Pros: Tiny, go-anywhere, stylish metal design, good low light sensitivity, 3.3 megapixels
Cons: Terrible battery life, poor image resolution
First there was drool
About six months ago I was killing time in an electronics shop in London?s Heathrow airport and my eyes fell on a new digital camera. I was in love. I was looking at the newly released Konica Digital Revio KD-300Z (Konica?s re-branded version of Yashica/Kyocera?s new Finecam S3). It was the smallest high-resolution digital camera I had ever seen, even smaller than Canon?s digitals, and with higher resolution to boot. After doing some research and considering what was important to me in a camera, I took the digital photography plunge and took the KD-300Z with me for a Labor Day weekend trip to New York City with my wife.
For those who like to skip to the end of a mystery novel before reading the whole thing, here?s how this story ends: We ended up with many great photos, but I?m glad my wife also brought her traditional APS film camera along, and I didn?t end up keeping the KD-300Z. In short, the battery life was too bad to overlook, and another ultra-compact digital camera came along that outperformed the KD-300Z in almost every area. (That camera is the Pentax Optio 330, a really great camera. I will be submitting a review of it shortly and I will update this review with a reference when I do.)
Read on and you will find the following sections below:
Controls (Record, Playback, Setup)
Zoom and Macro
Picture Quality (Color, Contrast, Resolution)
Links to more information
My camera dealer
The very stylish and comfortable body of the KD-300Z is mostly metal. It has a more subdued and professional look to it than its Kyocera Finecam twin. (I?ve used both cameras, and they?re identical in all other respects.) The camera feels reassuringly heavy in the hand, and yet it is so small that you can easily slip it into your trouser pocket and forget about it. I did this all weekend in New York City, even sitting down on buses with no discomfort. Size is the KD-300Z?s best feature.
Incidentally, I was looking for primarily three things in a new camera: The camera had to be digital, high resolution (over 3 megapixels), and as small as an elf (make that an Elph ? my wife?s Canon Elph APS camera, that is). You see, I have a nice Pentax SLR outfit, and it?s in great shape, because I hardly ever take it anywhere. I borrow the Elph instead. Size is everything.
When the camera is off, the body is nearly rectangular. There are no elements that jut out significantly until you turn the camera on. As this point the telescopic 2X zoom lens extends from the body nearly doubling its width. The lens has an automatic cover that opens as the lens extends.
The power button is located on the top of the camera body just to the left of the shutter release. Unfortunately it is not recessed or otherwise protected, and it is a little too easy to find and operate the button by accident. I pressed it a number of times when I meant to press the shutter release.
One side of the camera is home to the video out connector (for previewing and viewing on a TV), and a DC power-in connector (for charging the battery and for battery-less use). The other side of the camera houses the hinged battery door. The long Wrigley?s chewing gum shaped battery runs nearly the length of the bottom of the camera, which leaves room for an off-center plastic tripod mount at the far edge of the bottom of the camera. If you?re careful not to strip the threads, and if your tripod has a reasonably large base, as most do, the mount should last until the camera is obsolete.
This brings us to the rear of the camera body, where most of the action is. The rear of the body sports 11 small push buttons, including a four-way game-like controller for navigating the KD-300Z?s menus. There is also a 3-position thumb-operated mode selection dial, and a slider that releases the spring-loaded memory card door. The two zoom buttons (separate buttons for wide and tight) are where your right thumb sits, just below the shutter release. These buttons feel a little flimsy to me, but they work fine. The rear of the camera also houses both the LCD and optical viewfinders, neither anything to write home about.
The LCD is necessarily small in a camera this small, but still large enough to do the job. It is visible in many lighting conditions, but there are situations where the ambient lighting is too bright for this LCD. In those cases (or when you?re trying to spare the battery) you can use the optical viewfinder. One serious concern: The LCD does not have any kind of heavy protective plastic covering like that provided on some other cameras. For a camera that?s likely to be tossed into pockets, purses, and bags, this is an important shortcoming. I always kept the KD-300Z in it?s included slipcover, but even this might not be sufficient in the case of any impact with a sharp object.
