As the consumer market continues to be saturated with 2.1-megapixel cameras, and the semi-professional area with 4-megapixel models, it comes as a pleasant surprise that Kodak has managed to introduce a 4-megapixel camera at a highly competitive price.
The new EasyShare DX4900 is a sleek and compact digital camera that shares the same base-station with several of the earlier Kodak digital cameras. Its reduced size, however, is neutered by the need for an adapter to let the unit sit in the docking cradle. The camera comes bundled either with or without the one-touch Easyshare docking cradle, which provides USB connection and charging. Images can also be downloaded directly from the camera via the USB connection. Batteries are charged in a generic ‘AA’ unit.
The DX4900 is fast and light camera, but it’s optimized for consumer use – so various settings are simplified. It doesn’t have a vast range of exposure-compensation features, program modes, or a flash sync, for example. Turning the camera on and opening the lens cover is an all-in-one motion as a solid metal slide shunts to one side. The zoom lens is 2x optical and a 3x digital – the latter of which is best reserved for lower-resolution shots. The camera has three main modes: shooting, playback and set-up. Controls for these are conveniently located next to the shutter-release and LCD controls on top of the camera.
The controls are all concentrated on the right-hand side of the camera – which might be too tight for people with big hands. There’s a small LCD panel on the back with Select and Menu buttons, along with controls for zoom and advancing through the menus.
The 35mm aspect-ratio of the frame is uncommon on most digital cameras, but makes for interesting compositions. Resolution can be set at one, 2, 3.1 and 4-megapixels, with two compression settings yielding 12 or 24 frames on the included 16MB CompactFlash card. There’s little distinction between compression settings, and they can’t be used on-the-fly.
Besides being compact, the DX4900 is also rather nippy with the flash, is always ready to shoot, and the ability to fire-off three or four shots before writing to memory is nice. Image-quality was high, and only suffered from the typical white-area burn-out common to almost digital cameras.
Packaged with the camera is the basic automatic-transfer software that grabs all the images at once, or lets users thumb through them one-by-one. The camera and software don’t support older G3 systems, but worked fine with my 7500/100 upgraded to a G3 with Zif card. The family-oriented Kodak Picture Software did freeze up, though.
Neutered on the Mac version is Kodak’s Internet printing-service, but it’s range of inkjet paper-profiles is supported in the Print menu.
The Kodak EasyShare DX4900 is a good all-round digital camera with enough user control for 90 per cent of the shooters out there – and with a 4mp resolution, it’s now the one to get for pixel-to-pound performance.