Review: Kodak EasyShare DX6490
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: September 29, 2003
September 30, 2003
DX6490 is Kodak's entry into the rapidly growing "ultra
zoom" camera market. Packing a 4 Megapixel CCD, 10X optical
zoom lens, large 2.2" LCD display, and manual controls
for only $499, the DX6490 is an impressive package.
other feature that really sets the DX6490 apart from most of
the competition is Kodak's EasyShare system, which makes it very
easy to mark photos for printing and e-mailing. The optional
EasyShare printer dock 6000 ($199) lets you place the camera
on the dock, and press one button for a 4 x 6 inch print in 90
are quite a few ultra zoom cameras to choose from these days.
How does the DX6490 hold up against the competition? Find out
in our review!
in the Box?
DX6490 has an excellent 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:
4.0 effective Mpixel Kodak EasyShare DX6490 camera
lithium-ion rechargeable battery
NiMH rechargeable battery pack (not compatible with DX6490)
camera dock 6000
cap w/retaining strap
featuring Kodak EasyShare 2.1 software
page manual (printed)
what is becoming a trend with camera manufacturers, the DX6490
has internal memory plus a memory card slot. That means that
there's no memory card in the box. Kodak includes 16MB of internal
memory, which is barely enough to get started with, so do yourself
a favor and buy a larger card. The DX6490 can use Secure Digital
(SD) or MultiMedia (MMC) cards.
DX6490 uses the new KLIC-5001 battery, which has an impressive
6.3 Wh of power. Kodak estimates that you can take 125 - 210
photos per charge, which is about average. Like with all proprietary
batteries, you can't just stuff in a couple of alkaline AAs to
get you through the day. I can't seem to find extra batteries
for sale anywhere, but the older KLIC-5000 battery (which does
work in this camera, though it won't last as long) went for around
$20 last time I checked.
the U.S., 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 three
hours to fully charge the battery, and the dock has a little
meter showing the current battery charge.
note that you can do the same things without the dock -- plus
viewing photos on your television. In some countries, you'll
have an external battery charger in the box, instead of the dock.
included dock insert helps the camera nicely fit on the dock.
includes a lens cap (with retaining strap) to protect that 10X
I mentioned, one of the coolest accessories for the DX6490 is
the EasyShare printer dock 6000. 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.
aren't really any other major accessories for the camera. You
can add an external flash, but Kodak does not sell one (more
on this later). The other items are camera bags and memory cards
and card readers.
includes their latest versions of their EasyShare software with
the DX6490 -- that's v 3.1 for Windows, v. 3.0 for Mac OS X,
and v 1.4.2 for Mac OS 8/9. 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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
does a nice job with their camera manuals, with long descriptions
and not a lot of fine print.
EasyShare DX6490 is a midsize camera made of high grade black-colored
plastic. The camera is fairly easy to hold, though I wish it
had a larger right hand grip.
a look at the dimensions and weight of the DX6490 versus comparatively
priced Ultra Zoom cameras:
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
x 3.2 x 3.2
x 3.2 x 3.1
x 3.4 x 3.4
x 3.1 x 3.2
C-740 Ultra Zoom
x 2.6 x 2.7
x 2.7 x 2.6
you can see, the DX6490 fits right in the middle of the pack
in terms of size and weight.
that out of the way, let's take a tour of the camera now.
of the biggest features of the DX6490 is undoubtedly its 10X
Schneider-Kreuznach lens. This F2.8 - F3.7 lens has a focal range
of 6.3 - 63 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 380 mm. The lens
above the lens is the hybrid autofocus sensor. 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. The self-timer lamp can be found alongside
of the AF sensor.
upward, we find the pop-up flash. The flash has a working range
of 0.9 - 4.9 m at wide-angle, and 1.0 - 4.2 m at telephoto. The
DX6490 supports an external flash -- more on that in a bit.
