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Kyocera FineCam S3 Zoom

Kyocera packs 3 megapixels into the smallest zoom-equipped digicam yet. Too cool!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 7/1/2001

Executive Overview
As one of the tiniest digicams we've seen to date (June 2001), Kyocera's new Finecam S3 is even smaller than Canon’s ELPH series at just 3.4 x 1.3 x 2.3 inches (87 x 55 x 30mm), all the more remarkable for its 3 megapixel resolution and telescoping 2x zoom lens. Its stainless steel body is sturdy and light, weighing less than 6 ounces (150 grams) with the battery and memory card installed, and its construction exudes an air of quality. - Very nicely done! While it's small enough to fit into just about any pocket or bag, the S3 comes with a soft case and wrist strap for added protection. Efficiently packed into the S3's tiny body is a 3.3-megapixel CCD, which delivers image resolutions as high as 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, and a good selection of exposure features.

The S3 offers both a real-image optical zoom viewfinder and color LCD monitor for image composition. Next to the viewfinder is a set of LED lamps on the eyepiece that report the camera’s status (such as whether focus is set, the flash is charging, etc.). The 1.5-inch TFT color LCD monitor is activated by pressing the Display button, and features a fairly comprehensive information display (though aperture and shutter speed are not routinely reported). A set of target marks in the center of the screen help line up shots.

A 2x, 7.8-15.6mm optical zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-76mm lens on a 35mm camera) is made entirely of glass (as compared to some cameras which incorporate plastic elements to save cost), with three aspheric elements. Aperture can be set manually to either f/2.8 or f/6.2 (wide-angle values, the aperture decreases as the lens is zoomed toward telephoto). Focus also features a manual adjustment option, which ranges from 90cm to infinity in normal mode. A Macro setting focuses from 10 to 90cm. There's also a Landscape focus mode, which fixes the focus at infinity for distant subjects. The S3 offers Continuous and Single AF modes, which control whether the camera sets focus continuously or only when the shutter button is halfway pressed. A Digital Zoom option is enabled through the Setup menu, and enlarges images as much as 2x (decreasing overall image quality at the same time).

When it comes to exposure, the S3 provides limited manual control with Program AE, Aperture Priority, and Long Exposure modes. In Program AE, the camera selects the best aperture and shutter speed settings and you have the option of changing the Flash setting. In Aperture Priority mode, the user can set the lens aperture to f/2.8 or f/6.2, while the camera chooses the best corresponding shutter speed. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 1 second in both Aperture Priority and Program AE modes. Long Exposure mode provides longer shutter times, with options of 2, 4, or 8 seconds. Three metering options are available, including Evaluative (default), Center-Weighted, and Spot. Exposure can be lightened or darkened from -2 to +2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. The S3's Standard (default) Sensitivity is ISO 100, which can be increased through the Record menu to X2 and X4 settings.

White Balance adjustment offers five settings to match a variety of light sources, including Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Cloudy, Fluorescent, and Preset (manual setting). Preset mode sets the color balance based on a white card held in front of the lens. (Very unusual in a compact digicam.) For self-portraits, the S3 offers a 2- or 10-second Self-Timer mode, and a Color mode enables you to choose between normal Color, Black-and-White, or Sepia modes. The S3's built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill In, or Flash Off modes, with an effective range from 90cm to 2 meters.

In addition to still images, the S3 can also capture moving images without sound. Movies are recorded at the 320 x 240-pixel resolution size and can be a maximum of 15 seconds in length.

The S3 records images to MMC (MultiMedia) or SD (Secure Digital) cards, with a 16MB MMC card included. A USB card reader accompanies the camera, providing (very) quick image downloading by simply plugging the card directly into the cable. Images are saved as compressed JPEG or uncompressed TIFF file formats, with Superfine, Fine, and Normal JPEG compression levels available. File sizes include 2,048 x 1,536- and 1,024 x 768-pixels for still images, and 320 x 240-pixels for movies. The Playback menu allows you to create new folders for image storage, as well as write-protect image files, delete images, format the memory card, rotate images, and set up DPOF settings. You can also display images in a six-image thumbnail display, enlarge captured images to 2x, and set up an automated slide show.

A software CD accompanies the camera, loaded with ArcSoft PhotoImpression (for image editing), Apple QuickTime (for movie playback), and a set of USB drivers, for both Windows and Macintosh systems. US models of the S3 come with an NTSC video cable, for playing back and composing images using a television set (European models come equipped for PAL timing). For power, the S3 uses a proprietary 3.6v lithium-ion battery pack or AC adapter (which doubles as an in-camera battery charger), both of which are supplied with the camera.

Its tiny dimensions and a very sleek body design make the Finecam S3 a great travel companion, as it can be easily carried in a shirt pocket or small handbag. Though it's small, the S3 features a large, 3.3-megapixel CCD, as well as a handful of useful exposure features. Limited manual controls provide some flexibility over exposure, while a fully automatic mode turns it into a no-decisions-needed, point-and-shoot camera.

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