The optical viewfinder is a very simple type with no focusing lines or parallax correction lines. It does zoom along with the main lens, but it is not particularly accurate. Luckily, the error is on the conservative side, meaning that the viewfinder shows somewhat less than what you are actually capturing. The viewfinder does not have any diopter adjustment for the bespectacled. There are two small status lights (a multi-purpose camera status light and a focus indicator) to the right of the viewfinder. Even though these are not actually inside the viewfinder, they are so close to it that you see them when you?re looking through the viewfinder. You?ll have to read the manual a few times before you memorize the meanings of the different flashing patterns that these lights exhibit. I found it easier just to use the LCD, which gives far more understandable information.
The camera has three main modes: A setup mode, an image capture (record) mode, and an image display (playback) mode. These modes are selected by moving a three-position dial on the back of the camera. There are dedicated push buttons to select the flash mode (auto flash/auto flash with red-eye reduction/fill flash/no flash), and the focus mode (macro/distance/normal). The LCD is cycled on and off by pressing the display button. There is no button to quickly get the camera into manual focus mode; you need to go through the menus for that. There is also no button to quickly display the last photo taken. You have to switch the camera to playback mode to see any pictures you have taken.
Pressing the menu button actuates the camera?s extensive menus. The menus vary based on the mode that the camera is in. When the camera is in setup mode, the setup menus come up automatically without pressing the menu button. The menus are easy to navigate using the five-button controller (four buttons for directions and a center enter button to confirm selections).
The menus are very good and allow a multitude of adjustments and choices. Among these:
Color effects (i.e., color, sepia, black and white)
White-balance settings for different light temperatures (including the ability to do a manual white balance calibration!)
Aperture priority setting (auto/F2.8/F6.2)
Manual Focus (7 settings)
Long exposures (up to 8 seconds)
CCD sensitivity (ISO100/200/400)
Light metering (evaluation/center-weighted/spot)
Settings for automatic slideshows
Setting DPOF information on a picture
Rotate an image (This is very nice when showing pictures on a TV. It does not actually process and rotate the JPEG, it just sets a flag in the file header that tells the camera to display this image rotated in the future.)
Various other controls, including the ability to protect an image from deletion, delete images, show several images (thumbnails) at once on the screen, etc.
Includes a variety of set-it-once-and-forget-it functions to set the date/time, format the memory card, turn beeps on and off, set auto-power-off times, set the language, the video out format (NTSC/PAL), and so forth.
All in all, there were more settings than I expected to see in an ultra-compact point-and-shoot style camera.
Zoom and Macro
The KD-300Z employs a 7.8-15.6 mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 38mm-76mm lens on a 35mm camera, 2X optical zoom. (For comparison, the Pentax Optio 330 boasts a 3X optical zoom.) In addition it has a digital zoom function that blows the picture up a further 2X or 4X. In my opinion, digital zooms are useless: Since you?re not actually getting any closer to the subject (only enlarging the picture you already have by interpolating and inserting pixels), and hence not gaining any detail, you might as well do this on your computer afterward where you have more control over the quality of the interpolation.
The KD-300Z can focus as close as 90 cm (about a yard) in its normal focus mode, and an incredibly close 6 cm in its macro mode. This is a better macro focus than I?ve seen in any other comparable camera. In fact, using a combination of the macro mode and the uncompressed TIFF file output available on the KD-300Z, you could get some great texture shots. That is, if the picture resolution were a bit better (see below).
Color and Contrast
The KD-300Z produces pictures will excellent color and contrast. My wife and I were especially impressed with how natural all of our pictures looked. We ordered some prints from an online photo service (London Drugs ? great service) and we thought the quality was better than the prints from my wife?s Canon Elph (APS film) camera. We got one particularly striking 4 x 10 panoramic print of the Manhattan skyline looking south from the Empire State Building at night. The KD-300Z produces excellent night shots. The low-light sensitivity is really quite good and there is very little noise. In fact, the blacks were blacker and less noisy than those in a similar shot from the Elph APS film camera. (The KD-300Z had a little trouble focusing in low light though.)
