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Konica Digital Revio KD-400Z Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date
01/29/03
User Level
Novice
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design
Compact Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
Great, 4.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
4x6, 5x7, 8x10
Availability
Now
Suggested Retail Price
$399

Introduction

Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Test Images
Specifications
Conclusion
While very big in the world of film and film processing, Konica has not so far played a very large role in the digicam arena. With the KD-400Z though, they've come out with a very nicely-packaged digicam, with interesting features. I'm actually reviewing this model rather late in its life, as the press of too-much-to-do prevented me from getting to it for a number of months. I wanted to go ahead and complete the review though, because of the KD-400's status as the first non-Sony camera to accept Memory Stick media. Read on below for all the details...

Camera Overview

As the first digicam not made by Sony to accept the Sony Memory Stick, Konica's Digital Revio KD-400Z marks a revolution in digicam thinking. The dual-slot digicam also accepts the tiny SD memory cards, making the camera more compatible with PDAs and other high-tech personal devices. In the age of Palm Pilots and multi-function, whiz-bang cell phones, the KD-400Z's flexibility is a valuable asset. Adding to the KD-400Z's attractions are its tiny size and stainless steel alloy body. Compact and rugged, the KD-400Z should stand up to heavy usage. The sliding lens cover design eliminates the need for a lens cap, enhancing the camera's charms for travelers. Small enough for a shirt pocket, the KD-400Z has a wrist strap for easy toting. The 3x zoom lens and 4.0-megapixel CCD capture high resolution, print quality images, with great color and detail. With high-tech simplicity and ease-of-use forefront in the KD-400Z's design, the camera's point-and-shoot operation is quick to learn and convenient.

Equipped with a telescoping, 3x, 8-24mm Hexanon lens (39-117mm 35mm equivalent), the KD-400Z's tiny size doesn't compromise its optics. Focus remains under automatic control, and ranges from 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) to infinity in normal mode, and from 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) to infinity in Macro mode. Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8.2, with actual values depending on the lens' zoom setting. A blue AF illuminator lamp on the front of the camera shines a dim light on the subject in low-light situations. In addition to the camera's 3x optical zoom, as much as 2x digital zoom is also available, effectively increasing the KD-400Z's zoom capability to 6x. (I always remind readers that digital zoom typically decreases overall image quality because it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image. Resulting images often have softer details and higher noise levels.) Both a real-image optical viewfinder and 1.5-inch color LCD monitor are available for composing images. The LCD monitor features an information display that reports limited camera settings information (though not the shutter speed or aperture settings).

Exposure remains under automatic control on the KD-400Z, though a few manual controls such as White Balance and Exposure Compensation are available. Fewer physical controls keep the user interface simple, but also mean heavier reliance on the LCD menu system. That said, the KD-400Z's LCD menu is straightforward and uncomplicated, with a scrolling page layout. The sliding lens cover serves as the power switch, triggering the lens to extend forward when opened. Macro, Self-Timer, and Distant View (landscape) photography modes are accessed via the left arrow of the Four-Way Arrow pad. By default, the KD-400Z employs a TTL center-weighted metering system, but a Spot metering option is available through the Record menu. An Exposure Compensation adjustment lightens or darkens the overall image from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. (Note that the adjustment bar doesn't have any numeric indicators, just a series of bars to indicate EV steps.) Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 1/8 second in normal shooting mode, but a Slow Shutter mode extends the range to one full second. The camera's White Balance adjustment offers Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, and Tungsten options, for shooting under different light sources. You can also opt to record images in Sepia tones. The KD-400Z's built-in flash operates in Auto, Forced, Red-Eye Reduction, Suppressed, and Slow-Sync modes.

The KD-400Z also features a Movie mode, activated through the Record menu. The camera captures moving images with sound for as long as 15 seconds, at the 320 x 240-pixel resolution setting. (The amount of available memory card space also determines the length of movie files.) You can also record short sound clips to accompany images, for a maximum of 15 seconds (or as long as the memory card has available space. Audio clips can be recorded with an image or anytime afterwards. The camera's Self-Timer mode offers a short delay (anywhere from 10 to three seconds) between the time the Shutter button is pressed and the shutter actually opens, giving you time to zip around in front of the camera for a self-portrait.

