Review: Kodak EasyShare DX3900
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2001
Wednesday, September 19, 2001
from recent production introductions, it's obvious that Kodak's
EasyShare system is here to stay. This system uses an optional ($79)
dock to allow their cameras to transfer photos to a computer with
the push of a button. The EasyShare
DX3900 ($449) is currently the top-end camera in this lineup
- featuring a 3.1 (effective) Megapixel CCD and a 2X optical zoom
lens. Is the DX3900 a good value for the money? Find out in our
in the Box?
on what package you get, the DX3900's bundle can be average or very
good. Here's what you'll find inside the box:
3.1 Mpixel Kodak DX3900 camera
Dock ( "dock" bundle only)
insert (fits the DX3900 into the dock)
CR-V3 Lithium battery (non-rechargeable)
NiMH rechargeable battery pack ( "dock" bundle only)
featuring Kodak Picture Software and drivers
page manual (printed)
like with the DX3600 (see our review),
the DX3900 has nifty packaging. Well, to me at least.
to more important things now. If you don't get the dock bundle,
you'll be stuck with non-rechargeable batteries. So if that's you,
go buy some NiMH rechargeables. Since the DX3900 only uses 2 batteries,
a four-pack will do just fine. The camera can take CR-V3 or AA batteries.
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.
about that optional dock. The dock is a universal base for Kodak's
DX-series cameras, so the DX3900 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.
you don't have the dock, you can see the included USB cable to hook
up the "old fashioned way."
the DX3600, the DX3900 is compatible with Mac OS X.
includes a fairly skimpy 8MB CompactFlash card with the camera.
Unlike some of the other EasyShare cameras, there's no internal
memory on the DX3900.
lens has a built-in cover, which eliminates the need for an external
lens cap. Can't complain about that!
far as accessories go, there are a surprising number of lenses
available for the EasyShare cameras, especially considering their
low price. I believe the lens has 30mm threads, so you'll need a
$20 adapter to use the lenses Kodak sells.
manuals are much better than average -- even the typeface seems
friendly and inviting to beginners.
DX3900 is an attractive, plastic camera that's easy to hold. While
it's made of plastic, it does seem solid. The buttons are well-placed
and the camera is easy to hold with one hand. The dimensions of
the DX3600 are 4.6 x 1.7 x 2.6 (W x D x H) and it weighs 225 grams
start our tour of the DX3900 with the front of the camera. The switch
at the bottom of the photo turns the camera on and off. It's also
what controls the lens cover.
of the lens, the one here is a 2X optical zoom Ektanar glass lens
(F2.8 - F4.0). The focal range is 7.3 - 14.6 mm, which is equivalent
to 35 - 70 mm. One of my big beefs about this camera is the fact
that it's only a 2X lens!
DX3900's flash has a working range of 1.6 - 10.5 feet in wide-angle,
and 1.6 - 7.5 feet in telephoto. Flash options include Off, Auto,
Fill, and Redeye reduction.
onto the back of the DX3900. The 1.5" LCD is kind of small,
and can be hard to see at times, but overall it's not bad. It's
off by default, so you'll have to hit Select each time you want
to use it.
optical viewfinder is large and easy to see. There's no diopter
correction for those with less than perfect vision, though.
the right of the LCD are the four-way switch (for menus and zoom),
the select button (menus and LCD on/off), and of course the menu
button. The zoom control is smooth and accurate, and the mechanism
is very quiet.
the top of the camera, you can see the LCD info display, buttons
for flash, macro/landscape, and self-timer, the mode wheel, and
the shutter release button.
mode wheel has three easy options: setup, playback, record. For
those of you who remember the DX3600, you'll notice that there's
no movie mode on the DX3900! I have no idea why.
thing that *is* here that wasn't on the DX3600 is an LCD info display.
