DCRP Review: Kodak EasyShare DX7630
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: June 2, 2004
Last Updated: October 9, 2004

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The EasyShare DX7630 ($499) is Kodak's top-of-the-line consumer digital camera. Packing a whopping 6 million pixels under the hood, the 7630 has the ability to make enormous prints. It also features a 3X Schneider-Kreuznach lens, fast hybrid AF system, large 2.2" LCD display, USB 2.0, and of course, Kodak's impressive EasyShare system that I'll explain in more detail later in this review.

Is this the best ultra high resolution camera for the person seeking an easy-to-use camera? Find out now!

Since the cameras have so much in common, I'll be reusing a lot of text from the LS743 review here.

What's in the Box?

The EasyShare DX7630 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 6.1 effective Megapixel Kodak EasyShare DX7630 camera
  • KLIC-5001 lithium-ion battery (rechargeable)
  • Battery charger with plug(s)
  • Camera dock insert
  • Lens cap w/retaining strap
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Kodak EasyShare software
  • 61 page manual (printed)

As with other recent Kodak models, the DX7630 has internal memory plus a memory card slot. Kodak includes 32MB of internal memory (and no memory card), which is barely enough to get started with, so do yourself a favor and buy a memory card. The DX7630 can use Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMedia (MMC) cards, and I recommend the former because of its superior capacity and performance. I'd say that a 256MB card is the minimum that you should buy.

The DX7630 uses the KLIC-5001 lithium-ion battery, which is a higher capacity version of the KLIC-5000 used by many other Kodak cameras. The camera can use either battery, so if you have some KLIC-5000's laying around, you can still use them. This battery packs an above average 6.3 Wh of energy, which translates to about 275 - 375 photos per charge.

As you may know, I'm not a huge fan of proprietary batteries like this due to their cost (though the 5001 is cheaper than most at $30) and the fact that you can't use alkalines if you're in a jam. Your mileage may vary.

When it's time to recharge the battery, just pop it into the included external charger. Expect a three hour wait while the battery is charged. This isn't just one of those "plug in right into the wall" chargers -- you can swap plugs too, allowing you to use it all over the world. I'm not sure if you can buy the plugs separately, though.

Kodak includes a lens cap along with the camera to protect that Schneider-Kreuznach lens.

And speaking of lenses, this particular Kodak camera supports a number of conversion lenses. The first is a 2.0X teleconverter (a steal at $55), which brings the top end of the camera up to 234 mm. If you shoot a lot of interiors, then the 0.6X wide-angle lens ($50) may interest you. This lowers the wide end of the 7630 to 23.4 mm. Fans of macro shots will want to try the close-up conversion lens set ($30), which reduces the minimum distance to your subject. All three of those lenses require the DX7630 conversion lens adapter ($20), which also gives you 37 mm threads for filters and such. A lens hood ($20) is also available for shooting outdoors.

The DX7630 is also compatible with Kodak's camera and printer docks. The camera dock 6000 ($80) provides battery charging and photo transfer capabilities. You can do both without buying the dock. The cooler accessory is the printer dock 6000 ($150), which produces a 4 x 6 inch print in just 90 seconds. Just pop the DX7630 onto the printer and you're set. The printer dock 6000 can also be hooked into your television for slideshow viewing.

Aside from those items, the only other real accessories for the DX7630 are an AC adapter ($30) and various camera cases.

The DX7630 includes version 3.3 of the EasyShare software for Mac OS X and Windows (and 1.4.2 for Mac OS 8 and 9).This software really is impressive, with a simple interface and loads of features. Here's what you can do with it:

The 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. Nothing seemed to happen when I clicked on the EasyShare center tab.

If you want to edit your photo, there are some basic tools included. They include rotation, cropping, "instant enhancement", redeye reduction, brightness, contrast and color, exposure, and instant black & white or sepia conversion.

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 layouts available, including the two 5 x 7 inch per page prints you see above. The software will warn you if the resolution of the image is too low for the chosen print size.

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.

