Review: Kyocera Finecam S4
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2002
Sunday, September 1, 2002
S4 ($625 list) is the 4 Megapixel version of the Finecam S3,
which we reviewed
last year. In addition to its 4MP CCD, the Finecam S4 also features
a 3X optical zoom and decent amount of manual features, all in a
small "micro camera" body.
get right into the details!
in the Box?
Finecam S4 includes everything you need to get started right in
the box. Inside, you'll find:
3.95 effective Megapixel Finecam S4 camera
16MB Secure Digital card
Li-ion rechargeable battery
including Pixela ImageMixer software and drivers
page users guide (printed) plus quick start guide
most “micro cameras”, the Finecam S4 uses a proprietary
Lithium-ion battery. The one used here has 3.2 Watt/hours of power.
That’s an average amount of juice for a small camera, but
the S4’s battery life is below average. Kyocera’s estimates
are for just 50 minutes of power per charge, which is equivalent
to 100-150 pictures.
charge the battery, or just power the camera, you just plug the
included AC adapter into the camera. Charging the camera’s
battery takes a whopping 5 hours.
includes a 16MB Secure Digital card with the camera, which is fairly
small for a 4MP camera. You’ll want to buy a larger card as
soon as possible. The Finecam supports SD or MultiMedia (MMC) cards.
Update 9/1/02: Strangely enough, the S4 does not support
SanDisk 128MB (and possibly larger) SD cards. You need to send the
camera into Kyocera to make it compatible.
like other micro cameras, the S4 has a built-in lens cover.
was unable to find any information about accessories for this camera.
did not test the included Pixela ImageMixer software, so I can't
comment on that. The camera works fine with Mac OS X and presumably
Windows XP as well.
Finecam’s manual is about average. Not great, but not terrible
Finecam S4 is a pretty standard looking micro camera, if there is
such a thing. It’s easy to hold with one hand, though the
popup flash gets in the way somewhat. You can slip it into any pocket.
build quality is just okay – it’s not as "solid
feeling" as other all-metal cameras like the Canon Digital
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
you can see, the S4 is one of the smallest 4MP cameras out there!
Finecam S4 features a Kyocera 3X optical zoom lens, with a focal
range of 7.3 – 21.9 mm -- that’s equivalent to 35 –
105 mm. The aperture range is F2.8 – F4.8. The lens is not
above the lens is the flash. The S4 has one of those annoying pop-up
flashes like the Olympus D-520Z. It gets in the way of your left
hand, in my opinion. Also, you don't want to block it or push it
down a bit while using the flash. I wish that you could put it back
down if you don’t want to use it, but no such luck. The working
range of the flash is 0.6 – 2.5 m at wideangle and 0.6 –
2.0 m at telephoto.
about it for the front of the camera. Sadly, the S4 lacks any kind
of autofocus assist lamp.
now is the back of the camera.
Finecam S4 has a nice, small 1.5” LCD display, typical of
these small cameras. Images on the LCD are fluid and fairly bright.
LCD brightness is adjustable by hitting the center button of the
above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is also small, but
that’s pretty normal for these micro cameras. There is no
diopter correction knob for the viewfinder, so those of you who
don’t have perfect vision may not see too clearly.
are four buttons and one switch immediately to the right of the
optical viewfinder. They include:
mode (Auto, Auto w/redeye, fill flash, flash off)
switch (set-up, playback, record)
zoom mechanism moves at only one speed: fast. It takes about one
second to go from wideangle to telephoto.
the right of the LCD is the four-way switch with “OK”
button in the middle. It’s used for menu navigation.
below the four-way switch are the display and menu buttons. The
display button toggles the LCD on and off, and the menu button is
a quick glimpse of the top of the camera. The only items up here
are the power and shutter release buttons. You can see the popup
flash, which opens when the camera is turned on, and automatically
retracts when it is shut off.
this side of the camera, you'll find the battery compartment. The
plastic door was harder to open than it should be.
the other side is the SD/MMC memory card slot as well as the I/O
ports. To remove the SD card, you just push it inward and it pops
take a closer look at the I/O ports, under a rubber cover.
video out, and DC in (for included AC adapter) are the ports you'll
here is the bottom of the camera, where you'll find the plastic
(I think!) tripod mount.
the Kyocera Finecam S4
Finecam takes about 5.5 seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start shooting. The autofocus speeds on
the S4 are very disappointing. Even in broad daylight, it took the
S4 over 2 seconds to lock focus when the shutter release was pressed
halfway. And it's pretty fussy about focusing too -- sometimes it
just won't do it, indoors or out. Add about 1/2 second of shutter
lag into the equation, and the Finecam turns out to be a poor choice
for action shots.
speed is pretty average. You'll wait about five seconds before you
can take another shot, at the normal image quality setting.
of image quality settings, here's a chart of the various image size
and quality choices available on the Finecam S4:
photos on 16MB card
the Finecam S3, there was a TIFF mode, but not here. As you can
see, that 16MB SD card is way too small.
