Concord Eye-Q 5345Z Review

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Concord 5345z

Steve's Conclusion

The Concord Eye-Q 5345z is an OEM version of the Casio QV-R51 we reviewed in early 2004. Although similar in most respects, it has been de-featured and priced at $379.99, $20 lower than the QV-R51. Its differences include a smaller LCD (1.6-inch vs 2-inch), two fewer scene modes (19 vs 21), and three missing playback features - slide show, calendar and HTML page generation. Like it's cousin, the 5345z is simple enough for a beginner to use and, although providing no way to manually set aperture or shutter speed, it offers plenty of adjustability to satisfy the creative urges of an intermediate user; EV (+/- 2 stops), white balance, ISO (50, 100, 200 and 400), sharpness, saturation, contrast and more can be changed via the easy to use menu system.

The 5345z's shooting performance is essentially identical to the QV-R51's, that is to say impressive. From power-on until completion of the first image capture took only 2 seconds. Shutter lag, the elapsed time between the photographer releasing the shutter and the camera capturing the image, measured an impressive and professional-class sub-1/10-second when pre-focused, and an equally impressive 4/10-second including autofocus delay. These timings were measured using the optical viewfinder; using the LCD viewfinder adds about 1/10 second to shutter lag because of the delayed live image it presents. The 5345z's responsiveness will allow you capture unposed special moments and your children's sports action while many of its competitors would leave you frustrated with their delays. Like the QV-R51, the 5345z has no continuous capture shooting mode, and its shot-to-shot time measured between 3 and 4 seconds without flash, and about 7 seconds with flash; sometimes the shutter button required 2 depressions to take the next shot despite getting autofocus confirmation on the first attempt. All timings were obtained using a 5-megapixel image size, best quality, and a Sandisk Ultra II 512 MB SD memory card installed.

The unbranded 3X optical zoom lens produced sharp results throughout its range, with quite noticeable barrel distortion at extreme wide angle. The operation of the optical zoom is smooth and quiet, but not continuous; it moves through its 39-117mm range in 7 distinct steps, adequate for composing most shots but you might need to zoom a bit with your feet for precise image composition.

We were pleased with the results of our outdoor shooting. The lens and 5-point autofocus system combined to produce sharp images, while the exposure system delivered shots that were both richly saturated and well-exposed. Its 5-megapixel imager provides enough resolution for 11X14 prints, and will enable you to produce pleasing 8X10 prints even when the image is heavily cropped. The LCD viewfinder is noticeably smaller that that of the QV-R51. Its brightness is not adjustable, although we found it usable for composing shots and navigating the camera's menu system in most outdoor conditions. The LCD was difficult to use for critical review of captured images on bright days.

We were equally pleased with indoor shooting results. While it has no focus-assist lamp, the QV-R51's autofocus was surprisingly effective in conditions of low ambient light, as was the usability of its LCD viewfinder. The flash is well matched to the 39mm wide angle field of view, with no noticeable drop-off in lighting at the edges of the image. Because of the limited range of the flash (10.5 feet in wide angle, 6 feet in telephoto), you'll get your best indoor results shooting individual or small group portraits, or small rooms; you won't be illuminating an entire banquet room with this flash. Its ability to squelch the flash at close range and its macro focusing capability make the 5345z a good choice for photographing small objects for online auction listings.

The 5345z's movie mode is identical to the QV-R51. It produces acceptable quality 320x240 video clips of up to 60 seconds in length. Because it has no sound, the optical zoom lens can be used during recording as well as for initial composition.

Although it uses only 2 AA's for power, we were able to shoot more than 160 images using the LCD viewfinder on a pair of 2400mah NiMH batteries, our use including a lot of time exploring the camera's menu system. We always recommend using NiMH batteries when possible, and you should keep several charged pairs on hand for the unexpected photo opportunity.

Several of the QV-R51's unique features were dropped from the 5345z. The scene modes of Pre Shot and Coupling Shot are absent, as is the playback feature that allows the camera to produce an HTML-based photo album. None of these features are required for mainstream picture taking, and most users will not miss them.

With its robust performance, 5-megapixel imager, small size, durable aluminum-alloy body and very good image quality, the Concord 5345z packs a lot of value into its MSRP of $379.99. It's a camera that the entire family can use, but its simplicity doesn't diminish the usefulness of its more advanced features. We think that you'll enjoy this all-around family camera. If you like the 5345z's features but prefer a larger LCD monitor, the Casio QV-R51 will cost you only $20 more.

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