Here is one area where the camera falls down a little bit. Images from the KD-300Z do not have as much resolution as images I?ve seen from other 3.3-megapixel cameras. The images tend to look softened and detail is lost, especially near the edges.
?Wait a minute. Don?t all 3.3 megapixel cameras have the same resolution?? you ask? The short answer is no. The long answer is yes and no. You can also measure the resolution of an image in lines per picture. Since this measure is dependent on more than just the number of pixels the camera captures, (for example, it also depends on the quality of the optics) it is a better measure than pixel count alone. If you can bear with me, I?d like to interject a couple of sidebars on resolution. (In fact, if I had control over the layout of this review, these would actually be laid out as sidebars.) If you get bored with this, please skip down to the next bold heading, which is Speed.
Resolution Sidebar 1: When is a pixel not a pixel?
When it?s a dot. Okay, while that may not be very enlightening, the serious message here is not to confuse pixels and dots. A pixel (from ?picture element?) is the smallest bit of information in a picture: It has a location and information about its shade and/or color. Digital pictures are all made up of pixels, no matter how you display or print them. However, dots come in to play when you display or print a digital picture. It may take a different number of dots to create a single pixel, depending on the output device (e.g., a monitor, a specific printer, etc.). To make things more complicated, those who manufacture and sell output devices are not consistent with their use of the terminology. Often people say DPI (dots per inch) when they should be speaking of PPI (pixels per inch). A couple of examples: Take your computer monitor. Each pixel is a product of three dots (a red one, a green one, and a blue one) all lit in varying intensities to create the illusion of a single pixel of one color and brightness. There are from 72 to over 100 of these pixels per inch of display (depending on your monitor and your video card, etc.). A more commonly misunderstood example is that of the home color ink-jet printer. It takes many ink dots (typically in black, cyan, magenta, and yellow) from an ink jet printer to print 1 color pixel from a digital picture. For example, a home printer operating at a resolution of 1440 DPI can reproduce no more than 300 PPI.
?Surely you must be coming to a point.? Yes. Now that we?re clear on what pixels and dots are, you need to consider how many of these you need for your purpose. It you?re shooting pictures for web use, for example, then you probably only need a camera that produces enough pixels to fill people?s 100 PPI monitors. Around 1200 pixels across should do, which puts you in the 1-mega-pixel camera class. If, on the other hand, you want professional-looking 4 x 6 photographic prints, consider that most professional dye-sublimation printers (the type of printer used for this purpose) run at about 300 PPI, which means that you need an image approximately 1800 pixels across (and 1200 high) to get the best quality 4 x 6 print. If you multiply, you?ll see we?re now talking about a 2.1 megapixel camera. However, this does not leave you any room to crop and enlarge, so if you want to crop and enlarge, or if you want to make high quality prints larger than 4 x 6, you need even more pixels. 3.3-megapixel cameras like the KD-300Z produce images 2048 pixels wide and 1536 pixels high. ?Hey, that?s not 3.3 million pixels; it?s only 3.1!? Right you are. For some reason camera manufacturers quote the total number of pixels the CCD array can capture, and then they bury in the fine print the effective number of pixels the camera actually spits out after it does its internal processing. (CCD is short for charge-coupled device ? the light sensitive bit that plays the role of film in a digital camera.) So, anyway, with images from a 3.3-megapixel camera, you can produce prints up to 5 x 7 at maximum quality (300 PPI), and prints up to 8 x 10 at acceptable quality (about 200 PPI).
So, from the perspective of pixel count, the KD-300Z produces enough pixels for most amateur purposes (or at least for my purposes, since I rarely ever do an enlargement over 5 x 7). If your plan is to do 8 x 10 enlargements from your digital camera on a regular basis, you should consider a more expensive camera in the 5 to 7 megapixel range. If you really do plan on producing such pictures on a regular basis, the chances are you are not in the market for an ultra-compact camera anyway. You would want a larger camera with larger optics, a hot-shoe for a flash, the ability to accept micro-drives as storage (more on this later), etc.
