DCRP Review: Kodak EasyShare DX6440
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: October 19, 2003
Last Updated: June 21, 2004

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The Kodak EasyShare DX6440 ($399) is a low priced 4 Megapixel camera with a 4X Schneider-Kreuznach zoom lens. Unlike most of Kodak's other cameras, the 6440 has full manual controls and a hybrid autofocus system. It can be a point-and-shoot for beginners, or a manual camera for enthusiasts. If there's one thing that Kodak does very well, it's making a camera easy-to-use. The EasyShare system lets you easily share your photos with the push of a button (literally). But more on that later.

Let's dive into the details now!

What's in the Box?

The DX6440 has a very good bundle. Do note that depending on where you live (especially outside of the U.S. and Canada), your bundle may be different. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 4.0 effective Mpixel Kodak EasyShare DX6440 camera
  • CR-V3 lithium battery (not rechargeable)
  • EasyShare camera dock 6000
  • AC adapter [part of dock package]
  • One NiMH rechargeable battery pack [part of dock package]
  • Camera dock insert
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Kodak EasyShare software
  • 122 page manual (printed)

As with other recent Kodak models, the DX6440 has internal memory plus a memory card slot. Kodak includes 16MB of internal memory (and no memory card), which is barely enough to get started with, so do yourself a favor and buy a larger card. The DX6440 can use Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMedia (MMC) cards. I'd get a 128MB card at the very minimum.

The DX6440 can use two AAs, one CR-V3, or one Kodak NiMH battery pack. The camera comes with a (throwaway) lithium CR-V3 pack, and the dock has a rechargeable 1850 mAh NiMH pack. Kodak estimates that you can take about 410 pictures with the CR-V3, and 185 with the NiMH pack. You could do a little better by purchasing some higher capacity (2100 mAh or greater) NiMH rechargeables and a faster charger (since the dock only charges the Kodak NiMH pack).

In the U.S. and Canada, Kodak includes the EasyShare camera dock 6000 along with the camera. This will be where you'll charge the battery in the camera, or transferring photos to your PC. It takes 2.5 hours to fully charge the battery, and the dock has a little meter showing the current battery charge. Note that the dock can only charge the Kodak NiMH battery pack.

Do note that you can do the same things without the dock -- plus you can view photos on your television.

The included dock insert properly fits the camera on the dock.

The DX6440 has a built-in lens cover.

As I mentioned, one of the coolest accessories for the DX6440 is the EasyShare printer dock 6000 (shown above with the DX6490 on it). This $199 thermal dye transfer (similar to dye-sublimation) printer has a dock right on top of it, so you just put the camera on it, press a few buttons, and get a 4 x 6 inch print 90 seconds later. It can also be used with a computer.

Aside from things like batteries, chargers, and an AC adapter, the only real accessories for the DX6440 are lens accessories. Kodak sells telephoto ($60), wide-angle ($50), and close-up ($30) lenses for this camera -- but you'll need the $20 lens adapter first. The telephoto attachment boosts your tele range to 264 mm, while the wide lens gives you a 19.8 mm starting point. Unlike the DX6490, this camera does not support an external flash.

My DX6440 did not come with the same EasyShare software CD as the DX6490 that I also reviewed. It included version 3.0.1 for Windows, 2.1.1 for Mac OS X, and version 1.4.2 for Mac OS 8/9. Since you can download newer versions (3.2 for Windows, 3.0 for Mac OS X) for free from the Kodak website, I will cover the newest versions here.

This is the first time that I've used version for Mac, and I must say it's impressive. It has a nice interface, reminiscent of Apple's iLife Suite, and it's nice and fast (well, everything's fast on my G5). Here's what you can do with the software:

The main screen lets you import and organize your photos. From there you can print, edit, and e-mail photos, and you can even burn a CD of your photos. A nice slide show feature is also available.

If you want to edit your photo, there are some basic tools included. They include rotation, cropping, "instant enhancement", redeye reduction, brightness and contrast, exposure, and instant black & white or sepia conversion.

The Print at Home tab will help you print the images you select (either by marking them on the camera or in the software). There are many layouts available, including the two 5 x 7 inch per page prints you see above.

The e-mail tab works in the same way. You can compose messages to be sent along with pictures. You can send the full size picture, or have it reduced automatically to a smaller size. The e-mail system is nicely integrated with OS X's built-in address book system.

One last thing you can do here is customize the e-mail addresses stored in the camera -- again, more on this later in the review. This feature is also integrated with the OS X address book.

