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March 18, 2004
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Mike Angelo's Digital Darkroom

The Microtek S1/D1 Digital Camera for the Linux, Mac, and Windows Platforms

Mike Angelo -- 18 March 2004 (C) -- Page 1


Article Index
The Microtek Take-It S1/D1 Digital Camera ($99) is a very nice 2.1 megapixel camera. It is easy to use. It's handy and convenient. And the S1 does a very nice job of taking photos. Moreover, you can use the Take-It S1 Digital Camera to shoot video clips and record audio clips -- or you can use it as a Web cam.

Microtek lists it as only an Apple Mac and Microsoft Windows compatible camera. However, our tests show that with some limitation, the Microtek S1 also is compatible with the GNU-Linux operating system. More about that further on in this review.

As its name suggests, the Take-It S1 is a great digital camera to take with you wherever you go. At only 3.5 ounces the Take-It S1 Digital Camera is almost as light as a feather and it's only about the size of a pack of cigarettes. The Microtek S1's compact 4.1" x 2.3" x 1.3" (LxWxH) footprint let's you put it in a pocket, purse, or handbag so you easily can take it anyplace.

The Take-It D1 is the same as the S1 except it has a plastic casing instead of the metal casing of the S1 and weighs 4.2 ounces. Also, the D1 dimensions are 3.7" x 2.2" x 1.3" (LxWxH). Other than that, the D1 is supposed to be the same as the S1.

We only field tested the S1. So, from here on we will discuss the S1 and not the D1. However, since the only differences between the D1 and the S1 are the casing material, weight, and physical dimensions, our discussion of the S1 should apply to the D1 also.

If you simply want a point and shoot camera, the Microtek Take-It S1 Digital Camera is a great point and shoot camera. However, if you are looking for more than merely a point and shoot camera, the Microtek Take-It S1 Digital Camera is a good choice too. You can do some nice quality photography with the S1.

Although the Microtek S1 camera has only a 2.1 megapixel (MP) image sensor, you can get close to 3.1 megapixel quality photos with the S1. That's because the S1 has some built-in software that can interpolate the 2.1-MP images up to 3.1 (interpolated) resolution photos. More about that further on in this review.

The S1 Is a Multipurpose Digital Camera

The Microtek S1 is a multipurpose, multimedia, digital camera. It takes standard, one-shot (still), photographs. It takes video clips. It records audio clips. And it can be used as a Web cam.

But it's a camera, and to us a camera is for shooting photographs. Thus, the main focus of this review is on the Microtek S1 as a digital photographic camera rather than as a video-clip recorder, an audio recorder, or a Web cam.

Please do not misunderstand this statement. These other functions of the S1 are a nice bonus. The S1 is well worth its $99 list price tag just as a digital photographic camera. The other functions are a nice versatility bonus that provides S1 buyers with lots of extra bang for the buck.

Photograph Quality

As a digital photographic camera, the Microtek Take-it S1 gets high marks in the inexpensive camera category. As mentioned above it is easy to use and easy to take with you almost anywhere and everywhere. However, what impressed us most about the S1, as a digital photographic camera, is the near 3.1 megapixel quality that it provides -- for less than $100.

Gimp Note:

If you are looking for a first-class image, graphic, and photo-editing program, give the GIMP a spin. Considering that the GIMP is a free download, that should be a very easy thing for you to do.

GIMP often is referred to as an Adobe Photoshop clone because it has pretty much the same collection of features and functions that Photoshop has. However, it appears that rather than thinking of GIMP as a Photoshop clone, it would be more appropriate to think of the GIMP and Photoshop as similar software products of comparable quality.

Unless you are a professional photographer or image editor who needs Photoshop's prepress features, you likely ought to use the GIMP rather than Adobe Photoshop. Considering that the GIMP is a free download, that should be a very easy thing for you to do.

For more about the Gimp and download links, please see our overview of the Gimp article and three Gimp tutorials listed below. These Gimp articles should give you a pretty good feel of the upcoming Gimp 2.0.

How to Use GIMP for Photo and Image Editing:

#1: Basic Photo editing, cropping, scaling, brightness, and contrast

#2: Intro to layers, text and patterns

#3: Framing Photos and Images

Charge-Coupled Device:

(CCD) A semiconductor technology used to build light-sensitive electronic devices such as cameras and image scanners. Such devices may detect either colour or black-and-white. Each CCD chip consists of an array of light-sensitive photocells. The photocell is sensitised by giving it an electrical charge prior to exposure. (Source: Free On-line Dictionary of Computing.)