to the upper-left of the lens is the microphone. Still moving
toward the left, we find the jog dial, which is used for adjusting
the manual settings on the camera. You can also adjust the exposure
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV, 1/3EV increments) by using the
the back of the camera, you'll find the other "big feature" on
the 6490 -- and that is the large 2.2" LCD display. Unlike
some other cameras with large LCDs, Kodak didn't skimp on the
resolution -- this screen has 150,000 pixels. The 28 frame/second
refresh rate produces a very smooth image, and the screen is
bright as well. You can't adjust the brightness on it, though.
above the LCD is the electronic viewfinder, or EVF. The EVF is
also large (0.44"), high resolution (180k pixels), and fluid
(28 frames/sec). One of the biggest problems with EVFs is when
you're shooting in the dark -- normally you can't see anything.
But the good folks at Kodak switch the EVF (and LCD as well)
to black and white and boost the signal, so you can actually
see what you're pointing the camera at. The EVF includes a diopter
correction knob, to help focus the image that you're looking
switch between the LCD and EVF, you just press the button located
to the left of the EVF.
let's talk about the buttons located to the right of the LCD.
These include the status ("i") button, which toggles
the info on the LCD/EVF on and off, as well as the share button.
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:
share mode, you can do three things:
a picture for printing
a picture for e-mailing
a picture as a "favorite" for later retrieval
say you want to mark an image for e-mail. Here's what you'll
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 our tour now, the next button of note is the mode dial.
Inside the mode dial is the four-way controller (more like a
joystick), which is used for menu navigation). It has the following
I describe the PASM item, let me say that I found it way too
easy to accidentally turn this camera on. Note to Kodak: don't
put the power switch on a mode wheel so easy to bump. I must've
turned the camera on ten times while trying to put it into my
over, here's what that PASM item on the mode dial does. PASM
stands for Program/Aperture Priority/Shutter Priority/Manual
modes. 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 F2.8 and F8), and the camera picks the appropriate shutter
speed. Shutter priority mode is just the opposite: you choose
a shutter speed (range of 16 - 1/1000 sec), and the camera chooses
the right aperture. In manual mode, you choose both the aperture
and the shutter speed.
the mode dial are three more buttons, for deleting photos, loading
the menu, and entering playback (review) mode.
last item to discuss here is the zoom controller, located at
the top-right. The controller moves the lens smoothly from wide-angle
to telephoto in about two seconds. With quick presses of the
button, you can make precise lens movements.
the top of the camera, you'll find several buttons, the release
for the pop-up flash, and the speaker.
important buttons here are:
(Self-timer, continuous shooting)
(Auto, fill flash, red-eye reduction, flash off)
continuous shooting (burst) mode will take up to 6 pictures at
3 frames/second -- not too shabby!
this side of the DX6490, you'll find the I/O ports, which are
kept under rubber covers.
take a closer look.
finally found a use for those really small rubber bands!
port at the top-left is a PC flash sync port. That's right, a
low-cost Kodak camera with a flash sync port! You can hook any
standard flash sync cable into this port, up to a maximum of
500 volts. You'll need a flash bracket of some sort, and I don't
see that Kodak offers one.
ports down at the bottom are for DC-in (for AC adapter), USB
(2.0), and video out.
on the other side, behind a fairly sturdy plastic door, you'll
find the SD/MMC card slot.
here's the bottom of the DX6490. Here you'll find the dock connector,
metal tripod mount, and battery compartment. The battery compartment
can hold the included 1700 mAh KLIC-5001 battery, or the older
1050 mAh KLIC-5000 model (which I don't recommend using unless
you already have one).
the Kodak EasyShare DX6490
DX6490 takes just over four seconds to extend the lens and prepare
for shooting -- not bad for a big zoom camera.
its AF speeds are just average, the 6490 locked the focus in
most situations -- even in the redeye test, where most cameras
can't do it. I think we have that hybrid AF system to thank for
this. There were a few low light situations in which the camera
couldn't lock the focus or exposure... but in most cases it was
lag was very short on this camera, which was nice. I really like
the fake shutter sound for some reason.
