DCRP Review: Konica Digital Revio KD-400Z
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Sunday, August 4, 2002
Last Updated: Sunday, August 4, 2002

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With our review of the Konica's Digital Revio KD-400Z ($499), we've covered cameras from almost every manufacturer out there! The KD-400Z certainly is an eye-catching camera, with it's ultra small, metal body, dual memory card slots, and very cool flashing blue light. It's got more pixels than most of the small cameras -- it competes with the likes of the Kyocera FineCam S4, Pentax Optio 430RS, and the Sony DSC-P9.

Does the KD-400Z work as nicely as it looks? Find out now!

What's in the Box?

The KD-400Z has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 4.0 (effective) Mpixel KD-400Z camera
  • DR-LB4 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger
  • USB docking cradle
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Adobe Photoshop Elements and drivers
  • 14 page Quick Start manual (printed) and 117 page full manual (on CD)

Let me get my boos and hisses out of the way first. Bad, bad Konica for putting the camera manual on CD! The 14 page Quick Start Guide is very basic, so you'll end up printing out the full manual quickly. How much more would it cost them to print the whole manual?

My other gripe is with the small memory card. If this was a 2 Megapixel camera, I'd say that the 16MB Secure Digital card was adequate. But this is a 4 Megapixel camera, and that card sure fills up quickly. (The camera does have 2MB of internal memory as well, but that's not much of a consolation.) You'll want to buy a 128MB card so you can really get going with the KD-400Z. You can use Memory Sticks, MultiMediaCards, or SD cards in this camera! But more on that later.

Now that I got that out of the way, here's some happier news.

The camera includes the DR-LB4 Li-ion battery, which has 3.0 Watt/hours of power. According to Konica, you'll get about 90 minutes of shooting per charge. Inside the box you will find a charger (not the cool ones that plug right into the wall -- a AC cable is needed) that will refill your battery in about 2.5 hours. I'm not a big fan of proprietary batteries (as you know), but there's really no alternative on these ultra small cameras.

Since the KD-400Z has a built-in lens cover, there's no need to worry about lens caps. The lens cover doubles as the power switch for the camera.


Camera in hand

Small enough for you?

The only accessories I could dig up were an AC adapter and soft camera case. No lens accessories here!

Konica includes the excellent Adobe Photoshop Elements (v 1.0) software for Mac and PC. This is not the Mac OS X native version of the software. The camera itself works fine with Mac OS X and iPhoto.

Once you actually get the manual off the CD, you'll find that it's about average.

Look and Feel

The KD-400Z is one small camera, and it looks good too, with that all-metal body. One thing those metal cameras -- and the Konica seems worse than most -- is that it loves to show fingerprints. You've got to take good care of this camera to keep it looking nice. The body also scratches very easily.

How does the 400Z compare in size and weight to other small cameras?

Camera Dimensions Weight
Konica KD-400Z 3.8 x 2.3 x 1.2 198 g
Sony DSC-P9 4.5 x 2.0 x 1.4 206 g
Canon PowerShot S40 4.4 x 2.3 x 1.7 260 g
Kyocera Finecam S4 3.8 x 2.2 x 1.2 175 g
Olympus D-40Z 3.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 190 g
Pentax Optio 430 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.2 205 g

As you can see, it's one of the smallest and lightest of the bunch! The camera is very easy to hold, and the important buttons are well-placed. I probably don't have to say this, but it easily fits in any pocket.

The KD-400Z has a Hexanon Zoom lens (or is it the other way around?) with an aperture range of F2.8 - F4.9. The focal range is 8 - 24 mm, which is equivalent to 39 - 117mm. It also happens to be the fastest extending/retracting lens I've ever seen. It's not threaded.

Just above the lens is the built-in flash. The working range of the flash is 0.5 - 3.5 m at the wide-angle end, and 0.5 - 2.0 m at full telephoto. No external flash options are available, as you might expect. Just below-left of the flash is the light sensor.

One thing you have to watch out for is where you place your right hand fingers. If you're not careful, you can cover up the flash or light sensor -- or both!

Then, there's the blue flashing light, down below the lens.

I must admit that I'm a sucker for gimmicks like this. Anything with a blue LED has got to be cool, right? At first, I was a bit puzzled about what exactly it was for. Is it an AF illuminator? Self-timer lamp? Hypnosis device?

