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DCRP Review: Kodak
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: September 7, 2004
Last Updated: February 25, 2008
The Kodak EasyShare DX7590 ($499) is the follow-up to the well-received DX6490 from last year. Some of the new features on the 7590 include:
Is the DX7590 a worthy upgrade of its excellent predecessor? Find out in our review!
Please note that since the cameras are so similar, I will be reusing some text from the DX6490 review here.
What's in the Box?
The DX7590 has an excellent bundle, though it varies depending on the country you live in. Inside the box, you'll find:
As was the case on the DX6490 as well as other recent Kodak cameras, no memory card is included with the camera. Instead, Kodak built 32MB of memory right into the camera. That doesn't hold too many 5 Megapixel images, so I recommend buying a larger memory card right away. The DX7590 can use Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMedia (MMC) cards, though I recommend the former due to its superior performance and capacity. I'd recommend a 256MB SD card as a good starting point.
The DX7590 uses the KLIC-5001 battery, which has an impressive 6.3 Wh of power. Kodak estimates that you can take 275 - 325 photos per charge, which is a significant improvement over the DX6490. If you have some of the old KLIC-5000 batteries sitting around, you can use those as well, but they won't last for as long as the KLIC-5001.
The usual warnings about proprietary batteries apply here. They're expensive ($30 each), and you can't just grab some AA alkalines off the shelf to get you through the rest of the day.
The DX7590 rests comfortably on the camera dock
The I/O ports on the dock include DC-in and USB
In the U.S., Kodak includes the EasyShare camera dock 6000 along with the camera (it's $80 otherwise). 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.
Do 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 and AC adapter.
The included dock insert helps the camera fit properly on the dock.
Kodak includes a lens cap (with retaining strap) to protect that 10X zoom lens.
Now let's talk about camera accessories. Kodak offers a wide-angle conversion lens adapter ($140), which lowers the wide end of the lens from 38 mm to 26.6 mm. To use this lens you must first buy the DX6490/DX7590 conversion lens adapter ($20), which also lets you use 55 mm filters. Speaking of filters, Kodak offers polarizing ($65) and neutral density ($25) filters that work on that very same adapter.
Another cool accessory is a Kodak Printer Dock -- you have three to choose from. The latest and greatest is the Printer Dock Plus ($200), which makes a 4 x 6 inch print in 60 seconds. Just pop you camera onto the printer dock and away you go. It also supports printing via PictBridge (over USB) or a built-in SD/MMC card slot.
Other accessories include the camera dock ($80, if one wasn't included with the camera), AC adapter ($30), external battery charger ($30), and a faux leather carrying case ($30).
While Kodak includes versions 3.4.1 and 3.3 (Windows and Mac OS X, respectively) of their EasyShare software with the camera, I'm going to tell you about version 4 instead, since it's a free download from Kodak's website. Kodak may well have the best bundled software out there at this point.
The main screen lets you import and organize your photos. Kodak has added some new ways to organize your photos in version 4.0. You can view them by date taken, or you can create "smart albums" which are totally customizable (just like a smart playlist in iTunes).
On this screen you can also view your photos in a slideshow, edit or rotate them (see below), get exposure data, rotate them, burn them to a CD or DVD, or even upload them to Ofoto for printing.
If you want to edit your photo, there are some basic tools included. They include rotation, cropping, "instant enhancement", redeye reduction, brightness and contrast, color, exposure, and instant black & white or sepia conversion. For some edits, you can split the screen (see above) so you can see a "before and after" view of your proposed changes.
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 choices available, including the two 4 x 6 inch per page print layout 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.
Here you can customize the e-mail addresses stored in the camera -- more on how this works later in the review. This feature is also integrated with the OS X address book. Similarly, you can also set up albums on your camera by using EasyShare. 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!
Kodak does a nice job with their camera manuals, with long descriptions and not a lot of fine print. The manual does seem short (in length) but most people will find it to be very helpful.
Look and Feel
With the exception of a few buttons, the DX7590 looks exactly like the DX6490. The 7590 is made entirely of plastic, though I believe that it has a metal frame underneath, giving it a solid feel. The camera is easy to hold, though a more comfortable right hand grip would've been nice. The important controls are easy to reach and operate.
