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*** Introduction *** I have owned this camera for just over two years after buying it from Empire Direct for £215. I have taken approximately two thousand pictures with it - many of these are excellent quality, however a large number of them are simply awful. The camera will take excellent pictures outdoors, especially in bright sunlight, but struggles indoors, even if the room is fairly well lit. I think this due to a combination of the CCD (the chip that actually detects the light to obtain the picture) being fairly low quality and the flash being not particularly bright. Indoors pictures tend to look grainy, dark and brown under tungsten lighting, but outdoors they are crystal clear. The camera has most of the settings one would expect to find, however one option it does lack is a good exposure control because the EV adjustments barely make any difference at all, so the camera is almost useless if the lighting is bad. Another annoying thing is that many of the settings are reset when the camera is switched off so they have to set each time the camera is used. According to stickers on the box, the Digimax 210SE is a "Which Camera? Best Buy" and is (try not to laugh) a "Best Vegetarian Non-Food Product" according to the Vegetarian Society Awards 2001. *** Construction and Appearance *** The Digimax 210SE is a very nice looking camera - it has a solid chunky feel and is finished in a very nice blue and silver metallic coating. It comes with a stretchy pouch, a wrist strap and a lens cover. I like having a lens cover - most cameras these days don't have one which leaves the lens vulnerable to scratches. The camera is quite weighty because it takes 4 AA batteries; the box says it's 255g without batteries and measures 114.5x70.7x56.
1mm. My camera has a rather clumsy owner so it has had more than its fair share of knocks and scrapes but it is still in perfect condition, I can't see a single scratch on it and nothing has broken. The sockets for the USB/serial/video and the power connector are behind little rubber covers to prevent dirt/sand/water etc getting into them. There is a standard sized tripod mount socket on the bottom of the camera. *** Package Contents *** Included in the box is: Digimax 210SE Camera 8MB CompactFlash card Instruction Manual 'Skin' Case Wriststrap Lens Cover Driver CD 4 AA Batteries USB cable (not a standard one) 9-pin Serial cable Phono-phono video connection cable *** Features *** 2.1 Megapixels: This number refers to the number if coloured dots that the image sensor has - 2.1 Million. This gives the camera a maximum image resolution of 1600x1200 pixels - enough to print clearly at about 5x7inches. The camera can also save images at 800x600 if you would like to save 3 times as many pictures on your memory card at the expense of the quality, though flash memory is sufficiently cheap these days that there's not much point. Auto Focus: This means that you don't have to manually adjust anything to focus the lens - the camera does this for you. On this particular camera, the button used to take pictures is a two stage button - you point the camera at an object and press the button half way to get the focus, then you can move the camera if you wish before pressing the button all of the way down to take the picture. This allows you to have the camera focused on an object that is not in the middle of the picture. Viewfinder: The viewfinder is quite nice b
ecause it zooms to the same level as the lens is zoomed to, so you don't have toe use the LCD if you don't want to - this is useful in bright sunlight where LCD screens are difficult to see. LCD Monitor: This is a little 1.8 inch colour screen that allows you to see things exactly as the camera sees them. There are menus that can be navigated be pressing the buttons on the back of the camera that allow settings to be changes. In addition to the LCD monitor, there is an LCD display on the top of the camera which displays the battery life, picture type, flash type and number of pictures left. This is very useful because the colour screen draws a lot of power so to save batteries the viewfinder can be used and the most important settings can be adjusted using the LCD display on the top and the two buttons beside it. CompactFlash Memory: The camera has a CompactFlash memory card slot for storing pictures. An 8 MegaByte card is supplied, which is big enough for anything from 6 1600x1200 high quality pictures to about 100 800x600 low quality pictures. There are 8 different file formats that can be saved in - JPEGs (Compressed images) can be 'Super Fine', Fine or Normal quality at either 1600x1200 or 800x600. There is the option to save in the TIFF file format (uncompressed) at either 1600x1200 or 800x600 but TIFF images take up vast amounts of space and aren't noticeably different from JPEGs. White Balance: The camera allows automatic or manual white balance, the purpose of white balance is to ensure that the images aren't tinted because of the type of light they are taken under. It might seem a bit weird, but standard tungsten light bulbs give out light that is orange in colour
