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Casio QV-4000 Review

Highs

  • Very good picture quality
  • competitively priced

Rating

Our Score 8
User Score 0

Lows

  • 16MB CF included with the QV-4000 is very small for a 4.1 M pixel camera
The QV-4000 is one of those cameras where you can quickly understand the basics and get right to shooting pictures

Summary

The QV-4000 is not the smallest digital camera available – nor the largest. Personally I prefer that a digital camera with the resolution and features of the QV-4000 emulate the size and shape of the compact 35mm SLR cameras that it is likely to replace or complement. The look and feel of the QV-4000 says, “This is a real camera.”

With a street price of $600 to $700, the 4-megapixel QV-4000 should not be ignored by anyone shopping for full-featured 3 or 4 mega-pixel digital cameras.

Introduction

The Casio QV-4000 bills itself as a small camera with big features. At 4.6″ x 2.9″ x 2.5″and 355 grams that might be stretching the definition of small a bit. However, there is no doubt that this camera is loaded with features.

The QV-4000 is shaped like a conventional 35mm camera. In fact, it is about the same size as many smaller 35mm SLR cameras. This does not take full advantage of the miniaturization that one might assume from a digital camera. However, even though the SLR mechanism required by a film camera is removed, a good telephoto lens still takes up space. The QV-4000 uses an f2.0 – f2.5 Canon zoom lens equivalent to 34mm to 102mm (3X) on a 35mm camera.

The camera fit in my hand quite comfortably in spite of the size. The result is a feeling of substance and quality. It’s probably fair to say that the camera feels smaller than its dimensions would indicate. The QV-4000 should fit easily into most jacket pockets, but a shirt pocket would be a stretch – quite literally. One of the key features of the QV-4000 is what Casio calls the “best shot” feature. This feature consists of five aperture and shutter speed settings built into the camera as well as 100 additional combinations on a CDROM. The settings on the CDROM may be selected for particular shooting situations and downloaded to the compact flash card for selection in the camera.

Camera Operation

The QV-4000 is one of those cameras where you can quickly understand the basics and get right to shooting pictures. Once past the basics, the more advanced features are there to be explored.

Being a first time digital camera user, some of the camera features were not immediately obvious to me. This was my fault, not the cameras, as it has a very easy to use menu, which is displayed on the bright 1.8″ color LCD. Once the menu button above the LCD is depressed, the miniature joystick scrolls through the menu and selects options when depressed.

Battery life is specified to be about 3 hours or 600 shots with standard AA 1600mAh Ni-MH batteries. I didn’t measure this, but never had an occasion where an unexpected battery warning interrupted shooting. Knowing that you can charge a hand full of standard extra batteries with the included charger and carry them for spares reduces any angst over battery life.

There was only one peculiar behavior that I experienced while using the QV-4000. The QV-4000 controls locked up once while I was experimenting with the digital zoom. This only occurred once and I was never able to duplicate it. The batteries had to be removed and re-inserted in order to unlock the controls. Fortunately no photos were lost.

Photo Quality

With 4.13 million pixels to work with, excellent photo quality is expected. In general the QV-4000 didn’t disappoint.

The colors were rendered brilliantly and with very good skin tones. The auto-focus system was very robust and rarely tricked into incorrect focus. The result was very sharp images – most of the time. In the highest resolution mode (2240×1680) objects with sharp horizontal or vertical lines, for example, shingles on a house would sometimes render jagged edges. These photos could be deleted and re-shot except the jaggies are too fine to pre-view in the LCD display. Best to take several shots of this type of subject and sort them on the computer later.

The “Best shot” feature mentioned previously provides automatic aperture and shutter speed combinations for nearly any shooting situation imaginable. But, if that isn’t enough there is also a feature that displays brightness versus color range as a histogram on the color LCD. This makes it easy to predict the color saturation before taking the shot.

A high pixel count is often mentioned as desirable for photos or artwork that will be blown up for posters, etc. Typically < 1M-pixel is sufficient for email, 1-2 M-pixel for standard size photos, 3 – 4 M-pixel for 8×10 or bigger. I found that an added benefit of a high-resolution image sensor was that it actually makes a digital zoom useful. Digitally zooming into a 1 M-pixel sensor just results in a close up view of the pixels – that is the picture sharpness diminishes visibly. With the 4.13 M-pixel sensor, the digital zoom (3.2x) actually has a high detail area to zoom into. This is ironic since lower resolution digital cameras are where digital zoom is often offered in lieu of optical zoom in order to save cost.

The flash settings were very flexible and resulted in very good in-door pictures. The QV-4000 includes the expected re-eye reduction feature as well as fill in. A focus assist lamp illuminates the subject for proper focusing under flash conditions. (Don’t be surprised to get a quizzical reaction from your human subject when they are subjected to both this illumination and the red-eye reduction pre-flash.) There are two flash intensity settings available in the options menu. I found the lower intensity setting to be inadequate for most indoor photos and simply left the camera on the higher flash setting.

There is an external flash terminal for even greater flexibility with flash shots.

Software

Windows 2000/Me/98/NT4.0 S/W with the camera includes Photo Loader Ver. 2.0, Photohands Ver. 1.0 Panorama Editor Ver. 1.0, Acrobat Reader and QuickTime. There is also a USB Ver. 1.0 driver for Windows 2000/Me/98. The Macintosh S/W was not tested, but includes Internet Explorer, Acrobat Reader, Photo Loader Ver. 1.1 and USB driver Ver. 2.1.

The S/W installed without trouble on a system running Windows 98. When the camera was plugged into the USB cable provided, Photo Loader came up automatically and loaded the images from the camera. This feature can be disabled, but worked very nicely and will probably be used by most owners. The images are automatically filed into a folder named with the date the photo was created by the camera. Each image is time stamped for identification. Printing from Photo Loader was not intuitive, but was simple after referring to the manual.

After searching for features that I thought were included such as cropping, red-eye reduction, etc, I realized that this application does only what its name implies – it loads the photos from the camera. Photo Hands is a separate program that is used for picture editing can be accessed from within Photo Loader. The level of integration in the software package appears to be typical of digital cameras in this class. This is not a criticism of the QV-4000 bundle, but an observation that novices would probably prefer a more integrated package than amateur or professional photographers.

Pros and Cons

Pros
-Very good picture quality
-Size – fits nicely in the hand or jacket pocket
-Compatible with micro-drive
-Standard AA Ni-MH rechargeable batteries – charger included
-Very competitively priced

Cons
-16MB CF included with the QV-4000 is very small for a 4.1 M pixel camera
-Records video (AVI 320×240), but no audio

Conclusions

The QV-4000 is not the smallest digital camera available – nor the largest. Personally I prefer that a digital camera with the resolution and features of the QV-4000 emulate the size and shape of the compact 35mm SLR cameras that it is likely to replace or complement. The look and feel of the QV-4000 says, “This is a real camera.”

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