speed is average, with a 2.5 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 -- get this -- delete button.
all Kodak cameras, the DX6490 is always ready to shoot, even
in playback mode. The good thing about this feature is that you
can quickly take a picture at any time, while the bad thing is
that you can easily accidentally bump your way back into record
uses a "star" system to represent photo resolution
and quality. Here's a look at the available quality choices:
photos on 16MB on-board memory
photos on optional 128MB SD card
2304 x 1728
2304 x 1536
1656 x 1242
1200 x 900
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.
has created an attractive, easy-to-use menu system for their
cameras. Some of the menu options below are only available in
PASM mode -- I'll highlight those in bold. Here
are the DX6490's menu options:
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.
quality (see chart)
daylight, tungsten, fluorescent) - no manual white balance
80, 100, 200, 400, 800) -
note that ISO 800 is only available at the 1 Megapixel resolution
mode (Saturated color, neutral color, black & white, sepia)
center zone) - multi-zone chooses one of three areas in the
frame to focus on
- Sharpness (Sharp,
- Reset -
back to default settings
Album - choose an album before you start taking pictures
Stamp (Off, YYYY MM DD, MM DD YYYY, DD MM YYYY) -for putting
the date on photos.
sensor (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait
Menu - see below
DX6490 falls short of having a complete set of manual controls
by leaving out manual white balance and manual focus. In my own
work, I rarely use manual focus, but I use manual white balance
all the time.
addition to the record menu, there's also a setup menu, which
has the following options:
(on/off) - if picture is shown for 5 secs on LCD after it's
digital zoom (Continuous, pause, none) - how the digital zoom
is activated, or just turn it off
sound (on/off) - but it sounds so nice!
description (on/off) - whether to show a description of the
camera mode when you turn the mode dial
- Date & time
out (NTSC, PAL)
(English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese,
- shows the current firmware version; mine was 1.0300
don't know about you, but I'm tired of menus. Let's talk picture
DX6490 did a very nice job with the macro test shot, producing
a very "smooth-looking" subject. The colors are very
saturated -- perhaps too much so. In macro mode, you can get
as close to your subject as 12 cm at wide-angle, and 1.2 m at
took not one, but two nice night shots with the DX6490. They're
a little soft, and I suppose I could've used a longer shutter
speed on the first one, but you get the idea. Noise levels are
quite low, as the camera has a noise reduction system that is
used for longer exposures. There's a bit of purple fringing,
but I don't think it's a problem in either of these shots.
full control over shutter sped will let you take pictures like
this -- just remember your tripod.
camera did not fare as well in the redeye test. It's not horrible,
but it's certainly noticeable. You can usually clean this up
pretty well in software -- including with the EasyShare software
that comes with the camera. One other thing to do note is the
smoothness of the image -- no noise at all.
distortion test shows hardly any barrel distortion, and zero
vignetting (dark corners).
DX6490's photo quality is comparable with other cameras in its
class. They're not the best I've seen, but they're good enough
for most people. Colors were quite saturated, and exposures were
generally good, though a few shots were underexposed. There were
a few issues that I did notice. Issue #1 is something I've seen
on many other Kodak cameras: details like grass and shrubs get "muddied
up" -- this photo being
a good example of that. The other issue is that some images were
on the soft side (example)
-- something you can correct by cranking up the in-camera sharpening,
or better yet, adjusting in Photoshop. Purple fringing is something
that you have to live with on an ultra zoom camera, but it wasn't
too bad on the DX6490, much to my surprise. Sure, you'll find
it in our torture test,
but it wasn't in too many of my other shots.
don't take my word for all this -- have a look at the photo
gallery and judge the DX6490's quality for yourself.
DX6490 can record videos at 320 x 240, 20 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 -- under a minute.