Resolution Sidebar 2: Resolution in lines per picture height
There is another important dimension to resolution besides the number of pixels in the image. For some purposes, a more useful (but less accessible) way to measure camera resolution than simply quoting the number of pixels in a frame is to measure the number of lines in a frame that can be reproduced accurately. Professional camera reviewers (not me) take a picture of a standardized test target (often the PIMA/ISO 12233 standard resolution test chart) and then measure, either with the naked eye or with the aid of software, the ?fineness? of the finest details that the camera can reproduce, expressed in terms of a number of lines per picture height (because of differing aspect ratios, this test is standardized to treat the horizontal and vertical dimensions the same). This number is a product of the quality of the optics and the image capture hardware (usually a CCD), as well as the camera?s onboard image processing and compression software. Unfortunately, since I?ve seen varying resolutions quoted for the same camera (using the same test target), I must assume that the resolution number is also a product of the skill of the photographer taking the measurement. Anyway, the number of lines a camera can resolve is arguably more important that the number of pixels it provides, since a large number of pixels may be wasted if the image is too blurry to take advantage of them all.
I do not have access to the right equipment to make this measurement properly for the KD-300Z. If I just told you the numbers that I have read from other reviews, that would not be first-hand experience, so I will refrain. However, you can tell something about resolution just using the naked eye. I shot several comparative pictures with a couple of different cameras, and, as I indicated earlier, the KD-300Z seems able to resolve less detail than other 3.3-megapixel cameras I have seen. This seems to be a product of both the optics and the on-board image-processing software, though it is hard to say for sure what is to blame. I say that the lenses are involved because the resolution is worse at the edges of a picture than in the center. The software may also be involved because the whole image has a slightly softened effect, as if the camera is purposely applying some blur. Unfortunately, unlike cameras such as the Pentax Optio 330, there is no sharpness setting in the KD-300Z?s menus.
There are three different dimensions to speed that I am concerned with. First, there is the time it takes from powering the camera up unit it?s ready to shoot. This measure is important if you ever hope to take a quick candid shot of someone before the moment passes. The second measure involves the actual time to take the picture, from when you first depress the button until the image is captured. (This can be further broken down into the time it takes the camera to focus and set the exposure, and the time to capture the image.) The last speed dimension of interest is recovery time, i.e., how long after capturing an image until the camera is ready to take another picture. This is affected by such things as storage card write speed, the size of the camera?s internal buffer, and the processing speed of the camera itself. These last two speed measures are important for trying to capture fleeting moments such as sports plays and views from tour buses.
The KD-300Z is not the speediest camera out there. When you turn it on, it seems to take a long time (more than 5 or 6 seconds?) for the camera to be ready to take its first picture. That done, it focuses somewhat slowly (and noisily). Luckily, when you do take the picture, the camera has some room left in its internal buffer so that you can take another picture nearly right away without waiting for the camera to write the previous picture out to the somewhat slow MMC card (see Storage below). At high resolution, you can?t do this more than once, though, since there is not enough storage space in the buffer for a third high-resolution picture. You will have to wait several seconds to take the third picture. (This means that there is no continuous shooting mode on the KD-300Z.) None of these delays are unbearable, though.
Not only is the KD-300Z a bit slow, but also a little noisy. The little motors that operate the zoom and focus are noisier than I would have expected. I wasn?t bothered much by this, though, until I used the much quieter Pentax Optio 330. Since I?ve heard folks accuse the Optio of being a little noisy, this must mean the KD-300Z is seriously noisy.
Battery Life Blows (and sucks?at the same time! Apologies to Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie)
It?s true. The power system on this camera suffers from a double deficiency (or triple, really). Firstly, the gum-stick-shaped 3.6V 800mAh battery is not enough to sustain the KD-300Z?s operations for much beyond a half hour if you use the LCD much at all, and using the LCD is hard to avoid since you must use it to view and change camera settings; there is no secondary display for basic status and mode information. (Contrast this with the Pentax Optio 330, another 3.3-megapixel ultra-compact camera with a larger brighter LCD: I can run it for at least an hour on one charge, with nearly full use of the LCD.) Secondly, there is no external charger available for the KD-300Z, so you must charge the battery in the camera. So, even if you have a spare battery, you must either leave it dead while you use the spare, or stop using the camera to charge the battery. (The Optio 330 comes with an external charger.) Thirdly, the batteries charge slowly; it takes about 4 or 5 hours if I recall correctly. (The Optio 330 battery charges in about 2 hours.) I brought two KD-300Z batteries with me for our weekend in Manhattan. With very conservative use of the LCD, I got no more than 90 minutes of use out of both batteries combined. After returning to the hotel room each night, I?d put one battery in the camera to charge and set my Palm to wake me up in the middle of the night to swap batteries. (Incidentally, my Palm m500 will go for weeks without a charge. Sigh.)
