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“The Konica Digital Revio KD 100 was the first...”

Written on: 10/06/2003 by Callan Cool. (1 review written)

Good Points
Video out, copies video out to tape well

Bad Points
battery life, image quality, reliability

General Comments
The Konica Digital Revio KD 100 was the first Megapixel Digital camera with an LCD preview screen to retail on the U.K. High Street for under £100 and as a camera has been around for quite a while. Whilst its there's now around half a dozen or more 2 megapixel cameras on sale for the same price as the revio, with Konica recently introducing it's own 2 megapixel DC 25 retailing at only £10 more, is the KD 100 a good buy or not?

Looking around the reviews of this camera on review centre it seems to come in for a hard time from buyers with battery life, image quality driver problems and niggling faults being the main reasons for criticism. Some people were unhappy with the image quality that they returned the camera to the store for a different model, whilst others were disgruntled at the the apparently short battery life, whilst a small minority raved about how pleased they were with the camera. Ratings for the camera varied from a dismal 0 to a full 10. However is it a good camera and does it take good images? And furthermore will you be pleased with it?. To make comparison easy the Jenptik JDC 2.1 lcd (a 2 megapixel camera) with a similar retail price, has been used.

Out of the box comes a smallish lightweight plastic camera that feels sturdy and solid once the two Duracell alkalines supplied with the unit are inserted. A leather case is also included with the camera which has a simple but neat feature inside, a small loop to thread the wrist strap through so that when the camera is in use you don't forget where you put it. However, this leaves the case dangling around and you have to keep it tucked aside while you take your photo's, but at least you don't loose your case. Usb and Video out cables together with a Drivers Cd and a printed manual complete the package.

Upon insertion of the batteries you'd think it would be a simple case of turning the camera on and taking a photo, but alas its not that simple. Whilst powering on the camera turns the LCD display on top of the camera on, the TFT preview screen stays off. There are 5 buttons in a row to the right of the preview screen and most these are marked with symbols making it slightly confusing. There's no dial or jog dial for menu settings like on other cameras so its sometimes hit and miss selecting modes. Each button has several functions dependant upon whether the menu is on or off. The manual doesn't tell you how you turn the TFT on, just that you turn it on, and it takes a while to realise how to do this. The manual also omits that you don't have to use the screen, so a simple point and shoot first photo takes ages to achieve. There's also no dial on top of the camera, but a Mode switch on the rear to select between photo, movie, playback, and video modes. This places an added strain on the button as for example to playback a video clip you have to press it three or four times, then press the shutter button. Its very easy to mistake the up arrow button with the menu button, and the lower ones with each other, and just how many times does one have to press the mode button to view an image? Or to delete it for that matter.

On the top of the unit, there's a status LCD that allows you to change image size and quality and flash mode, but the buttons are very small, and its easy to mistake one for the other. This display also shows erratically may it be said, battery life. Battery life is the main gripe of customers and is illustrated well by the following 'fault' with the camera. When the indicator is showing no charge, if you open the battery cover then close it, it will immediately display a half charged set. Also sometimes the camera refused to power on, and again, opening and closing the battery hatch cured the problem.

Menu options are pretty much standard with settings for white balance, exposure compensation, lighting voltage, power off, screen brightness, and auto preview amongst others, though the auto preview when turned on with the TFT preview kept off to achieve optimum battery life just didn't work properly . Nor did the self timer. The playback menu as with most cameras is different to that of normal camera modes, and although images can be deleted on camera, first it asks you if you want to delete the picture, then again with the image number, and finally you have to confirm it. There is no need to show the image and ask if its the one you want deleting, and then show the file number and ask again, it only wastes battery life.

So, does it take great pictures? Well that depends on your personal opinion or not only on whether or not it's your first digital camera or how expensive your film camera is, but also at what size you view them in your photo editing programme. It has a Cmos sensor which for a major manufacturer is unthinkable and as and this shows in image quality and noise levels. The three image quality settings don't make much difference unless you want super sharp prints, but viewing the prints on a computer is a different ball game. The colours are bright, and the auto white balance does a great job, even in indoor tungsten lighting, coming out bright white, and not creamy like some. The auto setting should rarely ever need changing, although on bright days or very overcast ones you might have to turn the auto flash off to avoid over exposure. Exposure on auto setting is excellent too, though some indoor shots in fluorescent lighting came out very, very warm with a creamy tone to them, and the flash operated, whereas other cameras In the same location took a perfect picture without flashing at all. However pictures are not perfect, suffering in two main areas. Firstly, if you are upgrading from a lower resolution camera then images will not seem as sharp as you may expect. There is a certain degree of consistency of sharpness that all digital cameras should have across each image size, but the Konica fails miserably on this. For example an 800 x 600 pixel (450k pixels) image taken on for example a Jenoptik JDC 2.1 megapixel looks sharper than a 1280 x 1024 pixels (1.3mp) image on the Konica. Now this brings another question to the fore. In most image editing packages an 800 x 600 pixel will be opened at 1x magnification if your monitor is set to 1024x 768 resolution as most 17 monitors arethese days. A 1280 x 1024 pixel image is bigger than that screen resolution and thus opens up at half size. Comparing the sharpness and noise levels of a half sized 1.3 megapixel Konica image to a 1x magnified image from the aforementioned Jenoptik there is not much difference. However display the Konica at the equivalent 1x magnification and the difference is clear. Solid blocks of colour show up very high levels of noise on the Konica, which simply isn't there on the Jenoptik. And as the Jenoptik's images are smaller in size then you'd expect the Konica to produce much better photos than the Jenoptik, but it simply isn't so. Where the Konica does triumph over the Jenoptik is that you need a steadier hand with the Jenoptik than with the Konica, with blurred photos not much of a problem. However, photos do print out well. Although the aforementioned noise problem rears its head slightly, it's not a real problem, provided you go no higher than half A4 size, and it may be down to printer and not the images..

