Review: Casio QV-R4
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Friday, November 8, 2002
Sunday, December 1, 2002
($499) is Casio's entry into the high resolution ultra-small camera
market. This market didn't get popular until about 6 months ago,
when Sony, Pentax, and Kyocera introduced their 4 Megapixel micro-cameras.
appears to have done their homework with the QV-R4 (along with the
3 Megapixel QV-R3),
putting features like an AF illuminator and diopter correction that
are rarely seen on these small cameras.
well does it work? Find out in our review!
in the Box?
QV-R4 has a good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
4.0 (effective) Mpixel Casio QV-R4 camera
rechargeable Li-ion battery
featuring Casio Photo Loader
page camera manual (printed)
has joined the "no bundled memory card club". What they've
done instead is hardwire a tiny 11MB of memory into the camera.
What that means for you is that you'll want to buy a memory card
as soon as possible. The QV-R4 supports both Secure Digital (SD)
and MultiMedia (MMC) cards. I suggest buying a 64MB card at the
NP-30 Li-ion battery used by the QV-R4 is very familiar. The NP-30
has 3.7 Watt/hours of power. Many other manufacturers use this battery
in their cameras -- I knew it looked familiar. Casio estimates that
the battery will last for about 110 minutes in the R4, which is
about average for a small camera. As longtime readers of this site
know, I don't like these proprietary batteries (another one will
cost you $30), but there's not much you can do to avoid them on
these tiny cameras.
the battery is very easy, thanks to the handy included charger.
You just pop the battery in the charger, and plug the charger directly
into the wall -- no cords necessary. It takes two hours to recharge
QV-R4 has a built-in lens cover. You can see that it's pretty tiny!
aren't many accessories to talk about. I could only find an AC adapter
and soft case.
Photo Loader software has never been a favorite of mine. Their manuals,
however, are pretty good and are much easier to read than most.
QV-R3 is an attractive, small camera with an all-metal body. The
metal body means its durable, but it also scratches quite easily.
The build quality of this camera is excellent.
camera is easy to hold, with controls placed so you can quickly
reach them. The R4 fits in any pocket with ease. Here's a look at
the size and weight of the camera, compared with the competition:
x 2.3 x 1.2
x 2.2 x 1.2
x 2.0 x 1.4
x 2.3 x 1.7
x 2.3 x 1.2
x 2.6 x 1.7
x 2.3 x 1.2
start our tour of the QV-R4 now!
QV-R4 has an F2.6, 3X optical zoom lens made by Pentax. The lens
has a focal range of 7.6 - 22.8 mm, which is equivalent to 37.5
- 112.5 mm. The lens is not threaded.
the top right of the photo, you can see the built-in flash. This
flash has a working range of 0.4 - 2.8 m. No external flash options
below the flash is a great feature: an AF-assist lamp! This lamp
puts out a bright white light, which the camera uses to focus in
lower light levels. I wish all cameras had these.
QV-R4 has a nice 1.6" LCD display. The resolution isn't super
high but it's still very good. Images on the LCD are bright and
motion is fluid. Nose smudges on the LCD may be a problem if you
use your left eye with the optical viewfinder.
of which, the viewfinder is just above the LCD. As I alluded to
earlier in the review, there's a diopter correct slider, which focuses
the image on the viewfinder. Most small cameras don't have one.
The viewfinder is also good-sized for such a small camera.
the right of the LCD, there are several buttons plus the four-way
switch. The four-way switch is used for menu navigation, as well
as for adjusting the exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV
increments). The buttons surrounding it are for Preview/Album, Display
(turns LCD on/off), and Menu. Pressing Preview in record mode shows
the last image taken. I'll have more about the Album functions later
in the review.
three buttons up at the top of the photo have various functions.
(10, 2, x3)
setting (Auto, off, fill, auto w/redeye)
R4 has a unique Triple Self-timer feature. This takes one shot after
10 seconds, another after 3 seconds, and one more after 3 seconds.
continuous shooting mode is somewhat of a joke. I think it shot
at a rate 0.3 frames/second or something awful like that.