By the way, the KD-300Z has a continuous focus mode that continually runs the focus motor to keep the lens focused at whatever you?re pointing it at, so that delay is minimized when it actually comes time to take the picture. I did not use this mode, but presumably the battery life would have been even worse with this mode in use.
Poor battery life is ultimately what drove me to return this camera. I loved many things about it, but it was unacceptable that a camera sized to be so portable didn?t have enough stamina to be ported much at all!
Why is the batter life so crumby? I suspect that it?s combination of camera inefficiency and the battery being undersized. The 3.7V 900mAh battery in my Pentax Optio 330 has more capacity than the KD-300Z?s battery, but not twice as much (if I do the math right, 2.88WH vs. 3.33WH, which gives 16% more capacity in the Pentax battery). The KD-300Z does run really hot (which makes me worry about the long-term stability of the semiconductors in the device too), so I suspect that the camera?s firmware has not been tuned to conserve energy during idle moments. (Okay, I?m not an electrical engineer, so I?ll stop trying to guess why it sucks, but it sucks. And blows.)
The KD-300Z accepts both MultiMediaCards (MMC) and Secure Digital (SD) cards. These innovative storage cards are about the size of a postage stamp, and about the thickness of a couple of SmartMedia cards (at least they feel more sturdy than SmartMedia). MMC is a storage-only standard with cards available up to 128 MB (that I know of). It has a theoretical* maximum transfer rate of 2.5 MB per second. (See http://www.mmca.org/.) SD is an evolution of the standard that is backward compatible with MMC, but adds cryptographic security for copyrighted data (not relevant for use as camera storage), physical write-protection (there?s a little sliding switch on the card), I/O in addition to just storage (again, not relevant if you?re using it as storage), and theoretical* transfer speeds up to 4 (and in the future possibly 8) times the speed of MMC. (See http://www.sdcard.org/.)
* - I keep saying theoretical because the actual data transfer speed that you experience depends on many other factors beyond what the standard supports. The KD-300Z clearly does not write to MMC cards at 2.5 MB/second.
Incidentally, MMC/SD is the expansion data standard that has been adopted by Palm Corporation for use in its handheld computers. This is one of the things that first intrigued me about the KD-300Z, since I thought it would be nifty that my Palm and my digital camera could take the same type of memory. This actually was useful for our Manhattan trip, since I had not been able to buy an extra SD card at the same time I bought the spare battery. Instead I just deleted files I didn?t need from the 32 MB SanDisk MMC card I had in my Palm m500 and used that in the camera along with the 16MB Hitachi MMC card the camera came with. In regular practice I don?t know if it would have been as convenient as I was imagining, but I do like the SD standard so I was excited to see another device use it.
One problem with MMC flash memory is that it?s quite slow. It seems like it took a few seconds to record the average 1-2 MB picture onto the card after taking the picture. I think Konica does itself a disservice by including the cheaper MMC card instead of an SD card, since the SD cards are supposed to be so much faster. However, I was unable to test the camera with an SD card to verify if the camera would have taken advantage of the faster card. It is also worth noting that MMC and SD memory are somewhat more expensive per MB than the most common digital camera memory type, Compact Flash (see Compact Flash sidebar below).
