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DCRP Review: Kyocera Finecam M410R
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: September 29, 2004
Last Updated: February 25, 2008
Kyocera is another one of those companies that you don't think of when you start naming digital camera manufacturers. But the huge Japanese conglomerate is trying to change that through marketing and new developments like the RTUNE engine used on their latest cameras. One of those cameras is the Finecam M410R ($399), Kyocera's entry into the red-hot ultra zoom category. While it may look like just another ultra zoom camera, the M410R's claim to fame is it's ability to shoot continuously at 3.3 frames/second until the memory card is full. Wow!
How does the M410R compare against the competition? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The Finecam M410R has a below average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
There is no memory card included with the Finecam M410R. Usually when that happens it's because the camera has some memory built-in, but that's not the case here. So you're going to have to buy a Secure Digital (SD) card right away, and I'd say 128MB is a good starting point. If you plan on taking full advantage of the RTUNE engine, you'll need a "high speed" SD card, which generally cost a bit more than regular cards. While the M410R can use MultiMedia (MMC) cards, they aren't the best choice.
You'll also want to buy some rechargeable batteries and a fast charger, since Kyocera includes four alkaline batteries with the camera, which will quickly find their way into your trash can (or should I say, recycling bin). I recommend buying two sets of NiMH batteries (2100 mAh or greater), which are better for both the environment and your pocketbook. Using the new CIPA battery life standard, Kyocera says you can get just 100 shots using alkaline batteries, which is pretty bad (compared to a whopping 500 shots on the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z10 and a more modest 240 shots with the Nikon Coolpix 4800). No word on how any shots you'll get using rechargeables on the M410R but it will probably be at least twice as many.
I do appreciate that the camera uses AA batteries instead of the expensive lithium-ion batteries used be so many other cameras these days.
You'll find a big lens cap and retaining strap in the box which you can use to protect that 10X zoom lens.
And speaking of lenses, Kyocera also includes a lens adapter ring in the box with the M410R. This lets you use 52 mm filters and, in theory at least, conversion lenses. I can't seem to find any info on any conversion lenses sold by Kyocera, though third-party models may work.
I had a really hard time locating any accessories for the M410R (including conversion lenses). About the only thing I can find is an AC adapter, and I don't even know what model it is (you'd think Kyocera would tell you this in the manual or online, but they don't).
Kyocera includes Adobe Photoshop Albums 2.0 (Starter Edition) with the camera. This is an excellent product, similar to Apple's iPhoto, which you can use to organize and share your photos. The catch is that it's for Windows PCs only. , although Mac users can still use iPhoto.
The M410R manual situation is a real mess. In the box you'll find a "quick start" manual, a "simple instruction" manual, and a "supplementary version", all of which are printed. The quick start and simple instruction manuals refer to a Finecam M400R, which never shipped here in the States, while the supplementary version is two pages describing the differences between that model and the M410R that's in the box. The full manual, also referring to the old M400R, is on CD-ROM. Once you find the right manual, you'll find the content to be decent but not spectacular.
Look and Feel
The Finecam M410R is an attractive, well-built camera. It has a metal frame mixed in with plastic for good measure. There's a nice large grip for your right hand, and the lens adapter ring (assuming you're using it) gives your left something to hold on to. The important controls are well-placed and "feel right" when you use them.
Let's take a look at the dimensions of the M410R and how they compare with the other ultra zoom models:
As you can see, the M410R is right in the middle of the pack in terms of size and weight. It's not a compact camera, so don't expect to be putting it in your pocket.
Enough numbers -- let's start our tour of this camera now!
The M410R has an F2.8-3.1, 10X optical zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is 5.7 - 57 mm, which is equivalent to 37 - 370 mm. By using the included adapter ring you can attach 52 mm filters (and possibly conversion lenses) to the camera. If I'm not mistaken, this is the same lens that is found on the Fuji FinePix S5000/S5100.
Directly above the lens is the pop-up flash, which has a good working range of 0.6 - 4.4 m at wide-angle and 0.9 - 4.0 m at telephoto. Kyocera lists the recharge time at 6 seconds. You cannot attach a conversion lens to the M410R.
Other items on the front of the camera include the microphone, flash sensor (I assume), and self-timer lamp. There is no AF-assist lamp on the M410R.
The M410R has a relatively small 1.5" LCD display. Kyocera didn't skimp on the screen resolution, as the LCD has 118,000 pixels. This LCD is what Kyocera calls "DayFine", meaning that it's still viewable outdoors. In low light the screen brightens automatically, so you can still see your subject. The refresh rate is very nice as well, making movement very fluid.
