Review: Kodak DC4800
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, August 28, 2000
Sunday, July 1, 2001
has been in the digital camera business since the very beginning,
providing cameras for all types of user, ranging from beginner to
professional. Who could forget the DC20,
one of their first cameras, which had a whopping 320x240 resolution,
no zoom, and a fixed focus lens? I can remember being envious of
those with the old DC50 (756 x 504 and 3X optical zoom!) That DC50
was the high end camera back in 1996, and the new $799
DC4800 is Kodak's best consumer camera in the year 2000.
design of the DC4800 is quite a departure from all of Kodak's previous
cameras (and that's a good thing in my opinion), and as it turns
it, it takes great photos comparable to the best 3 Mpixel cameras.
Read on to find out more about this latest offering from Kodak...
in the Box?
DC4800 has a very good bundle included with the camera:
3.1 Mpixel Kodak DC4800 camera
adapter (doubles as a battery recharger)
featuring Kodak software
reference guide and full manual
not a whole lot to talk about in this section, so I'll bring up
the few issues of note:
battery (far right) has been seen before
this battery look familiar? It should, if you've read our reviews
of Fuji, Toshiba, and Ricoh cameras. It's a rechargeable Li-ion
battery, and it's proprietary. That means you can't go over to Radio
Shack and pick one up -- so you'll want to buy one right away. The
AC adapter (included) will recharge the battery inside the camera,
which saves you from carrying around a separate battery charger.
has joined the group of manufacturers leaving serial support out
of their new cameras. You need USB on your Mac or PC to connect
this camera to your computer.
say I complain about lens caps too much, and they're probably right.
But Kodak has left out the two cent strap that keeps the lens attached
to the camera when it's not covering the lens. I actually had to
chase down the lens cap in an intersection in San Francisco when
it fell off. Since Kodak doesn't give you such a strap, you'll want
to buy one at your local camera store.
cheers to Kodak for coming up with an easy to read, concise manual
for the DC4800!
haven't been a big fan of Kodak's recent camera designs, so the
DC4800's smart design came as a nice surprise. There's plenty of
room for your right hand to get a good grip, and there's good space
for that left hand as well. The camera is fairly light weight, and
it has a very solid metal body. All of the doors on the camera are
solid plastic and aren't going anywhere.
cameras dimensions are: 4.7 x 2.7 x 2.5 inches, and it weighs 11.6
front of the camera (see top picture) features a f2.8-4.5 lens with
a 3X optical zoom (equivalent to 28-84mm), which is threaded for
43mm accessories with the optional adapter.
back of the camera is well laid out, with just a few simple buttons.
optical viewfinder at the top left is well placed, and has diopter
correction. I had no trouble using it with glasses. You will smudge
the LCD display with your nose if you're left eye dominant though.
1.8" LCD's quality depends on the Power Save settings. If you
have Power Save set to "On", it'll be 15fps, and low brightness.
Turn Power Save to "Standard" and you'll get 30fps, and
normal brightness. If you turn "Off" Power Save, you'll
get 30fps and high brightness. You'll definitely notice the difference
between 15 and 30 frames per second, but I found the "On"
mode to be useable -- and with those proprietary batteries, you
need to save all the juice that you can.
the right of the LCD you'll see several buttons: the Menu button
invokes the menu system, the display button turns the LCD on or
off (and doubles as the OK button in menus), and the four-way switch
moves you through said menus.
above the buttons is the zoom control. Well-placed, it smoothly
moves the zoom in and out as expected.
above that you can catch a glimpse of the mode wheel. The mode labels
are duplicated on the top and side of the wheel, which is handy.
now, the top of the camera. The flash is opened up by sliding that
button on the far left. I like pop-up flashes, so it's only used
when you want it.
LCD info display shows a wealth of information (just a fraction
is shown in the above example). One of them is quality, which I'll
has a number of settings for quality on this camera. The resolution
of the photos is 2160 x 1440, and the proportions are reminiscent
of the "widescreen" movies you'll see on television. Here
are all your choices:
Ratio / File Type
MP (high compr.)
can't think of many cameras that give you this many choices in resolution.
The uncompressed TIFF mode is nice, and the camera can be used just
a few seconds after a TIFF photo is taken, thanks to the hefty buffer
memory on the DC4800.
the LCD info display are three function buttons: self-timer/burst
mode, landscape/macro, and flash. Above those is something I haven't
seen before -- a dial to adjust exposure compensation. While I rarely
change this setting, it sure beats having to go through the menu
of that is the shutter release, which gives good tactile feedback,
so you won't accidentally take any pictures when you're trying to
lock the focus.
there's the mode wheel. You've got your usual play, setup, and record
settings -- but there's also three choices for aperture priority
mode as well: f2.8, f5.6, and f8. When you are in this mode, the
camera sets the shutter speed for you. If you want to set both,
you can put it in full manual mode. If you put the mode wheel in
"P"rogram mode, the camera will choose both settings for
you. In the middle of the mode wheel is the power button.
a look at the left side of the camera, you'll see three ports: USB,
video out, and DC in. These ports are under a VERY sturdy plastic
kind of hidden by the camera strap (sorry), but that's a standard
flash sync terminal on the far left. When you do use an external
flash, you cannot use the Program mode -- only manual settings!
