by Terry Currier
I personally like a camera that I can grip. One that when I
put my hand on and it is comfortable to hold steady. So I do still like my
Polaroid digital camera even though it is only 2 megapixel and four years old. Yet,
I found at the CES (Consumer Electronic Show) there were times I thought about
taking a picture of a product, but did not. I just did not feel like putting my
notepad down, taking the camera out of the case, wait for it to come on, take
the picture, and put it back. Then I saw the Kyocera Finecam SL300R. It is
compact at 3.9" wide x 2.5" high x .6" thin, and weighs only
about 5.1 ounces with battery and memory card. Simply put it is small and light
enough to carry in my shirt pocket, and I donít have to put anything down to pull
it out and take the picture.
When I turn it on, it uses what they call RTUNE Rapid Tuning Technology so that the camera is ready to take the picture in less than one second. The maximum resolution it takes is 2048x1536 or 3.17 megapixel, great for the 8x10 shots. The lens/flash part of the camera can swivel forward or backward from the body part up to 120 degrees. You can actually turn and take a self-portrait, or in a crowd hold it over head for shots and still use the LCD display to see what you are shooting. It uses a high speed SD memory card. It comes with a 16Mb SD card, for the review I used a 256Mb SD card.
The camera uses a flat slim proprietary BP-780S rechargeable 3.7V 780mAh lithium battery pack. Charging it in the camera takes about 3 hours when fully depleted. I have to say I was really impressed with the battery life. After first charging it up I went around snapping pictures one right after the other, inside and outside my home. I took 278 pictures, 190 of them with a flash before it flashed low battery signal to me. On a second test I did just the same in my computer room and it took 356 pictures (with flash) before it stopped.
It has a 5.8 - 17.4mm lens with a maximum aperture of F2.8-4.8 and a focal coverage of approximately 38mm to 115mm for 35mm format cameras. On top is the power on/off button and the shutter release. There is no view finder, you use the 1.5 inch TFT LCD display to sight with. The LCD display is backlit for viewing even in bright sunlight. I could still see it clearly even with the sun directly over. Controls across the top are for the display (turns off the backlight on the LCD), scene, and zoom. One cool thing about the LCD display is when you look at it and have to turn the camera for a shoot with extra height it will turn the image for you so you donít have to turn you head. The zoom is 3x optical, 2x digital zoom (which can be turned off.) The Scene button gives you quick access to the pre-programmed scene modes
The thing of course is to remember to use the scenes. Most of the time you will probably just take the picture. I did experiment and found the portrait mode did take a better picture with the flesh tones coming out truer.
Just below that is a bar with 5 icons for Setup, Play, Record, Burst Record, Movie). The 4-way selector is used to navigate menus and select images for playback. The center button accepts selections. The MENU button calls up the menu screens. You can also quickly change the Flash modes by pressing the 4-way selector. Flash modes being: Auto flash, Red-eye reduction auto flash, Fill flash, Flash off, and Night scene mode. By using the Play selection you can see the pictures you took in single, multiple, or have it shown to you in slide show mode. With the Burst mode you can take pictures at the rate of 3.5 per second. I had my wife throw a ball up in the air to test it. It is like watching time lapse photography. You can also take movies with the camera. It will take them at 30fps so there are no drops. It will also record sound with the movie. The microphone is on the display side so you have to make sure to point it to get the sound. Using the microphone you can also attach an audio note to a picture. In the movie playback you can control the volume, play, rewind, pause and fast forward.
Both the burst and movie will keep recording limited only by the size of your disk. With the 256Mb size I was able to record up to 7 minutes and 55 seconds at full 30fps and sound. The recorded file is in AVI format and can be played back easily on the LCD display or a personal computer. On the side are the USB and DC in ports. The battery charger / AC power supply plugs into the DC in port. Kyocera also includes the Adobe Photoshop Album software.
The only real negative thing about the camera is, it has no lens cap. You will have to carry a cloth to clean it since you will invariably put finger marks on it. Because of the size I found it difficult at first to hold steady, but with a little practice I got the hang of it. The LCDís easy viewing of what to shoot regardless of the angle, or which way the camera is turned is a plus. It is great that the battery last so long. Given that I can take stills, burst mode and movie pictures all with this camera is great. Lastly if I want I can control many different aspects such as ISO, exposure, and white balance. I am very pleased with the quality of the pictures, and the value of the camera.
PriceGabber.com prices it from $270-$350.
A spare 256 High Speed SD card or battery will average about $80 each
SETUP Menu options:
Play mode MENU options:
Record and Burst Menu options:
Movie Menu options:
From our June 2004 newsletter
Winners is a member of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG) is an international, platform-independent, nonprofit corporation (incorporated in Washington, DC) devoted to helping user groups throughout the world. Almost 400 user groups are members of APCUG. http://www.apcug.net/