The Kodak DC4800 camera is at first glance, a typical point
and shoot camera. A rangefinder style viewer, pop up flash unit, LCD
screen on the back, and then the array of confusing buttons. Upon
closer inspection, you find that there are a very large number of
features not expected in a simple point and shoot camera. Things
like both digital and optical zoom, an adjustable diopter on the eye
piece, forced f stop aperture for better photographic manipulation,
and a surprisingly very easy to understand menu system for finer
The specifications are also pretty impressive. First is
the 3.1 megapixel images that you can capture. With the flash
button, you can specify auto, fill in, red eye, or off mode and
unlike other cameras that assume the flash will be used, on the
Kodak, you must first pop it up to use it, this I like. You need to
be careful though as the flash only has a range of about 10 feet. An
external flash connector is available for more heavy-duty third
party flash units. There is a distance and close-up option for
pictures under 2.3 feet but the manual was unclear as to how far
distance an object should be to use the distance switch.
For taking pictures, there are quite a range of
settings to help you take a correctly exposed and balanced image.
First is the white balance adjustment that can be set to offset the
color shift when using either flash, tungsten, fluorescent, or
daylight settings. On top of the camera is an exposure compensation
dial to adjust the range from plus to minus 2 to compensate for
highly contrasted scenes. If taking flash pictures with external
units or lights, you can also set the color temperature for the
lights. This camera will also allow you to set the color type of
your picture. You can select from the default Saturated color, or
change it to Neutral color, Black and White, B&W with a Y filter
(used to lighten yellows and darken blues for a more dramatic
B&W effect), B&W with a R Filter (used to lighten reds and
darken blues and greens for portraits and making skies more
dramatic), and finally, a Sepia color. I liked tinkering with these
settings and the results were surprisingly good.
Other features like a self timer (10 seconds) and a
burst mode are available. The burst mode allows you to quickly take
a number of pictures in a sequence but without internal flash. If
you are using the high pixel images, then the most you can do is 4.
The zoom features are easy to use as well. When you use the 3X
optical zoom, the image in the viewfinder is also adjusted for you.
Unfortunately, to use the 2X digital zoom, you must turn on the
image preview on the LCD screen and follow the image that way.
Again, in bright light, this can be a problem in seeing very well
what is on the screen. Also, if your battery power is running low,
you cant use the digital zoom.
Taking pictures is as easy as setting it on P Program
mode and pointing at what every you want a picture of and hitting
the shutter release button. As you take each picture, the image
shows up on the LCD display screen and tells you what the image
information is regarding f-stop and shutter speed. This is really
helpful to give you a hint as to whether you might get both a well
exposed picture, but also, whether you might have trouble blowing up
an image that was taken at only 1/10 th of a second. I dont know
of anyone that can take a good sharp picture at that slow of a
shutter speed. To help you adjust for this, you have a couple of
choices. If I want to force a higher f-stop for better depth of
field, just set the dial over to either F2.8, F5.6, or F8 and it
goes into aperture priority mode. You can also completely go manual
in taking the picture and set both the f-stop and the shutter speed.
You will need a light meter to help you with these settings
as using the menus and display screen to set these settings is very
The software that is bundled with the camera leaves a little
to be desired but as with the camera, there are some good features
here as well. When
previewing your images, you have a number of options including a
slide show, magnifying the image, and a section that tells you all
there is to know about the image you are looking at from when you
took it to all the camera settings used.
Kodak software for the connected personal computer has both
its pluses and minuses. You can control the program settings and
even take a picture from the camera attached to the computer with
the USB cable. A help file is also handy to have, but to be honest;
I would rather use the paper users guide to find out what I need
to about the camera. The Kodak Picture Now software is definitely a
throw away item. Difficult to understand and use, no help file, and
when I told it to load a roll of pictures to do a slide show,
it crashed with an out of index range error and then an Invalid Page
fault. On another try, it did work just fine but still, I would use
any number of other packages to view my pictures.
Connecting the camera to the computer is quite easy and
straightforward. Plug in the camera and the computer instantly
recognizes it and asks for the software CD. Based on what I saw
above with the Kodak Picture Now software, I would just load the
Transferring files is also a snap. Once you get the camera
installed on the computer, plug into the USB cable and it pops up as
another drive on my computer. Easy and so much quicker than
the old serial connections that we have had to deal with in the
past. I just drag and
drop the images to a picture folder.