the other side, behind an equally sturdy door, is the CompactFlash
slot. This is a Type I slot, so no Microdrives permitted. Kodak
uses a clever eject mechanism for the card -- see the next photo.
above the battery door is that sliding eject button for the CF slot
-- you can really launch the CF card with this thing, too!
the left of all that is a metal tripod mount. The bottom of the
camera is perfectly flat.
the Kodak DC4800
going to discuss record and playback mode in this section.
camera takes less than 4 seconds to start up, from the time you
push the on button, to the time the LCD is on and you can take a
picture. The camera is very responsive: the zoom is quick and smooth,
and the "recycle time" between pictures is very small
(thanks to that buffer memory I already mentioned). You can shoot
as fast as you can compose!
mode shows very little info on the main LCD - most is on the LCD
info display on top of the camera
Program mode, you pretty much just point and shoot. But there are
many options you can change (in addition to those which are buttons
on the camera). In the well designed menu, you'll find:
balance (auto, daylight, flash, tungsten, fluorescent, color temperature,
manual - more on this below)
mode (Saturated, neutral color, black & white [normal, Y filter,
R filter], sepia
(see table in previous section)
(Multi-pattern, center-weighted, center spot)
(sharp, standard, soft)
(auto, 100, 200, 400)
mode (see below)
at the DC4800's menu in record mode
there aren't too many choices in the record menu - but you've got
all the important things you need. In the separate setup mode, you
can access some of the more basic camera settings like power saving,
time, and card formatting.
back to the exposure mode part of the menu. In program menu, you
can't touch this. However, toss it into one of the three aperture
priority modes (using the mode wheel), and you can go at it. If
you leave exposure mode set to "auto", the camera will
choose the shutter speed. If you put it into "manual",
you can choose from a long list of speeds, ranging from 1/1000 sec
to 1/2 sec. But what about slower speeds? Those are there too --
as a separate choice in the menu. If you choose "long time
exposure", you can choose from a range of 0.7 sec - 16 sec.
to see what this full manual mode can let you do? The two photos
below were both taken at f2.8. The photo on the left had a shutter
speed of 1.5 seconds, while the one on the right was 4 seconds.
If you're wondering about the green light on the left of the photo,
it's excess light from a traffic light. I found the night shots
to be competitive with the Olympus C-3030Z and Nikon Coolpix 990,
which I consider the cream of the 3 Megapixel crop. There aren't
any mysterious artifacts in the sky, as you can see.
now onto another nice feature -- manual white balance. In addition
to auto, and presets for various forms of light, the DC4800 gives
you two choices: color temperature and full manual. In color temperature
mode, you can choose from temperatures ranging from 2500 and 10000°K.
You can see the results in real time on the LCD screen. I found
this mode to be quite handy, especially in my "lab" where
auto white balance doesn't usually work.
full manual mode, you put a gray or white card in front of the lens,
and use the four-way switch to change the camera's color settings
until the LCD matches the card. It's pretty tough to have white
balance problems on this camera, thanks to these modes.
thing I had a lot of trouble with was my usual indoors macro test
(above). I tried many settings, and couldn't get a very satisfactory
result -- it's pretty noisy as you can see if you blow it up. This
was not the case in outdoor macro tests (see the exceptional flower
macro shot in the gallery) though.
the photo quality of this camera was nothing short of amazing -
the colors are very vibrant, and true to life.
not as much of a fan of Kodak's playback mode though. The basic
stuff is all there - slideshows, DPOF support, zoom and scroll,
and image locking. It just seems like some things require a trip
to the menu that shouldn't -- like picture info.
you see the playback mode -- all it shows is the name of the image.
I like the overlay of info found on many cameras, especially those
from Nikon. To find out more info about this photo, you've got to
enter the menu system:
then navigate down to picture info, and finally you get a list of
info that you can scroll through:
wish it was easier to get this info, without a trip to the menus.
The menu system IS good for navigating through photos (and deleting
between photos is pretty quick in play mode - you get a low resolution
version instantly, and the high res version is drawn over that --
the whole process takes about two seconds.
zoom mode takes about 3-4 seconds of "processing" before
it zooms in. You can zoom in at 2X or 4X, and scrolling is fairly
the playback mode is about average on the DC4800.
Does it Compare?
can't say that I've been a huge fan of Kodak cameras in the past,
but boy how times have changed. The DC4800 is an exceptional camera,
with a full suite of features, great photo quality, and a nice bundle,
all at the attractive price of $799. I'd put this camera right at
the top of the 3 Megapixel class, along with the Olympus C-3000
series and the Nikon Coolpix 990.
design - solid construction, well-placed controls
photo quality (especially color)
manual white balance mode
manual controls if desired (shutter speeds 1/1000 - 16 sec!)
with indoor macro shots
mode could be better
love CompactFlash Type II support
3 Mpixel market is busy, so you'll want to put the DC4800 up against
the competition before you buy. I'd also look at the Nikon
Coolpix 990, Olympus C-3000Z
DSC-S70, and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try these
cameras yourself before you make any purchases. Your tastes may
differ from mine, so try before you buy!