Kyocera Finecam S4 review
The main strength of this camera is its compact size. It is only slightly more bulky than my tiny Canon IXUS APS film camera, so I can carry it on my belt at all times. Its small size and light weight may make camera shake an issue, but this is largely a question of technique. The S4 seems very well put together, witha nice solid feel in the hand.
Though it can be used straight out of the box, this camera, as ever, will deliver better results if you take the time to read the manual and change any settings you need to.
I found the flash to be adequate, but I have had disappointing results using fill-in flash in daylight with backlit subjects. The metering doesn't seem to be able to cope with this task. All shots taken with flash seem to have a shutter speed of 1/64th second. Most of the time I get better results using ambient light and coping with the long exposure times.
There is an appreciable (1/4 second?) lag for each exposure, which is occasionally obtrusive for fast moving subjects.
I found the battery life to be quite shockingly short where the camera is left on. In practice, I tend to only turn on the camera when I actually need to take a shot, so, start-up lag aside, I can get a day's active shooting done before a charge is needed.
Though some manual control is possible, I find the need to scroll through the control-screens disruptive. I you want more than a point-and-shoot you should also look at a more pro-sumer orientated camera before buying. The price of this camera seems to be dropping quite fast. I paid £399 in Nov 2002, and I've recently since seen it for £50 less. Shop around.
The S4 is capable of quite impressive results. I have posted some shots here:
I'm not completely convinced by the absolute capabilities of the camera in terms of over-all image quality, but my images are improving as I continue to use the camera. If you are looking for a well-built camera which you can carry everywhere, the S4 may be what you are looking for. It is almost a year old, so either try to get a good deal, or take a look at more recent cameras before you buy.
Update: I've downgraded my build quality rating of this camera as it has just died on me. (It's taking completely black pictures).
I bought the camera on 11/11/2002 and it failed terminally on 22/06/04, so it lasted less than 20 months and around 4,440 shots.
In reality, it lasted less time than this, as the reliability of the autofocus got worse and worse over the last several months.
I'm very disappointed. I was expecting obsolescence, of course, but to die after less than two years is lousy, especially as I bought the (not cheap) camera on the basis of it's build quality. I suppose a less well built camera could possibly have failed sooner, but I'll never know.
This experience hasn't made me any more likely to buy a Kyocera in the future.
Camera died after less than 20 months use.
Short battery life.
Disappointing lack of sharpness in many situations.
No indication of the end of a long exposure.
Unimpressive flash, particularly fill-in.
Exposure lag can be a problem for moving subjects.
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