Review: Kyocera Finecam S3
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Wednesday, July 18, 2001
quite some time, Canon's PowerShot S-series was the only game in
town for ultra-small, zoom-equipped digital cameras. Then Casio
showed up with their QV-3EX (see our review), and a few months later,
Kyocera and Pentax joined the fray with the Finecam S3 and the Optio
subject of our review is the Finecam
S3 ($699), billed as the smallest 3.3 Megapixel camera with
an optical zoom. Unlike the PowerShot S-series, the Finecam is more
than just a point-and-shoot camera -- it has quite a few manual
controls. Is this the ultimate tiny camera? Find out below...
in the Box?
Finecam S3 has an excellent bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.3 Mpixel Kyocera Finecam S3 camera
Li-ion rechargeable battery
Adapter / battery charger
featuring ArcSoft PhotoViewer software and drivers
Finecam's bundle is so complete that it even includes support for
non-US power outlets right in the box. I'm not sure where it works,
but I'm sure someone out there will appreciate it. (For those of
you wondering, it's a two round pronged plug, with the prongs further
apart than the US plugs).
thing that makes the Finecam fairly unique in the digicam world
is its use of Secure Digital and MultiMediaCard media. These little
cards aren't found in very many devices yet, but companies like
Palm and Panasonic are really pushing it. If I remember correctly,
I saw a microwave often with a SD slot a few years ago at the Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas. SD/MMC cards are currently available
in sizes up to 64MB.
keep the size of the camera down (I'm guessing), Kyocera did not
put a USB port on the Finecam. Instead, they've included a Microtech
ZiO card reader with the camera (see above). The card reader includes
a USB cable so you can react the port on your computer. The ZiO
is not yet compatible with Mac OS X, but works fine on Macs and
PCs (Win 98/2000/ME) otherwise.
has also included an AC adapter which can power the camera and also
recharge the battery. And that brings me to the only real disappointment
in this section: the BP-800S battery. The battery is small and as
thick is about 3 sticks of gum. Because of that, it only has a capacity
of 800mAh. Compare this to a larger camera which could hold four
1600 mAh batteries, and you can probably tell that the battery won't
last that long -- and that was my experience. Kyocera estimates
that the battery will last for about 50 minutes, which seems about
Finecam's manual is about average. There's a lot of information,
but it's presented with lots of "Note!" boxes which makes
things confusing at times.
you've read this far, you probably know that the Finecam S3 is small.
Just how small? Well, take a look:
S3 shown with MiniDV cassette and deck of cards
table below shows the dimensions and weight of the Finecam, with
a comparison to the two Canon Digital ELPH models:
x 2.2 x 1.2
x 2.2 x 1.1
x 2.5 x 1.2
you can see, the Finecam is about the same size as the PowerShot
S100/S110, except it's a bit lighter.
those Canon cameras, the Finecam has a very attractive all-metal
body, which makes it feel extra sturdy. One thing I've noticed about
all these metallic cameras is that they tend to scratch very easily.
camera is easy to hold with one hand, or two. Let's take a 360 degree
tour of the Finecam S3 now, starting with the front of the camera.
Finecam's F2.8 lens has a focal range of 7.8 - 15.6 mm, which is
equivalent to 38 - 76 mm. As you might expect for a little camera
like this, the lens is not threaded, so no accessories are available.
the lens you'll see the flash, which has a working range of 0.9
- 2.5 meters. The flash strength is not adjustable.
onto the back of the camera. The 1.5" LCD is bright and fluid,
and easy to see except in bright light. You can adjust the brightness
by pressing the button in the middle of the four-way switch.
optical viewfinder is quite small, and it lacks diopter correction,
though I don't see how they could fit it on the camera.
buttons to the right of the optical viewfinder include:
Switch (Set up, Play, Record)
those buttons is the four-way switch for menu navigation, and the
unlock button for the card slot.
the LCD are the Display (to turn the LCD on/off) and Menu buttons.
a look at the top of the camera. Like with the other micro-cameras,
there's no LCD info display up there, so you'll have to turn on
the LCD on the back of the camera to see remaining shots and settings.
up here you'll find the on/off and the shutter release buttons.
this side of the camera, you'll find the I/O ports under a rubber
cover. That includes video out and the power port. You can plug
the included AC adapter in here to either use the camera, or charge
I mentioned earlier in the review, the Finecam does not have a USB
port -- you'll have to use the card reader.
