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Minolta Broadens Its Digi-Cam Lineup

Minolta made two product introductions at the Digital Experience mini-trade show held concurrently with CES, here.

According to the company, it will make an aggressive push into the consumer market this year to compete in the furious market share war already long underway between manufacturers. To that end, the company introduced the Dimage S404. With a design based on the Dimage S304, the S404 features a 4x optical zoom, built-in flash, video recording capability, USB interface and Compact Flash card compatibility. It will ship in February for a suggested retail price of $499.

Unlike the Dimage S304, the Minolta Dimage S404 features enhanced resolution (4 megapixels), and double the SDRAM buffer memory (32MB) for faster shooting. In addition, the Dimage S404 inherits GT LENS technology, CxProcess imaging and a high-speed LSI from the high-end Dimage 7.

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 (analog to digital) conversion to ensure natural color and tonal reproduction.

The Dimage S404 offers autofocus, auto exposure, optical zoom viewfinder, fully automatic white balance and video recording with audio. Additional features include Digital Subject Program Selection and creative functions such as histogram display of recorded images, exposure compensation and bracketing, custom white balance and digital effects control, that give the photographer control over the final image.

The Dimage X features Minolta’s exclusive optical system, called “Xoom,” that places the 3x optical zoom lens inside a flat camera body without requiring the lens to extend externally. As of this writing, the camera is the thinnest, smallest and lightest 3x optical zoom digital camera with built-in flash on the market (it ships in February for a suggested retail price of $399).

The Minolta Dimage X is approximately .75 inch thick, features a 2 megapixel resolution and is powered by a new RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) Central Processing Unit (CPU). This CPU enables the camera to have, of this writing, the fastest start-up time of a consumer digital camera on the market — 1.8 seconds.

The camera takes SD memory and comes bundled with a 16MB card.