The camera is an equivalent to 28 to 84mm zoom lens. You also
actually have six different picture quality settings to choose from,
three being for the 3.1 megapixel range. A Tiff uncompressed file
9MB in size, a compressed JPG file at 1:5 compression for a file
size of .9MB, and a high compressed JPG at 1:10 and a size of 480KB.
You can also choose from a 2.2, 1.6, and a .8 megapixel file.
Highest image resolution is the noncompressed at 2160 x 1440 pixels.
ISO settings are also adjustable from an automatic setting to 100,
200, and 400. Other camera features allow you to adjust sharpness
and to place a date on an image.
Unfortunately, nearly every camera delivered these days
requires a few more add ons and this one is no exception. First on
the list would be memory cards. Second would be an additional
battery and charger. The battery lasted quite well for my work at
the computer show and in fact, I got four days out of a single
charge taking about 30 to 40 pictures a day. Compared to some of the
other users, I did quite well but then I am not the type of person
that has to do everything including taking the picture through the
LCD screen. A separate case for the camera and accessories would be
good as well. I saw several from Targus that looked pretty good.
Not bundled with the camera but included on a separate mail
in card is a lens adapter to allow you to add filters, other lens
attachments and the like. Not having seen the box I dont quite
know why it wasnt included but suspect it was for space and was
thought of later. There is no threading on the lens for add-ons so
you definitely need the adapter.
What I like.
This is a darn good camera to use. I found it fit pretty well
into my hands and I could take pictures under most conditions. In
the straightforward point and shoot mode, it works great. I also
like being able to set it up for aperture priority mode for better
control on the pictures.
Little things are also noteworthy like the eject button for
the Compact Flash memory card which makes removing the cards so much
easier. With many cards available, you can get memory up to 340MB
and the micro drives up to 1GB. That is a lot of memory to have
around. Be wary that the micro-drives also consume a lot of power.
Speaking of Compact Flash memory, I think this will become the
standard of choice for digital cameras going forward so that is a
plus. I can take these images directly into my Pocket PC which is
also a plus.
It allows you to take pictures that you shouldnt. What I
mean there is that if the shutter speed is too low, it will still
take the picture and often, you cant tell it is not a good
picture by the LCD screen, this is a failing of most cameras. The
diopter dial is difficult to use and so if multiple people are using
the camera, it will be a pain to keep adjusting. The zoom lens
adjustment lever is behind the camera so if you are wearing glasses,
your thumb will often get in the way, also, it is easy to
accidentally hit forcing you to readjust. The power on/off button is
where you would expect the shutter release to be so several times, I
often found myself turning the camera off when taking a picture.
The battery is a proprietary 3.7v lithium ion battery that
while gives you quite a bit of picture taking power, needs to be
recharged with the camera plugged in. I would have much preferred
rechargeable AA batteries for ease of finding and replacement.
When taking pictures, I noticed that if the light was at a
wrong angle, which can quite often happen, it makes it difficult to
see through the viewfinder. A rubber cap or hood would be nice.
Another nit pick item is that there is no tether to keep the lens
cap from going too far. It was quite flimsy and did bounce off the
camera several times when either putting it away or taking it out of
the travel bag. I suspect that both of these items are going to be a
problem with many digital cameras.
One other problem is that when you are taking pictures, you
have to tilt the camera away to see the top display if you want to
know what the picture settings are that the automatic exposure is
going to use. Not good if you spent some time framing the picture
Finally, I found that the led indicators in the viewfinder
were actually too bright. When the yellow or green light goes on,
you really notice it and it can be distracting.
Overall, this is an excellent camera from a technical
standpoint. I like all the features that it includes and look
forward to seeing most of these on other cameras. The placement of
several parts including the power button and zoom button can make
for difficult picture taking at times. When looking for the camera,
buy.com had it for $799 (64mb card), and Egghead.com had it for $699
(16mb card). Look for it around $650, this makes for a good price
point for a 3.1 megapixel camera. This is certainly a camera worth
taking a look at and you should probably add it to your short list
Robert Sanborn is a personal computer consultant and writes
for the Indy PC News www.icssite.org
and PC Lifeline, an online journal. www.pcll.com,
he can be reached at Robert@thesanborns.com