Review: Kyocera Finecam L3v
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: August 8, 2003
August 8, 2003
Finecam L3v ($349 street price) may look like an ordinary
3.2 Megapixel digital camera from the front, but when you look
at the back,
you'll see the "big" difference: a large 2.5" LCD
display. With many manufacturers shrinking their LCDs down
to 1.6 and even 1.5 inches, it's nice to see someone going
the other way. In addition to the L3v, there's also the Finecam
L4v ($449), a 4 Megapixel version.
does this latest Finecam perform? Find out now!
in the Box?
Finecam L3v has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.2 effective Megapixel Finecam L3v camera
Secure Digital card
lithium battery (not rechargeable)
including Pixela ImageMixer software and drivers
page camera manual (printed)
includes a 16MB Secure Digital card with the camera, which is
good enough to start with, though you'll soon want a larger card.
The L3v supports SD as well as MultiMedia (MMC) cards.
on your own when it comes to batteries, as Kyocera gives you
a non-rechargeable CR-V3 battery in the box. Once that's empty,
you'll want to pick up a set or two of NiMH rechargeable batteries.
Kyocera estimates that you'll get about 165 photos, or spend
200 minutes in playback mode with the CR-V3 battery. Numbers
will be a little lower using NiMH batteries.
Finecam L3v has a built-in lens cover, as you can see.
only accessory I could find for the Finecam L3v is an AC adapter
includes an older version of Pixela's decent ImageMixer software.
The version included is NOT Mac OS X native, so you have to run
it in classic mode. The camera works fine with Mac OS X (iPhoto
and Image Capture) and Windows XP as well.
Finecam’s manual is complete, covering everything you need
to know, but finding the information can be challenging at times.
In other words, it's about average for a camera manual.
Finecam L3v is a mid-size, metal camera. The body is wider than
most camera, which allows for that big LCD display. The camera
is easy to hold with one hand, though you may find using two
hands to be more comfortable.
camera is a little too large to fit in the average pocket. Its
dimension are 4.4 x 2.1 x 1.4 inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions),
and it weighs just 170 grams empty.
begin our 360 degree tour of the Finecam L3v now!
L3v has an F2.8-4.7, 3X optical zoom lens, with a focal range
of 5.8 - 17.4 mm. That's equivalent to 38 - 115 mm in 35 mm terms.
The lens is not threaded.
the upper-left of the lens you'll find the camera's built-in
flash. The flash has a working range of 0.6 - 3.5 m at wide-angle,
and 0.6 - 2.0 m at telephoto. You cannot use an external flash
with this camera.
panel (where it says 3.2 Mega Pixels) lights up when you turn
on the camera, lock focus, or connect it to a PC.
only other items of note include the self-timer lamp and light
sensor. There is no AF illuminator on this camera, unfortunately.
I mentioned earlier, the big feature on the L3v is its large
2.5" LCD. While I applaud Kyocera for having such a large
screen on this camera, the resolution of 110,000 is disappointing.
I've seen 1.5" LCDs with that same resolution. The viewing
angle isn't great, either. But the screen is quite bright, and
images on it are fluid. You can adjust the screen brightness
in the setup menu.
the left of the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is fairly
small. The viewfinder shows 80% of the frame. There is no diopter
correction feature, so those of you who don’t have perfect
vision may not see too clearly.
the right of the LCD, you'll find the zoom controller, two buttons,
and the four-way controller.
zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in
under two seconds. You can precisely control the movement of
the lens with quick presses of the button.
of buttons, the display and menu buttons are below the zoom controller.
The display button toggles the LCD on and off, as well as what's
shown on it.
four-way controller is used for menu navigation, as well as for
adjusting the flash (auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash off,
fill-flash, night backdrop [slow sync], and fill-flash w/redeye
reduction) and focus setting (macro, infinity).
the top of the L3v, you'll find the microphone, power button,
speaker, and mode wheel (with shutter release button inside it).
mode wheel is quite simple, as there are just four items:
cover those in more detail later in the review.
I/O ports can be found on this side of the camera. They are kept
under a rubber cover. The ports are USB and DC-in (for that optional
AC adapter). The Finecam is rare camera, in that it does not
have a video out port.
the other side, you'll find the SD/MMC card slot and the battery
compartment. The L3v uses two AA or one CR-V3 battery. The cover
that protects these two slots seems sturdy enough.
here is the bottom of the camera, where you'll find the metal
(I think) tripod mount. The tripod mount is neither inline with
the lens, nor in the center of the camera.
the Kyocera Finecam L3v
Finecam takes about 4 seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start shooting, which is about average.
No histogram in record mode
the shutter release halfway, and the L3v locks focus in about
a second -- which is about average. With its lack of an AF illuminator,
the camera had difficulty focusing in dim and low light.
press the shutter release, and the photo is taken after a very
speed is good, but not great. Expect a two second wait between
photos, with the post-shot review feature turned off.
a look at the various image size and quality choices available
on the Finecam L3v:
images on 16MB card
Finecam L3v does not have a TIFF or RAW file mode.
are named KIF_####.JPG, where #### = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering
is maintained even as you erase and switch memory cards.
