capsule review

Kyocera Finecam SL400R

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Kyocera Finecam SL400R Compact Camera

Kyocera Finecam SL400R
Photograph: Rick Rizner

Smaller and thinner than a frugal man's wallet, the well-constructed Finecam SL400R is one among a class of ultrathin cameras that includes the Konica Minolta DiMage X and Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-T1. However, it parts company with its competitors in two ways: shooting speed and an unusual split body. Grip the case in both hands, and you can twist the lens half toward your subject and the other half (with the controls, viewing panel, and shutter release) to a convenient angle for composing your picture on the LCD. (There is no optical viewfinder.) Unlike its competitors, the SL400R lets you orient it in whatever position is most comfortable for shooting. And because the camera's lens does not extend out of the body when you switch the camera on, startup time is also very quick.

With a high-speed SD Card installed, the SL400R records 4-megapixel images at over three frames per second for as long as the media space holds out. If you use a large-capacity card, you don't have to have a fast trigger finger to capture action shots--just press the shutter at the beginning of the action and pick the best shot afterward. It's pretty cool. The catch? You'll need good lighting, and you'll need to make sure the camera is focused before you start snapping away, because in continuous mode the flash is turned off and the focus is set at the first frame. As a result, we accidentally took a long series of out-of-focus images. During our hands-on evaluation, we also took shots at the camera's highest ISO setting of 800 and were quite disappointed with the extremely splotchy colors and poor detail. (Shots taken at the camera's lowest ISO looked far better.)

We gave the SL400R mixed scores for image quality, with an overall score of Good. Our still-life shot under daylight-balanced lighting had outstanding colors that were bright and lifelike. Not so the flash shot, which turned our model's auburn hair black and gave her skin a corpselike pallor. Our outdoors shot had generally pleasing color and exposure, but we also noted pronounced speckling (noise) in the blue sky. Moreover, the image sharpness this Kyocera produced looked closer to that of a 3-megapixel camera; the other 4-megapixel cameras we've tested performed much better.

Battery life is fairly short, too. The SL400R managed just 97 shots on a single charge of its lithium ion battery--well below the average for cameras we've tested.

The controls for the SL400R are pretty standard fare, including the usual four-way thumb button with only one shortcut function for changing the flash mode. Everything else is in fairly easy-to-navigate menus. Setting resolution, exposure value, and white balance is quick, but changing the focus mode (to manual focus, for example) requires many button presses through a long settings menu. Extras include a small belt case and Adobe's Photoshop Album.

Consider the SL400R if you're looking for a supercompact snapshot camera that can capture fast action. Some photographers, though, might actually find this model too small to use comfortably.

Kyocera Finecam SL400R

4 megapixels, 2272 by 1704 maximum resolution, 38mm to 115mm focal range (35mm equivalent), shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/2000 second, LCD viewfinder, USB connections, 16MB SD Card, one rechargeable lithium ion battery, 5.1 ounces with batteries, Adobe Photoshop Album software. One-year parts and labor warranty; 9.5-hour weekday and Saturday, 8.5-hour Sunday toll-call support.

Tracey Capen

This story, "Kyocera Finecam SL400R" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Kyocera Finecam SL400R Compact Camera

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