R4's manual focus feature is well implemented. When it's turned
on, the camera shows a distance meter on the LCD, showing you the
current focus distance. It also enlarges the center of the frame,
so you can make sure the subject is properly focused.
mode wheel on the camera has some unusual options, plus some old
Shot mode is a feature that Casio invented, and they still do it
the best. Using the LCD, you choose from various situations, such
as fireworks, portraits, pets, etc. The camera then chooses the
best settings for the situation. It's easy! There are over 30 scenes
to choose from, and you can even make your own.
of the scene modes on the QV-R4
coupling shot mode is a little strange. It basically lets you combine
two consecutive pictures into one. Casio uses the example of taking
a picture of one person, then switching positions so you'll be in
the picture too. Of course you could find someone else to take the
picture, but I digress. There is a similar feature in Best Shot
mode called Pre-shot, which lets you shoot the background, then
combine it with another shot (presumably with you in it).
Night Scene feature lets you use slower shutter speeds, without
being in manual mode. Just remember to use a tripod.
exposure mode allows you to set the shutter speed and aperture.
The shutter speed range is 2 - 1/2000 sec, while the available apertures
range from F2.6 - F9.2. This kind of manual control is rare on a
very small camera like this.
have more on the movie mode later in the review. The interval, or
time lapse mode lets you take pictures at a certain interval, such
as every hour. You can also set the timer to take a shot at a specific
time. The optional AC adapter is required to use this feature (well,
not required, but you'll really really want it).
isn't a whole lot on the top of the camera. The on/off switch is
nice, because you have to hold it down for a second before the camera
turns on. I like this since it's easy to accidentally turn on some
cameras I've looked at.
to the right of that is the shutter release button, with the zoom
control wrapped around it. The controller smoothly moves the lens
from wide-angle to telephoto in about two seconds.
this side of the camera, you'll find ports for DC in (and optional
AC adapter) and USB. There is no video out on this camera!
on the other side, behind a sturdy plastic door, is the SD/MMC card
here's the bottom of the QV-R4. You can see the battery compartment
(and battery) plus a metal tripod mount over on the left.
the Casio QV-R4
takes the QV-R4 three seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start taking pictures. Press the shutter
release halfway, and the camera locks focus in a second or so. If
the AF illuminator is used, it may take slightly longer. The R4
had more trouble with low light focusing than I expected from a
camera with an AF illuminator. Press the shutter release fully and
the picture is taken without delay.
Look, a histogram in record mode!
speed is very good -- you can take another picture in about 2.5
R4 is somewhat unusual in that it offers two 4 Megapixel image resolutions.
Of course I didn't realize this until after I'd taken the sample
photos at the lower of the two. Interestingly enough, they have
the same file size at two different resolutions (1.8MB at fine quality
setting). Here's a look at the resolution and quality choices available
on this camera:
shots on 11MB built-in memory
shots on 64MB SD/MMC card (optional)
2304 x 1712
1600 x 1200
no TIFF or RAW mode available on this camera. The camera names files
as CIMG_yyyy.JPG, where y = 0001 - 9900. The camera maintains the
numbering even if you erase the card.
QV-R4 has an easy-to-navigate menu system, with quite a few interesting
controls. Let's have a look:
size (see chart)
balance (Auto, daylight, shade, incandescent, fluorescent, manual)
(Auto, 100, 200)
(Multi, center-weighted, spot)
(Off, B&W, sepia, red, green, blue, yellow, pink, purple)
- Enhance (Off,
red, green, blue, flesh tones)
(Hard, normal, soft)
(High, normal, low)
(High, normal, low)
- Flash intensity
(Strong, normal, weak)
- Grid (on/off)
- shows a 9x9 grid on the LCD
- Digital zoom
(on/off) - using this will lower photo quality
As you can see,
there is manual control over white balance. There are also filter
and color enhancement functions that let you get a little more creative
that on most cameras. Many of the best shot modes work by manipulating
to that menu, there is also a memory menu. This lets you choose
which settings are remembered when the camera is turned off -- a
handy feature. There is also a setup menu with all the traditional
choices normally found there.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
QV-R4 did a pretty good job with the macro test. The colors look
good, though I wish the subject was a bit sharper. The R4 is one
of those cameras that locks the lens at the wide-angle position
in macro mode. The focal range is 14 - 50 cm in macro mode.
