The new Konica digital camera has the same compact design as the Yashica S3 and, being the same dimensions as a credit card, the pair are the first truly compact digital cameras.
This is quite a remarkable feat considering the camera has a 2x zoom and houses a 3.3 million pixel CCD.
Although the size makes it perfect to carry around in a compact bag or shirt pocket, it could be uncomfortable for a larger handed person to hold and control. Having a metal case gives it a solid feel, but you have to be careful not to cover the flash with your fingers.
All the controls are on the back plate and easy to work out, without the need to revert to the manual. A power button activates the camera, which takes about seven seconds from pressing to it being ready for use. The buttons for flash and focus are at the top, alongside the camera taking and preview switch, to the other side is the zoom control taking the lens from 7.8 to 15.6mm, or 38-76mm in 35mm terms. The zoom takes about a second to go from one end to the other and has four positions that can be selected in total. The lens is solid in design and doesn't show any signs of wobble when extended. The lens is protected by a simple shutter arrangement that opens when the lens pops out ready for use.
The LCD is small, but perfectly adequate, and can be seen in all but bright sunlight conditions. The optical finder is also small and quite fiddly to look though. There's no dioptre correction either so it may not suit spectacle wearers.
You can turn off the LCD if you prefer to use the optical finder and reserve some battery power. The camera switches off after a predetermined time, which you set in the set-up area. This can be one, two or six minutes. Also in the set up area are options to adjust date, turn the focus beep on or off, select single or continuous autofocus, turn digital zoom on or off, select language, (English or Japanese) and video mode (Pal or NTSC). Other shooting features can be set up from the menu button with the options appearing across the bottom of the LCD. The jogging wheel is used to select the icon across the bottom and then the centre button makes the feature active. Here you have the option of setting the self timer at a two or 10 second delay, the shooting resolution to TIFF, fine or super fine JPEG at 2048x1536 and a normal 1024x768 mode. There's also a movie mode, which allows 15 sec of filming at 320x240.
In the TIFF mode you get a non-compressed 9.1Mb image that is the highest quality possible, but only one can be taken on the provided 16Mb MultiMedia card, making it unpractical to use. I used the fine setting, which gave decent results and allowed 16 1Mb images to be taken on the card. The best thing to consider when buying any digital camera is a large card to allow more images to be stored, or one of the new digital albums, which allow images to be downloaded directly from the card while you're out and about.
When taking a picture the camera focuses automatically and an indication light glows, supported by a beep (if turned on) to indicate focusing has been achieved. The focusing is accurate in good light but struggled in low light where contrast was low. It's also really noisy when focusing sounding a bit like an electric shaver.
The shutter is light to press and, because of the size of the camera, has to be held and pressed carefully to avoid camera shape, especially when the flash is turned off and you're accessing some of the slower speeds, which, incidentally go down to eight seconds. The camera is powered by a special lithium-ion Konica battery. It's just 3.6V and soon drains when the LCD is used regularly. I only got 15 shots out of the first charge, but I was getting acquainted with the features, a subsequent charge lasted over 50 shots, several with flash and a couple of movies and there was still a third left showing on the battery symbol. One major disadvantage is that you have to charge the battery by plugging the charger into the camera, which means you're out of action while the battery is being charged.
Despite the metal body, the battery cover is plastic and could become damaged if careless handling where to occur.
Downloading pictures to the computer is easy. You may already have checked on the camera's LCD to see if the image is sharp using the 2x magnifier. The camera is supplied with a mini card reader that plugs directly into the USB socket on your PC or Mac. The images can then be seen as though they're on a spare hard drive on your computer.
The camera comes with a soft pouch case, which keeps it pocketable and a 16Mb MultiMedia card, battery chargers, software CD and video and USB card reader. There's no filter thread.
I found the size perfect for carrying around at all times. You could slip it in a trouser pocket and forget you had it with you. The quality is good, but not outstanding and, for me, the main problem was the physical size, which I found too small to hold and control comfortably. I prefer a larger camera. The thing about such a criticism is that you can nip into a shop and feel before you buy, my partner loved it.
Test by Peter Bargh