Kodak CX7430 Review
The new Kodak EasyShare CX7430 combines a 4.0 megapixel imager with a high-quality Kodak Retinar 3X optical zoom lens. It offers a variety of exposure modes and the Auto (point-n-shoot) mode allows any level user to obtain high-quality results without enduring a long learning process. As you turn the Mode dial from one setting to another, the CX7430 briefly posts a message on the LCD, informing you of the Mode and a brief description of the conditions it's intended for. This combination of automation, and scene modes provides the ability to obtain good results in a wide range of shooting conditions.
The shooting performance of the CX7430 was impressive for a camera in this class. In our testing, the delay between turning the camera on until capturing the first image averaged about four seconds (with flash.) Shutter lag when pre-focused was a fast 1/10 of a second, or 4/10 of a second including autofocus. The shot to shot time averaged about 1.8 seconds between frames with the flash Off and about 2.5 seconds with the flash On. Shooting in Continuous capture mode, I was able to capture 6 images in about 1.5 seconds. The LCD viewfinder went blank during the entire image capture sequence; you'll have better success using the optical viewfinder when taking a rapid sequence of shots. All performance test were done using the internal 16MB memory, flash off, and Auto record mode (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, media, camera setting, etc.
The Kodak Retinar 3X optical zoom lens has a 35mm-equivalent range of 34-102mm, giving you good coverage from wide angle through telephoto focal lengths. At the 34mm end of the zoom range you'll have enough field of view for most interior shots, and at 102mm you'll be able to capture the details of distant subjects. The lens produced sharp images throughout its zoom range, with only slight barrel distortion at wide angle, and almost no pin cushioning at telephoto. The zoom is smooth, and makes no noticeable noise when extending the lens or during autofocus.
The overall image quality in BEST 4.0MP was good. Flash portraits were well exposed, and skin tones were natural in our test shots. The flash range of up to 11.8 feet (at wide angle) won't illuminate large rooms, but is adequate for most interior shooting, especially group portraits. You can include yourself in these portraits thanks to the CX7430's tripod mount and self-timer. The flash also works extremely well for macro photography and "throttles down" to prevent over-exposure at even the closest range; this is a helpful function for producing images of small items to include in online auction listings. Although it has no focus-assist lamp, the CX7430 autofocus system was surprisingly effective in low ambient lighting conditions. However, the LCD was difficult to use in dim lighting; you'll appreciate the optical viewfinder in these conditions. When shooting outdoors, our test shots were sharp, well exposed and richly saturated. There was almost no visual noise in high contrast (open blue sky) areas as well as low contrast (shadow) areas, which is very impressive for a camera in this class.
Bottom line - The EasyShare CX7430 is a great all around camera. Its 4.0 megapixels of resolution will allow you to create photo-quality 8x10-inch prints, and its small size enables it to be carried in almost any size handbag. With a street price of about $279, the CX7430 offers a great value. It makes a great choice for those wanting an easy to use camera that produces high-quality pictures. I think that the CX7430 will be a great camera for the family, business, and "tourist" users. Combine it with a KODAK EasyShare Printer Dock, and you'll have a quality digital system capable of capturing that special moment and printing it at the same time. If you want even more value, check out the CX7530. It's physically and functionally identical, but adds 5.0 megapixels, 32MB of internal memory, and a 1.8-inch LCD, all for about $20 more!
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