Review: Kodak EasyShare LS443
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Saturday, January 4, 2003
LS443 ($499) is a lot more than just a digital camera. It's
a complete system designed to help you not only take, but share
your photos as well. The 4 Megapixel LS443 camera does the picture
taking. The innovative EasyShare software -- on both the camera
and your PC -- does the sharing, courtesy of a docking cradle. It
doesn't really get any easier than what Kodak has developed.
how well is it all implemented? And how well does the camera compare
with the various 4 Megapixel competitors? Find out now!
in the Box?
LS443 has a very good bundle. Opening up the box, you'll find:
4.0 (effective) Mpixel Kodak EasyShare LS443 camera
rechargeable Li-ion battery
featuring Kodak EasyShare software
page manual (printed)
what is becoming a trend with camera manufacturers, the LS443 has
built-in memory, instead of bundling a memory card. The 16MB isn't
much at all for a 4 Megapixel camera, so you'll want to buy a memory
card right away. The LS443 can use Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMedia
LS443 uses a battery that looks very familiar. Kodak calls it the
KLIC-5000, and it's priced at a very reasonable (for a proprietary
battery) $20 if you want another one (not a bad idea). I'm not a
huge fan of these proprietary batteries, since if you're in a jam
(read: batteries are dead) you can't just pop in any old AA battery.
The KLIC-5000 has 3.8 Watt/hours of "juice", which is
pretty good for a smaller battery. Kodak estimates that you can
take 200-300 shots per charge.
it's time to charge the battery, or transfer photos to your computer,
you just pop the camera into the included dock (you can do both
without the dock, if you want). Charging the battery fully takes
three hours. Press the button (see on the right, above) and the
camera will connect to your Mac or PC via a USB cable.
I/O ports on dock include USB and power
you've installed the EasyShare software, it will prepare images
you've marked for printing or e-mailing (more on that later). Here's
a look at the (Mac OS X) version of the EasyShare software. I would
imagine it would be similar on Windows.
is not a substitute for something like iPhoto or Photoshop Elements.
It's very basic, but well implemented. It is also seemed more stable
than the programs bundled with other cameras. The screen shot above
shows the main window in EasyShare. Your thumbnails are on the left,
and the panel on the right varies, depending on what you're doing.
The Viewer mode lets you rotate, delete, and view photos -- that's
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 4x6-inch per page prints you
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.
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 too
can be integrated with the OS X address book.
in all, the EasyShare system does make it easier to print and e-mail
your photos. It's definitely not a substitute for a real photo retouching
enough of the software talk. The camera also works with OS X's Image
Capture and iPhoto.
the camera has a built-in lens cover, no lens cap is needed.
for the LS443 are somewhat limited at this point. The lens is threaded,
but there aren't any lens accessories available yet. In fact there
aren't many accessories at all for the camera, aside from a fast
battery charger and camera bag.
camera manuals have always been better than average, and that is
the case here as well.
terms of design and build quality, the LS443 is the nicest Kodak
camera I used in years. It's a mix of metal and high grade plastic,
and it feels very solid. It's not a small camera, and isn't really
pocket sized... but it's not large by any means. It's in-between
a Coolpix 4300 and a PowerShot G3 in size. The controls are well
placed, and you can use the camera with one hand or two.
official dimensions of the LS443 are 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.5 inches (W x
H x D), and it weighs 245 grams (8.6 ounces) with battery and memory
tour the camera now.
LS443 has an F2.8-F9.6, Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon zoom lens.
The focal range of this 3X zoom lens is is 7.4 - 22.2 mm, which
is equivalent to 35 - 105 mm.
can add conversion lenses, if they were available, by unscrewing
the ring around the lens.
from the lens is the built-in flash. The working range of the flash
is 0.5 - 3.3 m at wide-angle and 0.5 - 1.9 m at telephoto. Kodak
claims a flash charging time of 7 seconds.
on the opposite side, just above the lens, is a first for Kodak
-- an autofocus illuminator! This little white lamp helps the camera
focus in low light situations. Always a welcome addition to any
clear circle with the four holes in it is a microphone.
main feature on the back of the LS443 is also its most disappointing.
That feature is the 1.8-inch "indoor/outdoor" LCD. The
first issue I have with the LCD is the low resolution -- only 72,000
pixels. You can definitely see the difference if you compare this
LCD to others... it's not sharp. Issue number two is the indoor/outdoor
feature. I couldn't see any difference between Kodak's LCD and other
ones I've used.
last complaint may seem kind of silly to some people, and requires
a bit of explanation. Outdoors, I wear prescription sunglasses,
which are polarized (as are most, I think). The LCD display is also
polarized, which may be how they try to do the indoor/outdoor thing.