As it turns out, the light does three things: in normal shooting mode, it is a visual indication that a picture is about to be taken. A "cheese!" using lights, I guess. In self-timer, it counts down the seconds left (as shown in the graphic above) until the picture is taken. It also flashes a few times when the camera is turned on.

It is not an AF illuminator, unfortunately.

Here now is the back of the KD-400Z. Konica uses a 1.5" LCD display (with nice chrome accents!) here, and it's a nice sharp and bright one. As you pan around, the images on the LCD follow smoothly.

The optical viewfinder is strangely located right in the middle of the camera. That means that those of you who use your right eye will end up smudging the LCD with your nose. The viewfinder is very small, and lacks any diopter correction feature.

To the left of the viewfinder are buttons for entering playback mode, toggling the LCD on and off, and deleting a photo.

To the lower-right of the LCD, you will find the Menu/Set button, as well as the four-way switch. In addition to menu navigation, the four-way switch is also used for switching the shooting mode (macro mode, landscape mode, self-timer, and combinations of the three) and the flash mode (auto, red-eye, fill-in, slow sync, off).

At the top right of the picture are the zoom controls as well as the speaker. The zoom moves at one speed only -- fast. You can move from wide-angle to telephoto in less than 2 seconds.

There's not a whole lot to see on the top of the camera -- just the microphone and shutter release button.

Nothing here either...

On the other side, you'll find the USB connector. There is no video output on this camera.

Finally, here's the bottom of the KD-400Z, with included battery and 16MB SD card shown.

The KD-400Z is the only camera in the world to have both SD/MMC and Memory Stick slots. It's also the only non-Sony camera to use the Memory Stick format. I guess this is a good thing, as you can buy whatever card is cheaper, or larger, or both!

Using the Konica KD-400Z

Record Mode

The KD-400Z has one of the fastest startup times I've ever seen for a camera with a zoom lens. It extends the lens and is ready to go in just under two seconds. To start the camera, you just slide the lens cover back. When you press the shutter release button halfway, the 400Z locks focus in a second or so. The camera focuses well, except in lower light, where the lack of an AF illuminator comes into play. When you fully press the button, the picture is taken without delay.

Shot-to-shot speed is just average. You'll wait five seconds before you can take another photo (at the fine quality setting).

Speaking of quality settings, here's the choices on the KD-400Z:

Image Size # photos on included 16MB SD card
Fine Quality Normal Quality
2304 x 1704 8 16
1600 x 1200 16 33
640 x 480 66 133

There is no TIFF or RAW mode on the Konica. There isn't a continuous shooting mode either.

The KD-400Z has a sluggish and somewhat awkward menu system. But it is useable. Here's what you'll find in the menus:

  • Quality (see chart)
  • Movie (on/off) - enters movie mode
  • Exposure compensation (-1.5EV to +1.5EV in 0.3EV increments)
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, tungsten)
  • Digital zoom (on/off)
  • AE Metering (center-weighted, spot)
  • Slow shutter (on/off) - more below
  • Voice memo - add 15 second sound clip to photos
  • Sepia (on/off) - images will have an brownish, old photo look to them
  • Monitor - adjusts LCD monitor brightness
  • Set-up Menu - more on this in a bit

The slow shutter speed doesn't let you set the shutter speed. Rather, it lets the camera use a wider range of shutter speeds. With this feature turned off, the range is 1/8 - 1/2000 sec. Turn on slow shutter mode, and the range grows to 1 - 1/2000 sec.

The 400Z has the typical set-up menu that all digicams have. Here are the interesting items from that menu:

  • Card format (SD, MS, int. memory) - choose which media you want to format
  • Rec Menu settings (basic, details) - for all the menu options listed above, you need to choose details.
  • Quick View settings (on/off) - whether or not the picture is shown on the LCD after it is taken
  • Info display (on/off) toggles info shown on LCD
  • Self-timer delay time (3, 10 sec)
  • Memory Priority (SD, MS) - choose which memory card is written to first

Ok, enough of that, let's talk photos now.

The macro test came out fairly well, but it could be better. For one, it's not as sharp as I'd like -- it's the old "focus on the nose" problem. Secondly, it has a bit of a brownish cast to it (regardless of the white balance setting I tried). I noticed this cast in some outdoors pictures too. While in macro mode, the minimum distance to the subject is 10 cm at wide-angle and 50 cm at telephoto.