You can also customize the e-mail addresses stored in the camera -- more on this later in the review. This feature is also integrated with the OS X address book.

Much 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 computer. Cool!

One final option is to transfer files (presumably images) from your computer to your camera.

One other software-related note: the camera did not mount on my Mac's desktop like some other cameras, but Image Capture, iPhoto, and of course the EasyShare software can see it just fine.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like recent Kodak manuals are a lot thinner than those included with older cameras. Despite that, the quality of the manual is above average. The manual is divided into English, French, and Spanish sections.

Look and Feel

The DX7630 is a midsize camera with a slick design and black finish. The camera is well built- as its made mostly of metal. All the important controls are easy to reach, though I wish the right hand grip was a little more substantial.

The official dimensions of the camera are 100 x 69 x 52 mm / 3.9 x 2.7 x 2.0 inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs just 219 g / 7.7 oz. empty. For the sake of comparison, the 6 Megapixel Casio Exilim EX-P600's numbers are 3.8 x 2.7 x 1.8 inches and 225 grams, respectively.

Enough numbers -- let's start our tour of the 7630 now!

The DX7630 has an F2.8-4.8, 3X optical zoom Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens. This lens has a focal range of 8 - 24 mm, which is equivalent to 39 - 117 mm. As I mentioned in the previous section, the camera supports conversion lenses through the use of the proper adapter.

To the upper-right of the lens is the camera's hybrid AF sensor. This gives the camera its lightning fast focusing speeds. Whether it helps in low light focusing situations remains to be seen. The camera does not have an AF-assist lamp, which definitely helps in those situations.

To the left of the AF sensor, just past the optical viewfinder, is the built-in flash. The working range of the flash is 0.6 - 4.2 m at wide-angle and 0.6 - 2.5 m at telephoto. I was a bit surprised to see that the 7630 doesn't let you attach an external flash to the camera. Previous "high end" Kodak cameras had flash sync ports, but this one does not.

The three items to the left of the lens are the self-timer lamp, light sensor, and microphone.

The EasyShare DX7630 has a large 2.2" LCD display, which is billed as "indoor/outdoor" capable. And while outdoor visibility is better than average, it's not nearly as good as when you're indoors. While some manufacturers put big LCDs on their cameras and then skimp on the screen resolution (cough... Casio), the one here has a healthy 153,000 pixels. The screen is quite sharp, and motion is very fluid too, with a 24 fps frame rate. In low light situations, the LCD is still visible, since the camera boosts the screen brightness dramatically. The image is a little grainy, and the frame rate not-so-smooth, but at least you can see what you're aiming at.

Directly to the left of the viewfinder is the display/info button, which toggles the LCD and what's displayed on it on and off.

On the opposite side of the viewfinder you'll find three more buttons: delete photo, menu, and review (playback mode).

The red-jeweled button below those is the Share button. Press it and the following menu appears:

In share mode, you can do three things:

  • Mark a picture for printing
  • Mark a picture for e-mailing
  • Save a picture as a "favorite" for later retrieval

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 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 the tour now. Below the share button is the mode dial, which has quite a few options. There's a lock on the switch so you don't accidentally rotate it. The available modes are:

  • Movie mode
  • Favorites - view the photos that you've tagged as favorites
  • (Off)
  • Auto - point-and-shoot, many menu options locked up
  • Scene
    • Portrait
    • Sports
    • Landscape
    • Close-up (macro)
    • Night portrait
    • Night landscape
    • Snow
    • Beach
    • Text
    • Fireworks
    • Flower
    • Manner - this is a great one; flash and sounds are disabled
    • Self-portrait
    • Party
    • Children
    • Backlight
  • Program mode - automatic but with full menu access
  • Aperture priority mode - you choose aperture, camera picks shutter speed; aperture range is F2.8 - F8
  • Shutter priority mode - you choose shutter speed, camera picks aperture; range is 64 - 1/1000 sec
  • Manual mode - you choose both the shutter speed and aperture; same ranges as above
  • Custom mode - your favorite settings, easy to access

That's no typo -- the DX7630 can do exposures of up to 64 seconds! Something else that's impressive is the number of scene modes. Just pick a scene and the camera does the rest.