of the card, that door towards the left of the photo is where you'll
put the SD/MMC card. The slot is spring-loaded and the card is easy
a look at the other side of the camera, where you'll find the battery
compartment. You can see the BP-800S battery as well.
the bottom of the Finecam S3. The only thing you'll find down here
is the tripod mount. I can't tell for sure, but I'm pretty sure
that it's a metal tripod mount.
the Kyocera Finecam S3
Finecam takes a sluggish 7 seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can begin shooting. Depressing the shutter release
halfway results in locked focus in a second or less. There's a slight
amount of shutter lag when you fully depress the button, but nothing
abnormal. Shot-to-shot speed is decent -- about 3 seconds between
shots at Fine quality. The controls for the 2X optical zoom controls
are quick and precise.
are four quality modes on the Finecam, each with a letter (shown
below) that I had trouble remembering. The chart below describes
these resolution/quality choices:
photos on 16MB card
you can tell, the Finecam supports TIFF mode, unlike any of the
PowerShot S-series cameras. Unfortunately, it locks up the camera
for eighty seconds writing the file -- so you probably won't be
using it much. From my experiences with digital cameras, the highest
quality JPEG mode is close enough.
the Menu button first invokes an overlay-style menu, with four choices
at the bottom of the LCD screen. This includes:
(2 or 10 sec)
(see chart above; also for entering movie mode)
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3EV increments)
Mode (Color, B&W, Sepia)
Balance (Preset, Auto, Sunlight, Tungsten, Cloudy, Fluorescent)
Mode (Program, F2.8, F6.2)
Exposure (Off, 2, 4, 8 sec)
AKA ISO (Standard, x2, x4)
(Evaluation, Center, Spot Area)
few comments are in order for some of those. Yes indeed, the Finecam
supports manual white balance (called "preset" here),
and a little control of the aperture and shutter speed. None of
these features are available on the Powershot S-series.
those of you unfamiliar with manual white balance, it lets you shoot
a piece of paper (or whatever you want to be white) to get correct
color in almost any lighting.
the manual exposure controls are limited, it's nice to have the
ability to take night shots on this little camera.
that brings us to the photo samples.
Finecam did a "fine" job (if you excuse the pun) in our
macro test. I was able to use auto white balance and still get accurate
color. I did boost the exposure compensation up a notch to brighten
things up a bit. You can get as close as 6 cm in macro mode on the
Finecam (at full wide-angle).
Finecam did a pretty good job at our night shot test. That blurry
thing you can see towards the bottom left of the photo is the ledge
that I put the camera on to get the shot. There are no unnatural
stars in the sky, due to "hot pixels", a type of noise.
I was happy with the photo quality from the Finecam S3. The photos
were sharp and the colors vivid. Check out the Finecam photo
gallery to see for yourself.
Finecam can record up to 15 seconds of video at a resolution of
320 x 240. The frame rate is 15 frames per second. Unfortunately,
you can only use the digital zoom while filming movies. No sound
is recorded with the movies, as there is no microphone.
is a sample movie I recorded recently -- sorry it's a bit "bouncy".
to play movie (AVI format, M-JPEG codec, 2.2MB)
Finecam S3 is probably has the fastest playback mode of any camera
I've ever used. It screams before photos -- you hit the button to
switch and it's done before you let go.
zoom and scroll feature is here, and it's pretty fast too. But you
can only zoom in 2X so there isn't much "scrolling" to
features in playback mode include slide shows, DPOF print marking,
9 thumbnail mode, image rotation, and image protection.
can find out more information about your photo, including exposure
settings, date, and filename by pressing the "up" button.
Does it Compare?
lots to love about the Kyocera Finecam S3, and very few things to
dislike. The camera is ultra-small and portable, for one. It takes
quality pictures, and gives you more manual controls than any "micro
camera" I've used. The downsides include the poor battery life,
no sound in movie mode, and the limitations of the 2X optical zoom.
How does it compare to the Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH line? Very
well, I'd say -- perhaps its even better. If you're in the market
for a very small camera, I'd look closely at the Finecam S3.
good-looking metal body
control of shutter/aperture
processing speeds (esp. in playback mode)
I didn't care for:
low capacity battery
it had a 3X zoom
sound or zoom in movie mode
"micro cameras" include the Canon PowerShot
Digital ELPH, and S300
Digital ELPH, as well as the Casio
QV-3EX and Pentax
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the Finecam S3 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion? How about a third?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the Kyocera Finecam S3. If that's still
not enough, the Imaging
Resource Page has one too.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to email@example.com.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
personal camera recommendations.