Aside from a few hot pixels, the KD-400Z did a nice job with this night scene. Don't expect me to take this shot very often, as it's rarely this clear at night. Anyhow, the 400Z held its own against the Nikon Coolpix 4500 and D100 that I brought along with me. I would call the noise level acceptable. I had to turn on the slow shutter mode in order to get this shot to come out -- it was too dark otherwise.

I'm not sure what to call this -- redeye or demon eye? Whatever it is, it's definitely noticeable (this shot is cropped and blown up 200% for detail). Since the flash is so close to the the lens, the 400Z is more likely to exhibit this phenomenon than a camera with a pop-up flash. Thankfully, you can fix redeye in most consumer software packages.

Photo quality on the KD-400Z was sort of a mixed bag. Images are nicely exposed, but quite a few of them have a brownish haze to them. I noticed this almost exclusively in shots with lots of sky. Chromatic aberrations were not a problem. Take a look at the photo gallery and see if you agree!

Movie Mode

The KD-400Z has a very basic movie mode. You can film clips, with sound, up to 15 seconds in length. They are recorded at the usual 320 x 240 resolution. Files are saved in AVI format using the M-JPEG codec.

You cannot use the optical or digital zoom during filming.

Here is a sample movie for you to check out. It was typical SF summer weather (read: foggy) outside so it's not great. Also, notice the mysterious red line at the bottom of the movie.


Click to play movie (1.6MB, AVI format)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

Overall, the KD-400Z has a very nice playback mode. The basic features like slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, and zoom and scroll are all here.

The zoom and scroll (my term) feature lets you zoom in as much as 12X (!) into your photo, and then smoothly scroll around in it. This feature is nicely implemented here.

A resize feature will let you downsize your images. There's no in-camera rotation system, though.

You can also copy or move images from one media card to another.

One thing that really bothers me is that you can't switch between the memory cards if you have both SD and Memory Stick cards inserted at once. In other words, if you have both SD and MS cards inserted, and your memory priority is SD, you can't see your photos on the MS card unless you remove it, or change the priority. There should be an easier way to do this!

The 400Z doesn't show much information about your photos other than the bare bones. It does move through images fairly quickly though, about 2 seconds between high resolution images.

How Does it Compare?

The small 4 Megapixel camera field is growing, with cameras from Olympus, Sony, Kyocera, and now Konica. The Konica KD-400Z is a very small, point-and-shoot camera with a nice metal body. Since it's point-and-shoot, manual controls are very limited, though I did appreciate the slow shutter speed mode. The KD-400Z is the only camera in the world that supports SD/MMC cards and Memory Stick, so you can buy whichever card is cheaper and/or larger. Photo quality is fair (but not best in class), with a few images having a noticeable brownish cast to them. The 400Z is very fast in terms of startup and operation (except for shot-to-shot speed, which is average), and its easy to use. The flashing blue light on the front is cool, but I'd rather have a real AF illuminator instead. Also, the movie mode left much to be desired (especially compared to Sony). Overall, the KD-400Z is worth a look, but be sure to check out the competition carefully.

What I liked:

  • Very small metal body
  • Robust operation
  • Built-in memory, SD/MMC, and Memory Stick support!
  • Impressive low light performance
  • Includes Photoshop Elements
  • Cool flashing blue light

What I didn't care for:

  • No real manual controls or continuous shooting mode
  • Movie mode isn't great
  • No AF illuminator
  • Brownish cast in several photos
  • Body tends to get dirty/scratch easily
  • No way to easily switch between memory cards in rec/play mode
  • Skimpy 16MB memory card; manual only on CD-ROM.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the KD-400Z and it's competitors before you buy!

Here are some other lower cost 4 Megapixel cameras to check out: Canon PowerShot S40, Casio QV-4000, Kodak DX4900, Kyocera Finecam S4, Minolta DiMAGE F100, Olympus D-40Z, Pentax Optio 430RS, Sony DSC-P9, and the Toshiba PDR-M81.

Photo Gallery

So how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos in our photo gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Check out Steve's Digicams for another review of this camera!

Feedback

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to jakeller@pair.com. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.

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