The only other problem that some keen amateur or professional photographers would have with MMC and SD cards as photo storage is that they are not yet available in really large capacities, like Compact Flash (CF) cards are. The MMC and SD cards that the KD-300Z uses are both easily available up to 64 MB, though, and 128 MB SD cards are not too hard to find either. Don?t forget that you can easily carry several of them since they?re so tiny. So, this limitation is probably not a big deal for the non-professionals likely to use the KD-300Z. For comparison, I only use a 128 MB compact flash card in my Pentax Optio anyway, so I wouldn?t have wanted an SD card larger than 128 MB if I had kept the KD-300Z. (128 MB is enough room for 70 to 80 high-quality/low-compression 3.3 megapixel JPEG images.) Also, Panasonic is suggesting that 1 GB SD cards will be available in 2003, transferring data at 20 MB/second. (I think that may be optimistic, but it will depend on market demand. See http://www.sdtrend.com/ for more details.)
One more note on storage for those you are new to digital photography. You not only need to worry about in-camera storage, but also the permanent storage of your photos. I found my old 6 GB hard drive was starting to fill up fast, so I bought an LG CD writer I?ve been quite happy with. (I?ll also have to upgrade my hard drive, I know, but I still want to store my photos outside of my hard drive on something long-lasting. CDs seem to work well.)
Compact Flash Sidebar
Compact Flash is the most popular flash memory standard. It is electrically compatible with notebook PC cards, requiring only an inexpensive physical adapter to plug into notebook computers. CF memory for digital cameras is available in Type I and Type II. The Type I standard supports only solid state flash memory chips, while the Type II standard supports tiny embedded hard drives known as micro drives. Micro drives require more power and are supported by fewer cameras, but they are available in capacities up to 1 GB. However, Type I cards are available up to 512 MB, with 1 GB to be available within weeks of this writing, so the advantage of micro drives may be starting to wane (micro drives are still cheaper than their solid state counterparts though).
The KD-300Z connects to the outside world with only two cables. One supplies power to the built-in charger. (It also powers the camera if you do not wish to deplete the battery, or if the battery is depleted.) The second cable provides NTSC or PAL video output to any monitor or television with a normal composite video in connector. This second cable connects to the camera with a mini plug and terminates on the monitor side with an RCA plug. During a slide show the mini plug had a tendency to pop out of the mini jack on the camera at the slightest provocation. Being round, it also rotated easily in the jack, which created picture noise on the TV. (The Pentax Optio 330 has a much more secure connection that provides a better picture.)
You may be wondering how you get the pictures out of the KD-300Z. Read Accessories below.
The KD-300Z comes with a modern power supply that accepts input voltages from 100 to 240 VAC. This means that when you travel to a different continent all you have to do is change the input cord (a standardized cord) or use a plug adapter.
Since the KD-300Z does not connect directly to a computer to extract the photos, Konica includes a tiny generic USB MMC/SD card reader right in the box. I really like this little card reader, as it allows you to read and write to any MMC/SD card from any USB-equipped PC or Mac, without installing any drivers. It just appears as another removable mass storage device to the operating system, so you can drag the files off of the card as easily as dragging files off of a floppy disk, for example. (I decided I liked this method of reading and writing to my Palm m500?s MMC card so much better than using the Palm itself, that when I returned the KD-300Z, I had to go and buy a replacement MMC/SD card reader.)
The KD-300Z also comes with a soft carrying case, a wrist/neck strap, a USB extension cable for the card reader, and the already-mentioned 16 MB MMC card, power supply, video cable, and Lithium-ion battery.
The KD-300Z includes ARCSoft?s Photo Impression software. Though I don?t think it is anything to write home about, I don?t actually have much experience with it, so I?m not going to comment on it. (To tell you the truth, I usually use Windows Explorer?s built-in thumbnail preview mode under Windows 2000 to search through pictures; I use the simple Microsoft Photo Editor that comes with Microsoft Office to quickly view photos and make basic adjustments to them. For any major tweaking, though, I use Photoshop.)
The documentation, which includes a printed manual and a quick start guide, seemed adequate, though there were a couple of loose addendum sheets in the box; they obviously hadn?t thought of everything they wanted to say by the time the manual went to print. (One of them was about the heat the camera generates. They say it?s normal. What they don?t say but you can figure out is that the tiny chewing gum-sized battery can?t generate that kind of heat for very long!)
Specs from Konica
The following specifications come from Konica?s manual.
Type: Digital still camera with record, playback, and erase modes.
