Konica KD-500Z Review
The Konica Digital Revio KD-500Z is one of only a few ultra-compact "pocket size" 5-megapixel digital cameras currently on the market. The KD-500Z is physically identical to its 4-megapixel sibling, the KD-400Z except for the darker body color. It employs the same high quality Hexanon 3x optical zoom lens and state of the art image processing hardware in a very durable stainless steel body. This is a camera that can go anywhere and survive the trip no matter how many times you sit on it or bang it around in a suitcase.
It can use Secure Digital or MMC cards and Memory Stick cards at the same time. The KD-500Z, KD400Z and KD310Z are the only cameras -not- made by Sony that use a Memory Stick. Memory Sticks top out at 128MB and SD goes up to 256MB (512MB soon) so with one of each in the camera you have a respectable amount of storage space. This is a 5-megapixel camera capable of creating up to 2.5MB size images so the bigger media, the better.
The KD-500Z is basically a point-n-shoot automatic type of digicam. It doesn't offer any advanced exposure modes like aperture or shutter speed priority or full manual. It's easy to use, just slide open the cover, point and shoot. What you can change is the metering mode (center-weighted or spot), white balance (auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten or fluorescent), exposure compensation (+/- 1.5EV), image size and quality. It has a Night Portrait mode that uses a slow shutter speed and slow sync flash to capture a picture of someone at close range with say a night time city scene behind. If you get tired of color you can give the Sepia Tone mode a try, it gives photos that "old time" look. In addition to still images you can also capture short (30 secs. maximum) AVI motion-JPEG movie clips with sound. You can attach 15 second voice memos to pictures that you've already captured or you can just record 15 second memos for any purpose.
Overall the KD-500Z is a good performer considering that neither SD or MS media is very fast at Read or Write operations. There is no continuous drive mode but you can take one shot after another with only a 2-3 second delay inbetween for processing and storing each image. It didn't matter what size or quality I selected, it always took about the same amount of time before you could shoot again. Flash pictures add another 2-3 seconds as it recharges the flash. Closeup macro shots with the flash were excellent as the camera "throttles down" the flash for nearly perfect exposures every time. When shooting movies be prepared to wait about twenty seconds as it processes and stores the short video clips. It records audio with the motion video and as is the case with most digicams with sound capability, you can't use the optical zoom once you start recording. You can preset it before you start however. The reason for this is simple, the zoom mechanism is noisy and would be easily picked up by the microphone. Movie clip capability is nice but these things will never replace a dedicated camcorder in quality, recording length or ease of use.
The battery, although small seems to hold up fairly well if you don't use the color LCD too much. Konica claims about 100 shots with the color LCD but I think that is pretty liberal, I'd say more like maybe 60-70 shots in the real world. Being that it's a proprietary battery and there's no other way to power the camera - buy a spare battery ASAP. The included charger needs about 2.5 hours to recharge a fully depleted battery pack and batteries always go dead when you need them the most.
I give the KD-500Z high marks in styling, durability and overall image quality. Whether you need to print big enlargements, post some pictures on your web site or attach to your email, this camera can handle it. This is a small camera and even with my large hands it wasn't at all awkward or uncomfortable to use. Some of these ultra-compact cameras look great but they're a nightmare to use, especially the miniature buttons and 4-way controllers. The KD-500Z is a good choice for the active digi-photographer, it will handle anything short of being dunked in the stream or used in the rain. It has a very solid feeling to it thanks to the stainess steel case and the "fit-n-finish" is excellent. Konica also offers a 4- and 3-megapixel version of the KD-500Z that are physically identical but with lower prices.
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