DCRP Review: Kodak DX3600
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, August 9, 2001
Last Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2001

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Kodak doesn't want their DX3600 ($379) to be just another 2.2 Megapixel digital camera. They're trying to separate it from the rest of the crowd by pushing the optional EasyShare dock, which makes photo transferring and battery charging a lot easier. Of course, if it's such a nice feature, why do consumers have to shell out another $80 for it? Kodak does sell them together for $459, and if you're buying the DX3600, that's what I recommend.

Let's take a closer look at the DX3600 now.

What's in the Box?

Depending on what package you get, the DX3600's bundle can be average or very good. Here's what you'll find inside the box:

  • The 2.2 Mpixel Kodak DX3600 camera
  • EasyShare Dock ( "dock" bundle only)
  • 2 AA Lithium battery (non-rechargeable)
  • 1 NiMH rechargeable battery pack ( "dock" bundle only)
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • Video cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Kodak Picture Software and drivers
  • 97 page manual (printed)

First, I've got to credit Kodak with probably the best package design I've seen yet on a digital camera. There are people who actually design packaging for a living, and the DX3600 box was very well done.

On to more important things now. If you don't get the dock bundle, you'll be stuck with non-rechargeable batteries. So if that's you, go buy some NiMH rechargeables. Since the DX3600 only uses 2 batteries, a four-pack will do just fine.

If you get the dock bundle, you'll get a NiMH power pack, which is basically two batteries in a plastic case. You'll charge the camera in the dock -- Kodak says it will only charge their pack, and not other batteries.

Now, about that optional dock. The dock is sort of a universal base for Kodak's DX-series cameras (I assume more are to come), so the DX3600 comes with an adapter plate that fits the dock into the dock. To transfer pictures to your Mac or PC, you hit the button on the dock, and away it goes. You can either transfer all of them, or select the ones you want.

If you don't have the dock, you can see the included USB cable to hook up the "old fashioned way."

The DX3600 is compatible with Mac OS X.

You're probably wondering, "where's the CompactFlash card?" Well, the DX3600 doesn't include one. Instead, it has 8MB of on-board memory, plus a CompactFlash card slot. You can transfer your photos from the memory to the CF card, if you wish, and choose which is given priority for saving images.

As far as accessories go, there are a surprising number of lenses available for the DX3600, especially considering it's low price. The lens has 30mm threads, but you'll need an adapter to use the lenses Kodak sells.

The lens has a built-in cover, which eliminates the need for an external lens cap.

Kodak's manuals are much better than average -- even the typeface seems friendly and inviting to beginners.

Look and Feel

The DX3600 is an attractive, plastic camera that's easy to hold. While it's made of plastic, it does seem solid. The buttons are well-placed and the camera is easy to hold with one hand. The dimensions of the DX3600 are 4.7 x 2.0 x 2.9 (W x D x H) and it weighs 230 grams empty.

Let's start our tour of the DX3600 with the front of the camera. The switch at the bottom of the photo turns the camera on and off. It's also what controls the lens cover.

Speaking of the lens, the one here is a 2X optical zoom Ektanar glass lens. The focal range is 5.6 - 11.1 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 70 mm.

The DX3600's flash has a working range of 1.6 - 10.5 feet in wide-angle, and 1.6 - 7.5 feet in telephoto. Flash options include Off, Auto, Fill, and Red-eye reduction.

Just to the right of the flash is the microphone.

Now onto the back of the DX3600. The 1.8" LCD is good-sized but is too dark, even if you crank up the brightness. It's a bit choppy as well.

The optical viewfinder is large and easy to see. There's no diopter correction for those with less than perfect vision, though.

To the left of the LCD are buttons for flash, and menu navigation. The select button also turns the LCD on and off.

At the top right of the photo is the zoom control. While well-placed, I found it to be too small and not comfortable. The zoom mechanism itself is smooth and responsive.

On the top of the camera, you can see the stylish speaker, mode wheel, and shutter release button. I should mention that DX3600 is a good looking camera!

The mode wheel has four easy options: setup, playback, record, movie.

On this side of the DX3600, under a rubber cover, you'll find the I/O ports. That includes A/V and USB output. You cannot plug an AC adapter into this camera.

And on the other side is the CompactFlash Type I port. As I mentioned, the camera does not come with a card since it has built-in memory.

