Two-megapixel digital cameras
IntroductionAfter a long wait, USB-digital cameras are starting to ship. Wheyhey! No more hours of waiting for huge files to download. Megapixel-digital cameras have finally been unleashed. The difference is massive. Kodak has released the DC280 Zoom, a stylish-looking two-megapixel USB camera. It comes with a 20MB Compact Flash card that can store between 32 and 245 pictures, depending on picture quality. It also has a 2x-optical zoom, with a further 3x-digital-zoom option. Compared to Serial ownload, USB speeds-up download times onsiderably – but a Compact Flash card reader is still the best option if you’re downloading regularly. (See Cameramate 5.1 review) USB boast
Nikon also brags that its new CoolPix 800 is USB compatible. It isn’t. Nikon’s USB claim is based merely on the fact you can use the Compact Flash card in a USB-card reader. Big deal. The Coolpix also has a two-megapixel resolution and a 2x optical zoom, but the memory card that comes with the standard version is only 8MB – a real drag. Like the DC280 – and most digital cameras – the Coolpix 800 has an LCD panel for lining-up shots, reviewing pictures and navigating the menu. Here, the 800 beats the DC280 hands-down. The LCD on the CP 800 is much sharper than the DC280’s, even though they’re both the same size (1.8 inches). However, although this is a nice touch, it’s image quality that’s all-important – and both cameras do a pretty good job. The images from each camera are excellent. The picture on this page of the DC280 was taken using the CP 800 and vice versa. Both cameras produced sharp images with good colour representation. However, the Nikon was the better of the two. Its colours were more vivid, even though its images were less sharp than the DC280’s. The installation software for both is easy to use – and once into the interfaces, it’s also easy to find your way around. The Nikon software – with its drag-&-drop option – has the edge, but Kodak’s larger preview-picture size makes this difference marginal. Navigating the cameras’ menus is also simple. Areas are clearly named and easily accessed, but the Kodak’s interface is prettier. A key area that the Coolpix loses out on is download times. Because it uses a Serial interface, it took 5.3 minutes to download 5.7MB of images. Using USB, the DC280 took just 3.2 minutes to download 6.2MB of images. Taking effects
Both cameras offer a range of picture effects, but, again, the DC280 is better. The CP 800 offers only two settings – colour and black-&-white – while the DC280 has four – colour, black-&-white, sepia, and document. The later adjusts contrast to make text clearer. Surprisingly this makes a difference, although text wasn’t always readable. One feature the Nikon has that the Kodak lacks, is a Name Folder option. This is great when you need to locate new pictures quickly. All you do is create a new folder, name it, and tell the camera to store the new pictures there. It couldn’t be easier. Reviewing pictures is simple with both cameras. But the Kodak does boast a few extra options. These include a Magnifying option, for zooming in on key areas, and Borders, for framing images. But, why anyone would want to use Borders is beyond me. Bundled software with digital cameras is a real selling point, and both the DC280 and the CP 800 sport an impressive list. The CP 800 comes with Adobe PhotoDeluxe and PageMill, while the DC280 includes Photoshop LE. None of the software is suitable for professional use, but offers all the capability you are likely to require. The difference between Photoshop LE and the real version is the ability to do CMYK separations. Also the LE version is 5.0, the full 5.5 version includes ImageReady for Web graphics. For image-editing, I prefer Photoshop LE, but the HTML option offered by PageMill gives the CP 800 the edge on software.