Much like with the address book, you can also set up the albums on your camera. You can then tag photos on the camera, and they'll end up in the proper album when you transfer your photos to your computer. Cool!

Keeping with their "easy" theme, Kodak does a nice job with their camera manuals, with long descriptions and not a lot of fine print.

Look and Feel

The DX6440 is a midsize camera made of a combination of metal and plastic. For the most part, it feels very well constructed, though the plastic doors have got to go. The brushed metal look makes it one of the more stylish Kodak cameras. Controls are well-placed, and the camera can be operated with one hand or two.

Being a medium-sized camera, you probably won't be putting the DX6440 into your pocket. Its dimensions are 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs 220 grams empty.

Let's start our tour of this camera now!

At the heart of the DX6440 is an F2.2-F4.8 Scheider-Kreuznach 4X optical zoom lens. The focal range of the lens is 5.5 - 22 mm, which is equivalent to 33 - 132 mm. With the optional conversion lens adapter, you can add wide, tele, and closeup lenses to the 6440.

The the upper-right of the lens is what Kodak calls the hybrid AF sensor -- same as on the DX6490. This "rapid phase detection autofocus module" assists the camera in focusing, improving both responsiveness and low light focusing. It doesn't work in the exact way as an AF-assist lamp, but the effect is the same.

Directly to left of the lens is the microphone, light sensor, and self-timer lamp.

Above that is the built-in flash, which has a working range of 0.5 - 5.1 m at wide-angle, and 0.75 - 2.6 at telephoto. The flash takes a rather sluggish 9 seconds to recharge. The DX6440 does not support an external flash.

The DX6440 has a very nice 1.8" LCD. This LCD is what Kodak calls "indoor/outdoor", and it really is easier to see outdoors than your typical. Images on the screen are sharp, thanks to the 134k pixel resolution, and everything is fluid as well, as the frame rate is 24 frames/second. The brightness is not adjustable, though.

At the top-left of the photo, you'll see the optical viewfinder. This is an average-sized viewfinder, which thankfully has a diopter correction knob.

Directly to the left of the LCD are the delete and share buttons. The delete button does just as it sounds. The Share button is the feature that sets Kodak cameras from the competition (with the exception of HP). Pressing the Share button enters playback mode and brings up the following menu:

In share mode, you can do three things:

  • Mark a picture for printing
  • Mark a picture for e-mailing
  • Save a picture as a "favorite" for later retrieval

Let's say you want to mark an image for e-mail. Here's what you'll see:

You can select a person or persons that you want to e-mail this picture to. Once you connect to your computer, the EasyShare software will allow you to e-mail the photos that you tagged. A related feature that I hinted at before is the album feature, which is accessed via the playback menu. Pick an album (in the same way that you would an e-mail address), and the camera will dump the photos into the proper album the next time you transfer photos to your Mac or PC.

Back to the tour: to the left of those two buttons is the mode dial, which has the following options:

  • Movie mode
  • Off
  • Auto Record
  • Sports mode
  • Portrait mode
  • Night mode
  • Landscape mode
  • Macro mode
  • PAS mode

Being someone who always shootings in one of the manual modes, I didn't like having to turn the wheel all the way around each time I wanted to use the camera.

The manual modes here are called PAS on the mode dial: these are Program, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority. Program mode is just like Auto Record mode, except you have full access to all the menu items. In aperture priority mode, you can set the aperture yourself (there are several choices between F2.2 and F13), and the camera picks the appropriate shutter speed. Shutter priority mode is just the opposite: you choose a shutter speed (range of 4 - 1/2200 sec), and the camera chooses the right aperture. Unlike on the DX6490, the 6440 dose not have a mode where you can set both the aperture and shutter speed manually.

Inside the mode dial is a joystick, used for menu navigation, as well as adjusting manual settings and exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/2EV increments).

On the opposite side of the LCD are the menu and review buttons. The latter enters playback mode.

Above those is the zoom controller, which smoothly moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in two seconds. Quick presses of the buttons allow for precise movements.

In this view of the DX6440, you'll find the shutter release button, the speaker, and two other buttons. Those buttons are for:

  • Drive (Self-timer, burst mode)
  • Flash (Auto, flash off, fill flash, red-eye reduction)

The burst mode will take up to 6 pictures at 3 frames/second -- not too shabby!

In addition to changing the flash setting, pressing the flash button once will show all of the current camera settings on the LCD.

The only thing to see here is the DC-in port, which is where you'll plug in the AC adapter (assuming you have one).

On the other side of the DX6440, you'll find the SD/MMC card slot, as well as the video out and USB ports. This camera supports the USB 2.0 high speed standard.