Recording medium: SD Memory Card, Multi-Media Card (MMC)
Recording Capacity (Guideline) and Image Dimensions in Pixels: (when using 16MB SD Memory Card, all pictures taken in the same mode).
Super Fine: About 7-9 (2048 ? 1536 pixels)
Fine: About 15-19 (2048 ? 1536 pixels)
Normal: About 54-64 (1024 ? 768 pixels)
TIFF-RGB (non-compressed): About 1 (2048 ? 1536 pixels)
Movies (15 seconds each): About 3 (320 ? 240 pixels)
Image Format: Complies with JPEG standard (Exif ver 2.1), DCF Standard (Design rule for Camera File systems), supports DPOF.
CCD Sensor: 1/1.8? square-pixel interlace readout system CCD with 3,340,000 pixels gross, 3,240,000 effective.
Lens: f=7.8 mm - 15.6 mm (35 mm camera equivalent about 38 mm - 76 mm), F2.8-3.5
Focusing Range (measured from front lens surface): About 90 cm - infinity
In Macro Mode: About 6 cm - 90 cm (at wide-angle setting) About 35 cm - 90 cm (at telephoto lens setting)
Exposure Control/Metering Method: CCD multi-area evaluation, centerweighted, and spot metering.
Control Method: Programmed AE, Aperture-Priority AE, Long Exposure modes.
Exposure Compensation: +2.0 EV to -2.0 EV (in 1/3 steps)
Aperture Control: automatic, or manually settable to F2.8 or F6.2.
Automatic Exposure Linkage Range: LV6 to LV16
White Balance: Automatic, manual (preset), outdoor (daylight/clouds), indoor (Tungsten/Fluorescent).
Shutter: CCD electronic shutter and programmed electronic shutter with independent aperture control (1 sec-1/2000 sec, 2 sec, 4 sec, 8 sec).
Focusing control: Video feedback auto-focusing (single AF, continuous AF modes), and manual focusing. [Manual focus is via the menu controller. There is no ring to turn. ?CEC]
Viewfinder: True image zoom viewfinder
Flash: Built-in flash, recycling time about 6 seconds (on full battery charge, at room temperature, based on our testing standards). Flash range about 90 cm - 2.5 meters (at wide-angle setting).
Recording Modes: Flash modes (auto flash, red-eye reduction, fill-in flash, flash-off, red-eye reduction forced flash*); macro recording mode, landscape recording mode; color
modes (color, B/W, sepia); white balance (Auto, daylight, tungsten, cloudy, fluorescent, preset); AE modes (programmed, F2.8; F6.2); focus (AF/MF); long exposure (OFF/2 sec/4 sec/8 sec); sensitivity (standard/2?/4?); metering modes (evaluation; center- weighted; spot). *Settable during long-exposure
Playback modes: Multiple image display; protect; erase* (single image); all erase* (erases all images in folder \DCIM); image rotation (right/left 90?); slide show; DPOF setting. *Note that files (and folders) recorded on other manufacturer?s cameras and devices cannot be erased by this camera.
Setup modes: Date; memory card format; electronic tone ON/OFF; auto power off setting function ON/OFF and time setting (time until camera power turns off automatically);
AF mode selection (continuous or single-image); mode lock ON/OFF (preserves mode setting data); digital zoom ON/OFF; display language setting (Japanese/English); video output standard (NTSC/PAL); file number reset; default reset.
LCD monitor: Built-in, 1.5? 110,000-pixel polysilicon TFT color LCD monitor; size: 521?218 pixels.
LCD monitor display: Remaining battery capacity; recording mode settings (flash mode, macro/landscape mode, white-balance mode, AE mode, focus, long-exposure, sensitivity,
metering mode); number of images recordable, digital zoom setting (?1.3, ?1.6, ?2.0), date (appears for 3 seconds after power is turned on only), focus frame, SD memory card write protect status (appears only when write protect is enabled); image recorded (still/movie); playback mode setting (multi-image, protect, erase, allerase, rotate, slide-show, DPOF setting); setup mode (date, format, electronic tone, auto-off, AF mode, mode lock, digital zoom, display language, video output, file number reset, default reset).
