Kyocera FineCam S5R
At a Glance
The Kyocera FineCam S5R doesn't look much different from the FineCam S5 we reviewed for our May 2003 issue, but under the stainless-steel exterior lies a quick shooter. The S5R will take three shots per second, even at its highest resolution, as long as you hold the shutter release down (and your memory card doesn't fill up). You must use a special SD card, capable of 10-megabits-per-second data transfers, to get that performance, but the feature is unique to this camera. You can capture movies at 640 by 480 resolution; that's not terribly unusual, except that you get 30 frames per second, with audio--the same as a camcorder does. You can't zoom while shooting, though.
The S5R scored above average overall in this round of point-and-shoot models. It performed well in our color tests, but its images were not as sharp as we'd expect of a 5-megapixel model. The camera's metering is finicky: It did fine in our well-lit test setting, but in a dim indoor setting, it blew out whites when anything dark was in the frame. And it has no low-light illuminator to help in such situations. The camera's flash pops up from the body and stays up whether you need it or not, which we found somewhat irritating.
The new model has a few scene modes, accessible from a dedicated button on the back of the camera. The scenes include Sport, Night View, Night View Portrait, Macro, and Distant View; most cameras let you choose the latter two modes with a dedicated button. You can take advantage of an aperture-priority mode, but the camera has only two available apertures.
The camera is small compared with most 5-megapixel models, but it's pretty chunky compared with some of the new point-and-shoot models we're seeing these days; most of those don't provide the same resolution, but a couple are up to 4 megapixels. The S5R has only a 1.6-inch LCD screen, which was an acceptable compromise when the S5 came out, but even-tinier models such as the Pentax Optio S have 2-inch panels. Kyocera's own FineCam L3V has a 2.5-inch panel, and it isn't any taller than the S5R. The S5R's LCD is dark and grainy, especially in low light, and the menus look plain compared with most other cameras'. To view or delete captured images, you must spin a mode wheel to play back images--the camera doesn't have a quick-review button.
The S5R's battery life isn't any better than that of its predecessor's. In our tests, we got only 125 shots, or 44 minutes of shooting time, from the camera. That's less than half the average of the cameras we tested in this round.
The FineCam S5R breaks new ground with its rapid-fire shooting, but it lags other cameras in some basic areas, including battery life and usability, and the new version doesn't pare any size or weight, making it less attractive to those shopping for a small camera.
Kyocera FineCam S5R
5 megapixels, 2560 by 1920 maximum resolution, 35mm to 105mm focal range (35mm equivalent), f2.8 to f4.8 aperture range, shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/2000 second, optical and LCD viewfinders, video recording with audio, 16MB SD card media, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 7.5 ounces with battery; Adobe Photoshop Album software. One-year parts and labor warranty, 10-hour weekday non-toll-free support.