Recently, Concord Camera announced a new video camera, the DV2020. Well,
that is not news you might say. But, in this case, it is, because the video
camera will fit in your shirt pocket, stores the videos on SD memory cards,
and is only $230. It will also take snapshots.
The DV2020 uses the AVI format, in a highly
compressed arrangement, which means a
couple of things. One is that the videos don't take up much space in
storage. Secondly, the resolution is more like VHS than DV.
So, what do you want for $230? Well, as it turns
out, you get what you pay for, as described below.
Concord also sent me their 5345z, which is a 5 MP (MegaPixel)
snapshot camera, and the 4363z, which is a 4 MP snapshot camera. They will
both also take videos. Since I had
them all here at the same time, I thought I would publish the review
together, especially since digital cameras these days seem to have both
snapshot and video capabilities, regardless of their primary intent.
Therefore, the goal of this review was to determine
what kind of basic digital camera would be best for both types of use
(snapshots and videos), if
there is such a camera. However, keep in mind that the videos from these
small digital cameras are really just for sending vacation clips to your
family and friends. They are not meant to replace a conventional video
The DV2020 obviously uses a very small sensor,
because the lens is tiny. This implies a short focal length, which allows
for having it be a fixed focus design.
Fixed focus lenses have been around for decades.
Those of old enough to remember our Kodak Brownie cameras may not have known
then that it used a fixed focus lens, but it did. It also used large gauge
roll film, so the focal length was not short. They got around this by the
lens having an f/8 aperture which ensured that everything from about 6 feet
on was in focus.
The DV2020 can use a larger aperture because the
focal length is short, in order to deliver a full field image on a small
sensor. Short focal length lenses have larger depths of field (the range of
distance that everything appears in focus).
The 5345z and 4363, on the other hand, have larger
lenses, because the sensors are larger. The DV2020 specifies having a
maximum resolution setting of 2048x1536, and the 5345z has 2560x1920, with
the 4363 having 2272x1704. You might think that the snapshot quality of the
DV2020 would be close to the other two cameras. Read on.
The DV2020 has all of its controls accessed from the
Menu button on the rear of the camera, with a small dial to change the
selections, and a large dial to change the mode (movie vs. shapshots).
There are several choices for resolution both for
movies and still photos. To change the selection in movie mode, you depress
the small dial. Then you are presented with five basic settings: 320x240 in
three different qualities, and 160x120 in two qualities. For still photos,
there are three resolutions: 2048x1536, 1600x1200, and 800x600.
With the 5345z and 4363z, you get more resolution
settings for still photos, from the maximum resolution listed above, down to
640x480. But, you only get one setting for movie mode with the 5345z and two
for the 4363z. The video appears to be recorded at 15 frames per
Here is a photo of the rear panels of all three
Click on the photo to see a more detailed version.
The 5345z is on the left, the 4363z is in the middle, and the DV2020 is on
The 5345z and 4363z have pretty much the same controls,
but they are laid out quite differently.
You set the menu options with the Menu button and
then use the dial to change settings. Both cameras have such things as White
Balance, EV Shift (changes the ISO), Self Timer, ISO, AF (Auto Focus) Area,
Metering Area, and Digital Zoom (both cameras have 3x optical zoom). The
5345z adds the ability to set the Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast, and Flash
The 5345z has one feature that I really like, namely
a grid that can be overlain on the image. This lets you line up the horizon
or any other part of your picture. It is especially helpful when taking
All three cameras use SD Memory Cards, and all three
have some built-in memory. The number of still photos that the memory cards
can store is like other cameras, but the video storage is worth mentioning
here. The DV2020 can record 11 minutes of video on a 128MB card at its
highest resolution setting, and 1 hour 24 minutes at its lowest resolution
setting. This has importance not only to the card you have in the camera,
but to what you might be doing with the files, because the DV2020 is really
designed to produce videos that you can e-mail to your friends, rather than
to make home videos of your vacations and childrens' birthday parties.
Software comes with all the cameras. I found that I
needed to install drivers for the 5345z and DV2020, but the 4363z seemed to
be recognized by Windows without the driver. Even if you don't install the
drivers though, you can simply take the SD card out and put it in a card
reader in order to transfer the files to your computer. The DV2020
instruction manual states that you need the included software to view the
videos, but it turns out that Windows Media Player shows them just fine. So,
when you send some videos to your family while you are on vacation, they
should be able to view them without any additional software.