Finally, here's the bottom of the DX3600, with the NiMH battery pack shown. Down here is the battery compartment, plastic tripod mount, CF card eject switch, and the connector for the dock. When the camera is not on the dock you can slide a plastic door to cover the port. The CF card eject button launches the card an impressive distance.

The battery compartment can hold the NiMH pack, or two AA cells.

Using the Kodak DX3600

Record Mode

The camera takes about four seconds to extend the lens and warm up before you can start taking photos. The LCD display is off by default -- hit the select button to turn it on. When you depress the shutter release button halfway, the camera locks focus in about one second. Depressing the button fully results in the photo being taken after a short but noticeable wait. Shot-to-shot speed is on the slow side - over 5 seconds at the highest quality.


The LCD when you're taking a photo

Once feature not seen much anymore on digital cameras is the ability to delete the photo as it's being saved -- and the DX3600 has it.

The camera has only two resolution and quality choices -- Kodak has chosen to keep it simple. The chart below tells you what's available.

  # photos stored on
8MB built-in memory
# photos stored on
16MB CF card
Best Quality
1800 x 1200
12 24
Good
900 x 600
49 99

The menu system is equally simple. There are just a few things you can change:

  • Macro (on/off)
  • Quality (see above)
  • Image Storage (Auto, Internal Memory) - Auto means use a card if it's present, otherwise use internal memory
  • Self-timer (on/off)
  • Date stamp
  • Quickview (on/off) - shows photo on LCD after it's taken

Notice anything missing? There's no exposure compensation, white balance, or continuous shooting mode on the DX3600! I can understand that there's no shutter priority mode, but those other features are found on almost all the other low-cost cameras!

Let's see how the DX3600 did on the photo tests.

The macro test came out just average. The lighting in the room was coming from the window. The colors are a little too saturated, and it's a bit noisy as well. Since you can't adjust any settings, there isn't much you can do about it, either. The range in macro mode is 24 - 60 cm, and the optical zoom is not useable.

Worse than the macro test was the night shot test, though it's the result is common with point-and-shoot cameras. With no exposure control, the camera just doesn't take in enough light, so the shot comes out dark. The rather slow (F3.3) lens doesn't help either.

Overall, the photo quality was about average. The color is usually very accurate though there seems to be a lot of noise (especially in the sky) in some shots. Check out the photo gallery to judge for yourself.

Movie Mode

The DX3600 has a pretty good movie mode. You can choose from resolutions of 320 x 240 or 160 x 120, and video is recorded at 20 frames/sec. Videos are saved in Quicktime format. Sound is recorded during filming, but you cannot use the optical zoom during filming.

You can film for as long as you want, or until the card fills up. The 8MB built-in memory fills up in 35 seconds in best mode, and 90 seconds in good mode.

Here is a thrilling sample movie:


Click to play movie (2.1MB, Quicktime format)

Playback Mode

The playback mode is pretty barebones and is kind of clumsy.

The features include slideshows, DPOF print marking, image protection, and zoom and scroll. The latter is clumsy -- instead of just using the zoom controls like on other cameras, you have to select it from the menu, and wait for it to process the image. You can only zoom in 2X, as well.

You can also copy images from the internal memory to the CF card while in playback mode.

Finally, there isn't too much information you can get about your photos. Choosing "Picture Info" from the menu gives you filename, directory, date/time, and quality.

How Does it Compare?

While the Kodak DX3600 takes good photos and is attractive, easy to use, and has the EasyShare system, it doesn't match up to other low-cost 2 Megapixel cameras in my opinion. Basic features such as white balance and exposure compensation are missing here, which are found on almost every other camera. The movie mode is good, but the playback mode isn't. The EasyShare system is nice, but it costs you more money and I don't know if it's worth the price -- you can survive just fine with a USB cable. If you're shopping around for a camera like this, I'd recommend choosing something else from my list below.

What I liked:

  • EasyShare system convenient
  • Good looking, easy to use
  • Good movie mode

What I didn't care for:

  • EasyShare dock is another $80
  • Basic features missing
  • Playback mode isn't great
  • A bit on the slow side
  • Poor low light shots

Other 2 megapixel cameras I recommend checking out include the Canon PowerShot A20 and S110, Fuji FinePix 2400, Nikon Coolpix 775, Olympus D-510Z, Sony DSC-P50, and the Toshiba PDR-M61.

As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the DX3600 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

So how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos in our photo gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Be sure to read Steve's Digicams review of the Kodak DX3600.

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to jakeller@pair.com. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.

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