As mentioned above, the KD-400Z stores images on Sony Memory Sticks or SD/MMC memory cards, both available separately in a variety of storage capacities. A 16MB SD card ships with the camera, but I recommend picking up a higher-capacity card, given the maximum 2,304 x 1,704-pixel resolution. Two megabytes of internal flash memory provides a small buffer for temporarily saving images or for use when copying files between memory cards. The camera utilizes a rechargeable DR-LB4 lithium battery pack for power, which comes with the camera, along with a battery charger. (An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory.) The KD-400Z features a USB jack and cable for downloading images to a computer. Two CD-ROMs also come with the camera, loaded with Adobe Photoshop Elements, the full user guide, and the necessary USB drivers.

Basic Features

  • 4.0-megapixel CCD delivering maximum 2,304 x 1,704-pixel resolution images.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD monitor.
  • Glass, 3x 8-24mm Hexanon lens (equivalent to a 39-117mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • 2x digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control.
  • Aperture range from f/2.8-f/8.2.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to one second.
  • Built-in flash with five modes.
  • SD/MMC and Sony Memory Stick card storage, 16MB SD card included.
  • 2MB internal memory.
  • Power supplied by lithium-ion battery pack or optional AC adapter (battery and charger included).
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements imaging application included, for Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Special Features

  • Movie with sound recording mode.
  • 10 or three-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Sepia color mode.
  • White balance (color) adjustment with five modes.
  • Voice caption recording.
  • Spot metering option.
  • Distant View record mode for landscape shots.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).

Recommendation

With its dual-format memory card slot, tiny size, and simple point-and-shoot operation, Konica's Digital Revio KD-400Z digital camera will have strong appeal for techno-savvy consumers. Accepting both SD/MMC cards and Sony Memory Sticks, the KD-400Z is geared to consumers who want to make the most of their techno-gadgets by allowing their digicam to share memory media with a variety of other toys (er, "valuable personal productivity enhancers"). The camera's stainless steel alloy body is perfect for travel, as is the small size and pocket-friendly design. The 4.0-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom are enough to satisfy advanced pros looking for a general-purpose camera with high resolution. The KD-400Z should appeal to a wide audience, given its flexible nature and compact size.

Design

Trim, compact, and lightweight, the KD-400Z practically begs to tag along anywhere. Its stainless steel alloy body can withstand some wear and tear, and the very small size is perfect for pockets. The sliding lens cover keeps the front panel smooth whenever the camera is shut off, making it easy to stash it in a pocket at a moment's notice. Measuring 3.75 x 2.25 x 1.19 inches (94 x 56 x 29.5 millimeters), the KD-400Z's portability is no question. Despite its metal body, the camera remains lightweight at just 6.5 ounces (198 grams) without the battery or memory card. A wrist strap secures the camera while in-hand, but I recommend picking up a small camera case to protect it when traveling.

The KD-400Z's front panel is fairly smooth with the lens cover closed, with the exception of some very small protrusions. Sliding open the lens cover triggers the 3x zoom lens to telescope outward into its shooting position. (I'm accustomed to sliding lens covers opening from left to right, but the KD-400Z's operates in the opposite direction, which took some getting used to.) In addition to the lens, the flash, optical viewfinder window, AF assist lamp, and a small light sensor are also beneath the sliding cover. The thin, horizontal AF assist lamp shines a cool blue when lit, adding to the KD-400Z's stylish features. Though the camera doesn't have much of a hand grip, a sculpted, curving ridge on the front panel serves as a finger grip, reinforced by a slight thumb-rest bar on the back panel.

On the right side of the camera is an eyelet for attaching the wrist strap, as well as the USB jack.

The opposite side of the camera is smooth and flat. At the very bottom of the panel is a small, removable section of the battery compartment, which provides an opening for the AC adapter cord, which attaches to a "dummy" battery.

A smooth, flat Shutter button and the camera's microphone are the only features on the top panel, which is also very flat.

