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Sample Images for the
Kyocera S4
Digital Cameras

(Original Test Posting: 06/12/02)

 

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:

Good color and exposure, but low saturation and loose viewfinder.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Kyocera Finecam S4 performed fairly well in that regard. The shot at right was shot without any exposure compensation adjustment, and the exposure is just about right. The highlights are on the verge of blowing out, but shooting with negative compensation produced too dim an image. I chose the Daylight white balance setting for the main shot, which produced similar results to the Auto setting. I also snapped an image with the Manual white balance, which resulted in a very slight greenish cast. The colors that are there are pretty accurate in terms of hue, but the saturation is a bit lower than I'd like to see. This shot and most of my outdoor pics are also rather loosely framed, no thanks to the rather tight LCD viewfinder on the S4. The S4 picks up good detail, even in the shadow areas, with low noise.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files S4OUTDM1.HTM through S4OUTDP2.HTM on our thumbnail page.

 

 

Closer Portrait:

Good detail, but rather soft overall, and slightly bright exposure.

The results here are similar to the wider shot above, in terms of overall color and saturation. The S4 again tends to slightly overexpose the shot, so I chose a -0.3 EV adjustment for the main image. The S4's 3x lens helps prevent any distortion of the model's features, which is important in close-up shots like this. More fine detail is visible in the model's face and hair than in the wider shot above, but sharpness is definitely lacking relative to the best full-sized four megapixel cameras, and even some other compact models. The shadow areas again show good detail with low noise. Overall, not a bad performance, but not up to the level of sharpness and resolution most people would expect from a four megapixel model.

See files S4FACDM1.HTM through S4FACDP1.HTM on our thumbnail page to view the entire exposure series (from -0..3 to +0.3 EV).

 

 

 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:

Zero Exposure Compensation
+1.0 EV

Slightly low flash intensity, but color is about right.

The S4's flash produced a rather dark exposure without any exposure compensation, resulting in a warm white value in Marti's shirt due to the bright incandescent lighting in the room. Despite the low intensity, overall color is pretty good though. The incandescent room lighting results in a pronounced orange cast on the background wall and even on the model. However, boosting the exposure to +1.0 EV decreased the amount of the orange cast on the model while brightening the image.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slight color casts, but overall good results with the Manual white balance.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, but the S4's Manual white balance setting handled the challenge very well. Color accuracy is about right, though saturation is a little low. The Auto and Incandescent settings both produced warm color casts, with the Incandescent setting faring the worst of the two. Though the skin tones are slightly pale, overall color is good. The blue flowers in the bouquet are pale with slight purplish tints, but still look close to accurate. I shot at both zero and +0.7 EV exposure settings, choosing the +0.7 EV shot for the main image.

 

 

House Shot:

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Trouble with exposure, and weak saturation.

I chose the Auto white balance setting for the main selection, as both the Manual and Daylight settings resulted in slight warm casts. The S4 overexposed the shot a fair amount, which washed out color and made it difficult to choose the most accurate result. - The S4 overexposed most of the studio shots, apparently because its light sensor has a very wide angle of view. (It doesn't meter through the lens as most digicams in this price range do.) The result is that it was fooled by the black backdrop I use behind the test targets.

Resolution is fairly high, with reasonably good detail in the tree limbs above the roof and in the house front, but the image is again quite a bit softer than you'd expect from a four megapixel camera. The entire left side of the frame appears softer than the rest of the image, as well.

 

 
 

 

Far-Field Test

Nearly accurate color, though exposure is bright and details are soft.

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 my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The S4 captures a lot of detail throughout the frame, though details are again rather soft, particularly in the corners. The fine foliage details in front of the house are reasonably well defined, though still very soft. Color is nearly accurate, but the overexposed image washes out the color, reducing saturation. The bright sunlight causes the S4 to lose all detail in the white bay window trim, revealing a limited dynamic range. The shadow area above the front door fares better, showing most of the brick pattern. Following is our standard resolution series, as well as an ISO series.

Resolution Series
Large / Fine
Large / Normal
Small / Normal

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 
  Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The S4's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

 

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
2x Digital Telephoto

 

 
 

 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Pretty decent color, but washed out due to an overexposure.

For this test, I shot with the Auto, Daylight, and Manual white balance settings, none of which produced exactly accurate results. For starters, the S4 again overexposed the shot, washing out color and lowering saturation. I chose the Manual setting because the skin tones looked best overall, as the Daylight setting produced reddish skin tones and the Auto setting seemed a little too pale. The blue robe is a little greenish from a slight warm cast, but without any strong purple tints in the deep shadows as I've seen from some cameras. Resolution is high, with good detail visible in the embroidery of the blue robe, though details are again soft throughout the frame.

 

 

Macro Shot

Standard Macro Shot
Slightly below average macro coverage, and some barrel distortion when shooting this close. Flash is of no use in macro mode.

