Konica KD-400Z Review
The Konica Digital Revio KD-400Z is an excellent ultra-compact digital camera. It packs a 4-megapixel imager and a high quality 3x optical zoom lens into a very "pocketable" yet highly durable package. And I do mean durable, it doesn't come any more rugged or solid than stainless steel. 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's the only camera that I know of that can take SD/MMC cards and Memory Sticks at the same time. And it's definitely the first camera -not- made by Sony that can use a Memory Stick. Currently both SD/MMC and Memory Sticks top out at 128MB (several manufacturers have announced 256MB and 512MB SD cards but they aren't available as of July 2002) so with one of each in the camera you have a respectable 256MB of storage space. This is a 4-megapixel camera and it's very capable of creating up to 2MB size images so whichever media gets "bigger" first can be used to your advantage.
The KD-400Z 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 (15 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-400Z 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 about a five second delay inbetween for processing and storing each image. It didn't matter what size or quality I selected, it always took about five seconds before you could shoot again. Flash pictures take about 1-2 seconds longer as it recharges the flash. When shooting movies be prepared to wait about twenty seconds as it processes and stores the video clip. It does record audio with the motion video and as usual with most digicams with sound capability, you can not 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 quite 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 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-400Z 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 buttons and 4-way controller on the KD-400Z were very easy to operate so it is possible to make them small -and- ergonomic. The KD-400Z 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. Many digicams are great picture takers but you're always afraid that they'll break if handled roughly, not so with this camera. 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 3-megapixel version of the KD-400Z called the KD-310Z. It's physically identical with a megapixel smaller CCD imager and a lower price.
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