The remaining camera controls are on the back panel, along with the LCD monitor and optical viewfinder. The tiny optical viewfinder eyepiece doesn't have a diopter adjustment, but does have a moderate eyepoint. I could see the full view only a short distance from the eyepiece, so eyeglass wearers may be more comfortable framing images with the LCD monitor. Two LED lamps on the right side of the eyepiece light or blink to indicate camera status, such as when focus is set or the flash is charging. The Playback, Display, Erase, and Zoom buttons flank the eyepiece. Just below the Zoom buttons (which are in the top right corner) is the camera's speaker. The 1.5-inch color LCD monitor dominates the left side of the back panel, and directly to the right of it are the Menu/Set button and Four-Way Arrow pad rocker button.

The KD-400Z's bottom panel is also smooth and flat. A plastic threaded tripod mount sits to the far right (when looking from the back), which may encourage the camera to sit slightly tilted on a tripod head. (This is easily remedied by tilting the tripod head itself, but I thought it worth mentioning.) Also on the bottom panel is the battery and memory card slot, covered by a sliding, hinged door. The slot houses both Sony Memory Sticks and SD/MMC memory cards, as well as a lithium-ion battery pack.

 

Camera Operation

The KD-400Z's limited external controls make it less intimidating than more complicated control layouts, but also mean you need to access the LCD menu system to change most camera settings. Still, the external controls offer basic image erase, flash mode, and capture mode functions. The LCD menu system is fairly straightforward, with about two to three pages of options per menu. The arrow keys scroll through menu items, and you can easily exit the menus by pressing the left arrow until the main LCD display returns. Because of the camera's point-and-shoot nature, you'll likely spend more time shooting than sifting through menu items. Given the intuitive user interface, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes to get the gist of things. A hardcopy Quick Guide is all you'll need to get up and running, though a full copy of the instruction manual accompanies the camera on CD-ROM.

External Controls


Sliding Lens Cover
: Sliding from right to left across the front of the camera, the lens cover acts as the power switch and prompts the lens to telescope forward when snapped fully open. Closing the cover signals the lens to retract, and shuts off the camera.


Shutter Button
: Located on the far right side of the top panel, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed.


Wide and Tele Zoom Buttons
: Positioned in the top right corner of the camera's back panel, these buttons control the optical and digital zoom in Record mode.

In Playback mode, these buttons control the digital enlargement of captured images, as much as 12x.


Erase Button
: Directly to the left of the viewfinder eyepiece on the back panel, this button erases a single image in Playback mode. If pressed in Record mode, the most recently captured image is displayed with an option to erase it.


Display Button
: To the left of the Erase button, this button controls the LCD display mode in Record and Playback modes, cycling through information displays and turning off the LCD itself.


Playback Button
: The far left control on the camera's back panel, this button activates Playback mode while the camera is in Record mode. If the camera is powered off, pressing and holding this button activates the camera in Playback mode. A second press shuts the camera off.


Menu / Set Button
: Adjacent to the bottom right corner of the LCD monitor, this button activates the LCD menu in any mode. It also confirms menu selections.


Four Way Arrow Pad
: Just to the right of the Menu / Set button, this rocker-style arrow pad has four arrows, one in each direction. In any settings menu, these arrows navigate through menu selections.

In Record mode, the left arrow cycles through the available capture modes: Macro, Distant View, Self-Timer, Self-Timer with Macro, and Self-Timer with Distant View. The right arrow key controls the flash mode, cycling through Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Slow-Sync, and Suppressed modes.

In Playback mode, the left and right keys scroll through captured images on the memory card. When an image has been enlarged, the four arrow keys navigate around the image in the enlarged view. In normal display mode, the up arrow displays exposure information, including shutter speed, lens aperture, flash mode, and file size.