Anyhow, with polarized sunglasses, you cannot see the LCD at all
at the normal viewing position. Like all polarized lenses, if you
turn the camera 90 degrees, the LCD becomes visible. This is the
first time I have seen this problem.
think that was the longest rant about an LCD ever, so I will stop
the top-left of the photo, you can see the optical viewfinder. This
average-sized viewfinder lacks any cross-hairs or focusing grids.
It also doesn't have a diopter correction knob.
two buttons immediately to the left of the LCD are for deleting
a photo, and invoking the menu system.
the right of that is the mode wheel, with the "joystick"
inside it. The joystick, which can also be pushed inward, is used
for menu navigation. The choices on the mode wheel include:
have more on some of those later in the review.
the lower-right of the LCD are two more buttons. The review button
enters playback mode. The share button is part of the EasyShare
system. When you press the button, the camera enters playback mode
and brings up this 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 see:
can select a person or persons that you want to e-mail this picture
to. Once you connect to your computer, the pictures will be ready
to be e-mailed (I don't think it happens automatically).
final item on the back of the camera is the zoom controller. The
zoom isn't all the precise, but it is fast: expect to go from wide
to telephoto in 1.5 seconds.
are just a few items up on top of the camera. The left-most item
is the speaker.
two buttons to the right of that are for drive and flash/info. The
drive options are self-timer and a 3-shot burst mode. Those three
shots are taken in about 2 seconds.
screen info display
flash choices include auto flash, flash off, fill flash, and auto
flash w/redeye reduction. The flash button also doubles as the info
button -- kind of a virtual LCD info display (I'd prefer the real
last item on top is the shutter release button.
this side of the camera, you'll find the I/O ports under a rubber
cover. The ports include DC in (for included AC adapter), video
out, and USB.
other side of the LS443 is where you'll find the slot for a Secure
Digital or MultiMedia memory card. The door covering the slot is
surprisingly sturdy as well.
but not least, here is the bottom of the camera. You can see the
battery compartment (again, with a solid door), metal tripod mount,
and the connector for the dock. The KLIC-5000 battery is at right.
the Kodak EasyShare LS443
LS443 takes a sluggish 5.5 seconds to extend the lens and warm up
before you can start shooting. When you press the shutter release
button halfway, the camera locks focus in about one second, which
is average. Press the button fully and the picture is taken after
a short, but still noticeable lag.
speed is below average. You will wait seven seconds before you can
take another picture (at the best quality setting, to internal memory).
With a SD card inserted, the shot-to-shot speed was only a second
faster. You have the option to delete the photo while it's being
saved to the memory card.
10/23/02: Want to speed up the shot-to-shot speed dramatically?
Turn off Postview in the setup menu. This will turn off the
feature that shows the picture you just took on the LCD, but
you'll be able to take another shot in about half the time.
of image quality settings, here's a chart of the various image size
and quality choices available on the LS443:
photos on 16MB on-board memory
photos on optional 64MB SD card
2448 x 1632
1800 x 1200
1224 x 816
no TIFF or RAW mode available on the LS443.
LS443 is a camera which is always about to take a picture. Even
if you're in playback mode, you can still operate the zoom, and
can take a picture fairly quickly if need be.
camera's menu system is attractive and easy to use. One thing I
don't like is how it forgets settings when the camera is turned
off. Here's a look at the available menu items:
storage (Auto, internal) - if set to auto, camera uses SD/MMC
card first, then internal if that's full. Internal always uses
internal memory, even with card inserted.
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/2EV increments)
balance (Auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent)
quality (Best, better, good)
mode (Color, black & white, sepia)
metering (Multi-patterned, center-weighted, center-spot)
zone (Multi-zone, center zone)
speed (Auto, 100, 200, 400)
Time Exposure (None, 0.7, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4 secs) - unfortunately,
ISO speed locked at auto when this mode is turned on
Stamp (Off, YYYY MM DD, MM DD YYYY) -for putting the date on photos.
sensor (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait shots
setup menu has some interesting items, including:
(on/off) - if picture is shown on LCD after it's taken
(on/off) - live preview on LCD
digital zoom (Continuous, pause, none) - How the 3.3X digital
zoom is activated
light AF LED (on/off) - turns the AF illuminator on and off
usual beep, date/time, and card formatting tools are also in the
move on to photo quality now.
you like saturated color, the LS443 is your camera. The macro shot
is way over-saturated! The reds are very red, but what
really sticks out is the blue -- it's much lighter in person. There
is also some noticeable noise in the shot. In macro mode, the focal
range is 13 - 70 cm.
you look at the night shot above, it looks pretty good. Upon closer
inspection though, it's not nearly as nice. The image has an over-processed
look that reminds me a lot of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC5 that I
reviewed over the summer. That's a shame because the camera certainly
took in enough light. I wonder how it would've turned out if the
camera didn't lock the ISO at Auto when you do longer exposures?