but our eyes compensate so that we see everything normally. White balance does the same thing for photos so they don't look tinted. Unfortunately the Digimax 210SE isn't very good at doing this automatically - it seems to be fine in sunlight but under tungsten lighting pictures have a horrible orange tint suggesting that the auto white balance is wrongly detecting the lighting conditions. Manually setting the white balance solves this problem, however it requires navigating through the menus to change the settings so is a bit of a pain to do all the time. Exposure Compensation: This feature allows the exposure to be changed by +/-2EV to make pictures lighter or darker. I have spent hours fiddling with the EV setting but it seems to make very little difference to the images. Flash: The flash has four options: off,auto,fill-in and red-eye reduction. The fill-in flash is for lighting up close objects when a scene has a light background and dark foreground. In red-eye reduction mode, the camera does a small flash about a second before the main flash when the picture is taken. The purpose of this is to make the subject of the photo's irises contract to reduce the amount of light that enters their eyes from the second flash. 3X Optical Zoom: The Digimax 210SE has a 3X optical zoom lens that is controlled using two buttons on the back of the camera. Pictures taken when the camera is zoomed in tend to be of lower quality than those without zooming, even with a tripod, but they are still fairly clear in sunlight. 2X Digital Zoom: As with any digital zoom, this is fairly useless. Digital zooms do not really zoom, instead they simply cut out the middle of the photo to give the impression that the picture is closer. In this case, the digital zoom simply chops out the middle 800x60
0 pixels after taking a 1600x1200 pixel image, which you could do yourself using an image editor once the picture has been transferred to a PC. Picture types: There are four picture modes available: Single shots, burst shots, interval shots or video mode. In single shot mode, pressing the trigger button takes a single picture. The camera takes about 2 seconds to save the picture and then about another 3 seconds to charge up the flash again if required. Burst mode takes 2/3 pictures in quick succession, I find this useful for actions shots where things are moving quickly because the pictures are taken much closer together than can be done by manually. In interval shot mode, the camera can take up to 99 pictures at regular intervals, separated by anything from half an hour to a day. Movie mode allows video clips to be recorded at either 400x296 or 192x144 pixels for up to 30 seconds. Unfortunately the camera doesn't have a microphone so the videos are silent. As with most digital cameras, the quality of the videos is quite bad. Macro Mode: This tells the camera to focus between 0.2-0.8m rather than the usual 0.8m+ and is used for close ups. As with any camera, close ups are blurry if a tripod is not used. View Mode: All of the pictures/movies stored on the memory card can be viewed on the LCD screen. This can be done either one picture at a time or with nine thumbnails displayed at once. The zoom buttons allow individual pictures to be magnified up to 5x. Power: The camera can be powered by batteries or using an AC-DC adapter (not included). This camera eats through batteries, if the screen is on a standard set of batteries will last about 10 minutes, without the screen on they will last about 30 minutes. Fortunately the Digimax 210SE takes 4 standard AA batteries
which are widely available and aren't as expensive as some specialist camera batteries. I use rechargeable batteries - NiCads give about the same life as normal batteries but NiMHs last about twice as long. If you are going to buy this camera (or any other for that matter) I strongly recommend using NiMH rechargeable batteries because they will save you a fortune. Connections: The Digimax 210SE has USB, serial and phono video connectors. The USB and serial connectors allow pictures to be downloaded to a PC using the software provided. Unfortunately this camera doesn't comply to the mass storage device standards like most modern cameras, so you have to install the drivers. Downloading takes about 5secs/MB using USB but much longer using a serial connection. The phono video connecter allows you plug the camera into a TV/camcorder or a video capture card in a computer to view or record whatever is on the camera screen so you can view the pictures on a TV or use the camera as a webcam etc. It is also DPOF compatible which lets you plug the camera directly into some printers to print pictures straight from the camera. *** Conclusion *** The Digimax 210SE is a reliable camera, it looks nice, feels nice and takes excellent pictures outside, so it great if that is what you want to do. If however you want to take lots of pictures indoors, this camera is not suitable for you. The camera takes about 10 seconds to switch on, pop out the lens and charge up the flash so is not good for spontaneous photographs, however the alternative shooting modes are useful for action shots. Overall this is a reasonable camera, but the bad points weight out the good points, so I would find it hard to recommend to a new buyer.