Kodak C663 Review
By Movable Type Admin
Kodak's new EASYSHARE C663 and C533 are the next generation of easy to use point-n-shoot "C" series digital cameras for 2006. The C663 offers some high-end features like a 6-megapixel imager, 3x optical zoom lens, Kodak Perfect Touch and Color Science technology, 640x480 MPEG-4 movie mode with audio as well as a large and bright 2.5-inch LCD display. Designed more for those just entering the digital world with various fully automatic exposure modes, it also offers the novice user both Program and Manual modes for a bit more control over the exposure process.
Like the C360 from last year, the C663's ergonomics are good. The body has a well designed feel, and even though the camera is quite compact, the "beefier" handgrip makes it more comfortable to hold. The various controls are well positioned on the body, and fall easily within the reach of your fingertips. Its large 2.5-inch LCD is a very nice display. I found it worked very well outdoors with only a few angles that reflected the sun, however it is very prone to finger prints. Indoors it "gains up" well, which makes framing in marginal conditions much easier. When you opt to use the exposure compensation, the display previews the result, darkening or brightening the live image in response to the degree of under/over exposure you've set. There's also an optical viewfinder provided, which is very useful in extreme lighting conditions or to save battery power.
With exception of the start up time, shooting performance was very good. Power up to first image captured measured a leisurely 3.8 seconds. However, Shutter lag measured less than 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and only 1/10 of a second including autofocus. When shooting a sequence of images in single exposure mode, the shot to shot delay averaged 1.5 seconds without using the flash and between 1.6 - 2.5 seconds with the flash on, depending on subject distance, focal length, and battery life.
The C663 provides 2 modes of continuous shooting, First Burst and Last Burst. First Burst captured 4 images in 1.2 seconds, with subsequent images at 8 second intervals as the camera's buffer remained full; it took a whopping 28 seconds to clear the full buffer. Last burst captures images continuously at 4/10 of a second intervals while the shutter button is depressed, but saves only the last 4. The LCD viewfinder displays the last captured image during both burst modes, making it difficult to use while following moving subjects; this is when the optical viewfinder comes in handy. All tests were done using a SanDisk Ultra II 256MB SD card, using 6.0MP image size, Auto mode, flash off, review off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
I was pleased with the quality of our 6.0MP images. Outdoors it produced well exposed images with good color balance. Thanks in part to its 3x optical zoom, our samples were sharp with only minimal edge blurring. This lens has a typical zoom range for its class, covering an equivalent range of 34-102mm. Its 34mm wide angle extreme which provides a field of view useful for interior and landscape shots, while the 104mm telephoto end is effective both for portraits and to bring your distant subjects a bit closer. I noticed moderate barrel distortion at wide angle, but relatively no pin cushioning at the telephoto end of the zoom range.
Indoors you will have to work within the limits of its flash, which Kodak claims has a range of 12 feet at wide angle. While this will be sufficient for most interior shooting, it does not have the power to illuminate large open rooms. Our indoor portrait samples showed good flash exposure and pleasing skin tones. The camera's red eye reduction flash mode was effective on most subjects. Although this model does not include a focus assist lamp, the AF system worked fairly well in low ambient light. The C663 controls the flash well at close range, making it a good choice for macro photography or producing images of small objects for online auction listings.
The C663's movie mode produced average results for a consumer model. Our outdoor samples showed the AF system does a good job of keeping up with moving subjects. However, some compression artifacts are visible.
Power is supplied by either 2 AA-type cells or a single CR-V3 type lithium pack. Using a set of 2500mAh NiMH batteries allowed me to capture many of our samples (about 65 shots and several movies) as well as conclude many of out other tests before having to put in a new set. The actual amount of images you can capture will determine solely on how often you use the LCD and flash.
Bottom line - The Kodak C663 is a welcomed addition to their very poplar EasyShare line of entry- level consumer models. Offering good overall shooting performance, great image quality, and loads of user-friendly exposure modes, it's sure to make a fun choice for anyone in the market for a capable 6-megapixel digicam. However, with a street price of about $299, it's a bit expensive when compared to similar models by other manufactures .
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