Concord 6340Z Review
By Movable Type Admin
The 6340z is currently the "top of the line" model that Concord has to offer (as of 4/2005.) It combines 6-megapixels of resolution with a 3x optical zoom lens, all wrapped in a metal body. Although this is a entry-level digicam, it does have some more advanced features like Aperture and Shutter priority modes as well as a Manual mode.
Its 37-111mm (35mm-equivalent) zoom lens produced below-average results in our testing; very few of our test shots could be considered sharp. The quality one would expect from a 6-megapixel imager was not realized because of the marginal lens quality. That said, the 3x zoom lens does offer versatility in composing your shots, with its moderate wide angle being useful for interior shots and landscapes, while the telephoto range will bring your distant subjects closer. We notice average amount of barrel distortion at full wide angle, with slight pincushioning at full telephoto.
The 6340z's shooting performance very poor for a camera in this class. From power up to first image capture measured a sluggish 7.2 seconds. This is due to the camera taking a long time to "boot up". Shutter lag, the elapsed time between releasing the shutter and capturing the image, measured 3/10 of a second when pre-focused, and 1.1 seconds including autofocus time. The Shot-to-shot delay was a little better at only 1.6 - 2.2 seconds without using the flash and 4.5 - 6 seconds with the flash; however it only takes about 2 - 3 images to fill its buffer which locks up the camera until it is done storing them. Continuous shooting mode captured 5 images in 3.7 seconds, but imposed an image size of M2 (1408x1056 1.4MP); continuous capture required only a single depression of the shutter button to take all 5 shots. The 6340z is not responsive enough for you to capture images of your children's sports activities or other moving subjects; you'll obtain the best results by shooting family events (picnics, etc.) and travel photos. Our test were done using a High-Speed Lexar 512MB SD card, Large/Fine image quality, quickview off, flash off and all other settings at default (unless noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The overall image quality when using its Large/Fine mode was disappointing. Outdoors, the Concord 6340z produced poor results for a 6-megapixel camera. The majority of our samples were on the soft side and suffered from too much in-camera edge sharpening, which is not adjustable. However, images were fairly well-exposed and color-balanced. The LCD viewfinder has no anti-reflective coating (although its brightness can be adjusted) and we found it to be unusable in most outdoor shooting situations. You'll find the optical viewfinder a better choice for outdoor shot composition, but that doesn't help with menu settings or image review. We noticed large amounts of noise in high/low contrast areas, much more than we have seen on similar cameras in this price range.
You'll achieve the best indoor results with head and shoulders shots of one or two people; even moderate-sized groups are beyond the 6340z's flash capability. Portrait photography was the only area in which it seemed to be up to par. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits thanks to the its tripod socket and self-timer. We also found that it fails to obtain good results in low ambient light; the camera is not equipped with a focus- assist lamp and your images will frequently be out of focus. The 6340z, like past models, uses a low shutter speed (around 1/50) even when using the flash, which results in images blurred by camera shake. Macro shots were reasonably sharp, and it does a good job of "throttling down" the flash to ensure it doesn't overexpose the subject. We also found the LCD viewfinder difficult to use in low ambient light, so you'll again be happy that it is equipped with an optical viewfinder.
You can record MPEG-4 movies at resolutions of 640x480 or 320x240 with audio. I was very disappointed with our movie samples. They showed large amounts of compression noise, the AF system has trouble keeping up with any subject and the microphone picks up even the slightest breeze. Overall I found not using its movie mode was the better choice.
Battery life was poor during our tests. Concord does not specify battery life, but using its 3.7v 900 mAh proprietary battery pack we were able to capture about 60 sample photos and conclude our other test before the battery was exhausted; this also included a lot of time spent exploring the camera's menu system.
Bottom line - the Concord 6340z offers a tempting value at only $229.99. Its high-resolution 6-megapixel imager however, can not overcome this camera's poor autofocus, limited flash range, unsatisfactory movie mode, and unusable LCD. If you're in the market for an entry-level camera under $300, your needs would be better served by a camera with lower resolution, but a better balance of image quality and features. We recommend looking at some of the offerings from other manufactures like the Canon Powershot A75, Powershot SD300 or the Pentax Optio 30 just to name a few.
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