Kyocera Finecam S5 Review

Steve's Digicams

Steve's Conclusion

The Kyocera Finecam S5 is definitely small, they've packed a 5-megapixel imager and 3x optical zoom lens into the same compact case as the 4-megapixel Finecam S4. The stylish stainless steel body is about the same height and width as a credit card and weighs only 6.2 ounces. It's easily carried in a pocket or purse and is ideal for those that dislike toting larger cameras around. And it's built to take a beating unlike the plastic-bodied cameras which rarely survive a drop on the floor.

From the S5's tiny Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMedia Card (MMC) memory card comes 2560x1920 pixel images that are the equal of those from many of the full-sized 5-megapixel digicams. We got consistently properly exposed, sharp and colorful images. The Fine quality JPEG images average about 1.9-2.1MB in size and make dandy 8x10" and larger photo prints. Apparently Kyocera decided that the uncompressed TIFF mode was no longer necessary and dropped it from the S5. When using the movie mode you can only fit three 30-second video clips on the supplied 16MB SD card. Each 30-second 320x240 size video clip is about 4.4MB in size and includes audio. You need a bigger SD card if you plan on doing any serious picture taking with this camera in Fine quality. The S5 features a built in USB 1.1 port.

The S5 takes about five seconds from pushing the power button until the lens is extended and it's ready to capture a picture. Shot to shot time at Fine quality is about four seconds. When the camera is first turned on the color LCD comes on by default as it is the only information display to let you know what the current settings are. You need to press the DISPLAY button and turn off the color LCD or else the battery life will suffer. The S5 is powered by rechargeable lithium battery pack that's about the same length and width as a stick of gum. It takes about four and a half hours for the charger/AC power supply to bring the pack up to full charge. If you're one of those people that likes to use a digital camera with the LCD turned on most of the time this really isn't your camera. If the LCD is kept off the battery life should be sufficient for an afternoon in the great outdoors. Another factor in battery life is the number of pictures taken using the flash. As with all cameras that use a proprietary battery, you need to buy a spare battery as no other type of battery can be used.

The zoom lens is quick and smooth but it's quite noisy as it goes from wide angle to telephoto or extending or retracting when powered up or down. The autofocus is about average speed wise and in normal lighting conditions the shutter lag is about 1.1 seconds or less. I took most pictures using the default evaluative metering mode which is the same as most other cameras' matrix or multi-metering mode. The optical viewfinder is large and bright but shows only about 80% of the captured image. When you review the image on the LCD there's a lot more image captured. The built in flash is sufficient to illuminate subjects up to about eight feet in wide angle but don't expect it to go much farther than that. And when you do use the flash it takes about eight seconds to recycle before you can use it again.

If compact is what you want, five megapixel cameras don't come any smaller than the S5, at least not at the time of this review. The SD / MMC cards have dropped in price very near to that of CompactFlash cards and are available up to 512MB and soon, even higher capacities. The Finecam S5 may be just what you're looking for if what you want is a super-compact and durable camera. Just remember to factor in the cost of a larger memory card and a second battery, you'll be needing them sooner or later.

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