OK, Let's Take a Look at Some Pictures
I found all three cameras very easy to use. They
recorded lots of pictures or videos without the need to recharge batteries very
often. Odd that the DV2020 comes with a Lithium Ion rechargeable battery,
while the 5345z came with rechargeable AA batteries, or in the case of the
4363z, it only came with some regular alkaline non-rechargeable batteries.
Usually, it is the expensive cameras that come with Lithium Ion batteries. I
suppose the video format of the DV2020 requires more power, but its
generally low resolution would imply that this is not the case.
Below are shown three photos, one taken with each
camera. The ocean is in the distance, the foreground has numerous trees that
result in shadows with high contrast.
All three photos look similar at this size. However,
click on each photo to see a large version, and the differences become
apparent. I have included an inset of the center of the photo placed in the
bottom right corner of each photo, at full size.
You can see that, while the photo from the 5345z is sharp and
properly white balanced, the photo from the 4363z has a slight pink cast to it (this is
correctable with any photo editor, but it is better to have the pictures not
need adjustment). Both are
sharp, although the 1 MP difference is noticeable. The ocean is visible even
with all the contrasty objects throughout the field of view. The DV2020
the other hand, while having proper white balance, is not sharp at all, and
the inset shows this clearly. Also, notice that the ocean and sky are washed out. I
had quite a bit of trouble getting proper exposure with the DV2020, which
didn't do very well when the field was contrasty. So, even though the stated
resolution is 2048x1536, the image is no where near as sharp as the 4363z at
2272x1704. The difference is not accounted for by just the slight reduction in
resolution specification of the DV2020. It is more likely due to lens
quality and the size of the sensor (2 MP). The 2048x1536 resolution is
interpolated. Therefore, you can't base your choice of
camera just on the specified resolution.
As to video modes, I took videos of a beach scene
using the three cameras. Here are the results. Click on each of the links
below to download the video. It should play on Windows Media Player.
video for the 5345z does not have any sound because it does not support
audio, so to me, the 5345z video capability is not useful (but its snapshot
quality is excellent). The video for the 4363z has
both picture and sound, and is much better quality than the video from the
2020. Since the 4363z is almost the same price as the 2020, it would seem to
have the better cost/performance ratio. However, the SD card that I had on
hand worked in the 2020 but not in either the 5345z or 4363z. Also, the
video file size for the 2020 is smaller than the video files from the 5345z
or 4363z. So, for taking short videos on vacation, e-mailing them back home,
saying, "Hi Grandma and Grandpa, we are having a great time," the 2020 might
be the best choice, since the files are smaller. Its snapshot capabilities
are not satisfactory though. To me, I would use the 4363z, even though it
has larger video files, because the video quality is better, and the snapshot
quality is very much better.
We noticed some issues in playing the video files
from the three cameras. I had trouble with the 4363z video playing in
Windows Media Player, while Steve Smallcombe had trouble with the 2020
video. Brian Florian had no trouble playing any of the three videos. The 4363z video file crashed Pinnacle Studio 9.1, Pinnacle Liquid 6.0
played it, but with no audio, and ULead Media Studio Pro played it fine,
with picture and sound. Apparently, the codecs installed on different
computers vary enough that they cannot properly decode every AVI file. I
have the same difficulty with AVIs created in high-end non-linear video
editors, captured from regular DV cameras, so it affects video capturing,
viewing, and editing throughout the range of video editing software products
that are out there. I am even having trouble getting AVI files captured in
one video editor to be opened in another video editor, and both editors are
made by the same company! Remember all the trouble we had with some
DVDs playing on certain DVD players but not others? It was a huge problem at
first, and now seems to be minor, although it still happens occasionally. Well,
apparently it remains a big issue in the digital video camera capturing,
editing, and playing arena. This is something that really needs to be fixed
if the industry wants to sell lots of video editing products to consumers.
I think that trying to get a digital camera that
does both video and still photography, and does them both well, in the budget arena may be futile.
None of the three cameras tested here were great performers in this regard
(but, in my experiences with a lot of cameras, they perform very well
against their competition in general). I
imagine it is a common problem, in that just too much is expected for $400
and it is not something peculiar to Concord, who make cameras for lots of
companies out there. At this point, I would suggest that you buy a snapshot
camera for its snapshot capabilities (the Concord 5345z is very good at
that), and get a good quality dedicated DV camera for videos. If you must
get an inexpensive digital camera that does both, the Concord 4363z is the
best choice of the three cameras reviewed here. Remember though, the video
quality is suitable only for e-mailing videos to your friends and family. It
is not intended for archiving family videos of vacations and events.
- John E. Johnson, Jr. -