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What to look for in a digital Camera ^_^
Kodak DC 280
Kodak DC 280
Date: 21/05/01, updated on 22/05/01 (22 review reads)
Advantages: value for money, range of features, picture quality
Home » Electronics & Photography » Photographic & Optics » Digital Cameras » Kodak » Kodak DC 280
What to look for in a digital camera
heneghan's opinion on Kodak DC 280 written on 24.03.2001
Ease of Use
Overall Look & Design
Advantages: Value for money; high resolution and picture quality; good range of functions
I have split this opinion into 2 sections – the first part provides some general advice on what to look for when buying a digital camera, the second part provides the specific review of the Kodak DC280. So, if you don’t need the advice but just want to read about this particular camera, scroll down until you see “PART 2”….
If you are looking for a new camera it is worth asking yourself a few questions first to be sure that the camera you buy meets your needs.
·What are you looking to accomplish?
·Do you want to print your photographs or simply view them on your PC monitor or publish them on the Web?
·If you are going to print, what kind of output device will you be working with and what are its resolution requirements?
·How big do you want to print your images?
·How many photographs will you need to be able to store on the camera?
·Will you be taking pictures of items smaller than a business card? (If so you will need a macro facility); and of course……
·How much money do you have to spend?
With these questions in mind, the most important things to look for when buying a digital camera are:
1. Pixel Power. The more mega pixels (the dots that make up the image) the higher the resolution (better quality) the image. Cameras with less than 1 mega pixel are more than adequate if you want
to publish images on the web but will result in poor quality photos if you print them out. If you want to print your photos, then 1 mega pixel is the absolute minimum specification you need, but I would recommend 2 mega pixels.
If you do want to print your images, then you need to consider your printer as well as your camera and will need to purchase photo-quality paper. There are lots of good reviews on photo quality printers on Ciao if you need further information.
2. Memory. The amount of memory available determines the number of digital images that can be stored on the camera. Some digital cameras just store images in their internal memory. When you fill up the capacity of such a camera, you must download your files to a computer to free up more space. Others us removable storage media (called Flash RAM, PCMCIA cards etc.) – this allows you to expand the memory of your camera so that it will hold more pictures. Much like a floppy disk, the card is simply inserted it into the card slot on the camera. Additional cards can be purchased (although these can be expensive) so you can store more photos while away from your PC or laptop.
3. LCD viewfinder. A viewfinder will let you preview your pictures instantly. This is an extremely useful function because it allows you to view and selectively erase images so you can make the most of your available storage space. Beware though – if you use the LCD viewfinder as a monitor rather than looking through the eyepiece to frame your photos, you will go through batteries like there’s no tomorrow. Leaving such a monitor on or using it as a viewfinder can cause your camera to die within a matter of hours and all the money you’ve saved on film and processing will be wasted on new batteries.
4. PC Interface. You will need to transfer your images from the camera or memory card onto your PC. This can be done through a direct connection from a serial or USB port. Serial
connections are very slow so I would highly recommend a USB connection. Some cameras are supplied with an interface cradle. Other options include a removable card reader which acts like a mini disk drive.
5. Lens Features. The benefits of having the capability to go from at least a moderately wide angle (lots of picture in view) to a moderate zoom (close up) can’t be overstated. In terms of being able to effectively compose your pictures and to ensure that you can get the shot you want this is a must. The only reason I can see not to go for zoom would be cost.
Another thing you may want to look for is macro close-up capabilities. A macro mode allows you to bring the camera closer to your subject allowing you to take those must-have shots of postage stamps, the head of a flower, your fingernail. Well whatever.
6. Software. Most digital cameras will be supplied with some kind of stand-alone program that allows the user to transfer images from the camera to the computer’s hard drive and probably offers some basic image editing features such as cropping, resizing, adjusting brightness and hue, etc.
A TWAIN acquire module will allow direct acquisition of images into other image software programs on a Windows PC. If you want to be a bit more creative with your photos or fancy yourself as a digital artist you will probably want to use a program like Photoshop or an equivalent for your digital editing.
7. Burst Rate. This becomes an issue if you want to use your camera for things like sports photography where you may need to take several shots in quick succession. Because digital cameras have to write an image file every time you take a picture there can be between 4-8 seconds of dead time between shots. Higher end cameras use RAM which acts as a buffer overcoming his problem.