To the upper-left of the LCD is the electronic viewfinder, which is like small LCD that you use as if it was a regular optical viewfinder. The EVF is one of the standout features on the M410R, with 300,000 pixels and a great refresh rate. The nice thing about an EVF is that it shows the same thing as the main LCD (and 100% of the frame), with the downsides being increased battery consumption and the fact that it still doesn't compare to a real optical viewfinder. As with the LCD, the electronic viewfinder "gains up" automatically in low light conditions.
Just to the right of the EVF is the release for the pop-up flash. Below that are buttons for toggling the EVF and LCD (you can't use both at the same time) and for adjusting the exposure compensation (the usual -2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments).
The next item over is the zoom controller, which moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 2.8 seconds. I counted 10 steps throughout the zoom range.
To the right of the LCD are two buttons plus the four-way controller. The buttons are for menu and display (which toggles what's shown on the LCD and EVF), while the four-way controller is used for menus, adjusting manual settings, as well as for:
Pressing the center button on the four-way controller is a quick way into playback mode.
Up on top of the M410R you'll find the power and shutter release buttons, as well as the mode dial. The items on the mode dial include:
The hallmark feature on the M410R is undoubtedly its ability to shoot continuously at 3.3 frames/second until the memory card is full. If you want the camera to focus before each shot, the frame rate drops, but is still an amazing 2 frames/second. While shooting the LCD stays with you (without blacking out), allowing you to track a moving subject.
The catch is that you must be using a "high speed" SD card in order to get those speeds and unlimited recording. If the camera is shooting slower than the advertised frame rate, or if it stops shooting suddenly, odds are that your SD card is too slow.
The camera does offer some manual shooting modes (aperture and shutter priority to be exact), but they're buried in the menu. More on that later.
On this side of the camera you'll find the speaker as well as three I/O ports, which are kept behind a plastic door. The I/O ports include:
The M410R supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard for fast photo transfer to your Mac or PC.
On the other side of the camera is the memory card slot, which is protected a plastic door of average quality. The M410R can use both SD and MMC memory cards, though you'll want to use the former due to its superior performance and capacity.
We finish our tour with a look at the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find a plastic (I think) tripod mount as well as the battery compartment. The battery compartment, which holds four AAs, is protected by a fairly sturdy plastic door (with a lock).
Using the Kyocera Finecam M410R
The M410R starts up quickly, taking about 1.9 seconds to extend the lens and "warm up" before you can start taking pictures.
There's a live histogram!
Focus speeds were good in normal lighting, with a 0.5 second wait in most cases. At the telephoto end, or if the subject is hard to focus on, it can take more like a second. Low light focusing wasn't terribly good, but it wasn't horrible either. The camera could certainly use an AF-assist lamp, though.
Shutter lag was low, even at slower shutter speeds where it often occurs.
Shot-to-shot speed is excellent, with a delay of a little over a second before you can take another shot, assuming the post-shot review feature is turned off.
There is no easy way to delete a photo immediately after it is taken.
Now, here's a look at the resolution and quality choices on the M410R:
Remember, the M410R doesn't include a memory card, so you'll want to get one when you buy the camera!
The camera doesn't support the RAW or TIFF image formats.
The camera saves images with a name of KIF_####.JPG, where #### = 0001-9999. The camera will maintain the file numbering, even as you erase and switch memory cards.
There are two menus on the M410R: an easy-to-access overlay-style menu and a more traditional menu system beneath it. Most of the menu items are locked up, unless you're shooting in Ext. mode.
First, here's what's in the overlay-style menu:
Okay, now let's look at the manual settings menu:
I have to knock Kyocera here for their limited shutter priority mode and outright lack of a full manual mode. They give you access to shutter speeds of 2, 4, and 8 seconds with the Long Exposure feature, but they don't let you go any slower than 1 second while in shutter priority mode. What if you want to use a 3 second exposure instead of the 2 or 4 sec options offered by the Long Exposure item? You're out of luck.
There's also a setup menu, which is accessible via the mode dial. The items here include:
Well I've had it with menus so let's move on to more interesting things now -- photo quality!
The M410R did a decent job with our macro test subject, though some of the colors seem a bit off. Mickey looks a bit pale here, and his hat isn't that purple in reality. The image is quite smooth, though not terribly detailed.
The focus range in macro mode isn't spectacular: it's 10 cm at wide-angle and 90 cm at telephoto.
