Cute Digital Cameras: Buying a Pentax S4

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Jennie is looking for a new digital camera for her trip to parts unknown. Some amazing ones are around now. She’s been looking at a bunch and as usual Pentax like every other consumer manufacturer has made a complete hash of the model numbers and names, so here is a decoder ring:
* Pentax Optio S Review: 1. Introduction: Digital Photography Review. This thing is the size of a credit card and fits inside an Altoid box. An amazing technology where the lense group actually slides up and out of the way. Great cuteness factor too at just 4 oz. This is actually the review 8 out of 10 which is pretty amazing for $300 camera that is only 3 Mp.
* “Pentax S4”:http://www.pentaxusa.com/products/cameras/camera_overview.cfm?productid=18283. I’d bet that the s4 is a pretty good buy at $240 or so given that there is a $30 rebate through August 2004. It has a 4 Megapixel sensor, so much more than the 3.2Mp on the original S. Now out of production, it feels like a pretty good buy at “$270”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=1274855/blsrt=1/ut=1813184029de13f6 or so.
* “Pentax S4i”:http://www.pentaxusa.com/products/cameras/camera_overview.cfm?productid=18233. This is the same as the S4, but has a 1.8 inch screen instead of 1.6 inches. Pretty small beans for something that costs “$320”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=2424035/ut=1813184029de13f6. It has a different camera back.
* “Pentax s40”:http://www.pentaxusa.com/products/cameras/camera_overview.cfm?productid=18027. This is the same camera as the s4 and s4i but uses conventional NiMH AA batteries, so weighs 6 oz instead of 4 oz. OTOH, this does mean that you can get a set of batteries just about anywhere.
As usual there are accessories that you need to get:
* Extra Battery. The battery lasts for 200 shots, but most folks recommend another battery for about $40. Not needed of course if you are getting the S40.
* “SD Card”:http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1023&message=7351118. Here is a forum note on SD speeds. Basically says that you should get an SD card with Panasonic chips. The 256MB and 512MB versions should run at 9-10MBps. Thes would include the Panasonic 256 & 512 cards, Sandisk Ultra II and Sandisk Extreme.
* “CF Comparisons”:http://www.dpreview.com/articles/mediacompare/. There really aren’t any good articles on this, but DPreivew has a good write up about the speeds of various media. All flash are not created equal. A standard flash should run at 150KB/sec in terms of transfer rate, but now you can get 16x, 32x and so on. The current CF standard is up to 16Mb/sec and the fastest card is currently the “Sandisk Ultra II”:http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1023&message=7353281 which can write at ~9Mb/sec
and read at ~10Mb/sec. Of course, its not clear if your camera can actually write that fast. About 5MBps is standard

2 Replies to “Cute Digital Cameras: Buying a Pentax S4”

  1. I love the Pentax Optio S. It’s so small you can take it anywhere. The pictures are great and it has a 3x optical zoom. I have bought 7 of them by now (including 3 of the Optio S4) for myself, family members, and gifts.

  2. I bought the Kyocera SL300R (which of course is the old model now having a SL400$). Primary reason was that it has a 3-4 frame burst mode, a VERY fast response (the fastest according to CNET) and has no limit to the video length when using the Ultra II SD cards (since they can write directly to memory card instead of buffering). CNet liked the Kyocera better than the Pentax. I am happy with it, but the swivel is a little clunky. I bought on e-bay and got a mail three days later proporting to be from a police officer saying they thought my camera was stolen and to please send it back. ha!

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