Konica Digital Cameras

While very big in the world of film and film processing, Konica has not so far played a very large role in the digicam arena. With the KD-400Z though, they've come out with a very nicely-packaged digicam, with interesting features. I'm actually reviewing this model rather late in its life, as the press of too-much-to-do prevented me from getting to it for a number of months. I wanted to go ahead and complete the review though, because of the KD-400's status as the first non-Sony camera to accept Memory Stick media. Read on below for all the details...

 

Camera Overview

As the first digicam not made by Sony to accept the Sony Memory Stick, Konica's Digital Revio KD-400Z marks a revolution in digicam thinking. The dual-slot digicam also accepts the tiny SD memory cards, making the camera more compatible with PDAs and other high-tech personal devices. In the age of Palm Pilots and multi-function, whiz-bang cell phones, the KD-400Z's flexibility is a valuable asset. Adding to the KD-400Z's attractions are its tiny size and stainless steel alloy body. Compact and rugged, the KD-400Z should stand up to heavy usage. The sliding lens cover design eliminates the need for a lens cap, enhancing the camera's charms for travelers. Small enough for a shirt pocket, the KD-400Z has a wrist strap for easy toting. The 3x zoom lens and 4.0-megapixel CCD capture high resolution, print quality images, with great color and detail. With high-tech simplicity and ease-of-use forefront in the KD-400Z's design, the camera's point-and-shoot operation is quick to learn and convenient.

Equipped with a telescoping, 3x, 8-24mm Hexanon lens (39-117mm 35mm equivalent), the KD-400Z's tiny size doesn't compromise its optics. Focus remains under automatic control, and ranges from 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) to infinity in normal mode, and from 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) to infinity in Macro mode. Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8.2, with actual values depending on the lens' zoom setting. A blue AF illuminator lamp on the front of the camera shines a dim light on the subject in low-light situations. In addition to the camera's 3x optical zoom, as much as 2x digital zoom is also available, effectively increasing the KD-400Z's zoom capability to 6x. (I always remind readers that digital zoom typically decreases overall image quality because it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image. Resulting images often have softer details and higher noise levels.) Both a real-image optical viewfinder and 1.5-inch color LCD monitor are available for composing images. The LCD monitor features an information display that reports limited camera settings information (though not the shutter speed or aperture settings).

Exposure remains under automatic control on the KD-400Z, though a few manual controls such as White Balance and Exposure Compensation are available. Fewer physical controls keep the user interface simple, but also mean heavier reliance on the LCD menu system. That said, the KD-400Z's LCD menu is straightforward and uncomplicated, with a scrolling page layout. The sliding lens cover serves as the power switch, triggering the lens to extend forward when opened. Macro, Self-Timer, and Distant View (landscape) photography modes are accessed via the left arrow of the Four-Way Arrow pad. By default, the KD-400Z employs a TTL center-weighted metering system, but a Spot metering option is available through the Record menu. An Exposure Compensation adjustment lightens or darkens the overall image from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. (Note that the adjustment bar doesn't have any numeric indicators, just a series of bars to indicate EV steps.) Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 1/8 second in normal shooting mode, but a Slow Shutter mode extends the range to one full second. The camera's White Balance adjustment offers Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, and Tungsten options, for shooting under different light sources. You can also opt to record images in Sepia tones. The KD-400Z's built-in flash operates in Auto, Forced, Red-Eye Reduction, Suppressed, and Slow-Sync modes.

The KD-400Z also features a Movie mode, activated through the Record menu. The camera captures moving images with sound for as long as 15 seconds, at the 320 x 240-pixel resolution setting. (The amount of available memory card space also determines the length of movie files.) You can also record short sound clips to accompany images, for a maximum of 15 seconds (or as long as the memory card has available space. Audio clips can be recorded with an image or anytime afterwards. The camera's Self-Timer mode offers a short delay (anywhere from 10 to three seconds) between the time the Shutter button is pressed and the shutter actually opens, giving you time to zip around in front of the camera for a self-portrait.

As mentioned above, the KD-400Z stores images on Sony Memory Sticks or SD/MMC memory cards, both available separately in a variety of storage capacities. A 16MB SD card ships with the camera, but I recommend picking up a higher-capacity card, given the maximum 2,304 x 1,704-pixel resolution. Two megabytes of internal flash memory provides a small buffer for temporarily saving images or for use when copying files between memory cards. The camera utilizes a rechargeable DR-LB4 lithium battery pack for power, which comes with the camera, along with a battery charger. (An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory.) The KD-400Z features a USB jack and cable for downloading images to a computer. Two CD-ROMs also come with the camera, loaded with Adobe Photoshop Elements, the full user guide, and the necessary USB drivers.

Basic Features

  • 4.0-megapixel CCD delivering maximum 2,304 x 1,704-pixel resolution images.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD monitor.
  • Glass, 3x 8-24mm Hexanon lens (equivalent to a 39-117mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • 2x digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control.
  • Aperture range from f/2.8-f/8.2.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to one second.
  • Built-in flash with five modes.
  • SD/MMC and Sony Memory Stick card storage, 16MB SD card included.
  • 2MB internal memory.
  • Power supplied by lithium-ion battery pack or optional AC adapter (battery and charger included).
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements imaging application included, for Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Special Features

  • Movie with sound recording mode.
  • 10 or three-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Sepia color mode.
  • White balance (color) adjustment with five modes.
  • Voice caption recording.
  • Spot metering option.
  • Distant View record mode for landscape shots.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).

Recommendation

With its dual-format memory card slot, tiny size, and simple point-and-shoot operation, Konica's Digital Revio KD-400Z digital camera will have strong appeal for techno-savvy consumers. Accepting both SD/MMC cards and Sony Memory Sticks, the KD-400Z is geared to consumers who want to make the most of their techno-gadgets by allowing their digicam to share memory media with a variety of other toys (er, "valuable personal productivity enhancers"). The camera's stainless steel alloy body is perfect for travel, as is the small size and pocket-friendly design. The 4.0-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom are enough to satisfy advanced pros looking for a general-purpose camera with high resolution. The KD-400Z should appeal to a wide audience, given its flexible nature and compact size.

Design

Trim, compact, and lightweight, the KD-400Z practically begs to tag along anywhere. Its stainless steel alloy body can withstand some wear and tear, and the very small size is perfect for pockets. The sliding lens cover keeps the front panel smooth whenever the camera is shut off, making it easy to stash it in a pocket at a moment's notice. Measuring 3.75 x 2.25 x 1.19 inches (94 x 56 x 29.5 millimeters), the KD-400Z's portability is no question. Despite its metal body, the camera remains lightweight at just 6.5 ounces (198 grams) without the battery or memory card. A wrist strap secures the camera while in-hand, but I recommend picking up a small camera case to protect it when traveling.

Konica Digital Cameras

The KD-400Z's front panel is fairly smooth with the lens cover closed, with the exception of some very small protrusions. Sliding open the lens cover triggers the 3x zoom lens to telescope outward into its shooting position. (I'm accustomed to sliding lens covers opening from left to right, but the KD-400Z's operates in the opposite direction, which took some getting used to.) In addition to the lens, the flash, optical viewfinder window, AF assist lamp, and a small light sensor are also beneath the sliding cover. The thin, horizontal AF assist lamp shines a cool blue when lit, adding to the KD-400Z's stylish features. Though the camera doesn't have much of a hand grip, a sculpted, curving ridge on the front panel serves as a finger grip, reinforced by a slight thumb-rest bar on the back panel.

 

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