8. Battery Consumption. As mentioned earlier, overuse of the LCD monitor will seriously reduce battery life. However, there are
considerable differences in battery consumption between different models of camera. It is advisable to either get a camera with a rechargeable battery pack or one which can take standard rechargeable batteries.
9. Flash. Unless all your photos will be taken outside in good daylight, you will need one of these.
So, what about the Kodak DC280?
I bought my DC280 in January 2001 – it was bundled with a Lexmark P11 colour printer, total cost £360. For that price I got:
- Lexmark Pll colour printer
- DC280 digital zoom camera
- AC Adapter
- Battery Charger
- 4 * AA rechargeable batteries
- battery charger
- 4 * standard batteries (a nice touch as you are able to use the camera immediately while waiting for the rechargeable batteries to charge up)
- 8MB memory card
- serial connector
- USB connector
- Kodak software for windows and Macintosh
Resolution - The DC280 has a maximum picture resolution of 2.3 mega pixels which gives very high quality images in terms of detail, colour and sharpness. This resolution is more than sufficient for printing out good quality photos. I have printed A4 sized photos on Kodak photo inkjet paper using a Lexmark P11 printer and the results are very good indeed – you cannot tell the difference from standard film processing output.
The picture quality and picture resolution can be adjusted on the camera itself prior to taking your photos. The better the quality and higher the resolution, the more storage space is required (so less photos will fit onto the cameras memory card). There are 3 options for picture quality:
Best – for printing A4 sized photos
Better – for ‘everyday’ pictures
Good – sufficient for online quality pictures
Resolution can be set to “High” or “Standard”.
Memory - My DC280 was supplied with a 8M
B memory card which can store about 11 photos (best quality); 17 (better quality); 70 (good quality). An additional 16MB card is currently available from Kodak (see http://www.kodak.co.uk) for £40. Other reviewers on Ciao have had their DC280 supplied with a 16MB card as standard, so it’s worth checking.
LCD Viewfinder - the DC280 has a colour LCD viewfinder which can be used to preview pictures and to access the on-screen menus.
On-Screen Menus. The DC280 has an LCD status display panel at the top of the camera which indicates how many pictures are remaining, the selected resolution and picture quality, battery level, whether infinity or close up (macro) focus is selected, flash / red-eye reduction on/off etc. These items are permanently displayed as long as the camera is switched on.
In addition, other camera functions can be accessed through a series of menu buttons and the display on the main LCD viewfinder at the rear of the camera. These features are generally user friendly, although some of the icons do take a while to learn.
PC Interface. The camera is supplied with both USB and serial adaptors for connection to the PC.
Lens Features. The DC280 has a very respectable 6X Zoom (2X Optical; 3X Digital), that gives a focal length of 30mm (wide angle) to 60 mm (zoom). It also has a macro facility for close up shots.
Batteries. The DC280 can be powered either by an AC adaptor or 4 AA batteries – the camera is supplied with 4 rechargeable batteries and a charger. Battery life is very good (my last set lasted 2 months with moderate use). However, if you use the LCD monitor as a viewfinder then battery life is reduced to literally hours!
Size. The DC280 is bulkier than other digital cameras on the market. 133mm width * 52mm length * 76 mm height. It weighs 342g without batteries. Some reviewers feel this is a negative point, and I suppose the trend in the gadget market does tend towards
smaller and smaller products. Personally though, I think you need something reasonably substantial and robust. Another advantage of the size of the DC280 is that it doesn’t look distinctly like a digital camera – indeed, if it wasn’t for the word “digital” on the front of the camera it could easily be mistaken for a standard compact camera. I think this is a great advantage because it makes the camera less of a target for thieves.
Software. The DC280 is supplied with Kodak software which allows you to transfer your images from the camera to your PC hard drive, undertake limited editing functions and even control the camera from your PC (change the camera set-up etc.). The software is very user friendly and easy for a complete novice to install. If you want to do more detailed editing of your pictures though, you will need to invest in more specialist editing software – something like Photoshop or equivalent.
Price. This camera is very reasonably priced and offers much more value for money than some of the newer camera on the market.
Overall rating. Excellent. Highly recommended.