The S4 performs just a tad below average in the macro category, capturing a slightly large minimum area of 4.9 x 3.7 inches (124 x 93 millimeters). Resolution is fairly high, however, with a lot of detail throughout the frame (although details present are very soft). Overall color balance looks good. Corner softness is again visible in all four corners from the wide angle lens setting, as well as a slight barrel distortion. The S4's flash so badly overexposed this shot I didn't bother including an image here. - Don't plan on using the S4's flash under macro conditions.

 

 

"Davebox" Test Target

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Strong overexposure, due to the black background.

The wide coverage of the S4's light sensor really hurt it on this shot, as it drastically overexposed the test target because it was paying too much attention to the dark background. I shot samples of this target using the Auto, Daylight, and Manual white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting as the most accurate. However, the S4 overexposed the shot so much that it was difficult to determine the most accurate overall color. A minor tweak of the exposure compensation could prevent this problem in the future, but I felt it important to show what the camera's default performance was, since it was so at odds with how most cameras behave on this test. The tonal distribution on the Q60 chart is only visible to the "E" range, another symptom of overexposure. (Most digicams can distinguish up to the "B" range pretty well.) The large color blocks are very weak and pale, and details are soft throughout the frame.

 

 

Low-Light Tests

Decent results but lots of hot-pixel noise, and a CCD problem at ISO 400.

The S4's maximum eight-second exposure time gives the camera good low-light shooting capabilities, especially when combined with the adjustable ISO sensitivity setting, but hot-pixel noise is a problem in longer exposures. The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux), at ISO 400, but noise was really unacceptable. At ISO 100 and 200, the camera managed usable results at light levels of 1/4 and 1/8 foot-candles respectively. Overall color balance was warm at the ISO 100 equivalent, though cooled off slightly with the 200 and 400 equivalent settings. As noted, hot-pixel noise is an issue for long exposures, regardless of ISO level, although it's greatly exaggerated at ISO 400. I also noticed an odd streaking effect to the right of the target at ISO 400, almost like the camera was moved (it wasn't), strongest at the 1/16 foot-candle light level. (This looks like a pretty clear case of poor charge transfer efficiency (CTE) in the CCD sensor the S4 uses.) The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO 100 Click to see S4LL1003.JPG
2 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL1004.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL1005.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL1006.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL1007.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8
ISO 200 Click to see S4LL2003.JPG
1 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL2004.JPG
4 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL2005.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL2006.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL2007.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8
ISO 400 Click to see S4LL4003.JPG
1 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL4004.JPG
2 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL4005.JPG
4 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL4006.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8
Click to see S4LL4007.JPG
8 secs
F 2.8

 

 

Flash Range Test

Good intensity to nine feet, but decreases incrementally from there.

In my testing, the S4's flash was brightest to about nine feet from the target. From the 10-foot distance on, intensity decreased slightly with each foot, becoming fairly dim at the 14-foot distance. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see S4FL08.JPG
1/ 64 secs
F 4.1
Click to see S4FL09.JPG
1/ 64 secs
F 4.1
Click to see S4FL10.JPG
1/ 64 secs
F 4.1
Click to see S4FL11.JPG
1/ 64 secs
F 4.1
Click to see S4FL12.JPG
1/ 64 secs
F 4.1
Click to see S4FL13.JPG
1/ 64 secs
F 4.1
Click to see S4FL14.JPG
1/ 64 secs
F 4.1

 

 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very soft for a four megapixel camera: Strong detail only to 800-950 lines/picture height.

The S4 performed quite a bit below average for a four megapixel camera on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to about 800 lines in the horizontal direction, and 950 lines in the vertical. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at 1,150-1,200 lines. Overall, the very best two megapixel cameras get close to this level, and many three megapixel units exceed it.

Optical distortion on the S4 is a bit higher than average at the wide-angle setting, where I measured 0.92 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fares a little better, with a 0.51 percent pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is low, showing about two 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 most prominent optical problem I noticed was increased softness in the corners of the frame, as well as along the left side of the frame in some shots.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Large / Fine
Large / Normal

 

 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Great accuracy in the LCD monitor, though the optical viewfinder is tight.

The S4's optical viewfinder was a little tight, showing approximately 86 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 87 percent at telephoto. Images framed with the optical viewfinder were shifted toward the lower left corner, but the slight tilt seen here is most likely the result of the camera being *very* slightly off-center as I shot this image, causing a little perspective distortion. The LCD monitor fared slightly better, showing approximately 91 percent of the image area at wide angle, and about 92 percent at telephoto. Given that I really prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, I mark the S4 down a little for being overly tight. Flash distribution is almost even at wide angle, though with some falloff in the corners of the frame. At the telephoto setting, flash distribution is more even, but slightly dim.

 

Wide Angle (Optical)

Telephoto (Optical)

Wide Angle (LCD)

Telephoto (LCD)

 


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