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I am a long way from being any kind of photographer – the majority of my pictures are taken with an idiot proof camera of reasonable quality. Since this has now given up the ghost and gone to the great tripod in the sky, I decided to borrow my father in laws camera to see how I get along with it before buying a new one. This camera is the Minolta Dynax 300si to give its full title! On looking at the camera, it looks pretty daunting to someone who is used to three button cameras! One button to remove the lens cap and one button to turn on the flash, and one to take the picture! Despite the 8 (?) buttons I carried on regardless and examined the camera in detail. On further examination of the camera it is not so difficult to figure out how to use it. There is the ‘lock/on’ button which in short turns the camera on or off so you can take photographs! This is actually a sliding switch rather than a button – so it would be difficult to switch on accidentally, a bonus for me as this is something I do quite often! The ‘mode’ button which allows you to toggle on the small screen between the type of photographs you want to take, The modes are: Portrait – ideal for taking full frame photographs of people, illustrated by the woman’s face on the LCD screen. The resulting photographs really are warts and all; you can pick up that tiny pimple on someone’s nose. Sports Action mode – helps to capture fast action by using faster shutter speeds. The camera also boasts continuous auto focus and predictive auto focus, so you can keep a moving object or person in focus all the time. This mode is depicted by a running figure on the LCD screen. I have found this to be a great asset to the camera; I have many many shots that are blurred due to objects moving, which has been a great disappointment. With this camera I now have some excellent shots of Thomas the Tank Eng
ine and his friends coming into the station! Close up mode – this as the name suggests aides the photographer to capture close up objects with ease. Mode depicted by a large tulip on the LSD screen. Night Portrait mode – when this mode is used in conjunction with the flash, the camera sets a slower shutter speed to compensate and balance the flash with the existing light. The results when photographing someone against a dark cityscape using this mode are truly breathtaking. It is almost as if you can reach out and take hold. Landscape mode – allows you to take landscape photos or group photos. The timer button – very easy to use, set the camera up and focus, depress the capture button and dash in front of the camera – and hopefully a lovely picture of you will emerge. This actually worked! I didn’t count how many seconds it took to actually take the picture, all I know is I didn’t have any unflattering or otherwise photos of my bum when I collected the photos! There is a button in the bottom right front (you still with me) of the camera with ‘AF/M’ on it. This gives you the option to focus the camera automatically hence the ‘AF’ or manually ‘M’. I must admit to using the automatic function. When the manual focus is selected ‘mfocus’ appears in the LCD window of the camera – it is also possible to tell, as when you half depress the ‘shoot’ button, the camera doesn’t ‘focus’. The other button on the front of the camera is a large easy to press button, which actually detaches the lens from the body of the camera! This is the only major fault I can find with the camera – in that it is too obviously placed and easily pressed. Having said that you do have to twist the lens to remove it, so if you do accidentally press the button, there is no danger to your t
oes or wallet from a falling lens! Capture button – this is the button you press to actually take a photo. If you depress the button halfway you will hear the motor in the camera moving and focusing the lens, you will also see a green light come on when the lens is focused. You can then press the button all the way down to take you photograph. Flash button – this as it sounds activates the flash status, either automatic flash, no flash or manually activated flash. I am still using the camera on automatic flash and as yet have bought no acessories. Red eye button – this is to reduce or eliminate the red eye effect you often see on photographs. To select simply press and you will the ‘red eye’ icon on the LCD screen – to switch off simply press the button again until the icon disappears. I have yet to use this function – as I have never had its facility before. I have been very impressed with the lack of ‘red eye’ in the photos I have so far taken with it. The camera takes any standard 35mm film – I prefer Kodak myself and have achieved some outstanding photos – of which I am very proud. Inserting the film is very easy, flip the easy to manipulate catch on the side of the camera, insert the cartridge into the camera – pull out a small amount to cover the spindles on the opposite side, then shut the door. You will hear the camera wind the film on itself. To remove, wait until the film has finished rewinding itself – which it does automatically once the last possible photo has been taken. Open the door and remove the cartridge. It is possible to rewind a film even if you haven’t finished taking a photo; a very small button on the bottom of the camera is pressed to activate this. The camera is powered by one 6 volt 2CR5 lithium battery, claimed by the manufacturers to last up to 70 twenty four exposure films. I have taken 12 rolls of film so f
ar and my father in law a fair few also and the battery indicator is still full! The shape of the camera makes it a little difficult to fit in a hand bag or ruck sack, as the protruding lens catches in straps. The neck strap on the camera is of good length however and has a handy shoulder piece to stop it sliding off your shoulder. The camera is fairly lightweight and is not that intrusive to carry. All in all for £150 a real bargain of a camera that takes some stunning photographs in a diverse range of situations, an ideal camera for a beginner.