QV-R4 did a pretty good job with the night shot test, and it would've
been better if it allowed shutter speeds slower than 2 seconds.
Noise levels are low, though I can see some jaggies in various parts
of the image. Even with that issue, the R4 turned in a good performance
for an ultra-small camera.
above shot looks a bit psycho, so I apologize for that. One thing
you won't see in it is any redeye. The R4 did a surprisingly good
job for a camera the flash located close to the lens. As always,
I've enlarged the crop a bit so you can see the details.
the photo quality on the QV-R4 was very good. Images were sharp,
and colors were accurate. At the same time, the quality isn't as
good as the class-leading 4 Megapixel cameras from Canon and Nikon.
Images are a bit noisy at times, and things seem a little over-processed
at times (check out the Crissy Field house in the gallery for an
example). For an ultra-small camera, though, the quality is good.
Take a look at the photo gallery to decide
QV-R4 can record movies clips for up to 30 seconds, at 320 x 240.
Sound is not recorded, since the camera has no microphone.
means you can use the zoom during filming.
are saved in AVI format using the M-JPEG codec.
to play movie (1.3MB, 320 x 240, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
R4 has a nice playback with a few extras that set it apart from
the competition. Basic features include DPOF print marking, image
protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll. Notably absent
is any slide show feature (then again, the camera lacks video out,
so it doesn't really matter).
zoom and scroll feature works well, but it's kind of slow. You can
zoom in as much as 4X into your image and then scroll around in
of the more advanced features include image resizing cropping. There's
no image rotation feature though.
playback mode allows you to turn the QV-R4 into an alarm clock.
You can set up to three alarms, and choose a picture to show when
the alarm sounds. Seems like a weird combination to me: camera and
nice and needed feature gives you the ability to copy images between
internal memory and the SD/MMC card, and vice versa.
biggest feature in playback mode has to be the album creation system.
At the press of a few buttons, the QV-R4 can create an HTML photo
album that you can copy straight to your website. You just pick
one of 10 layouts, adjust some settings if you desire, and hit "create".
Cool! Here's a little example.
The downside is that you can't seem to choose which images end up
in the album. It's all or none.
camera moves through photos at an amazing clip. There's no wait
between photos at all. If you want to see more info about a photo,
just hit the Display button and you'll get it, including a histogram.
Does it Compare?
those who want an ultra-small camera with a lot of pixels, the Casio
QV-R4 is worth looking at. The 4 million pixels it produces will
allow you to print very nice 8x10 images, and larger if you desire.
The camera has some nice features, such as an AF-assist lamp, diopter
correction, robust performance, and the cool album creation software.
The best shot mode and filters are a nice touch as well. Don't expect
PowerShot G3 image quality in a small body though -- it's not that
good. But for a small camera, it's definitely competitive. My main
complaints are the lack of sound recording and the tiny 11MB of
good photo quality
elegant metal body
control over shutter speed, aperture, focus, and white balance
album, best shot features
an AF illuminator lamp
redeye test performance
I didn't care for:
kind of noisy/over-processed
sound in movie mode
of memory on a 4 Megapixel camera? Come on!
are some other lower cost 4 Megapixel cameras to check out: Canon
PowerShot S40, Kodak
EasyShare LS443, Konica
Finecam S4, Minolta
DiMAGE F100, Olympus
Optio 430RS, Sony
DSC-P9 and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the QV-R4 and it's competitors before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our
a review of the QV-R4 at Steve's
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests
for personal camera recommendations.