Kodak DX7630 Review
Kodak's newest member of the "DX" family, the EasyShare DX7630 Zoom offers users point-n-shoot simplicity with advanced control for the more experienced photographer. The DX7630 features a 6.1 megapixel imager combined with a 3x optical zoom lens. It offers image sizes from 6.1MP (2856x2142), 5.4MP (2856x1904), 4MP (2304x1728), 3.1MP (2048x1536), and 1.7MP (1496x1122). The 5.4MP (2856x1904) size/quality mode is set at a 3:2 ratio, which is ideal for printing 4x6-inch prints. It features 8 record modes including SCN mode which has 16 pre-programmed scene modes for obtaining accurate exposure for select shooting conditions.
The DX7630 features a Schneider Kreuznach Variogon 3X optical zoom lens with a focal length ranging from 39 - 117mm 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. The lens is quite 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. We did spot some chromatic abberation in our brick building (diagonal power lines) and also the restaurant (white columns in front) sample pictures.
The DX7630's shooting performance was quite impressive. Power-up to first image captured measured about 4.5 seconds, this includes the time it takes to extend the lens and boot up the camera. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was a very respectable 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and a fast 2/10 of a second including autofocus time. Shot-to-shot delay averaged about two seconds, while burst mode captured 4 shots in 1.5 seconds; both of these rapid shooting modes caused the LCD to blank during image capture, which prevents the user from following action while shooting and therefore limits the effectiveness of the DX7630 in rapidly capturing a series of images. The above times were recorded using a Sandisk Ultra II 512MB SD card.
The DX7630's image quality in 6.1MP FINE mode was good. The moderate wide-angle lens affords reasonable field of view, and its built-in flash has a range of up to 13.8 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, the large LCD was easy to view, and the DX7630's autofocus system was remarkably effective. However the LCD was difficult to use in direct sunlight. I was 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. There were some compression artifacts visible in open blue sky areas, but they were acceptable. You'll see that the average file size of our sample photos is less than a 3 megabyte and some images were as small as 1.1 megabytes. These are very small file sizes for six megapixel images, other six megapixel cameras like the Olympus C-60 produced images in fine quality that were around 3.5 to 4 megabytes.
The DX7630 uses a proprietary battery which can be recharged with the included AC charger or one of the optional EasyShare camera docks. 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 5.4MP (3:2) FINE quality setting - this mode creates images with a 3:2 aspect ratio which yields perfect 4x6-inch prints 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.
With a street price of under $500 and a great deal of versatility, the Kodak DX7630 offers a great value. With its ability to be used by any member of your family as well as your experienced photographer, it will produce high-quality images of everything from family events to your local baseball game. If you value a large LCD display and the ability to produce photo quality prints up to 13x19-inch, than the 6.1 megapixel Kodak EasyShare DX7630 Zoom will be just the ticket.
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