Kyocera Finecam S5R review
For me "The moment is the picture" - a lot of camera manufactures ignores that fact and makes a lot of fancy cameras with prime linses, high resolution, but with the motive gone before the camera decides to shoot. In sports action, that exact moment, and the ability to shoot continously for more than just a few seconds, were my prime reason to buy a digital camera. Started off with the Minolta A2, but in spite of all the spectacular reviews of that camera, it went back to the store after 3 days. Autofocus was awfully slow, manually slow required two full turnovers on the focus ring, the burst foto series (7 fps at only VGA resolution, took several minutes to find into the menus). So the moment would be gone in 90% of the time. This specific slow behaviour seems to be the problem with most digital cameras. The only ones actually lives up to the promise of an "instant" camera for an unlimited number of shots, seems to be either Nikon D70 (3fps practically unlimited, and no shutter lag at all!) or the Kyocera RTUNE series of cameras. After having my hands on the A2, which is roughly the same size as D70, I've found those SLR or SLR-like cameras to be too large to handle in everyday situations. So Kyocera was the only choise left in the market for fast and pocket size cameras - and the S5R fullfills the promise of instant digital fotos. Also takes quite good, sharp photos. I'm impressed with the amount of light the optic is capable of handling. In standard settings, it performs much better than one would expect of a compact camera with such a relatively small CCD-chip (1/1.8") compared to D70 or a normal analog camera. Battery life seems adequate in spite of most reviews. With 200 - 250 pictures on a 512 MB card, and the camera capable of taking roughly 200, that should be enough for a days footage (even though some series easily takes 20 or more pictures). If I skip previewing the fotos, I should imagine that I could fill the card in just one battery (never uses the TFT for framing though). Optical viewfinder is the most acurate I've found in any digital camera. (surpasses all Olympus and Canon I've encountered - which only shows a fraction of the actual picture taken). Also very easy to use. All buttons that you need in the action is present, so its fast to use as well.
Some minor drawbacks though. Taking movies - forget it. No matter the resolution, the Video is awfully noisy, and way below average - useless!. As stated by another reviewer, we could use a firmware update, as it seems to be problems with some high speed SD-cards. Kyocera did provide that however, but it seems to be well hidden, and doesn't show up in any of their normal sites. Kyocera in neither Europe or USA seems to be aware of the presence of such a firmware (and telling them doesn't help!).
Can be found at: http://www.yashica.cz/foto/kyocera_firmware.asp or at their japanese site (version 1.07 - see present firmware by holding "menu" while turning on the camera in "setup" mode. When the firmware is uploaded, a choise to upgrade is awailable in setup mode.
I'm missing the ability to set the LCD off as default when taking pictures. Has to push "display" twice every time I turn on the camera. It does however remember my setting when shifting modes. If that was fixed, the camera is perfect for my needs!
No other problems encountered. Has taken roughly 1000 pictures so far (in a week) - most of them very good - but still, don't forget the basics of photography when taking pictures. Its a very good camera, but it doesn't provide miracles. Shaky pictures will always occour if you try extreme situations without a tripod (The tripod hole should have been centered. Its far right in the camera - Shame on you Kyocera ;-)).
Don't use the cameras sharpness enhancement - it actually makes the pictures bad - just go for the standard settings, which is excellent. Using the scene selector for special shoots are adequate enough. I'm missing a "daytime portrait" program though
Conclusion: Highly recommended - and even more if Kyocera would make another firmware upgrade to adress the default use of LCD for framing pictures