Friday, October 1, 2004

Point and shoot digitals on the road

The Pentax S4i pocket personal camera

The pictures I took using the Veo and submitted to certain publications were not acceptable. The resolution just wasn't high enough to be blown up for newspaper and magazine pages. So I had to find a solution.

I happened to be in Santa Barbara, California at the time, where I found an amazing camera store that caters to professionals, and students at the local photographic institute. I told the salesman that I needed something that would give me high-resolution pictures, but wouldn't be very bulky and didn't cost a ransom.

His eyes lit up as he said he had just the thing for me, the Pentax S4i. He had just gotten one for his wife, and she loved it.

From under the counter he pulled out this silvery little box and handed it to me. Sure enough, it was a camera so small it would fit in an Altoids box, and lighter than a Robin's beak. Shown in Figure B is the Pentax S4i.

FIGURE B

The Pentax S4i digital pocket personal camera. (click for larger image)

When you push the ON button the lens telescopes out as the unit comes alive with sound and light. Now it's ready to go, with a 3X telephoto/wide angle zoom lens. The optical zoom can also be augmented with 4X digital zoom, which takes the camera's total zoom capability to an impressive 12X.

The Pentax S4i is a compact-type digital still camera with built-in zoom lens, autofocus, auto exposure, and an auto flash that can be turned off. The S4i will also take video clips with sound.

The push of a button brings up the menu, revealing the inner depth and complexity of this amazing 4-megapixel wonder. Some of the features that impressed me were the 1.8-inch LCD monitor, shown in Figure C, which is surprisingly large for a camera of this size.

FIGURE C

Shown here is the monitor and menu of the Pentax S4i. (click for larger image)

With the super-macro manual focus mode, you can take pictures of objects only 2.5 inches away, and an infinity landscape mode allows for distance shots. The auto focus mode is generally fine for everyday use, and the super fast lens has a speed of 0.01 seconds to help reduce blurred shots.

There are a huge variety of programmed picture modes available that can be easily selected from the screen, as you see in Figure D.

FIGURE D

The S4i has many photo modes pre-programmed. (click for larger image)

Check out these different image options: Program mode, Night scene mode, Movie mode, Panorama assist, 3D image mode, Landscape mode, Flower mode, Portrait mode, Self-portrait mode, Surf and snow mode, Autumn color mode, Sunset mode, Museum mode, Text mode, Food mode, Soft mode, Posterization mode, User mode, Marine mode, Marine movie mode, and Voice recording mode.

An array of digital filters is also available and useful for various effects, such as black and white, or sepia tone, as well as a rainbow of color filters. There's even an adjustable slim filter that makes subjects appear more slender. This feature alone could make you the most popular photographer on the block.

What's in the box

Everyone always wants to know what comes in the box, so here is the list: USB cable, AV cable, AC adapter, strap, lithium-ion battery, battery charging stand, software CD, operating manual, serial number card, and a service network directory.