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Old Oct 6, 2003, 6:43 PM   #1
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Default DX6440 Picture quality not up to snuff for a 4M camera

I recently bought a 4M pixel Kodal DX6440 from Future Shop in Canada to replace my HP618 2M pixel camera. I read all the reviews/opinions that I could find online which indicated it was a good camera with great pictures due to the great 4x optical lens it had. I also liked the fact it used AA batteries and could imprint the date on pictures which I had on my HP618. Here are my thoughts on the DX6440.

1. I've taken 300-400 pictures in the last few days and it is actually a very nice camera to use. The 4x zoom is great, autofocus and shot to shot times are quite good. Flash pics look good also - good coverage. The downside is picture sharpness. The pictures when viewed on my 17" PC monitor are not as sharp as those from my HP618. Although I haven't had any of them printed I suspect the prints wouldn't be quite as sharp either, but would probably be less noticeable. The reason appears to be that Kodak uses a strong JPEG compression algorithm which makes small JPEG files but robs much of the sharpness available in a 4M sensor. The file size is usually 900-1100 Kbytes which allows 250-300 pictures on a 256Mbyte SD flash card. My HP618 had file sizes in a similar range and it was only a 2Mpixel camera but has 3 levels of JPEG compression. The quality settings on the DX6440 camera only adjust the number of piixels used (4M, 2M, 1M) not the JPEG compression level.

2. The date imprint feature puts large yellow text in the right lower area of the pic. I find the text font too large and yellow is not a great color. The text should be much smaller, have color choice and be placed closer to the lower right hand edge of the pic.

3. The wide/tele rocker switch seems more sensitive on the tele setting than wide setting. To zoom out I have to press harder than zooming in. This may be a sample defect.

4. The diopter adjustment knob is very stiff and difficult to adjust. I assume this is a sample defect.

5. I find the color balance/brightness of pictures compared to my HP618 less pleasing.

6. The USB connection when hooking up to WinXP works, but is pretty slow, much slower than my older HP618. It seems to hang sometimes when I try to delete pics. I travel some and want to be able to offload to my laptop easily via USB. I haven't tried the docking station that came with the camera to see if it is any faster.

As you may have guessed, I'm planning to returning this camera. It's too bad Kodak hamstrings a great little camera with a poor picture quality adjustment scheme. I suspect the 3 Megapixel DX6340 suffers the same issue

I'm thinking my main alternatives are the Pentax Optio 450 or HP935.
john brig is offline   Reply With Quote
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Old Oct 8, 2003, 12:24 AM   #2
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I have to agree with your assessment of the camera, John. I bought the DX6490 and used it for about a week before I returned it. Ease of use was very good, the camera is very user friendly and feels good in the hand. However, the picture quality was just not up to snuff as far as I was concerned. I really wanted to like this camera. It has some very nice features, but all the bells and whistles in the world don't make up for mediocre picture quality.

I was trying to decide between the 6490 and the Olympus C-750. The 6490 has obviously been eliminated, so I thought I was going to go with the Olympus. However, now I see that Panasonic is coming out with its 4 mp 12x Z10 model in November, so I will be waiting to test that one out before I make a final decision.
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Old Oct 10, 2003, 1:33 AM   #3
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I reached the same conclusions about the DX6490 as did Brigg and dgoodall, and also returned the camera. The final straw was the realization that it only took good pictures outdoors in good mid-day light. Indoors, the skin tones were always wrong, even with manual settings. Outdoors, it couldn't produce consistent colors of the same areas close to sunset, regardless of the manual settings used (automatic was useless).

Many pictures were out of focus, even when the camera was on a tripod.

Another problem is that the viewfinders do not show a "live" image for 2.5 seconds after each picture is taken. They either show a frozen copy of the previous image (Quickview), or go blank. This was merely a bit annoying at first, but became a real problem when it turned out to make two other features of the camera unusable: burst mode and red-eye reduction. As soon as the shutter button is fully pressed, the screen goes blank (or freezes), so I couldn't see what the camera is aimed at, and my hand inevitably moved. In the case of a burst of six frames, that meant the last five were shot "blind", resulting in the subject being blurred and increasingly out of the frame. In the case of red-eye reduction, the image goes blank half-a-second before the main flash, so the camera moves, giving the same poor results as with a burst.

A camera with 10x optical zoom requires image stabilization unless you're shooting with enough light to get the shutter to at least 1/350 of a second. I know my hands aren't as steady as those of a young person, but I don't have palsy or the jitters, and never have a problem with zooms up to 3 or 4x.

It's really a shame that Kodak didn't address these problems, because the human factors of this camera are excellent: easy / intuitive to use, well layed out controls, and that incredibly convenient dock that recharges the battery and allows one-button transfer of the photos.

Maybe next year, or maybe another brand.
Charlie Howard is offline   Reply With Quote

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