The items described above are kept behind a very flimsy plastic door. Quite a shame, since the rest of the camera feels so solid.

On the bottom of the camera, we see the battery compartment, metal tripod mount, and dock connector. The door covering the battery compartment is almost as bad as the one described above.

The included lithium battery is shown. The DX6440 can use a CR-V3 battery like that, or two AAs, or the Kodak NiMH pack.

Using the Kodak EasyShare DX6440

Record Mode

Startup time on the DX6440 was on the slow side: over 5.5 seconds before you can start shooting.

Much like with the DX6490, the 6440 isn't going to win the "fastest focusing award", but it did a good job of locking the focus, even in dim light.

Shutter lag was minimal, even at slower shutter speeds.


No live histogram (though does the target audience need one?)

Shot-to-shot speed is average, with a 3 second delay between photos, assuming you've turned off the the post-shot review (Quickview) feature. You can delete a photo immediately after it is taken by pressing the delete button.

Like all Kodak cameras, the DX6440 is always ready to shoot, even in playback mode. If you're reviewing a photo and want to take another, you can do so without switching modes.

Kodak uses a "star" system to represent photo resolution and quality. Here's a look at the available quality choices:

Image Size # photos on 16MB
on-board memory
# photos on optional 128MB SD card
Best (***)
2304 x 1728
13 103
Best 3:2 (***)
2304 x 1536
16 131
Better (**)
1656 x 1242
25 194
Good (*)
1200 x 900
45 350

That 128MB SD card looks like a good investment to me!

There's no TIFF or RAW mode available on this camera. The camera names files as 100_####.JPG (where # = 0001 - 9999), and remembers the numbering even if you switch cards or delete photos.

Kodak has created an attractive, easy-to-use menu system for their cameras, perfect for new users. Some of the menu options below are only available in PAS mode -- I'll highlight those in bold. Here are the DX6440's menu options:

  • Image storage (Auto, internal) - if set to "auto", camera uses SD/MMC card first, then internal if that's full. "Internal" option always uses internal memory, even with card inserted.
  • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/2EV increments) - using the joystick in PAS mode to adjust this
  • Picture quality (see chart)
  • Color mode (Color, black & white, sepia)
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent) - no manual white balance
  • ISO speed (Auto, 100, 200, 400) - auto selects from ISO 100-200
  • Long time exposure (0.7 - 4 sec) - easy way to select slow shutter speed outside of the PAS modes
  • Exposure metering (Multi-pattern, center-weight, center-spot)
  • Focus zone (Multi-zone, center zone) - multi-zone chooses one of three areas in the frame to focus on
  • Reset - back to default settings
  • Set Album - choose an album before you start taking pictures
  • Date Stamp (Off, YYYY MM DD, MM DD YYYY, DD MM YYYY) - for putting the date on photos.
  • Orientation sensor (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait shots
  • Setup Menu - see below

The DX6440 falls short of having a complete set of manual controls by leaving out manual white balance and manual focus. Both of these would've been nice, as many competitive cameras have them (especially white balance).

In addition to the record menu, there's also a setup menu, which has the following options:

  • Default print quantity
  • Quickview (on/off) - if picture is shown for 5 secs on LCD after it's taken
  • Liveview (on/off) - turns LCD on for composing photos
  • Advanced digital zoom (Continuous, pause, none) - how the digital zoom is activated, or just turn it off
  • Shutter sound (on/off)
  • Mode description (on/off) - whether to show a description of the camera mode when you turn the mode dial
  • Date & time set
  • Video out (NTSC, PAL)
  • Language (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean??)
  • Format (Memory card, internal memory)
  • About - shows the current firmware version; mine was 1.0000

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of menus. Let's talk picture quality.

Much like on the DX6490, the 6440 did a fine job with our macro test subject. The image is nice and sharp, and colors are very saturated (perhaps a little too much). The minimum distance to the subject (from the lens) is 10 cm at wide-angle, and 25 cm at telephoto.

One annoyance about macro mode is that it's on the mode wheel, rather than an option you can invoke in any mode. That means you cannot use macro mode in PAS mode -- which may be important if you want to adjust the aperture to change the depth-of-field. Note to Kodak: make it a button instead!


F4.5, 4 sec

May I present San Francisco by Monet. I don't know what's going on here, but the night shot was processed to death, possibly by the noise reduction system. It's a shame too, as the camera took in plenty of light. There's a bit of purple fringing, as well.