Camera Modes and Menus

Record Mode: Activated whenever the camera is powered on by sliding open the lens cover, this mode records moving or still images. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Reset: Resets all menu settings to their defaults.
  • Quality: Sets the image resolution and compression level. Resolution choices are 2,304 x 1,704; 1,600 x 1,200; or 640 x 480 pixels, and JPEG compression settings include Fine and Normal.
  • Movie: Turns Movie mode on or off.
  • Exposure Compensation: Lightens or darkens the exposure from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third (but unlabeled) step increments.
  • White Balance: Places color balance under Auto control, or sets it for Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, or Incandescent (labeled Tungsten) light sources.
  • Monitor: Adjusts the brightness of the LCD display.
  • Digital Zoom: Turns the 2x digital zoom option on or off.
  • Auto Exposure (AE) Mode: Places the exposure metering in Center-Weighted (default) or Spot modes.
  • Slow Shutter: Enables Slow Shutter mode, which extends the shutter speed range to one second.
  • Voice: Enables voice recording for sound clips to accompany images (sound clips recorded immediately following image recording).
  • Add Record: Adds a voice tag to previously recorded images. You can also erase previous recordings.
  • Sepia: Records images in sepia-tinted monotones.
  • Setup: Accesses the Setup menu (described further on).
  • Return: Dismisses the LCD menu and returns to the normal display.

Playback Mode: This mode lets you review captured images on the memory card, erase them, protect them, set them up for printing, etc. The Playback button on the back panel enables the mode, whether the camera is powered on or off. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Index: Displays as many as nine thumbnail-sized images on the LCD monitor.
  • Copy: Copies an image file from one memory card to another.
  • Delete: Erases a single image, selected images, or all images from either memory card.
  • Monitor: Adjusts the brightness of the LCD display.
  • DPOF: Accesses the camera's DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) settings, which setup images for printing. You can specify individual images or all images, as well as the number of copies to print.
  • Resize: Reduces the current image size with VGA or QVGA options.
  • Protect: Write-protects the currently-displayed image, or removes protection. You can also mark selected images or all images for protection.
  • Move: Moves image files from one memory card to another.
  • Slide Show: Plays back all images on the selected memory card automatically, with short intervals in between.
  • Add Record: Records a voice tag for previously captured images, or removes voice tags.
  • Setup: Accesses the Setup menu.
  • Return: Dismisses the LCD menu and returns to the normal display.

Setup Menu: Accessed via either the Record or Playback menus, the Setup menu has the following options:

  • Format: Formats the specified memory card, erasing all files, even protected ones. There is also an option to format the camera's internal memory.
  • Record Menu Settings: Changes the contents of the Record menu.
  • Quick View Settings: Enables or disables a short post-capture display.
  • Info Display: Turns the LCD information display on or off.
  • Sound: Turns the camera's beep, sound effects and shutter feedback on or off.
  • Date Set: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
  • Self-Timer: Specifies the Self-Timer's countdown time as 10 or three seconds.
  • Auto Power-Off: Turns on or off the camera's auto shut-down feature, and sets the shutoff time period to 10 or three minutes.
  • Number Reset: Determines whether the camera resets file numbering with each new memory card, or continues number in sequence, regardless of card.
  • Memory Priority: Specifies which memory card to access first, SD or Memory Stick, if both are inserted into the camera.
  • Language: Changes the camera's menu language.
  • Add Record Set: If set to On, this function lets you record a voice tag with each image. If Off, you enable the recording feature through the menu system.
  • Reset: Resets menu settings to their defaults.

Test Images
The thumbnails below show a subset of my test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo. See the full set of my test images and detailed analysis here.

Outdoor
Indoor
Indoor Flash
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy

 

Specifications

See camera specifications here.

Picky Details

Cycle times, shutter lag, battery life, etc. can be found here.