Self-timer LED (red): lights to indicate self-timer operation, recording completed.
Card access LED (orange): lights when writing to memory card.
Standby LED (green): lights to indicate focus display, battery recharging completed.
Caution LED (red): lights to indicate flash charging, camera-shake warning, lithium ion battery pack recharging and malfunction.
Output mode: NTSC/PAL composite video signal selectable
Input/output connector: video output connector (3.5 mm minijack); external power input connector.
[Be skeptical about the battery life specs. They assume unnaturally optimal conditions. ?CEC]
Power: 3.6V lithium ion battery pack, dedicated AC adapter
Recharging time: about 5 hours (at +10?C - +30?C)
Battery capacity (reference) ? Number of images recordable (using 50% flash, Fine Mode):
LCD monitor ON: 140
LCD monitor OFF: 170
Continuous playback time: about 50 minutes (using LCD monitor)
(All values assume full battery charge, room temperature, based on our testing standards).
Ambient operating temperature: 0?C - 45?C
Dimensions: 87(W)?55(H)?30(D) mm (not including protruding parts)
Weight: About 165 g (not including memory card or battery pack)
Other relevant specs
Besides the above specs from Konica, this information may also be of interest:
Format: Ultra Compact
Also known as: Kyocera Finecam S3
External flash: No
Lens thread: No
Continuous / Burst mode: No
Remote control: No
Tripod mount: Yes
Self-timer: 10 sec
Micro drive compatible: No
Playback zoom: Yes
Playback rotate: Yes
USB: No (Yes with included MMC/SD card reader)
Firewire (IEEE 1394): No
IrDA (Infrared): No
Includes battery & charger: Yes (internal charger)
Battery: Lithium-Ion rechargeable
Firmware flash upgradeable: No (not sure)
I really wanted to love this camera. It was tiny. It had elegant steel looks. It used the new tiny MMC/SD memory. It came with a USB card reader. It was 3.3 megapixels. Those things made me drool, so I bought it and tried to love it. However in the end, the terrible battery life, combined with a gradually increasing realization that the picture resolution could be better, led me to return this camera. Kyocera (the designer and manufacturer of the Konica KD-300Z) got a lot of things right. But they got at least one crucial thing wrong. In the end I?m glad I took it back, because the camera I replaced it with has most of the things I love about the KD-300Z, does almost everything better than the KD-300Z, and has much better battery life, all at nearly the same price (at least at the time).
For digital camera information written by professionals, I really like http://www.dpreview.com, http://www.steves-digicams.com, and http://www.imaging-resource.com.
Thanks go to Epinions user Mariano Franchi (rxit) for pointing out these two additional digital photography sites I was unaware of: http://www.megapixel.net and http://www.fredmiranda.com.
To hear the song by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie that I alluded to in the battery life section (about how something can suck and blow at the same time), listen to this song, around 3 minutes 8 seconds in: http://artists.mp3s.com/artist_song/1241/1241156.html.
How to choose a digital camera
For more general information on what to look for in a digital camera, please copy and paste this URL into your browser's Address window:
My camera dealer: London Drugs
This is just a quick note for those of you in Western Canada. I have received excellent, patient service from the Mount Royal London Drugs store in Calgary as I tried the KD-300Z, returned it, and then bought the Pentax Optio 330. The local dealer even gave me some credit for a second KD-300Z battery that I had purchased elsewhere. The other shop wouldn?t accept the three-day-old battery (understandable), but the London Drugs photo department manager gave said she could resell or give it as a spare battery to someone as part of a KD-300Z package.
Incidentally, I also get good quality prints from London Drugs?s online photo service (http://www.ldphotostation.com/). Some ink-jet posters I uploaded this Monday morning were even ready Tuesday morning, which isn?t bad considering they were shipped from another city! (I typically have to wait a few days though.) I know there are many local places that do this work, but it?s so convenient to do it all from my computer and then pick it up at the store when it?s ready.
Amount Paid (CAD): 899.98 + GST
The US dollar amount (USD562) indicated below assumes an exchange rate of 1.6 and excludes taxes. The rate was probably more like 1.5 at the time of purchase, but I don?t remember.