The final item on the back of the camera is the jog dial, which is located at the top-right of the photo. This is used to adjust the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation (±2 in 0.3EV increments), flash strength (±1 in 0.5EV increments), and ISO sensitivity (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800). Do note that the ISO 800 option is only available at the 1.7MP resolution.

Up on top of the DX7630 you'll find the speaker, three buttons, the shutter release, and the zoom controller. The three buttons are for:

  • Drive
    • Exposure bracketing - camera takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure; you can select the interval (±0.3EV, ±0.7EV, ±1.0EV) in the record menu
    • First burst - camera takes up to four shots in a row at about 2 frames/second
    • Last burst - camera takes up to 30 shots at 2 frames/second while the shutter release is held down; the last four pictures are saved
  • Focus (Off, macro, landscape)
  • Flash (Auto, off, fill flash, auto w/redeye reduction)

The last item to mention here is that zoom controller. It moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 2.4 seconds. I counted seven "stops" along the way.

While it's a bit hard to make out, there's a rubber cover hiding the DX7630's I/O ports here. These includes DC-in (for optional AC adapter), USB 2.0 (don't worry, it will work on "old USB" too), and A/V out. I was disappointed to see that the 7630 lacks the flash sync port of some previous Kodak models.

Nothing to see here.

Finally, we reach the bottom of the camera. Here you'll find the battery compartment, memory card slot, tripod mount, and dock connector. The battery and memory card slot are protected by a plastic door of so-so quality. The metal tripod mount can't be seen in this picture, but it's right in the center of the body.

Using the Kodak EasyShare DX7630

Record Mode

It takes the DX7630 about four seconds to warm up before you can start taking pictures.

The LCD in record mode; you adjust those items on the bottom with the jog dial

I was really impressed with the autofocus speeds on the DX7630 -- this camera focuses very quickly. At wide-angle, focusing takes about 1/3 of a second. At telephoto or in touch situations, expect a slightly longer way. Even in low light, the camera focused accurately. I think we have that external focus sensor (on the front of the camera) to thank for this.

Kodak has done a good job at minimizing shutter lag -- there really isn't any, even at slower shutter speeds.

Shot-to-shot speed is good, with a 2 second delay between photos, assuming you've turned off the post-shot review feature (which Kodak calls Quick View).

You can delete a photo immediately after it is taken by pressing the delete button.

Like all Kodak cameras, the DX7630 is always ready to shoot, even in playback mode. If you're reviewing a photo and want to take another, just halfway press the shutter release.

The DX7630 foregoes the "star system" of image quality for a more traditional options. And here they are:

Resolution Quality # Images on 32MB onboard memory # Images on 256MB card
6.1 MP
2856 x 2142
Fine 9 80
Standard 15 131
5.4 MP (3:2)
2856 x 1904
Fine 10 90
Standard 17 146
4.0 MP
2304 x 1728
Fine 15 121
Standard 22 196
3.1 MP
2048 x 1536
Fine 17 152
Standard 28 242
1.7 MP
1496 x 1122
Fine 31 269
Standard 48 416

There's no TIFF or RAW mode available on this camera. The camera names files as XXX_YYYY.JPG (where X = 100 - 999 and Y = 0001 - 9999), and remembers the numbering even if you switch cards or delete photos.