As for the file sizes, this is an anomaly. Two different KD 100's were used for this review (the first having niggling faults) , and the first camera gave best quality 1.3 mp images coming out at just over 1 megabyte. However if you viewd it in an image editor (photoimpact being the one in question here) and then sharpened it slightly and saved the image, then the resulting file size averaged 300k. The second camera produced file sizes of around 500k and seemed to produce better images, which remains a mystery. Also on a related note, the manual quoted the number of images possible at each image setting. On best size and quality then 8 images were possible so it said in the manual and on the status lcd. With an empty memory, with 105 at lowest size and quality. This was never exceeded in actual conditions. However, surprisingly the second camera displayed 12 images could be fitted in memory on an empty camera, yet in actual filming 13 were captured.. The lowest quality settings however only displayed 125 images were possible, so if you were expecting say 165 (50 more than quoted in the manual like the highest setting achieved) forget it. Whether the differences between the two cameras were down to Konica improving the camera to bring it into line with other manufacturers, or whether it was a faulty camera is unknown.

Where the KD 100 shows its strengths is in it's video mode, but it also shows two annoying weaknesses here as well. Firstly, its images are only 14 seconds long at a time (the manual states 15), and it can only hold two full length clips (more if they are shorter) in the supplied 8 meg memory. It will not take images longer than 14 seconds though in fairness they can be up to 14.99 seconds long and the number of colours in the image does not alter file size or length like the Jenoptik does. Movies are very much a Buster Keaton affair, being silent (unlike most others), and playing back with a slight (but just noticeable) jerkiness to playback rather like an old silent movie but not as bad. Also in daylight movies are noticeably over exposed and one turmed out almost monochrome. However, using the video out the pictures display really well on a tv screen, and can easily be transferred onto video cassette and look good but rather odd without sound. Images view well windows media player, and doubling the playback window size does not reduce quality too much, although

the Jenoptik suffered bad loss of quality in this respect. In Tungsten light the images were very dark and slightly grainy, although colours could be made out, unlike the Jenoptik which gave red images under the same conditions. As the Jenoptik's output suffered in media player when the screen size doubled then we can only assume that this was the reason the it doesn't have a video out, and if you want to copy movies onto videotape but aren't bothered about sound then the Konica is perfect, but once you see video with sound, well..... Its like colour photos and monochrome ones..

The driver loads easily enough, but many users have reported error messages, and some

cannot download images but in general, this may well be a printed manual error. The manual states that you should use 'My computer' for copying images from the removable drive that appears when its connected. However this is virtually impossible, for individual files are harder to transfer by drag and drop and explorer should be used. Also the camera uses battery power when connected to the camera. This drains the alkalines even more, resulting in corruption of some perfect images during transfer. Compare this to other cameras, (like the Jenoptik) which take their power totally from the usb hub. Although the Driver Cd includes MGI photo suite, Net meeting is not included, so win 98 users will not be able to use its webcam mode without downloading it from Microsoft's web site.

As far as reliability goes then the KD 100 is not perfect. Putting it simply, the first camera suffered four problems. Firstly was the battery power meter reported earlier in this review along with the camera refusing to power on at least three occasions, twice after changing the batteries. Indeed the very first time they were changed was when the fault first occurred. Thirdly it wouldn't take a picture every time you pressed the shutter. The light would come on but nothing would happen. Also the same happened trying to use the self timer, the front light would flash once then nothing, though strangely this rectified itself just before the camera was exchanged. Lastly, the auto preview feature hardly worked at all, only seeming to work when activated, then defaulting to off. All in all this signalled an unreliable camera. Surprisingly all these faults except the battery power meter were rectified on the replacement, which suffered an even more serious fault. For no apparent reason the camera was liable to freeze completely after taking a picture. This happened randomly four times over a 5 day period so it was back to the shop for a refund.

The biggest bone of contention with users is battery life. Alkalines or rechargeables must be used. The Preview screen used a lot of battery power, but it is possible to turn this off. You can also use video mode solely with the viewfinder, though its not stated how to do it in the manual. Simply press the mode button once and the status display reads 14 seconds. You can then shoot videos without the preview screen. Also, if you minimise the use of the flash to an absolute minimum (that's why dark night clubs eat batteries) then it's possible to get a weeks use (up to 80 ish shots) from two alkalines. As you can get four AA alkalines for a quid in many pound shops its not that heavy on the batteries, though NiMh's are a much better bet.

So in summary, compared to similarly priced cameras the Revio falls down on Specification (Konica is the only maufacturer still making its entry level camera only a 1.3 megapixel affair - with the exception of Fuji, who's Axia slimshot is actually a clone model also sold as an Oregon Scientific ) which is way is below par, as is image quality. With nothing really to reccomend it except it's video out, its an expensive buy, considering that you can now buy 2 megapixel cameras for the same price, and for just £10 more Amazon are selling a 2 mgapixel camera with an Optical zoom. All in all this Revio speaks for itself.

Should anyone wish to compare images taken with this camera and the aforementioned Jenoptik JDC 2.1 please email and as selection will be sent out.

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