Test Results
The KD-400Z turned in a good performance for a compact digicam. White balance accuracy resulted in lower marks for color, but its resolution was quite a bit higher than average for subcompact digicams. See the KD-400Z's sample pictures page for the full results of my testing, but meanwhile, here's a summary of my findings:

  • Color: Color with the KD-400 seemed to be a bit of a mixed bag. It was generally pretty good, with accurate hue and appropriate saturation, but the camera turned in some rather warm-toned images in the Outdoor Portrait test shots. Its white balance system also had a little trouble with the very warm color cast of the household incandescent lighting in my Indoor Portrait test. Under other circumstances though, the KD-400's color was generally pleasing.
  • Exposure: The KD-400's exposure was generally pretty accurate, requiring only the usual amount of exposure compensation on the Outdoor Portrait test, but a bit more than average on the Indoor Portrait shot. Other than these two shots, the default exposure was generally pretty accurate. The camera's default contrast was rather high though, causing it to lose detail pretty quickly in strong highlights under contrasty lighting conditions. Flash exposure was accurate, with an effective range of about 11 feet.
  • Resolution/Sharpness: Resolution on the KD-400 was pretty good, particularly for a subcompact camera design. I found "strong detail" out to 1,100 - 1,200 lines per picture height, a typical range for a four megapixel camera, and better than most compact cameras can manage.
  • Closeups: The KD-400Z captured a slightly larger than average macro area, at 3.9 x 2.9 inches (99 x 73 millimeters). Details are well-defined and fairly sharp throughout the frame, with a lot of fine detail visible in the coins and brooch. Exposure is about right, but the Auto white balance produces a magenta cast. The KD-400Z's flash throttled down well for the macro area, falling off slightly in the lower corners of the frame. The KD-400Z wouldn't be your first choice if you need to snap photos of really small objects, but has the advantage that its flash works reasonably well up close, better than that of most digicams I test.
  • Night Shots: The KD-400Z operates under automatic exposure control, and has a maximum shutter time of only one second. As a result, its low-light shooting abilities are fairly limited. The KD-400Z captured usable images at light levels only as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), though even at this level, its shots were fairly dark. Typical city street lighting corresponds to about one foot-candle, so you'll probably find yourself relying on its flash for most nighttime shooting. The camera also has trouble focusing at light levels this low, and does not offer a manual adjustment. On the positive side though, noise is low, with a fine grain pattern.
  • Viewfinder Accuracy: The KD-400Z's optical viewfinder was very tight, showing approximately 80 percent of the frame at wide angle and approximately 83 percent at telephoto. The camera's LCD monitor proved more accurate, showing approximately 96 percent of the frame at wide angle and approximately 97 percent at telephoto. Since I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the KD-400Z does very well in this regard. I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder though...

  • Optical Distortion: Optical distortion on the KD-400Z is higher than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured a 0.97 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, with a only an 0.22 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing three or four pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) The strongest optical distortion I noticed was some corner softness on the left side of the frame in the resolution target shot, but subjects shot at infinity (my "far field" outdoor house test) were quite sharp across the entire frame.
  • Battery Life: The KD-400Z doesn't have an external power terminal, so I couldn't conduct my normal power-drain tests. Timing it manually, worst-case battery life (with the LCD on, in capture mode) was about 60 minutes with a fully-charged battery. (This is about typical for subcompact cameras I've tested. Definitely plan on purchasing a second battery along with the camera.)

In the Box

The following items are included in the box:

  • Konica Digital Revio KD-400Z digital camera.
  • Wrist strap.
  • 16MB SD/MMC card.
  • Lithium battery pack.
  • Battery charger.
  • USB cable.
  • Two software CD-ROMs.
  • Quick start manual and registration card.

Recommended Accessories

  • Larger capacity Memory Stick or SD card.
  • Additional battery pack.
  • AC adapter kit.
  • Small camera case.


Recommended Software: Rescue your images!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. I get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

 

Conclusion

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Overall, the Konica KD-400Z seems like a nice little camera. It's particularly interesting in that it was the first non-Sony digicam I'd seen to accept Memory Stick media. (It can also use SD memory cards, one of which is included in the box with the camera.) Its color was just slightly off, the white balance system showing a tendency toward warm color casts in its images under some conditions. Other than that though, image quality was quite good, showing better than average sharpness and resolution for a subcompact design. On the down side, its shutter response is noticeably slower than much of the competition. If the slow shutter response doesn't bother you though, the Konica KD-400Z is stylish and ruggedly built, as well as very compact. If you're in the market for a subcompact digicam, particularly one with good resolution, the KD-400Z deserves a look.

 

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