DCRP Review: Kodak EasyShare DX3215
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, October 29, 2001
Last Updated: Monday, October 29, 2001

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At first glance, the Kodak EasyShare DX3215 ($199) may appear to be the entry-level model in Kodak's EasyShare line of cameras. More significant (in my opinion) is the fact that this camera is the first to depart from the CompactFlash storage format that Kodak has used for many years. While the camera doesn't include a card (it also has internal memory), it's the first Kodak camera to use the MultiMediaCard/Secure Digital format. These cards are the smallest out there -- about the size of a stamp.

Like the other EasyShare models, the DX3215 can use the $79 EasyShare dock, which allows for ultra-simple photo transfer to your Mac or PC.

How does the DX3215 stack up against other low priced cameras? Find out in our review.

What's in the Box?

Depending on what package you get, the DX3215's bundle can be average or very good. Here's what you'll find inside the box:

  • The 1.3 Mpixel Kodak EasyShare DX3215 camera
  • EasyShare Dock ( "dock" bundle only)
  • Dock insert (fits the DX3215 into the dock)
  • 1 CR-V3 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
  • 76 page manual (printed)

If you don't get the dock bundle, you'll find a non-rechargeable battery in the box. So if that's you, go buy some NiMH rechargeables to replace it. Since the DX3215 only uses 2 batteries, a four-pack will do just fine. The camera can take CR-V3 or AA-sized batteries.

If you do 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 a universal base for Kodak's DX-series cameras, so the DX3215 comes with an insert 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 DX3215 is similar to the DX3600 in that it includes 8MB of internal memory. That's quite a bit for a 1.3 Megapixel camera. If you need more, you can purchase a MMC or SD memory card.

Unlike the other two EasyShare cameras, the DX3215 does not include a built-in lens cover. That would be okay if they included a regular lens cap, but they don't. So you'll want to be careful with the DX3215 when you're "in the field".

Unlike the DX3500, DX3600, and DX3900, this camera cannot use lens accessories. That doesn't really surprise me, considering the low price of the camera.

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

The camera is fully compatible with Mac OS X. One weird thing is that it does load the Image Capture app, but it doesn't mount on the desktop as a disk like the other Kodak cameras did.

Look and Feel

The DX3215 is an attractive, plastic camera that's easy to hold. Many low-cost cameras feel cheap, but not the DX3215. While the body is all plastic, it does feel solid enough. The dimensions of the camera are 4.8 x 2.7 x 1.8 (W x D x H) and it weighs 220 grams empty. The 3215 is a bit on the large size for an entry-level camera, but should still fit in most pockets.

Let's take a tour of the camera now:

Here's the front of the camera. As I mentioned, there's no lens protection of any kind. The Kodak lens is all glass, and at F3.8, on the "slow" side. The 2X optical zoom is equivalent to 30 - 60mm. The lens is not threaded.

There is also a 2X digital zoom that you can use, but be warned that the image quality will be reduced.

The DX3215's flash has a working range of 0.8 - 2.5m at wide-angle, and 1.5 - 2m at full telephoto.

Here's the back of the camera now. The 1.6" LCD screen isn't great, but it's not horrible either. The refresh rate is a little low, but even worse, it's dark and hard to see, and the brightness isn't adjustable.

Just above that is the optical viewfinder. It's of good size, but lacks diopter correction for those of you with glasses.

The four buttons to the immediate right of the LCD are for:

  • Power
  • Flash
  • Select (for menus, and toggling the LCD on/off)
  • Delete (photo)

Just right of those are the zoom controls, four-way switch, and the mode switch. The zoom controls are responsive and well-placed.

The only thing you'll find on the top of the camera is the shutter release button. I guess I shouldn't expect to find an LCD info display on a low-cost camera, but it would've been nice.

If you thought the top of the camera was exciting, you'll love this side of it. Next!

Over on the other side is where you'll find more things to look at. That includes the MMC/SD slot, video and USB ports, as well as the (closed) battery compartment. You can also see the included CR-V3 battery.

Finally, here's the bottom of the DX3215. Over on the right you can see the dock connector. There's a plastic cover to protect this when it's not in use. At the center of the photo is the plastic tripod mount.

