Concord Eye-Q 4360Z Review
The Concord EyeQ 4360z is an upgrade to the 4060 AF we reviewed in 2003. Similar in most respects, the 4360 adds a 3x optical zoom lens and one additional scene mode, Night Portrait. The 4360 is the first 4-megapixel, 3x optical zoom consumer point-n-shoot priced at under $200; while it seems to offer great value, there is more to image quality than megapixels.
The 35-105mm (35mm-equivalent) zoom lens produced below-average results in our testing; not a single one of our test shots could be considered sharp. The quality one would expect from a 4-megapixel imager was not realized because of the marginal lens quality. That said, the addition of the 3x zoom lens makes the 4360 a far more versatile camera than its predecessor, the moderate wide angle being useful for interior shots and landscapes, while the telephoto will bring your distant subjects closer
The Concord 4360z's shooting performance is average for entry-level digicams. From power-on to the capture of your first image takes about 6 seconds. Shutter delay, the elapsed time between releasing the shutter and capturing the image, measured 1/2 second when pre-focused, and 8/10 second including autofocus time. Contributing to these delays is the LCD viewfinder; using the optical viewfinder reduces delay by about 3/10 second. Shot-to-shot took just under 5 seconds, both with and without flash. Continuous shooting mode captured 7 images in 3 seconds, but imposed an image size of 1600x1200 (2-megapixels) and Economy quality; continuous capture required only a single depression of the shutter button to take all 7 shots. These times are based on 2272 x 1704 images without the flash on. The 4360z is not responsive enough for you to capture images of your children's sports activities or other moving subjects; you'll obtain its best results by shooting family events and travel photos.
Outdoors, the Concord 4360z produced lackluster results; exposures were not sharp, and suffered from too much in-camera edge sharpening, which is not adjustable. However, images were fairly well-exposed and color-balanced, an improvement over the 4060 AF. The LCD viewfinder has no anti-reflective coating; although its brightness can be adjusted, 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.
Because of the limited flash range, you'll realize the best indoor results with head and shoulders shots of one or two people; even moderate-sized groups are beyond the 4360z's capability. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits because the Concord 4360z is equipped with both a tripod socket and self-timer. You'll have some difficulty obtaining 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 4360z, like its predecessor, uses a low shutter speed even when using flash, resulting in images blurred by camera shake. Macro shots were reasonably sharp, just make sure that there is sufficient available light to prevent the 4360z from choosing a low shutter speed. We also found the LCD viewfinder difficult to use in low ambient light, so you'll again be happy that the 4360z is equipped with an optical viewfinder.
The 4360z's battery life was poor during our tests. Using a pair of AA NiMH 2400 mAh rechargeable batteries, we were able to capture only about 80 images with the LCD on maximum brightness before the battery capacity was exhausted; this included a lot of time spent exploring the camera's menu system. We always recommend using NiMH batteries when possible, and you should have several charged pairs on hand.
At an MSRP of $199.99, Concord makes a tempting offer with the Eye-Q 4360z. The high-resolution 4-megapixel imager, however, can not overcome this camera's poor autofocus, limited flash range, low shutter speed with flash, and unusable LCD. If you're in the market for an entry-level camera under $200, your needs would be better served by a camera with lower resolution, but a better balance of image quality and features. Consider the recently-reviewed 3-megapixel Pentax Optio 30, or the Samsung Digimax U-CA 3.
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