Review: Kyocera Finecam S5
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: March 10, 2003
March 11, 2003
Finecam S5 ($599) joins the growing field of small,
5 Megapixel cameras. This area has exploded in recent months,
with cameras from Canon, HP, Minolta, Olympus, Pentax, and Sony
all being introduced. Kyocera is a relative newcomer in
camera world, but you wouldn't know it -- my past reviews of
their cameras have been positive.
the Finecam S5 another quality camera from Kyocera? How does
it fare against the competition? Find out now...
they are so similar, I will reusing a lot of text from my Finecam
in the Box?
Finecam S5 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
5.0 effective Megapixel Finecam S5 camera
16MB Secure Digital card
Li-ion rechargeable battery
including Pixela ImageMixer software and drivers
page users guide plus quick start guide (both printed)
most ultra-small cameras, the Finecam S5 uses a proprietary
Lithium-ion battery. These batteries are very expensive at $46
a pop. The one used here has 3.6 Watt/hours of power,
which is an improvement over
with the S4. Kyocera estimates that you can take around 180 pictures
per charge, or spend 3 hours in playback mode. That's about average
for cameras like this.
AC adapter and included battery
charge the battery, or just power the camera, you just plug
included AC adapter into the camera. Charging the camera’s
battery takes a lengthy 5 hours.
includes a 16MB Secure Digital card with the camera, which is
tiny for a 5 Megapixel camera. You'll want to buy a larger
card as soon as possible. The Finecam supports SD or MultiMedia
like other tiny cameras, the S5 has a built-in lens cover.
only accessories I could find for the Finecam S5 are a carrying
case and a fast (1 hour) battery charger.
includes an older version of Pixela's decent ImageMixer software.
The version included is NOT Mac OS X native, so you have to run
in classic mode. The camera works fine with Mac OS X (iPhoto
and Image Capture) and Windows XP as
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.
Finecam S5 is a well-designed, small metal camera. Controls are
well-placed, and the camera is (usually) easy to operate. The
build quality is comparable to other models in its class.
terms of size, the S5 fits into any pocket with ease. It can
be operated with one hand, if you desire.
official dimension of the S5 are 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.3 inches (W x
H x D), and it weighs just 165 grams (empty).
begin our 360 degree tour of the Finecam S5 now!
Finecam S5 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 maximum aperture is F2.8 – F4.8. The lens
is not threaded.
above the lens is the flash. The S5 has one of those annoying
flashes that is always in the up position when the camera is on.
It gets in the way of your left hand, in my opinion. Also, you
down a bit while using the flash. I wish that you could put it
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 wide-angle and 0.6 –
2.0 m at telephoto. An external flash is not available.
about it for the front of the camera. Sadly, the S5 lacks any
of autofocus assist lamp.
now is the back of the camera.
Finecam S5 has a nice, small 1.6” LCD display, typical
of these small cameras. Images on the LCD are fluid and
Kyocera says it only has 85,000 pixels but the resolution seems
a lot better than that. LCD brightness is adjustable via the
above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is also small,
that’s pretty normal for these tiny cameras. It shows 80%
of the frame. There is no diopter correction feature,
so those of you
don’t have perfect vision may not see too clearly.
to the right of the LCD is the speaker. Below that is the four-way
switch, used for menu navigation as well as these functions:
(Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash off, fill flash, flash
(Macro/Landscape) - there is a manual focus function as well;
I'll cover it later
that are buttons for Display and Menu. The former will toggle
the LCD and it's info on and off. The Menu button is self-explanatory.
Above the speaker, you'll find the mode switch. It moves the camera
between setup, playback, record, and movie mode.
the right of that is the zoom controller. It moves the zoom quickly
(perhaps too much so) from wide to telephoto in a little
over a second. The lens is a little noisy.
the zoom controller is the release for the door covering the
memory card slot.
a quick glimpse of the top of the camera. The items up here
are the microphone and power and shutter release buttons. You can
also see the (closed) popup flash, which opens when the camera
is turned on, and
retracts when it is shut off.
this side of the camera, you'll find the battery compartment.
Opening the plastic door was more difficult than it should be,
and I was also concerned that you could break it off if you forced
the other side is the SD/MMC memory card slot and the I/O
ports. To remove the SD card, you just push it inward and it pops
I/O ports are for USB, A/V, and DC-in (for included AC adapter).
The included 16MB SD card is also shown.
here is the bottom of the camera, where you'll find the plastic
(I think) tripod mount. The tripod mount is neither inline with
the lens, nor in the center of the camera.
the Kyocera Finecam S5
Finecam takes about 6 seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start shooting, which is on the slow
side. Autofocus speeds have been greatly improved on the Finecam
S5 versus the S4. It will take around one second to lock focus
-- sometimes less, sometimes more. As you might expect, the
camera had some trouble focusing when the lighting was dim.
