Kodak DX6490 Review
Kodak has filled-out the high-end of its EasyShare consumer digicam lineup with the very versatile 4-megapixel DX6490. Beginners will be able to use it as a point-n-shoot in automatic mode, photographers with intermediate skills will like its handy scene modes, and experts will appreciate the ability to exercise their creativity by using the manual and priority control over both aperture and shutter speed. This is truly a camera that everyone in your family can enjoy using.
The most noticeable feature of the EasyShare DX6490 is its Schneider Kreuznach Variogon 10X optical zoom lens. Ranging in focal length from 38 to 380mm in 35mm equivalence, it offers the photographer enormous versatility in image composition; the 38mm wide-angle covers most interior shots, while its 380mm telephoto magnification will please the nature and sports photographer. The lens produces sharp images throughout its zoom range, but with a bit of barrel distortion and pin cushioning present at the wide-angle and telephoto extremes respectively. The lens is quite fast; with a wide-open variable aperture range of F2.8 (wide) to F3.7 (tele), it will allow for a higher than expected shutter speed and enable you to hand-hold the camera in lighting conditions that might otherwise require a camera support.
The DX6490s shooting performance was a mixed bag. From power-on till the first image was captured measured 6 seconds. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was a very respectable 2/10 second when pre-focused, but a disappointing one second including autofocus time. Shot-to-shot delay averaged about two seconds, while burst mode captured six shots in two seconds; both of these rapid shooting modes caused the viewfinder (LCD or EVF) to blank during image capture, preventing the photographer from following action while shooting and therefore limiting the effectiveness of the DX6490 in rapidly capturing a series of images. Sports shooters will achieve the camera's best results by pre-focusing in single shot mode, as we did in our beach volleyball test shots. The consistent 2/10 second shutter lag enabled us to develop a rhythm with the camera and capture a high-percentage decisive moments.
We were happy with the results shooting indoors. The moderate wide-angle lens affords reasonable field of view, and its built-in pop-up flash has a generous (by consumer digicam standards) range of up to 16 feet. You won't be illuminating an entire dance floor, but your living room shots and small group portraits will please. In low ambient light, both the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) and large LCD were easy to view, and the DX6490's autofocus system was remarkably effective. The camera was also able to squelch its flash at close range, making it a good choice for shooting close-up images of small objects for inclusion in online auction listings. External flash equipment is accommodated by an External Flash Connector for the attachment of any lighting equipment having a PC connector.
We were pleased with our outdoor test shots. Images were sharp, well- exposed and richly saturated. I do feel that Kodak's JPEG compression is too aggressive. You'll see that the average file size for our sample photos is less than a megabyte and some images are as small as 411Kb. These are very small file sizes for four-megabyte images, other 4- megapixel camera images in fine quality are around 1.8 to 2.6 megabytes. We found the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) somewhat difficult to view in bright sunlight; the DX6490 would benefit from using a rubber eyecup on the EVF to block out ambient light.
The DX6490 uses a proprietary battery which recharges while the camera rests on the included dock. The battery life was impressive during our tests, but we recommend that you keep a fully-charged spare on hand. And speaking of docks, the optional Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock 6000 charges the battery and produces high- quality 4x6-inch prints using a 4-pass, dye sublimation process in just two minutes. These prints are the equal of any that you can get from your local photo finisher. Be sure to use the Best (3:2) quality setting - this mode creates images with a 3:2 aspect ratio which yields perfect 4x6" size photos with no cropping. When it's placed in the printer dock, the camera is turned on and printing can be initiated by simply depressing one button. The camera's LCD is used to preview and select images for printing. With a Kodak EasyShare camera and the printer dock, you'll have the modern equivalent to the old Polaroid system but with much better image quality. Click here to view our EasyShare 6000 Printer Dock mini-review.
With an MSRP of under $500 and a great deal of versatility, Kodak are offering a lot of value in the EasyShare DX6490. Usable by every member of your family, it will produce high-quality images of everything from family events, objects for sale at online auctions, and nature to sporting events. If you value a large 2.2-inch LCD display, and the ability to attach external flash devices, the 4-megapixel 10X zoom DX6490 would be a good choice for an all-around family digicam.
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