Kodak has created an attractive, easy-to-use menu system for their cameras, perfect for those new to digital photography. The DX7630 has more options that your typical Kodak, and here they are:

  • Custom exposure mode (P, A, S, M) - choose your exposure mode for custom mode
  • Self-timer (on/off)
  • Picture size (see chart)
  • Compression (see chart)
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent) - no custom white balance
  • Exposure bracketing interval (±0.3EV, ±0.7EV, ±1.0EV)
  • Exposure metering (Multi-pattern, center-weight, center-spot)
  • Focus zone (Multi-zone, center zone, selectable zone) - multi-zone automatically chooses one of three areas in the frame to focus on; selectable zone lets you manually choose one of the three focus points
  • AF control (Continuous, single, accessory lens) - in continuous AF mode, the camera is always trying to focus, while in single AF mode it only focuses when the shutter release is halfway pressed. Accessory lens AF disables the hybrid AF sensor, which is blocked by the conversion lens anyway
  • Color mode (High color, natural color, low color, black & white, sepia)
  • Sharpness (Low, normal, high)
  • Reset to defaults
  • Set Album - choose an album before you start taking pictures
  • Image 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.
  • Liveview (on/off) - whether LCD is on by default in auto mode
  • Video length (Unlimited, 5, 15, 30 sec)
  • Setup Menu - see below

Everything up there should be self-explanatory.

In addition to the record menu, there's also a setup menu, which has the following options:

  • Quickview (on/off) - post-shot review feature
  • Advanced digital zoom (None, pause, continuous) - how the digital zoom operates; it's best to keep this turned off
  • Print warning (None, pause) - When pause is turned on, the camera will warn you when the amount of digital zoom applied will not produce an acceptable 4 x 6 inch print
  • Sound themes (Shutter only, default, music, scifi, fun) - now I've seen everything
  • Volume (Off, low, medium, high)
  • Date & time (set)
  • Video out (NTSC, PAL)
  • Orientation sensor (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait shots
  • Date Stamp (Off, YYYY MM DD, MM DD YYYY, DD MM YYYY) - for printing the date on photos.
  • Video date display (Off, YYYY MM DD, MM DD YYYY, DD MM YYYY, YYYY MM DD HH:MM, Mm DD YYYY HH:MM, DD MM YYYY HH:MM) - all those things are just different ways of displaying the date/time when viewing photos on TV
  • Language (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Chinese) - those last three are a guess
  • Format (Memory card, internal memory)
  • About - shows the current firmware version; mine was 1.0000

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of menus. Let's talk picture quality.

The DX7630 took an excellent photo of my 3 inch tall macro subject. Mickey is sharp and the colors are very saturated. The tungsten white balance setting did a great job with my 600W quartz studio lamps.

The focal range is macro mode is 7 - 70 cm at wide-angle and 28 - 70 cm at telephoto. Purchasing the closeup lens adapters will help reduce these distances, but how much I do not know.

The night shot is pretty good, but it could be better. My main beef is that it looks like it was run through an "impressionist" filter in Photoshop -- it just does not look right. That's too bad, because the camera took in plenty of light, and the buildings themselves are sharp. There was a bit of purple fringing, but not enough for it to be a "problem". I was most impressed with the 7630's ability to keep the shutter open for as long as 64 seconds!

Now, here's a look at how raising the ISO sensitivity affects image noise:

ISO 100
View original image

ISO 200
View original image

ISO 400
View original image

ISO 800
** image not taken at same time as other photos **
View original image

As you can see, things just get noisier as you go. The ISO 400 image is pretty blotchy. Note that ISO 800 is only available when the resolution is set to 1.7MP.

Wow, two Kodak cameras in a row with good redeye test results! I'm impressed. There's a tiny bit of red, but this is much better than what I'm used to seeing.

The distortion test shows very mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens, and just a slight hint of vignetting (dark corners). There may be a little bit of vignetting in some of the photos in the gallery, as well.

Overall, the photo quality on the DX7630 is very good. As you'd expect from a tiny sensor with lots of pixels, noise levels are above average. You'll notice this noise in the sky, on flat surfaces (like walls), and on things like grass and leaves. Aside from that, I have no real complaints. Pictures were well-exposed, with saturated colors and sharp subjects. There's some purple fringing here and there, but really nothing to be concerned about.

Please don't take my word for all this -- have a look at the photo gallery and judge the DX7630's quality for yourself.