Finecam S4 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)
- switches between the three quality modes and the movie mode
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, sunlight, cloudy, fluorescent, preset)
- Set details
- opens the full menu shown below
we go on, a note about white balance. The S4 has a manual white
balance mode, so you can get great white balance even with the lighting
Now, the full
mode (Color, B&W, sepia)
Mode (set) - sets the manual white balance
mode (Program, F2.8, F9.6) - allows you to set the aperture or
let the camera decide
(AF, MF) - in manual focus mode, you use the four-way switch.
exposure (Off, 2, 4, 8 secs) - this is the extent of the manual
shutter speed controls
sensitivity (Standard, x2, x4) - this is the same as ISO. Standard
is equal to 100, and so on.
mode (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
review (on/off) - whether or not image is shown on LCD after it
zoom (on/off) - effectively doubles your focal range at the expense
of image quality
the manual focus mode, a gauge is shown on the LCD so you can see
the approx. shooting distance. Unfortunately, it's impossible to
tell the difference between the focus distances on the LCD! So this
feature isn't really useful. If you could blow up the center of
the frame, like on some other cameras, it would be better.
is also a standard-issue setup menu on the S4. The most interesting
thing here is the mode lock feature, which stores your settings
in memory, so they don't go back to defaults after the camera is
turned off. You can also change the color of the camera menus.
don't know about you, but I'm tired of menus. Let's talk photos
Finecam did a nice job with our macro test. I had to bump up the
exposure compensation two stops in order to get it bright enough.
The subject is nicely focused -- even the nose is in focus, which
usually does not happen. In macro mode, the S4 has a focal range
of 17 - 60 cm at the wideangle setting.
night test shot came out pretty well. One thing that I don't like
about the S4's limited shutter speed controls is how exact they
are. This shot had a shutter speed of 1 second. I would've liked
to go just a bit slower, but the next step is 2 seconds, and those
images were way overexposed. Still, the image looks pretty nice
and noise is very low.
S4 turned did a pretty good job at redeye reduction as well. There's
definitely a reflection of the flash, but it's not the demonic red
color that most people are familiar with. One big reason why Kyocera
uses that pop-up flash is to get it away from the lens, this reducing
the redeye phenomenon. (Note that this was blown up a bit so you
can see the details.)
the Finecam S4 took average quality photos. It tended to blow out
the highlights in tricky lighting situations (see the tree shots
in the gallery). Noise levels were higher than other 4MP cameras,
though, and the images had somewhat of a soft look to them. Take
a look at the gallery and see for yourself.
Finecam S4 has an unimpressive movie mode. If this was the year
2000, it would be okay, but other manufacturers have come up with
better movie features that make the S4 pale in comparison.
clips are limited to 15 seconds, without sound. They are saved in
AVI format at the usual 320 x 240 resolution. You can at least use
the zoom lens during filming.
sample below is a bit different that normal. Here, I recorded part
of the Fantasmic! show at Disneyland, which is at night.
If you want to see a movie taken during the day, I refer you to
Digicams, who has one for you. Anyhow, this sample really isn't
impressive (doesn't do the show justice!) but here it is:
to play movie (3.5MB, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
should add that movie files were unusually large considering that
no sound is recorded. 3.5MB for a 15 second slient clip is pretty
Finecam has a good playback mode, with the familiar features all
present. Those include slide shows, thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking,
and image protection.
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.
pressing up on the four-way switch, you can get more information
about your photo, as you can see above. No histogram feature, however.
S4 moves through images with incredible speed. It's instantaneous
as you move from one to the next.
Does it Compare?
reading the spec sheet, the Kyocera Finecam S4 sounds like a great,
4 Megapixel micro camera. Unfortunately, in real life the S4 turned
out to be disappointing. Generally it took good pictures, though
the noise levels were higher than average. What bothered me the
most was its very slow autofocus, shutter lag, and poor battery
life. Those first two items really make a big difference when you're
trying to take a picture of the kids, who just can't stand still.
The movie mode was very basic as well. Two bright spots were the
amount of manual controls (for a point-and-shoot camera) and a nice
playback mode. The S4 isn't a bad camera by any means, but I don't
think it's the best choice for your money.
small, metal body
number of manual controls for a point-and-shoot camera
I didn't care for:
and unreliable autofocus
bit of shutter lag
than average noise in images
flash gets in the way
than average battery life
16MB SD card too small
are some other lower cost 4 Megapixel cameras to check out: Canon
PowerShot S40, Casio
DiMAGE F100, Olympus
Optio 430RS, Sony
DSC-P9 and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the Finecam S4 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?
case you're still not convinced, have a look at Steve's
Digicams and Imaging
Resource for more reviews.
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.