Kyocera Finecam S5R Review

Steve's Digicams

Steve's Conclusion

The 5-Megapixel Kyocera Finecam S5R is well-equipped with features that will amaze the beginner and please the advanced user. The "R" in the S5R stands for Rapid and that's just what it is when shooting in the Continuous mode. The stylish stainless steel body is about the same height and width as a credit card. It's durability will allow it to survive most bumps and bruises. You will enjoy taking this camera everywhere as it fits easily in a pocket or purse and can be ready in a second to take great pictures.

The Finecam S5R takes a little over two seconds from pushing the power button until it's ready to take a picture. In the Continuous mode you can capture three frames per second when pre-focused, and keep capturing at 3fps until the SD card is filled up. During a trip on a dolphin-sighting boat I had the opportunity to put this camera to test. Many people using digital cameras and are disappointed because they can't shoot fast enough to capture the dolphins when they jump the boat's wake. Using the Continuous mode, I was able to capture several great shots and proved that it's possible with a consumer digicam -- see our Sample Photos. When the camera is first turned on the flash pops up and the color LCD comes on - it's the only information display to let you know what the settings are. You need to press the DISPLAY button and turn off the color LCD or else the battery life will suffer. The battery used by the S5R is about the same physical size as 2-3 sticks of chewing gum. While testing, we use the LCD quite frequently to frame, review and change the camera settings. With this in mind we were only able to use the S5R about an hour before we had to recharge the battery. It takes about two and a half hours to recharge so as always, we recommend the purchase of a second battery. Turn the LCD off and limit the use of the flash, then you'll be able to enjoy this camera for several hours.

The S5R is a point-n-shoot with some manual controls. There are five Scene modes: Standard (general picture-taking), Sports ( fast-action shooting,uses continuous focus), Night View (long shutter speeds), Night Portrait (photographing a person and a background at night), Macro (close-up of small objects) and Landscape( focus to infinity). For creative control, you can switch from Program AE mode to a choice of two aperture settings; a fast F2.8 aperture or for more depth of field, use the F9.6 aperture.

The image quality is very good with both outdoor and indoor shooting. Colors were accurately represented and well saturated. Images were correctly exposed and sharp.The 3x zoom optical lens has a focal length coverage equivalent to 35mm-105mm (in 35mm format) with a 4x digital zoom feature. There is moderate barrel distortion at full wide angle but almost no pin cushioning at full telephoto. The zoom lens is quick and smooth as it goes from wide angle to telephoto. Since there is no focus assist lamp, the S5R may have trouble focusing in low light conditions. The camera will try to focus and may give a false reading. Flash pictures were well exposed within its limited range (up to 7.5ft). The flash pops up as soon as the camera is turned on and cannot be pushed back down. Unfortunately it's right where your left forefinger should be when holding the camera. The Day-Fine LCD Monitor was a pleasure to use, it was bright and clear even in the Florida sun light. The LCD brightness control on the back of the camera is a very useful feature. By moving the joy- stick up or down you can adjust the LCD brightness. When in the PlayBack mode the joy-stick is used to scroll through the captured images, by holding it down the speed increases significantly.

The S5R's Movie mode can capture 320x240 or VGA size 640x480 movies at 30fps or 15fps, the length is limited only by the SD card's capacity, additional movies can be shot almost instantly. You can set the desired zoom before starting the movie and make adjustments during the movie with the digital zoom. I was greatly disappointed by the quality of both the 640x480 and 320x240 movies produced by this camera. Other cameras that we have reviewed make gorgeous VGA-size movies, the S5R's movies suffer from too much compression artifacting. Hard to believe given the amount of space they occupy, a 10-sec 640x480 @ 30fps movie consumes about 26 Megabytes! I didn't see the need to post any sample movies as the quality was poor and the file size was huge.

The stainless steel body appears to be quite durable with the exception of the plastic door covers and tripod socket. The controls are well placed and easy to operate with the use of just one hand; from image capture to review. My main gripe besides the poor video quality is the popup flash is right where you want to hold the camera with your left forefinger. Care must be taken not to push the flash down or you can disable it. If you're looking for a small 5-megapixel camera that has a pro-level Continuous mode capture then this may just be what you want.

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