The DX6440 turned in a fair amount of redeye in our flash test. This can be removed pretty well in software.

The distortion test shows minimal barrel distortion and no vignetting.

Overall, photo quality on the DX6440 was very good -- I think the target audience for this camera will have no complaints. Since it's my job to complain, I will mention that images did seem a little overprocessed to me -- have a look at the grass and sky in this shot. Images captured by the 6440 have high saturation (you don't need to be an expert to see that), and they were quite sharp as well. Purple fringing was a little higher than normal -- the fast F2.2 lens may have a lot to do with that.

Please don't take my word for all this -- have a look at the photo gallery and judge the DX6440's quality for yourself.

Movie Mode

The DX6440 can record videos at 320 x 240 (15 frames/second) until the memory card is full. Sound is recorded along with the video. The built-in 16MB of memory can't hold very much -- about 81 seconds. Pick up a 256MB SD card, and you can record for over 23 minutes.

Kodak also gives you the unusual option of limiting the length of your clips to 5, 10, or 30 seconds. You do this by pressing the self-timer button. The camera gives you a 10 second head start, and then starts filming (you can still use unlimited recording with this feature).

Since sound is recorded, the optical zoom cannot be used during filming.

Here's a sample movie for you. The sound quality is not great (I don't remember the fountain being that loud in person, either).


Click to play movie (3.4MB, QuickTime format)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

If you've read this far, you can probably guess that the DX6440 has an easy-to-use playback system. And you'd be correct.

The basic features that we all know are here: slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll.

Zoom and scroll (called Magnify here) lets you zoom in 2X or 4X into your photo, and then scroll around in the enlarged image. You can activate this function by using the menu system or pressing the center button on the four-way controller. Kodak has greatly improved this feature compared with their older models.

The DX6440 lets you copy images from the internal memory to a memory card, and vice versa. If you've got a memory card inserted, you must switch to the internal memory using the menu if you want to view the pictures stored there.

The sharing and album features were covered earlier in the review, so scroll back up to the tour section to learn about that.

By default, the DX6440 shows you no exposure information about your photos. If you want to see that, you need to enter the menu and choose "Picture Info" (they should let you press that "i" button instead!).

And here's what you'll see... not nearly as nice as on the DX6490!

The camera moves through images fairly quickly. A low res image is shown instantly, with the high res version appearing about a second later.

How Does it Compare?

If there's one thing I've learned in my two recent reviews of their cameras, it's that Kodak has really gotten their act together. The EasyShare DX6440 is a very easy-to-use camera that takes very good pictures, includes several manual controls, and has a modern AF system. The camera isn't going to win any awards for performance, but it does have minimal shutter lag, good low light focusing ability, and a nice burst mode. As I mentioned, image quality is generally very good, though the camera tends to overprocess photos, most notably in the night shot. The camera's movie mode is about average these days, with unlimited recording (with sound) until the memory card is full. The area in which the DX6440 really stands out is in ease-of-use. The EasyShare system is excellent and a great way for beginners to share photos with friends and family. Throw in the printer dock and you've got a home photo studio for around $600. The camera does have a few flaws, though. While most of the camera is built like a tank, the plastic doors are very flimsy. I would've liked manual white balance and focus as well. But all-in-all, the DX6440 is an impressive value -- 4 Megapixels and a 4X zoom for $400 -- that I can recommend.

What I liked:

  • Good photo quality
  • Fast 4X zoom lens
  • Nice LCD (high res, easy to see outdoors)
  • Many manual controls
  • Hybrid AF system for low light focusing
  • Good burst mode
  • Low shutter lag
  • EasyShare system makes it very easy to share and print photos
  • Supports add-on lenses
  • USB 2.0
  • Camera dock included (U.S. and Canada only)

What I didn't care for:

  • Details in photos can look muddy, overprocessed
  • Some redeye, above average purple fringing
  • Cheesy plastic doors over memory card / battery compartments
  • No manual white balance or manual focus
  • No control over saturation or sharpness
  • Macro mode should be button, not item on mode dial

Other cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot A80, G3, and S45, Kyocera Finecam L4v, Minolta DiMAGE S414, Nikon Coolpix 4300, Olympus C-4000Z, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC43, Pentax Optio 450, and the Toshiba PDR-4300. There are many other cameras worth looking at not on this list, which you'll find on our Reviews & Info page.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the DX6440 and it's competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photo quality stacks up in our DX6440 photo gallery!

Want another opinion?

Read another review over at Steve's Digicams.

Feedback

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to jakeller@pair.com. Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests for personal camera recommendations.

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