Movie Mode

The DX7630 records video (with sound) at 320 x 240, 20 frames/second, until your memory card is full. That would've been pretty good a year or two ago. The internal memory holds about 3.5 minutes of video, while an optional 256MB SD card holds about a half an hour.

Kodak also gives you the unusual option of limiting the length of your clips to 5, 10, or 30 seconds. By combining this with the self-timer, you can put yourself in the video.

Since sound is recorded, the optical zoom cannot be used during filming. Movies are saved in QuickTime format.

Here's a brief sample movie for you. The movie quality is nothing to write home about.

Click to play movie (1.2MB, QuickTime format)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

With a name like "EasyShare", you know the playback mode will be user friendly.

The basic features that we all know are here: slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll.

Zoom and scroll (called Magnify here) lets you zoom up to 8X into your photo, and then scroll around in the enlarged image. Everything is nice and fast -- good job Kodak!

The DX7630 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 DX7630 shows you no exposure information about your photos. Press the display/info button and you'll the screen on the right, which contains just about everything except for a histogram.

Replaying photos is very snappy -- the 7630 moves from one image to the next instantly.

How Does it Compare?

There's a whole lot to like about the Kodak EasyShare DX7630, and a couple of things not to like, as well. Kodak is undoubtedly playing the Megapixel game here, selling a camera with way more resolution than the typical consumer needs. While the 6 Megapixel CCD will produce HUGE prints and is helpful when cropping images, it really is overkill.

With that out of the way, here's what I liked about the DX7630. The most impressive things to me were the amazing autofocus speeds, the large LCD display that's usable in low light, and the EasyShare system. If you've read the whole review, you know how handy EasyShare is, allowing you to mark photos for printing and e-mailing. Photo quality on the 7630 is quite good, though expect above average noise levels. In terms of performance, the camera is very snappy, except in the startup speed department. As I mentioned, the camera focuses very quickly, even in low light. Shutter lag is low, shot-to-shot speed is decent, and image playback is instantaneous. The camera has quite a few manual controls, including an impressive 64 - 1/1000 sec shutter speed range. Support for USB 2.0 and Kodak's two docks (camera and printer) are added bonuses.

There are a few annoyances about the DX7630, though, and I already mentioned the noisy images. While the camera has manual aperture and shutter speed control, I was disappointed to see that there's no manual focus or white balance. Something else missing is support for the PictBridge standard, which nearly every modern camera has. Something else I would've liked to have seen are histograms in record and playback mode -- maybe the typical Kodak customer doesn't care, but the competition usually has this feature. The camera's movie mode isn't so hot these days, either. And finally, it would be nice for the flagship Kodak camera to support an external flash (2003's DX6490 did).

If you need the resolution, I do recommend this camera. The average person probably doesn't, though, so if you want something similar with fewer pixels (and a lower price), check out the EasyShare DX7440. It's 4 Megapixel and has a 4X zoom lens and has all of the features I described here.

What I liked:

  • Very good, but noisy photos
  • Well-designed body
  • Many manual controls
  • Support for conversion lenses
  • Amazing AF system: fast and accurate, even in low light
  • Large LCD, viewable in low light
  • Good redeye test performance
  • Incredibly easy-to-use
  • EasyShare system makes it very easy to share, print, and organize photos -- right on the camera
  • USB 2.0
  • Supports optional camera and printer dock
  • Nice software bundle
  • Speedy playback mode

What I didn't care for:

  • Above average noise in images
  • No manual focus or white balance
  • Support for external flash would be nice (a la DX6490)
  • Movie mode is outdated
  • No histograms
  • No PictBridge support

Some other high resolution, full-featured cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot G5 and Pro1, Casio Exilim EX-P600, Fuji FinePix S7000, Konica Minolta DiMAGE A1/A2, Nikon Coolpix 5400 and 8700, Olympus C-5060WZ and C-8080WZ, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V1 and DSC-W1.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the DX7630 and it's competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photo quality stacks up in our photo gallery!

Want another opinion?

Read another review over at Steve's Digicams.

Buy it now

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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