Here's a look at the dimensions and weight of the DX7590 versus the Ultra Zoom competition:
As you can see, the DX7590 fits right in the middle of the pack in terms of size and weight. And geez, that FZ20 is a monster!
Okay, enough numbers for now, let's start our tour of the camera now!
The DX7590 has the exact same 10X optical zoom lens as its predecessor. In case you have a short memory, that's an F2.7 - F3.7 lens made (supposedly) by Schneider-Kreuznach. The focal range of the lens is 6.3 - 63 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 380 mm. The lens barrel is threaded and you can attach conversion lenses and filters via the optional conversion lens adapter.
Directly above the lens is the hybrid autofocus sensor. This assists the camera in focusing, improving both responsiveness and low light focusing. The self-timer lamp can be found to the left of the AF sensor.
Continuing upward, we find the pop-up flash. The flash has a working range of 0.6 - 4.9 m at wide-angle, and 2.0 - 3.7 m at telephoto, a change from the 6490. The DX7590 supports an external flash -- more on that in a bit.
Just 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 as well as the exposure compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV, 1/3EV increments) and ISO sensitivity (80, 100, 200, 400).
The most noticeable changes to the DX7590 can be found on the back of the camera. I'll point them out as we go along.
One thing that hasn't changed is the large 2.2" LCD display on the 7590. The screen packs 153,000 pixels which leads to sharp images. The screen is bright and is quite usable outdoors, too. In low light conditions, the camera automatically boosts the gain on the screen, allowing you to still see your subject.
One of the biggest improvements on the DX7590 can be found be looking at the electronic viewfinder, or EVF. The EVF is a tiny LCD screen that you view just like a regular optical viewfinder. Whatever is shown on the LCD can be shown on the EVF as well (just not at the same time). The resolution on the EVF has gone from 180,000 pixels on the DX6490 to 311,000 pixels on the DX7590. While not as nice as the screen on the Minolta DiMAGE A2, the 7590's is quite sharp and bright. As with the LCD, the EVF brightens automatically in low light conditions. A diopter correction knob can be found on the side of the EVF, which allows you to adjust the focus so those without perfect vision can see the screen!
To switch between the LCD and EVF, you just press the button located to the left of the EVF.
Immediately to the right of the EVF you'll find the on/off button as well as the zoom controller. The controller lets you move the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 2.2 seconds. If that seems too fast, don't worry -- by quickly pressing the lever, you can make very precise adjustments to the focal length.
Below the on/off button you'll fine the "i" and Share buttons. The former is used to toggle what's shown on the EVF/LCD. The Share button is the feature that sets Kodak cameras from the competition (with perhaps 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:
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 mentioned before is the album feature. Pick an album (either before or after you take a picture), and the camera will dump the photos into the proper album the next time you transfer photos to your Mac or PC.
The favorites feature lets you save, well, your favorite pictures right on the camera. Note that this does take up a portion of the built-in memory on the camera, and you can choose how much of it is dedicated to favorites by using the EasyShare software.
Below the share button is the mode dial, which has been changed a bit since the DX6490. The items on the mode dial include:
I should mention that it's nice that the camera manual describes the exact settings used in each scene mode. The custom option on the mode dial is a new, and welcome feature on the DX7590.
Below the mode dial are three final buttons on this part of the tour: delete photo, menu, and review (enter playback mode).
On the top of the camera (which seems "fatter" than its predecessor in this view), you'll find several buttons, the release for the pop-up flash, and the speaker.
The important buttons here are:
The new exposure bracketing option takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure value. You can set the EV interval (±0.3EV, ±0.7EV, ±1.0EV) in the record menu. If you've got enough space on your memory card, bracketing is a great way to ensure a proper exposure.
The continuous shooting modes have been revamped, with two different choices available, but at a lower frame rate than on the DX6490. "First burst" takes up to 5 pictures at 2 frames/second -- this is your standard-issue burst mode. "Last burst" is the new one. Hold the shutter release button down and the camera takes up to 30 pictures at 2 frames/second, but only the last 4 images taken before you let go of the button are saved (the rest are thrown out). Regardless of the mode you use, I was pleased to see that there's no "blackout" on the LCD/EVF between shots, so you should be able to follow moving subjects fairly easily.
On this side of the DX7590, you'll find the I/O ports, which are kept under rubber covers.
