrote in message

    news:Zc8Gb.8363$...
    > > Oops. I should have checked first before passing on that "fix."
    > >
    > > On the S414 at least I find that is NOT true. The camera in M mode still
    > > uses wide-area autofocus. There does not seem to be any difference

    between
    > > that and Auto mode, which USUALLY uses the central focus area as well,

    or
    > at
    > > least that's what the LCD focus indicator indicates. I presume that's

    why
    > > some user thought the M mode was restricting AF to the central area.
    > >
    > > Nor does there seem to be any other way to limit the camera to the

    central
    > > focusing area.
    > >
    > > Neil

    >
    > Actually, when in M mode, you can switch between wide and spot focus.
    > Acording to the manual:
    >
    > Switching between the wide focus area and the spot
    > focus areas is simple. Press and hold the controller
    > until the wide-focus-area frame lines change to the
    > spot-focus-area display. Press and hold the controller
    > again to return to the wide-focus-area frame lines.


    Thanks, I missed that!

    I see the same thing is true also of my older S404. This may have been what
    that forum user meant, though my recollection of his post was that he
    thought simply turning the dial to M would itself restrict autofocusing to
    the central area.


    >
    > Once the camera has been switched to spot focus mode, you can use the
    > controller to move the focus spot around, although I would suspect that it
    > would be easier (unless you are on a tripod) to leave it at the center,

    aim
    > at your subject, focus lock by half pushing the shutter, and then compose
    > the final shot.


    Absolutely, yes.


    >
    > It seems from what I have heard here and elsewhere that the main points
    > (beyond those in my initial post in
    > news: ) that it boils down to:
    >
    > Pro A80:
    > Smaller/lighter
    > Tilt LCD - flexibility in shooting & protects when not in use
    >
    > Anti A80:
    > More (much more?) purple fringing that S414, even at f/4.9!
    > More red eye problem that S414
    > Can't realistically manual focus on "low-res" LCD
    > Tendency to "blow out" (overexpose) sky
    > Plastic tripod mount
    > VERY slow lens at tele (f/4.9 vs S414's f/3.6 at longer tele)
    > Zooms in 7 steps only
    >
    > Pro S414:
    > Live histogram
    > AE bracketing
    > TIFF files allow better post processing
    >
    > Anti S414:
    > No shutter priority mode (!)


    Right, of course the fact that the S414 has only two apertures available (at
    any focal length) effectively rules out a shutter priority mode.


    >
    > Still a hard call. The features of the S414 (histogram and TIFF) are
    > important for "fine" photography - //IF// I would use them in real life,

    and
    > //IF// I won't miss shutter priority.


    I can do without shutter priority, but I do wish the S414 had an
    intermediate f-stop. Having only wide open and 2 1/3 stops down is a bit
    limiting. I don't expect a wide range of f-stops on a compact digital
    camera, where diffraction probably makes anything smaller than f/8 or so of
    doubtful utility; but something in between those two would be useful,
    whether in full auto or aperture priority.


    > The A80 seems a more "consumer
    > friendly" camera, but the potential visual flaws leave me nervous.
    >
    > Canon is planning 20 new cameras in 2004,


    Yipe!

    As a steadfast Minoltaphile, I wonder how many new Minoltas there will be.
    Not that many of course. Since the S304/404/414 series seems to have been
    enormously popular and good sellers, no doubt there will be something new in
    that line. And probably an F400 too, to replace the apparently discontinued
    F300 (which camera is such a favorite of mine I have a pair of 'em).


    > and others are introducing many
    > new models too. This may be a situation that is best cured by sitting on

    my
    > wallet and waiting to see what develops.


    That's true, sort of. On the other hand digital cameras are pretty much like
    computers I suppose: there will ALWAYS be something better, faster, more
    advanced, with more features, coming down the pike. Whatever you buy and
    whenever you buy it, an improved model will soon follow. I just recently
    bought a 7Hi (already had a 7i) and now there's the much-improved model in
    that series, the A1. <groan> This is getting to be an expensive hobby.

    Neil


    >
    > Thank you everyone for all of your input.
    >
    > Simcha-Yitzchak Lerner
    >
    >
     
    NJH, Dec 26, 2003
    #14
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