Using the Kodak EasyShare DX3215

Record Mode

The camera takes a painful eight seconds to start up. Most of this time appears to be spent checking the internal memory. The LCD is off by default, so you'll need to press Select to turn it on. The camera has noticeable shutter lag, but it's not terrible by any means. What is lousy is the shot-to-shot speed. After taking a shot at the highest quality (there are only two quality choices), it takes a whopping 8 seconds before the LCD is lit up again.

The LCD in record mode

Once feature not seen much anymore on digital cameras is the ability to delete the photo as it's being saved -- and I was pleased to see it on the DX3215.

The DX3215 has just a few image size and quality choices available:

Image Quality Setting # photos stored in
internal memory
# photos stored on
32MB card (for reference)
Best (**)
1280 x 960
20 80
Good (*)
640 x 480
80 309

The user interface on the DX3215 is probably the worst I've seen in 2 years. Rather than having a menu button like every other camera in existence, the 3215 requires you to put the mode switch into setup. From there you get a DOS-style menu with just a few options.

The only thing you can change on the camera without a trip to setup mode is the flash setting. I do like how it describes the various flash modes when you hit the button, though.

(I get the impression this camera was not made by Kodak, seeing how it operates differently than the other EasyShare models. That's just a guess, and I have no evidence to back this up.)

Here are the choices found in the setup menu:

  • Image quality (Good, Best)
  • Macro (on/off)
  • QuickView (on/off) - shows photo on LCD after it's taken
  • Slide Show Interval (5, 10, 30, 60 sec) - for slide shows in playback mode
  • Video Out (NTSC, PAL)
  • Print Order (Select All, Cancel, Future Pictures) - for DPOF print marking
  • Copy - copies photos from internal memory to MMC/SD card
  • About this Camera
  • Card Format
  • Language
  • Date (set, format, show on photos)

As you can see, the camera has no white balance, exposure compensation, self-timer, or any remotely manual controls. In the old days I'd say "well, it's a cheap camera, I wouldn't expect them." Nowadays, I have seen many other low-cost cameras that do have these features, so I mark the DX3215 down for this.

The DX3215 did a fair job at the macro test. The colors are accurate and the image is sharp, but there's a lot of "grain" in the photo as well. The camera is locked at full telephoto in macro mode. You can get as close as 25cm.

If you've read a number of the reviews here at the DCRP, you know where this picture was taken and what it's supposed to look like. If you don't, look here. Low-cost cameras usually don't have manual controls, though some have a nightshot mode for these situations. Unfortunately, the DX3215 has neither, and the camera didn't let in enough light to get a decent shot. Oh well.

The photo quality was just average in my opinion. While the colors were accurate, there was a lot of grain/noise in all of the shots. I noticed some chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) in one of them as well, but it wasn't any worse than most other cameras. Check out the DX3215 gallery to judge for yourself.

Movie Mode

There is no movie mode on the DX3215.

Playback Mode

Playback mode on the DX3215 is as bare bones as you can get. You can look at your photo, mark it for printing, delete it, or view a slideshow. There's no thumbnail mode, no zoom and scroll, no image protection, and no extra info about your photo.

It takes about three seconds to move between high resolution photos on the 3215.

When you want to delete photos, you can do one at a time, or all. There is no way to delete a selected group of images.

How Does it Compare?

I have learned that with the Kodak EasyShare cameras, you definitely get what you pay for. I was very happy with the DX3900 and recommended it. I wasn't as pleased with the DX3600. But the DX3215 is definitely the worst of the bunch, and not a camera I can recommend. While the EasyShare system is nice to use, the camera itself is so stripped down and difficult to use that I would strongly recommend taking a look at the cameras I'll mention in a second.

What I liked:

  • EasyShare system convenient
  • Good photo quality

What I didn't care for:

  • EasyShare dock is another $80
  • Slow startup, shot-to-shot times
  • Lousy menus
  • Very few options
  • Barebones playback mode
  • Only a 2X optical zoom
  • No movie mode

Other entry-level cameras zoom cameras worth looking at include the Canon PowerShot A10 and A20, Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom, Olympus Brio D-150Z and D-510Z, Sony DSC-P30, and the Toshiba PDR-M61.

As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the DX3215 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 Steves Digicams review of the Kodak EasyShare DX3215.


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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