Let's take a closer look.
A rubber band saved the day, again!
The port at the top-left is a PC flash sync port -- just like on the DX6490. 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, too (Kodak doesn't sell one). You'll find more information about how to set this all up on Kodak's site.
The ports on the bottom half are USB, DC-in (for AC adapter), and A/V out. The camera says it supports USB 2.0, but it's really just the same old slow USB 1.1 speed that you'll get (the DX6490 was the same way).
Over on the other side, behind a fairly sturdy plastic door, you'll find the SD/MMC card slot.
Finally, here's the bottom of the DX7590. 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 door which covers the battery compartment is quite flimsy.
Using the Kodak EasyShare DX7590
The DX7590 starts up faster than its predecessor, taking about 2.6 seconds to extend the lens and "warm up". Kodak cameras are always ready to shoot -- even if you're in playback mode, you can take a picture by pressing the shutter release.
No live histogram in record mode
Autofocus speeds are good on the 7590, with a half second delay at wide-angle and closer to a second if the AF has to "hunt" a bit. The hybrid AF sensor allows the camera to focus accurately in low light conditions. The LCD and EVF remain visible in those situations.
Shutter lag was low, even at slower shutter speeds where it sometimes becomes a problem.
Shot-to-shot speed is good, with a 2 second delay before you can take another picture (assuming you've turned off the post-shot review feature).
You can delete a photo immediately after taking it by pressing the delete button.
Kodak has improved the image quality options on the 7590, finally giving you some control over the amount of JPEG compression applied to your photos. Here are the choices:
There's no TIFF or RAW mode available on the DX7590.
The camera names files as 100_####.JPG (where # = 0001 - 9999), and remembers the numbering even if you switch cards or delete photos.
The menu system on the 7590 is simple and very easy-to-use. About the only thing missing is a help option describing what each item does. Here are all the menu options:
A few notes on some of those items before we continue. I would've liked to have seen a custom white balance option on the camera. It's too bad that they left this feature out, as it comes in handy when shooting under unusual lighting conditions. Manual focus wouldn't hurt either.
There are three "focus zones" on the 7590. Multi-zone automatically chooses one of three areas in the frame on which to focus. Center zone always focuses on the center of the frame. Selectable zone lets you choose one of the three focus areas manually.
There are also three "AF control" choices available. Continuous AF is always focusing, even when the shutter release is not held down. This reduces the delay when you want to take a picture. In Single AF mode, the camera only focuses when you halfway press the shutter release. Accessory lens AF disables the hybrid AF sensor (since the lens blocks it) and just uses good old fashioned contrast detection for focusing.
In addition to the record menu, there's also a setup menu, which has the following options:
Okay, let's move on to our photo tests now!
The 7590 did a fine job with our macro test shot, producing a very "smooth" rendition of our subject. Colors are quite saturated, as well. Despite not having a custom white balance feature, the tungsten WB setting produced accurate colors under my 600W quartz studio lamps.
You can get as close to your subject as 12 cm at wide-angle and 1.2 m at telephoto, neither of which are wondrous (the Olympus C-770UZ can be just 3 cm from the subject).
This section was updated on September 10, 2004 with a new night shot and ISO tests.
The night shot turned out nicely as well, though maybe a tad bit soft and "muddy". Perhaps the camera's noise reduction system overdoes it a bit. The camera was able to take in plenty of light (thanks to its manual shutter speed control), noise levels are fairly low, and there isn't much purple fringing to see.
Using that same shot, here's a look at how changing the ISO sensitivity effects the amount of noise in your images:
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ISO 80 and 100 both look pretty good (it almost seems like ISO 100 is sharper!) and things don't get too noisy until ISO 400. I had tried to underexpose the ISO 400 shot but clearly that didn't happen. Regardless you can get an idea as the the noise levels you can expect on the 7590.
The DX7590 did a great job in the redeye test -- there really isn't any to speak of. Just a bit of flash reflection. Great job, Kodak!
The distortion test shows very mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens, and no signs of vignetting (dark corners) or blurring.