Shutter lag is noticeable but not terrible. I recommend turning
off the phony shutter sound, as it can make you move the camera
prematurely, thinking that the photo was taken.
speed is good. You'll wait a little over two seconds before
you can take another shot, at the fine image quality setting.
of image quality settings, here's a chart of the various image size
and quality choices available on the Finecam S5:
||Approx. File Size
Images on 16MB card
you can see, that 16MB SD card is way too small. The Finecam
S5 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
Finecam S5 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,
- Set details
- opens the full menu shown below
we go on, a note about white balance. The S5 has a manual ("preset")
balance mode, so you can get great white balance even with the
lighting is tricky.
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, F9.6) - 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
- ISO (Auto,
100, 200, 400)
mode (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot area)
zoom (on/off) - increase your focal range by up to 4X at the
expense of image quality
are three focus modes on the S5. Wide AF uses a wide area of
the frame, while Spot AF uses a small area in the center. If
you want to manually focus, you can do that too. A meter is shown
on the LCD providing a (very) approximate idea of the focal length.
I would've liked it if the camera enlarged the image so you can
ensure that your subject is in focus.
is also a setup menu on the S5, which is accessed via the
mode switch. The interesting items here include:
brightness (+2 to -2, in 1 step increments)
- Insert date (on/off) - prints the date on your photos
- Power save (Off, 1, 3, 6 mins)
- Mode lock (on/off) - saves settings even when camera is powered
- Color select (Yellow, red, purple, blue) - choose the color
of the menus (ohhh)
- Start screen (Kyocera, custom, off) - use the standard Finecam
startup screen or use your own photo.
- Rec review (Off, 2, 4 sec) - how long a photo is shown on the
LCD after it is taken
- Language (Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish)
- Video out (NTSC, PAL)
- File numbering (reset) - reset the file numbers
don't know about you, but I'm tired of menus. Let's talk photos
Finecam did a fine job with the macro test shot. Colors ar what
I'd call "vibrant" and the subject is fairly sharp. The focal
range in macro mode is 12 - 55 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. For this photo, 4 seconds was too long, and 2 seconds
was too little. The photo above came out well, though the color
is off (too yellow). I suspect tweaking the white balance could've
made things less yellow, but I wasn't about to try it in the
freezing cold of Twin Peaks.
is pretty much a given with a compact camera. Even with a popup
flash, the S5 still exhibits this annoying phenomenon. This can
be corrected in software of course, but I'm sure most folks would
prefer not to have to deal with it. There was a fair amount of
noise (you can see it in this crop) in the shot as well.
new (and completely unscientific) distortion test illustrates
the noticeable barrel distortion at wide-angle, but there's no
sign of vignetting (darkened corners). One other thing that I
noticed, which is hard to see here, is some blurriness in the
image quality on the Finecam S5 was a mixed bag. Colors and exposure
were usually fine, but images are much noisier than most other
5 Megapixel cameras I've tested. Almost any image in the gallery will
illustrate this. The noise is high enough that it "muddies
up" the image... so detailed subjects like trees, grass,
and roofs look like one big mass, rather than individual leaves
tiles. This will make more sense when you view the images at
100%. Of course, if you're printing at 4 x 6 or downsizing images,
it's not a huge deal, but for larger prints it certainly is.
area in which the S5 didn't have problems was purple fringing.
It wasn't a problem.
check out the gallery and judge the
noise level and image quality with your own eyes!
has improved the movie mode on the S5 since I last used one of
their cameras. You can record up to 30 seconds of 320 x 240 video,
or 120 seconds at 160 x 120. Sound is recorded as well.
you turn on sound recording, the zoom lens cannot be used during
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
a sample movie for you. It's pretty blurry for some reason --
maybe too much compression.
Click to play movie (1.2MB, AVI
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.
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. THere's no histogram, though.
S5 moves through images with incredible speed. It's instantaneous
as you move from one to the next. The one area where the camera
seemed really slow was erasing all photos -- it took an eternity
on my 256MB SD card.
Does it Compare?
Kyocera Finecam S5 is a decent camera, but definitely not the
best in its class. It offers a good amount of features, including
a few (limited) manual controls. It has a small, easy to carry
metal body. And it has good movie and playback modes. Where the
S5 finds itself lagging behind the competition is in terms of
photo quality. Images are very noisy -- to the point where it
noticeably degrades image quality. For small prints and e-mailing
downsized photos, it's fine, but for larger prints you can do
better with another camera. Check out the models listed below
for some starting points. Other annoyances include the always
popped-up flash, and slow write speeds to the SD card.
small, metal body
- Easy to use
movie, playback mode
number of manual controls for a point-and-shoot camera
I didn't care for:
than average noise in images
speed, aperture controls too limited
flash gets in the way
speed to SD card seems unusually slow
are some other small 5 Megapixel cameras to check out: Canon
PowerShot S50, Fuji
FinePix F410 (I suppose), HP
DiMAGE F300, Olympus
Optio 550, and the Sony DSC-P10 and DSC-P92.
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the Finecam S5 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?
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.