Kyocera FineCam S3 ZoomKyocera packs 3 megapixels into the smallest zoom-equipped digicam yet. Too cool!
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S3 Sample ImagesReview First Posted: 7/1/2001
|We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
|Outdoor Portrait: (1.6 m)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. (And deliberately avoided using fill flash.) The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the S3 did a good job. The shot at right has no exposure compensation adjustment, but still managed to lose detail slightly in the white shirt. Midtones are about right though. We shot this with the Daylight (1.6 m) white balance setting, feeling that it was a bit more natural-looking than the Auto (1.6 m) and Manual (1.6 m) white balances. The color is nearly accurate, though with purplish blues in the flowers (a frequent problem among digicams we've tested), and the skin tones are a little too magenta. Shadow detail is very good, with low noise. The table below shows an exposure series from zero to +0.6 EV.
Exposure Compensation Settings:
|Closer Portrait: (1.5 m)
Very similar results to the longer portrait shot above. The 2x zoom helps prevent distortion of the model's features, and detail is quite good, although a notch below the best three megapixel cameras we've tested. Flesh tones are again just a little too magenta, though overall color is nice. As with the shot above, contrast is slightly higher than we'd like, causing the highlights to disappear when the midtones are properly exposed. We chose an exposure adjustment of -0.3 EV for our main shot, as anything brighter washed out the image. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from -0.3 to +0.3 EV.
Exposure Compensation Settings:
Portrait, Flash:(1.4 m)
Portrait, No Flash:(1.3 m)
Exposure Compensation Settings:
|House Shot: (2.5 m)
We chose the Auto white balance setting for our main selection, as the overall color balance looked the most natural (though the Daylight setting appeared nearly identical, just a hint cooler). The Manual white balance resulted in a greenish cast. Color is good, though with slightly weak saturation. The level of visible fine detail is fairly high, but the details are quite soft throughout the frame. We wound up capturing all three images with a -0.3 EV exposure adjustment, noticing that the S3 has a tendency to overexpose. A good performance overall, though we'd like to see a sharper image. (The detail does seem to be there, just muted by the slightly soft-focus effect.)
|Far-Field Test (1.3 m)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.
This is our ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The S3 again performed fairly well, but didn't deliver as much detail as other three megapixel cameras we've tested. A lot of fine detail is present, though the fine foliage has less definition than the linear details of the artificial surfaces (bricks, shingles). The S3 handles the extreme tonal range well, though it has trouble with the bright details of the bay window. Color is good, with a preference for bright greens. The table below shows our resolution and quality series.
|Lens Zoom Range
In response to reader requests, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 2x telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with 1.3x, 1.6x, and 2x digital zoom enabled. The S3's lens covers a range equivalent to a 38-76mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. As is usual, the "digital zoom" directly trades off resolution for magnification. The S3 automatically drops the image size to 1024 x 768 as soon as the digital zoom is engaged, but keeps that image size for all digital zoom settings. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
|Musicians Poster (2.1 m)
For this test, we shot with the Auto (2.1 m), Daylight (2.1 m), and Manual (2.1 m) white balance settings, none of which produced exact, accurate results. The Daylight setting was a bit magenta, while Manual appeared greenish, and Auto was somewhat cool. On an objective scale, the Auto may have been more accurate, but we felt that the Daylight setting produced the best skin tones, and hence made the most appealing picture. The large amount of blue in the image often tricks digicams into overcompensating, and the S3 seems to have had a little trouble with it. The S3 overexposed the shot a little, resulting in a rather pale-looking Caucasian model. Other color is good though, and the blue of the Oriental model's robe is well-saturated and shows no tendency to go purple, a common problem with digicams.
The S3 did very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 2.24 x 1.68 inches (57.01 x 42.76 millimeters). Resolution is high, with great detail visible throughout the image, and good overall sharpness. The corners are slightly soft due to the lens, and a limited depth of field softens the brooch details as well. The S3's flash throttles down for the macro area surprisingly well, though it overexposes in the top left corner and leaves the lower right corner in shadow.
|"Davebox" Test Target (1.5 m)
We shot samples of this target using the Auto (1.5 m), Daylight (1.5 m), and Manual (1.6 m) white balance settings. Daylight and Auto white balance options were actually quite similar, though the daylight option has a slightly warmer tone. The Manual setting resulted in a very greenish image. The camera overexposed the image just a touch, resulting in slightly washed-out color and lost highlight detail. Alternatively, shadow detail and noise are very nice.
The FineCam S3 did surprisingly well in our low-light tests, producing usable images all the way down to the limit of our test of 1/16 foot-candle, or 0.63 lux, although there was a fair bit of noise in the photos shot that dark. In the past, we've generally prefocused the cameras for this test, to produce the sharpest possible images. We're contemplating a change in procedure though, which we began with the S3, where we simply let the camera do the best it could as a way of determining how sensitive the camera's autofocus system is. In the case of the S3, we found that it focused reliably at light levels of 1 foot-candle (11 lux) and above. For darker conditions, you'd need to use the manual focus option. (A nice feature, unusual to find manual focus in such a compact digicam!) For comparison, 1 foot-candle is roughly the light level on an average urban street at night, under streetlighting. - Darker than that and you'll need to use manual focus. A good performance. The table below shows the camera's response to light levels ranging from 1 foot-candle (11 lux) down to 1/16 foot-candle (0.63 lux).
|Flash Range Test
In our testing, we found the S3's flash to be fairly powerful, illuminating our test target all the way out to 14 feet, though intensity decreases noticeably from about 10 feet on. (We'd rate the flash range as about 10 feet.) Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
|ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1.4 m)
The S3 performed fairly well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart, though again a notch below the best three megapixel digicams we've tested. It started showing (very subtle) artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. Alternatively, we found "strong detail" out to at least 900 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,150 - 1,200 lines.
Optical distortion on the S3 is about average (which, for the record we feel is too high - we'd like to see less distortion in virtually all the cameras we test) at the wide angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.76 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a little better, as we measured a 0.47 percent pincushion distortion, which is a bit higher than average for digicam lenses in their telephoto positions. Chromatic aberration is low, showing about two or three pixels of coloration in the far corners. (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.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Series, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
The S3's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing approximately 86.32 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 90 percent at telephoto (though at the telephoto setting, our top measurement line is cut off). The LCD monitor fares only slightly better, showing approximately 89.06 percent of the image area at wide angle setting, and approximately 92.25 percent at telephoto. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, we felt that the S3's LCD viewfinder fell short of expectations, although we understand the philosophy of having the optical and LCD viewfinders respond the same. Flash distribution is fairly even at wide angle, with only a little falloff at the corners of the frame. At the telephoto setting, flash distribution is very even.
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420