Believe it or not, there's no long exposure noise reduction system on the M410R. View the full size image and you'll notice hot pixels everywhere. That's too bad, since the camera took in plenty of light and the image is well-exposed. Taking a long exposure is frustrating due to the limited shutter speed choices (1, 2, 4, or 8 seconds), but it can be done. There's no purple fringing to speak of here.
Using that same shot, let's have a look at the effect of the ISO sensitivity on noise levels.
View Full Size Image
View Full Size Image
View Full Size Image
All things considered, the amount of noise at ISO 800 isn't too horrible.
There was moderate redeye in our flash test, which surprised me a bit considering that the flash and lens aren't that close together. Expect to spend some time removing this in software.
The distortion test shows moderate barrel distortion at wide-angle, and slight hints of vignetting (dark corners). This vignetting did crop up in my real world photos as well, typically in the top-left corner.
Overall I wasn't terribly thrilled with the M410R's photo quality and for two reasons. For one, colors often (but not always) seemed dull and drab, especially brownish colors which looked pale. Pretty much every photo in the gallery shows you what I'm talking about. I tried turning up the chroma but that barely helped. Secondly, photos have a soft, fuzzy look to them reminiscent of video captures (see this photo for an example). Details that should be sharp such as roof tiles, grass, and leaves are just a muddy mess. One thing that Kyocera does have a handle on is purple fringing -- there really isn't any to speak of.
Don't just take my word for all this, though. Have a look the the photo gallery and see if the M410R's photo quality meets your expectations!
The Finecam M410R has an excellent movie mode. You can record movies at 640 x 480 (30 frames/second) with sound until the memory card is full. That doesn't take too long on a 256MB SD card -- under two minutes. You can cut the frame rate in half to 15 fps to double recording time. You can also record at 320 x 240 at either 15 or 30 frames/second. Do note that a high speed memory card is needed for the high quality movie mode.
As is usually the case, you cannot use the zoom lens during filming.
Movies are saved in AVI format using the M-JPEG codec.
Here's a sample movie for you, recorded at the highest quality setting. Be warned that it's a very large download!
Click to play movie (22.1 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't play it? Download QuickTime.
The M410R has a pretty standard playback mode. Basic playback options include slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, voice captions, and zoom and scroll. The camera is also PictBridge-enabled for direct printing to a compatible photo printer.
The zoom and scroll feature (my term) allows you to zoom in as much as 8X (in 2X increments) into your photo, and then scroll around. This feature is very well implemented on the M410R.
Other options include the ability to resize and rotate your photos. I also like the ability to delete a group of photos, instead of just one or all of them.
By default the camera tells you absolutely nothing about your photos, but by pressing the Display button you can get the two screens you see above.
Moving between photos is instantaneous. This is one fast camera.
How Does it Compare?
The Kyocera Finecam M410R is an ultra zoom camera whose biggest claim to fame is its stunning continuous shooting performance, and it lives up to the hype. If the image quality was better then I'd be more enthusiastic about this camera, but unfortunately it was not. Photos were fuzzy and soft and colors were dull in many of my real world test photos. In addition, there was mild vignetting in nearly every picture I took. In addition, there was no noise reduction for long exposures, and redeye was above average. One thing that wasn't a problem was purple fringing.
Performance-wise, though, the camera is great in almost all respects. It starts up quickly, focuses quickly, and has no shutter lag. Low light focusing wasn't great, though. The area in which the camera really shines is in burst mode, where it can take photos at 3.3 frames/second until the memory card is full (assuming you're using a high speed SD card). Another nice feature on the camera is its movie mode, which can record at 640 x 480 / 30 frames per second. The M410R has quite a few manual controls, although the shutter speed options are limited. A few other nice features about the camera are the LCD and EVF (good refresh rate, high resolution, usable in low light).
A few other issues I have with the camera are in the bundle department. You get throwaway batteries, no memory card, no Mac software, and a pile of manuals covering an older model with the main manual on CD-ROM.
If you really need the continuous shooting abilities of the Finecam M410R then I'd take a look at it. If that's not important, you'll find better ultra zoom cameras elsewhere.
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
Some other ultra zooms worth looking at include the Canon PowerShot S1 (image stabilization), Fuji FinePix S5100, HP Photosmart 945, Kodak EasyShare DX7590, Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3 (image stab.) and Z10, Nikon Coolpix 4800, Olympus C-765 and C-770 Ultra Zoom, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 and DMC-FZ15 (both of which have image stab.)
As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the Finecam M410R and its competitors before you buy!
Want to see how the photo quality turned on? Check out our photo gallery!
Want a second opinion?
Read a different opinion over at Steve's Digicams.
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.
To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.
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