Finecam L3v has an overlay-style menu, as well as a "full
menu" hidden behind it. The items in the overlay menu include:
(2 or 10 sec)
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, sunlight, incandescent, cloudy, fluorescent,
details - opens the full menu shown below
we go on, a note about white balance. The L3v has a manual ("preset")
white balance mode, so you can get great white balance even with
the lighting is tricky, by shooting a white or gray card/paper.
are the items in the more traditional menu:
mode (Color, B&W, sepia)
[contrast] (+, standard, -)
(+3 to -1, in 1 step increments)
Preset - sets the manual white balance
mode (Program, F2.8, F7.5) - allows you to set the aperture
or let the camera decide
(Wide AF, Spot AF, MF) - see below
exposure (Off, 2, 4, 8 secs) - this is the extent of the manual
shutter speed controls
(Auto, 80, 160, 320)
mode (Evaluation [matrix], center-weighted, spot area)
zoom (on/off) - increase your focal range by up to 2X at the
expense of image quality
are three focus modes on the L3v. Wide AF uses a wide area of
the frame, while Spot AF uses a small area in the center. The
manual focus mode gives you five preset distances to choose from:
0.6, 1, 3, and 5 meters, plus infinity.
L3v has very limited manual exposure controls. You can choose
from two apertures and three shutter speeds. I would've liked
to see something more flexible.
is also a setup menu on the L3v, which is accessed via the mode
switch. The interesting items here include:
brightness (+2 to -2, in 1 step increments)
date (on/off) - prints the date on your photos
save (Off, 15 sec, 1, 3, 6 mins)
lock (on/off) - saves settings when camera is powered off
select (Yellow, red, purple, blue) - choose the color of the
screen (Kyocera, custom, off) - use the standard Finecam startup
screen or use your own photo.
review (Off, 2, 4 sec) - how long a photo is shown on the LCD
after it is taken
(Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese)
out (NTSC, PAL)
numbering (reset) - reset the file numbers
enough about menus, let's move on to our test photos now.
L3v did a decent job with the macro test shot. The colors are
accurate, and the exposure was good. The image is a little soft,
and I also noticed "jaggies" on many of the edges.
In macro mode, the lens is locked at the wide-angle position.
The focal range is 20 - 60 cm.
shutter speed controls allow you to take night shots like the
one above. I don't care for the choices of 2, 4, and 8 seconds
though -- I want more flexibility. The shot above isn't wonderful
-- it's somewhat noisy and has a real "digital look" to
to my surprise, the Finecam L3v did a great job with the redeye
test. No complaints.
distortion test shows moderate barrel distortion at wide-angle,
and no vignetting (dark corners).
quality on the L3v is good, but not great. Color and exposure
were both good, in most cases. My two biggest complaints are
that images have a soft look to them, and that many edges are
jagged, rather than smooth. Cranking up the in-camera sharpening
would fix the first problem, but it may worsen the second one.
Purple fringing did make an appearance, but it wasn't a major
problem. Overall I'd rate the L3v's photos as average for the
just take my word for it -- have a look at the photo
gallery and decide for yourself!
L3v has the same movie mode as the Finecam S5 (the last Kyocera
camera I reviewed). You can record up to 30 seconds of 320 x
240 video, or 120 seconds at 160 x 120. Sound is recorded as
well, if you want.
you turn on sound recording, the zoom lens cannot be used during
filming. Turn off sound recording, and zoom away.
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
a sample movie for you:
Click to play movie (2.7MB, AVI format)
view it? Download QuickTime.
Finecam has a good playback mode, with the familiar features
all present. Those include slide shows, thumbnail mode, DPOF
print marking, and image protection. You can attach 30 second
voice clips to your images as well.
usual "zoom and scroll" feature is here too. Unfortunately,
it's pretty limited, as you can only zoom in 2X.
other nice features include image rotation and resizing. Images
can be resized to 320 x 240 or 160 x 120. You can trim (crop)
images as well.
pressing the display button, you can get more information about
your photo, as you can see above. There's no histogram, though.
L3v moves through images with incredible speed. It's instantaneous
as you move from one to the next.
Does it Compare?
a crowded field of 3.2 Megapixel cameras, the only thing that
really makes the Kyocera Finecam L3v stand out from the others
is its large 2.5" LCD. Even then, the LCD's resolution isn't
great, and it has a limited viewing angle. The camera takes good
pictures, though jaggies and softness are noticeable in most
of my test shots. The L3v has some manual controls, but they
are limited (see the manual focus and shutter speed discussions
above). The movie and playback modes are also looking a little
outdated. The camera did do a nice job with the redeye test,
though its poor low light focusing required me to use manual
focus to take the shot. I'd take a look at the Finecam L3v for
sure, just closely consider the competition. Don't forget, if
you like the L3v but want more pixels, check out the Finecam
2.5" LCD display (but low resolution)
redeye test performance
I didn't care for:
jaggies, softness in images
resolution and viewing angle not great
- Limited "zoom
and scroll" feature in playback mode
mode looking a little outdated
speed, aperture, focus controls too limited
AF illuminator or video out port
bundle (no rechargeable batteries, outdated software not OS
other 3 Megapixel / 3X zoom cameras to consider include the Canon
PowerShot A70, Casio
Exilim EX-Z3, Fuji
FinePix A210, Kodak
EasyShare CX6330, Minolta DiMAGE E323 and Xt,
Nikon Coolpix 3100 and SQ, Olympus
Stylus 300, Panasonic
Lumix DMC-LC33, Pentax Optio 33L and S,
and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P72 and DSC-P8.
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try
out the Finecam L3v and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the samples
in our photo gallery!
a few more opinions?
another review at Steve's
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to email@example.com. Due
to my limited resources, please do not send me requests for
personal camera recommendations.