The Kyocera Finecam SL300R is an extremely stylish metal bodied twisty camera from 2003-2004, with an f/2.8 3x optical zoom lens, 3.2 megapixel sensor, and SD card slot. It could also be bought as the posher, leather-clad, CONTAX SL300RT, or a 4 megapixel version, the SL400R. Kyocera and Contax made some of the more stylish and interesting cameras with 4 compact digital camera models from Contax, and a larger number from Kyocera. The SL300R has four modes, and one setup menu. The modes include playback, photo, continuous shooting and a video mode that records 320 pixel videos at 30fps with sound. There’s a small 1.5inch screen on the back, that can be switched off or alternatively the backlight can be switched off – under the LCD is a reflective layer so you can still see the screen in bright sunlight. More details and picture below…
The Kyocera Finecam SL300R can be picked up for around £10 from ebay, with replacement rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (3rd party) still available. Although, as you can see from this version, you’d be better off trying to find one that isn’t so scratched! (These photos of the camera were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark I, and the Lensbaby Edge 80, with sunset lighting).
The Finecam SL300R has ISO100 to ISO400 available, and with an f/2.8 lens from wide to telephoto it should be capable of taking decent photos in poor conditions. A neat feature of the camera is the screen automatically displays the image the correct way up even when you’ve twisted the lens round so that it’s effectively now upside-down.
The maximum size SD card you can use is 2GB, forget about SDHC and SDXC, these hadn’t even been invented back in 2003-2004 when the Kyocera was around. Unfortunately Contax/Kyocera decided to stop making digital cameras in 2005 and it’s one of the companies that you wish had continued, as they made some of the more interesting, and somewhat unique cameras. They also made some of the quicker continuous shooting compacts as well. A lot featured 3.3fps continuous shooting for example, including the SL300R.
One drawback of the design is the lack of lens cap or cover, meaning that it’s more likely to pick up fingerprints. A quick wipe of the lens should resolve this minor problem. The lens and flash unit can rotate 270 degrees from the front pointing down, all the way back to facing backwards pointing down. This feature made it appealing for digiscoping where you attach a telescope to the front of the lens. (For very similar reasons the early Nikon Coolpix cameras were popular for digiscoping as well). Here are some sample photos, taken in grey rainy weather, the first two on the wide setting (38mm equivalent), the final picture using full 3x optical zoom (114mm equivalent) – showing a Mazda Carol Autozam Mk II (click through to view full size):