Simply put, the CCD functions very much as do the rods and cones in the retinas of your eyes, which when stimulated by light send neuro-electric representations of what you see back to your brain for processing.

Figures Note: Due to page layout constraints, the figures will not always be adjacent to the text referring to them. If you have a tab-capable browser such as Konqueror, Mozilla, or Netcaptor, then you can open separate tabs for each figure in addition to the tab in which you are reading this review. That way, you can simply flip tabs to view a figure to which the review text refers.

Another way to do this is to have two browser windows open and tiled vertically. In one browser window have the article text. In the other browser window have the figure to which the text refers. If your monitor has a large enough resolution setting, you will be able to view the text and the figure to which it refers at the same time

The photo-editing is what turns average shots into darn nice photographs. It's amazing what just basic photo-editing such as cropping, scaling, brightness adjustment, contrast adjustment, and framing can do to improve a simple photo.

However, you only can work with what the original photo gives you. The higher the resolution and quality of the photograph out of the camera, the more you have to work with when you edit the photo.

The S1 uses a 2.1-megapixel (MP) image-sensor known as a CCD (Charge-Coupled Device). However, the S1 has some internal software that employs interpolating algorithms that bounce the photo resolution up to 2048 pixels x 1536 pixels (about 3.1 MPs). Please see the Charge-Coupled Device note in the sidebar.

For example, Figure 1, on page 3, is a digital photograph of an antique, horse-drawn, corn and bean planter. The shot was taken at the Microtek S1's interpolated 2048 pixels x 1536 pixels resolution. That's about 3.1-MP (MegaPixels).

The shutter speed for the corn planter photo was 1/1208 second and the lens aperture was f/2.8. The White Balance setting was Daylight. JPEG compression was set to Best. More about compression further on in this review.

The Gimp was used to crop the picture down to 1688 pixels x 1177 pixels and scale the cropped image down to the 550-pixel x 384-pixel size shown in Figure 1. The edited corn-planter photo was saved at a 0.75 JPEG compression setting. The antique corn-planter photo still shows nice detail, despite all that cropping, scaling, and compression.

That's because the Microtek S1 and its interpolated 3.1-MB resolution did a darn nice job of capturing the picture. That enabled the Gimp, which is darn nice photo-editing software, to produce such a nice rendition of the corn-planter shot taken with the S1. Please see the Gimp Note in the sidebar.

Another example of the S1's photographic quality is Figure 2, on page 4. It is a digital photograph of a cat in a grove of young White Pine trees. The pines are at the edge of a field with some snow on the brown grass. The shot also was taken at the Microtek S1's interpolated 2048 pixels x 1536 pixels resolution.

The shutter speed for the Cat in the Pines photo was 1/151 second and the lens aperture was f/2.8. The White Balance setting was Daylight. JPEG compression was set to Best. (Please see the JPEG Compression Note in the right sidebar.)

The Gimp was used to crop this picture down to 1585 pixels x 1043 pixels and scale the cropped image down to the 550-pixel x 362-pixel size shown in Figure 2. Just as with the Figure 1 example, despite all that sort of cropping and scaling, the Cat in the Pines photo still shows nice detail and color variation. Again this is due to using the S1's highest quality settings.

Figure 1 on page 2 of our SD card and card reader article, Cat Under Pines, is perhaps an even better example good pine needle definition and color variations.

You also can see the high quality of photos shot with the Microtek S1 in the headline picture at the top of this page. That photo, Tree Cat, also was shot at the S1's interpolated 2048 pixels x 1536 pixels resolution and then it was cropped down to 1687 pixels x 1536 pixels. The GIMP brightness adjustment tool was used to make a +30 brightness adjustment and then the image was scaled down to the 300-pixel x 273-pixel size in the Tree Cat photo at the top of this page.

Even though there was so much cropping and scaling, the colors and color variations are well-preserved and true. So is the detail. For example, take a look at the white fur under the cat's chin. And you can see the reticulations of the tree bark too.

The shutter speed for the Tree Cat photo was 1/1208 second and the lens aperture was f/2.8. The White Balance setting was Daylight. JPEG compression was set to Best.

It's just so important to shoot pictures at a digital camera's highest resolution if you want to have great pictures. And sure, you will get a better quality photo from the get-go with a four or five megapixel camera than you will with the 2.1-MP S1, even if you take advantage of the 3.1-MP interpolation feature of the S1. But it is doubtful that you will find a good four or five megapixel camera for under $100.

  • See Resolution and Quality Levels on Page 2 ----->
  • Article Index

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