Although not what I'd call "excellent", the DX7590's photo quality is very good overall. My test photos were well-exposed with saturated (and accurate) colors. Images are on the soft side, though, and details like grass and leaves seem "overprocessed" and fuzzy (which has been the case with recent Kodak cameras). If you're making prints 8 x 10 inches and smaller this isn't an issue. Any larger than that, or if you like viewing images on your computer screen at 100% then you will notice. Purple fringing showed up a few times (it tends to be worst than average on ultra zoom cameras) but I wouldn't consider it a problem.
By all means, don't just take my word for it. View our photo gallery, and print the images just like you would if they were your own. Then decide if the DX7590's photo quality meets your expectations.
The movie mode has improved on the DX7590 compared to the DX6490. Now you can record VGA video (with sound) until the memory card fills up, but at a sluggish 12 fps frame rate. A 256MB SD card can hold about 16 minutes of video at this setting. If you want a better frame rate, you'll have to drop down to the 320 x 240 resolution. Here you can record at 20 frames/second. You can fit over 30 minutes of video on the 256MB card in this mode.
You cannot use the optical zoom during filming. Turning off the continuous AF function is advised, as the noise from the focusing will end up in your videos.
Movies are saved in QuickTime format using the MPEG4 codec.
Here's a very exciting sample movie, taken at the VGA setting. Quality isn't great, but here goes:
Click to play movie (2.1MB, 640 x 480, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
As you'd expect from Kodak, the DX7590's playback mode is attractive and easy-to-use. The basic features that we all know are here: slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll. The camera is PictBridge-enabled for direct printing to a compatible photo printer.
Zoom and scroll (called Magnify here) lets you zoom into your photo by up to 8 times, and then scroll around in the enlarged image. This feature is well-implemented -- very smooth scrolling.
The DX7590 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 DX7590 shows you no exposure information about your photos. If you want to see that, just press the "i" button and you'll get the screen on the right, which is full of useful information.
The camera moves between photos instantly.
How Does it Compare?
The Kodak EasyShare DX7590 is a great ultra zoom camera, just like the 6490 before it. Sure, image stabilization would be nice, and maybe a few more manual controls, but you can't please everyone!
There's much to like about the DX7590. It's responsive, it takes great pictures (though see a few negatives below), offers quite a few manual controls, supports an external flash, and it has a large LCD. Let's start out with the camera's speed: it starts up quickly, takes pictures with very little delay, and plays back your photos instantly. Photo quality on the 7590 is quite good, though images tend to be soft and lacking detail in some areas. This is only an issue when you're doing huge prints or viewing images at 100% on screen. In terms of manual controls, the camera has them for shutter speed and aperture; manual focus and white balance would've been nice. The 7590 supports conversion lenses (though Kodak only offers a wide-angle one) as well as filters. A flash sync port lets you hook up an external flash. Like the DX6490 before it, the 7590 has a large 2.2" LCD that's useful in bright outdoor light as well as dark rooms. The electronic viewfinder shares these qualities and is now sharper than before.
Did I mention that the 7590 is also easy-to-use? The EasyShare system -- both on the camera and on your PC -- makes it incredibly easy to share your photos via prints or e-mail. You can "tag" pictures for later printing or e-mailing right on the camera. You can also set things up so your pictures go straight into albums on your computer. Kodak really has thought of everything.
So what don't I like about the camera? I already mentioned a few things earlier, so here are the rest of them. I wish the camera had manual white balance and manual focus -- two features which come in quite handy. While it's nice to see unlimited VGA movie recording, the 12 fps frame rate leads to choppy videos. And that's about it!
I recommend the DX7590 for anyone looking for an ultra zoom camera that's got features that enthusiasts demand and ease-of-use for the rest of us. I'd rank it at the top of my best ultra zoom camera, list along with the Olympus C-765/770 and Panasonic DMC-FZ10 (if you're buying go for the new FZ15 or FZ20, I just haven't reviewed them yet).
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
Some other ultra zoom cameras (costing $600 or less) include the Canon PowerShot S1 IS (3MP + image stabilization), Fuji FinePix S5100 (4MP), HP Photosmart 945 (5MP), Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3 (4MP + IS) and Z10 (3MP), Olympus C-765 and C-770 Ultra Zoom (both 4MP), and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 (3MP + IS), DMC-FZ15 (4MP + IS), and DMC-FZ20 (5MP + IS).
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the DX7590 and it's competitors before you buy!
Want a second opinion?
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.
To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.
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