Pick up a 256MB SD card, and you can record over 16 minutes.
Kodak also gives you the unusual option of limiting the length
of your clips to 5, 10, or 30 seconds.
sound is recorded, the optical zoom cannot be used during filming.
must apologize three times for the sample movie below. First,
I apologize for the wind noise. It was just a breeze, but it
sounds much worse. Secondly, I apologize for the inability of
the volleyball players to get the ball over the net. Finally,
sorry about that big vertical line in the picture -- this tends
to happen in movie mode on digital cameras when there's something
abnormally bright. If I can take another movie, I will.
back, turn down your volume, and enjoy this short clip:
to play movie (1.5MB, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
you've read this far, you can probably guess that the DX6490
has an easy-to-use playback system. And you'd be correct.
basic features that we all know are here: slide shows, DPOF print
marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll.
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 since the last time I reviewed one of their
DX6490 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.
sharing and album features were covered earlier in the review,
so scroll back up to the tour section to learn about that.
default, the DX6490 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
has improved this Picture Info screen since my last review --
it has more useful information now.
camera moves between photos instantly.
Does it Compare?
I was quite pleased with how the Kodak EasyShare DX6490 performed
-- it's a great ultra zoom camera for beginners and amateurs.
Hardcore photographers may be turned off by its lack of manual
white balance and manual focus, but virtually every other type
of manual control is available. The 6490 also supports an external
flash, which is unusual for a camera in this class. The large
(and high resolution) LCD display was a nice touch, as was the
way the LCD and EVF brighten in low light conditions. The photo
quality was good, but not excellent, due to muddy details and
softness. Redeye and purple fringing were also seen, but neither
was horrible. The camera has average performance in most areas,
except for playback mode, where it really screams. One thing
that annoyed me on several occasions was the mode dial that was
too easy to bump, changing modes or turning the camera on when
you don't want to.
the DX6490 really stands out is in terms of ease-of-use. The
Kodak EasyShare system lets you easily share pictures, whether
via e-mail or prints. The one-of-a-kind album feature is intriguing
as well. The software that runs on your Mac and PC is very nice
-- the whole thing is tied together nicely. Throw in the printer
dock for another $200 and you've got a complete system for sharing
and printing your photos. Nobody, with perhaps the exception
of HP, comes close to Kodak in this area.
does the DX6490 compare to the other cameras I mentioned way
back in the dimensions section of the tour? I definitely place
the Kodak above the Fuji S5000 and Toshiba M500/700. It's too
early to tell on the Minolta and HP (I've briefly used the Minolta,
haven't seen the HP). The Olympus C-740/750 cameras are less
user-friendly, but a little
controls, TIFF mode, histogram). I think the Olympus takes slightly
nicer photos as well. I suppose you could toss the Panasonic
Lumix DMC-FZ1 into the pile as well, though even with a stabilized
lens, its 2 Megapixel CCD and total lack of manual controls are
making it less attractive these days.
conclusion, Kodak has done a really nice job with this one --
they have been listening to reviewers and customers alike. If
you want "more lens with your camera" and want a simple
way to share photos, then the DX6490 should be high on your list.
optical zoom lens
high resolution LCD
viewfinder actually useable in low light
sync port for external flash
AF system for low light focusing
easy to use
system makes it very easy to share and print photos
playback and movie modes
I didn't care for:
in photos can look muddy, overprocessed; photos tend to be
soft, as well
redeye, purple fringing
easy to accidentally turn on camera
manual white balance or manual focus
image resolution/quality options
other lower priced ultra zoom cameras include the Fuji
FinePix S5000, HP Photosmart 850 and 945, Minolta
DiMAGE Z1, Olympus C-740 and C-750 Ultra
Lumix DMC-FZ1, and the Toshiba PDR-M500 and M700.
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try
out the DX6490 and it's competitors before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our DX6490
another review over at Steve's
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due
to my limited resources, please do not send me requests for
personal camera recommendations.