Here it's showing image size/quality, remaining shots, and flash
this side of the DX3900, under a rubber cover, you'll find the I/O
ports. That includes video and USB output. You cannot plug an AC
adapter into this camera.
silver switch you can see is what turns the camera on and off.
on the other side is the CompactFlash Type I port, with the 8MB
card shown. The eject switch is on the bottom of the camera and
can really launch those cards!
here's the bottom of the DX3900, with the included CR-V3 battery
shown. On the bottom you'll find the battery compartment, plastic
tripod mount, CF card eject switch, and the connector for the dock.
When the camera is not on the dock you can slide a plastic door
to cover the port.
the Kodak EasyShare DX3900
camera takes about three seconds to extend the lens and warm up
before you can start taking photos. As I mentioned, the LCD display
is off by default -- hit the select button to turn it on. When you
depress the shutter release button halfway, the camera locks focus
in usually less than one second. Depressing the button fully results
in the photo being taken with just a little lag.. Shot-to-shot speed
is on the slow side - over 5 seconds at the highest quality.
LCD when you're taking a photo
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 DX3900.
DX3900 has a number of image size and quality choices available
-- many more than the DX3600. Check out the chart:
photos stored on
included 8MB card
photos stored on
64MB card (for reference)
2160 x 1440
2160 x 1440
1800 x 1200
1536 x 1024
1080 x 720
is also a burst mode available at the 0.8MP setting. It will take
8 photos in a row, in *about* three seconds.
menus on the DX3900 have more options than the DX3600, but it's
still pretty simple. They are:
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV, 0.5EV increments)
balance (auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent)
mode (color, B&W, sepia)
(multi-pattern, center-weighted, center spot)
(sharp, standard, soft)
speed (Auto, 100, 200, 400)
speed (auto, manual [range of 0.7 sec - 16 sec])
(on/off) - shows photo on LCD after it's taken
DX3900 addressed all the complaints I had about the DX3600 (no white
balance, exposure compensation, continuous shooting mode). That's
see how the DX3900 did on the photo tests.
DX3900 did a very good job at the macro test. The colors are especially
vivid and the image is sharp. You can get as close as 7cm at wideangle,
and 25cm at telephoto.
DX3900 also did well at the night shot test, which is a vast improvement
over the DX3600. Thanks to the ability to set the shutter speed,
you can easily pull off shots in low light. There certainly is some
noise in the shot, but I don't think it's much worse than anything
was very happy with the photo quality from the DX3900, which is
again an improvement over the DX3600. The colors were usually accurate,
the scenes are well-exposed, and the images are sharp. Check out
the DX3900 photo gallery to judge for
I mentioned, for some unknown reason, there's no movie mode on this
camera, even though the cheaper models have it. Oh well!
playback mode is pretty barebones and is kind of clumsy.
features include slideshows, DPOF print marking, image protection,
and zoom and scroll. The latter is clumsy -- instead of just using
the zoom controls like on other cameras, you have to select it from
the menu, and wait for it to process the image. You can zoom 2X
or 4X into your image.
can get some decent info about your photo by going to the menu and
choosing Picture Info. It's too bad you have to navigate the menus
to do this.
DX3900 moves through images quickly -- first showing a low res image,
and replacing it with the high res version a moment later.
Does it Compare?
am pleased to report that the Kodak EasyShare DX3900 is a vast improvement
over the DX3600 I tested last month. In addition to getting a 3.1
Megapixel CCD, you get a lot more features that you come to expect
from other cameras in this price class (exposure compensation, white
balance), and a few that you don't (control of shutter speed). The
only real negatives for me were the lack of a movie mode, and the
2X lens (I'd prefer 3X or more). The EasyShare system makes transferring
photos easy -- too bad you have to shell out another $80 for it.
Aside from that, the DX3900 is a great choice for the photographer
who wants a point-and-shoot camera with a little more control of
good photo quality
shutter speed control
lens accessories available
value for the price
I didn't care for:
dock is another $80
bit on the slow side
a 2X optical zoom
mid-range 3 Megapixel cameras I recommend checking out include the
DX3700 (same as this one but no optical zoom), Kyocera
Finecam S3, Nikon
Coolpix 885, Olympus
Optio 330, Sony DSC-P5
and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the DX3900 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the Kodak DX3900.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
a personal recommendation.