Kodak DX7440 Review
By Movable Type Admin
The DX7440 is a compact feature-rich camera with a high-quality 4.0 megapixel imager, 4X Schneider optical zoom lens, and a large 2.2-inch TFT color LCD. With its Auto and pre-programmed scene modes, entry-level users can enjoy point-n-shoot simplicity, while still obtaining great photos. The more experienced will appreciate its aperture and shutter speed priority modes, and if you want total control, simply rotate the mode dial to the Manual position.
The DX7440 features a Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 4X optical zoom lens with a focal length ranging from 33 - 132mm in 35mm equivalence. 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. However, I noticed very little CA (chromatic aberration) in samples that had objects with extreme highlights. At full wide angle (33mm), you'll be able to take pleasing landscape shots, group portraits, etc. You'll also be able to capture more detail of distant subjects thanks to its 132mm full telephoto focal length. The lens is reasonably fast; with a wide-open variable aperture range of F2.8 (wide) to F4.8 (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 tripod or some other form of camera support.
Shooting performance when using 4.0MP Best mode was very robust. Power up to first image captured measured approx. 3.5 seconds. Shutter lag averaged 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and 2/10 of a second including autofocus. The shot-to-shot delay averaged 1.0 seconds without using the flash and 1.5 seconds including the flash. There are two continuous capture modes to choose from (First Burst, Last Burst.) First burst captures a totally of 6 frames in about 1.5 seconds. It then takes about 6 seconds for the camera to process the buffer. Second Burst allows you to capture up to 30 frames, but only saves the "Last" six frames. Switching from Record mode to Review mode (and vise versa) is almost instantaneous, as is scrolling through your stored images. All tests were done using a Sandisk Extreme 512MB SD card, "Auto" exposure mode, preview off, flash off, with all other settings a default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera setting, media etc.
I was pleased with the ergonomics of this camera. The 2.2-inch LCD works great outdoors, I only found a few angles that reflected the sun to make it difficult to see. When using it indoors in low-ambient light, it "gains up" to help further brighten your subject. This is a very useful tool when trying to take a portrait of an individual or family in these conditions. You have to remember that even though it may seem as if there is sufficient light in a room to the human eye, the camera may have difficulties focusing and locking exposure. Although it does not feature a focus-assist lamp, it had very little problems focusing in dimly lit rooms. As for the controls, they were very well placed and functional. The camera feels very comfortable in your hands thanks to the enlarged hand grip and your fingers fall naturally in place near the shutter release, mode dial, jog dial, etc.
As with many of today's consumer digicams, the DX7440 offers a VGA (640x480) reslution movie mode. Overall it produced good quality videos, and as long as you have a fairly large (256MB or bigger) memory card, you should be able to capture a nice family clip at a birthday party, reunion, etc. If you'd like to send videos to family or friends, select the smaller QVGA (320x240) movie mode. Then you can send it via email and the recipients on the other end won't have to wait "forever" to download a large file from their mail sever.
The overall image quality in 4.0MP Best mode was great. When shooting outdoors, it produced well exposed photos, and the color balance and saturation was very nice. As with most of the Kodak's I have seen this year (2004), the sky detail was beautiful. I noticed very little noise in high contrast (open blue sky) areas as well as low contrast (shadow) areas.
Indoors it produced similar results. The flash range is effective for most interior shooting. Its 33mm wide angle range will also help you capture large group photos in mid-sized rooms. Its "auto" white balance works well when using the flash, and only when shooting an available light shot of our "M&M" man did I see it have problems, the majority of the images taken seemed to a bit too warm. Unfortunately there is no custom or manual white balance mode, so I could not correct this problem. You can see a example of this on our Samples page.
Bottom line - the DX7440 will make a great choice for anyone looking for a simple to use camera with powerful features. Its 4.0 megapixel Best images yield beautiful 8x10-inch or larger prints. If you're one who demands great image quality, useful exposure modes, and still want the ability to record pleasing videos, than this is the digicam for you. And all for just $299!
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