Concord Eye-Q 4360Z
There are things to like about the value-priced Concord Eye-Q 4360Z, but stellar image quality and blazing performance are not on the list. If you're patient enough to wait awhile between shots, don't plan on making large prints, and can live without full-resolution burst mode, Concord can put you behind the viewfinder of an acceptable 4-megapixel snapshot camera for a reasonably low price.
The good news is good indeed: your two Benjamins gets you a compact shooter with a 3X all-glass zoom lens, 16MB of internal memory, batteries, a charger, decent macro capabilities, lots of scene modes, and easy operation. The downside extends beyond mediocre image quality and performance figures that might tax the patience of Gandhi. For example, there are few manual settings other than exposure compensation--which is buried on the second page of the menu system--and white balance. Burst mode operates at only the 2-megapixel, 1,600x1,200-resolution setting using maximum compression, and that still gives you just seven shots per sequence.
This Eye-Q does offer a good selection of scene modes, including Fireworks, Night Landscape, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, and Night Portrait. There's neither a sports nor an action scene option, even though the automatic shutter speeds operate at 4 seconds to 1/2,500 second. ISO is set automatically at values of 100 to 400.
Performance was nothing to e-mail home about. The Concord Eye-Q 4360Z's 5-second-plus start-up time to first picture discourages impulse shooting, and once you're under way, you can expect to wait about 6 seconds between photographs. Lack of shutter lag was the 4360Z's strongest suit, with an acceptable 0.8 second measured under contrasty lighting conditions and 1.3 seconds under low-contrast lighting that taxed the autofocus system.
Picture quality was just acceptable. We saw lots of blown-out highlights, and the overly contrasty photos frequently had less detail in the shadows, too. Exposure and automatic white balance were spotty, and JPEG artifacts abounded when images were enlarged and examined close-up.
Despite the washed-out highlights and an occasional magenta cast, colors were otherwise acceptable, with good flesh tones and saturation. We got the best results from a series of close-up shots using the Concord's macro mode, which focused accurately from 4 to 20 inches. The 1.5-inch LCD was hard to view in bright light, which sometimes made it tricky to frame close-ups.