Anyone seeking a sturdy yet sleek digital camera will find the Konica Digital Revio KD-400Z appealing. Tiny enough to nest in a shirt pocket, this digicam offers 4-megapixel resolution and a retractable 3X zoom lens. The KD-400Z also has the rare distinction of accepting both Secure Digital (SD) and Memory Stick media. However, the camera does suffer a couple of shortcomings--namely merely average image quality and a dearth of manual settings. This Konica is primarily a point-and-shoot model, albeit a cool one. We admire the KD-400Z's elegant design. Its sturdy, stainless-steel body lacks sharp edges that might snag on the way into a pocket. The camera weighs only about eight ounces with the battery and the media loaded, so toting it won't pose much of a burden. Sliding the lens cover open powers up the camera and extends the fully retractable 3X zoom lens. A flash of blue from the autofocus illuminator and a dainty fanfare from the Konica's small speaker let you know that it's ready for work. Those who feel that cameras should be seen rather than heard may disable the latter feature.
|An efficient playback-control layout makes quick work of reviewing and deleting images.||The optical viewfinder is quite small, as is typical of ultracompact cameras.|
|The four-way controller changes functions according to the mode that you're in.||The speaker below the zoom control lets you play back video clips with sound.|
You can use either SD/MMC or Memory Stick media.
At its best settings, the KD-400Z produces 2,304x1,704-pixel JPEGs, which are about 3.3MB in size each. In addition, this camera offers two lower resolutions and two higher compression settings, though there's no uncompressed or raw-image file setting. In terms of video capture, the KD-400Z records 15-second, 320x240 clips with sound at 15 frames per second--nothing to write home about but a catchy feature nonetheless.
Lovers of manual cameras might be frustrated by the KD-400Z's lack of adjustability. The camera operates in only full-program autoexposure mode, controlling both aperture and shutter speed, which ranges from 1 second to 1/2,000 second. However, this Konica does offer exposure compensation, which we found surprisingly fast and convenient to adjust, even though it's menu-based. Other seemingly incongruous features for such an automated camera are the slow-sync flash, the five white-balance options, the selectable metering (spot and center-weighted), and the sepia toning.
Konica bundles Adobe Photoshop Elements--an excellent consumer-level image editor--with the KD-400Z.
This little lithium-ion battery consistently endured a full day of vacation shooting per charge.
In our tests, the 1.5-inch, 110,000-pixel LCD wasn't quite bright enough to use in direct sunlight; we often found ourselves shading the camera with cupped hands to view pictures. However, the LCD gives a fairly accurate rendition of what will be captured in the frame, while the optical viewfinder offers a more limited view. This is particularly critical when shooting in macro mode. The flash poses another problem for macro shooters, occasionally blowing out image highlights. While there's unfortunately no way to adjust its intensity, the flash can be disabled entirely. Otherwise, the flash worked as billed, providing adequate illumination out to about 10 feet. The KD-400Z generally produced decent images, although many of our shots weren't as crisp as those that we've captured with its better 4-megapixel competitors. Our photos also tended to be slightly contrasty and clipped in the highlights, exhibiting a somewhat limited dynamic range. In short, the Konica's images are good enough for vacation or casual photos, but they're not up to snuff for applications in which sharpness and detail are critical. Some noise turned up in our low-light shots, but it wasn't enough to be a major problem. At its widest end, the KD-400Z's lens produces a bit of barrel distortion, and in areas of high contrast, our images suffered from more purple fringing than we would have liked.
Make sure that you're using this camera's latest firmware update; we saw a noticeable improvement in image quality between versions. You can download the firmware from Konica's Web site, and installing it on the camera is simple.