LS443 did a nice job with the redeye test. There's almost no red
at all in this picture! I was a little nervous about how it would
turn out since the flash was pretty close to the lens, but I guess
I didn't need to be! Note that I blew up this shot a bit so you
could see details.
quality on the LS443 was kind of a mixed bag. Usually, I was impressed
with the good, saturated color that it produced. Sometimes, it was
too much, as the macro shot as well as some of the gallery shots
illustrate. Chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) were noticed
occasionally, but were minor.
bigger problem with photo quality is that they look over-processed
and blurry, which I really noticed when doing my LS443
vs. Coolpix 4300 shootout. I offer this crop of a palm tree,
taken at the same time, same place, as evidence (taken from the
last picture on the shootout
Nikon Coolpix 4300
1/4/03: There are a number of conspiracy theorists
that think the palm tree example is unfair and/or rigged.
It was either the wind
sec on a still day, I don't think so), or post-processing
in Photoshop, they say.
silence the critics (I hope), I offer two more crops, taken
from the respective galleries for each camera. Photos were
taken at the same time.
Kodak LS 443
View Full Size Image
Nikon Coolpix 4300
Full Size Image
can assure you that the building was not blowing in the wind.
For more examples of over-processed images,
see the galleries at Steve's
Digicams and Imaging
don't think I really have to say anything else about sharpness.
I think most people will find the photo quality acceptable, especially
for e-mailing and smaller-sized prints. Those who want a very sharp
image will probably want to look elsewhere.
just take my word for it though. Have a look at the photo
gallery as well as the Nikon
Coolpix 4300 / Kodak EasyShare LS443 Shootout and judge for
LS443 has a pretty nice movie mode. You can record movies, with
sound, for as long as your memory card will allow. That's 70 seconds
on the 16MB of built-in memory. Buy a 128MB SD/MMC card and you
can record for over nine minutes!
are saved in QuickTime format at the unusual resolution of 309 x
sound is recorded, the optical zoom cannot be used during filming.
a sample movie for you. If this movie is any indication, the quality
of the movies isn't great.
to play movie (2.8MB, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
Kodak LS443 has a pretty nice playback mode.
basic features that we all know are here: slide shows, DPOF print
marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll.
and scroll lets you zoom in 2X or 4X into your photo, and then scroll
around in the enlarged image. Too bad it's so slow doing the magnification!
This was especially shocking after using the same feature on a cheaper
Canon camera that was instantaneous.
surprisingly, the LS443 lets you copy images from the internal memory
to a memory card, and vice versa.
not-so-exciting feature is the picture info menu item. What you
see above is all the info you get... not even shutter speed or aperture?
LS443 moves through images quickly. A low resolution image is shown
instantly, followed by the high res version about one second later.
Does it Compare?
Kodak EasyShare LS443 is probably the best (consumer) camera produced
by Kodak in recent years. In terms of built quality, performance,
the inclusion of an AF-assist lamp, and a long recording movie mode,
Kodak tried very hard to compete with the best cameras from Canon,
Nikon, and Sony. In many ways, they succeeded, and perhaps surpassed
the others, when you look at their EasyShare system (for printing
and e-mailing photos), the simple to use interface, and the low
the same time, they're still behind in one very important area:
image quality. There are many people who like "Kodak color",
which is on display in the galleries on this site. Images are very
saturated -- perhaps too much so in some cases. But what got to
me more was the noise and loss of detail in many of the images.
Details like trees and roof tiles in my tests are over-processed
-- it's very obvious in the palm tree example shown here. Those
who are printing 5x7's or below, or resizing for web or e-mail probably
won't be bothered by this. Those people who print at 8x10 inches
and want the best resolution possible, could do better with another
photo quality w/saturated colors
value for a 4MP camera at $499
system allows for easy e-mailing and printing of photos
- AF illuminator
- Solid, well-designed
playback, movie modes
I didn't care for:
images noticeably worse than competition
is pretty lousy
forgets settings when turned off
set ISO values in long exposure mode
software (on computer) pretty basic
other midrange 4 Megapixel cameras to consider include the Canon
PowerShot S40 (replaced by the S45 outside of the U.S.), Casio
FinePix F601 Zoom (I suppose), HP
Photosmart 812, Konica
Finecam S4, Minolta
DiMAGE F100, Nikon
Coolpix 4300, Olympus
Optio 430RS, and the Sony
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the EasyShare LS443 and it's competitors before you buy!