Kyocera Finecam L4V review: Kyocera Finecam L4V

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The Good Big 2.5-inch LCD; clear menu system with large type and pictographs.

The Bad Average image quality; slow flash recycle; limited exposure settings; no continuous-shooting mode.

The Bottom Line For big-screen LCD viewing, this snapshot camera has few competitors, but poor battery life undercuts its usefulness.

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6.4 Overall

Review summary

Like the Finecam L3v, the otherwise ordinary L4v stands out from the point-and-shoot crowd, thanks to a large, 2.5-inch LCD. It's really handy for framing shots and playing slide shows for friends, but poor power management negates whatever small advantage a large screen might have given the L4v over its competitors.

The L4v steps up its sibling's resolution from 3 to 4 megapixels and employs a slightly different 3X zoom lens, which covers (in 35mm-film terms) 35mm to 105mm instead of 38mm to 115mm. In all other respects, the models are the same: their basic point-and-shoot feature set lacks drive modes, their menu system is easy to use, and their body design is serviceable.

Like most digital cameras, the L4v handles some tasks much better running on a CRV3 disposable lithium battery instead of a more eco-friendly pair of nickel-metal-hydride AA rechargeables. The pause between flash photos improves from a ridiculously slow seven seconds to a merely sluggish five seconds. The camera also starts up in four rather than five seconds. Standard shot-to-shot time seems fixed at five seconds, though.

Lithium cell or no, the L4v's performance was dismal. With a pair of 1,850mAh rechargeables, we eked out a disappointing 234 shots, 30 percent of them with the flash. That result is fairly poor for any class of camera, and the L4v reached that level only because we babied it. After our first 29 pictures, the flash firing on all of them, the L4v essentially died. We continued with 7 nonflash photos, but there wasn't enough juice left for us to use the LCD for framing. In the end, that lovely screen helped us with less than 15 percent of our pics.

The L4v is competent but not outstanding. For those who don't mind a smaller LCD, far better alternatives are available.

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Properly exposed though somewhat desaturated, the L4v's images were acceptable.

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Close inspection revealed image noise and a lack of sharpness in places.

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