Kodak EasyShare C743 Overview
by Dan Havlik
Review Date: 01/10/2007
The Kodak EasyShare C743 is Kodak's bargain basement digital camera, and if this is what the bargain basement is offering these days, take me to the bottom floor immediately! Selling for just under $160 -- though we've seen it for as low as $135 online -- the Kodak C743 has a 7.1 megapixel CCD imager, a Kodak-branded 3x optical zoom lens with a 37-111mm equivalent focal range, and a 2.4-inch LCD along with a real-image optical viewfinder -- an increasingly rare option these days and one that adds a good degree of versatility to this model. Anyone who's tried to frame an image in the LCD under the intense glare of the sun will be appreciate this "throwback" option.
While none of these features break any new ground, the Kodak C743's low price tag and compatibility with Kodak's popular EasyShare printer docks make the Kodak C743 a bargain. Kodak's cameras are also designed with the total beginning photographer in mind, and are some of the easiest to use on the market. Add in 13 scene modes, a decent movie function, and the convenience of being powered by just two AA batteries, and you would seem to have a very good Kodak camera which should be snapped up quickly from the bargain bins. Read on to find out if the Kodak C743 should be added to your shopping list.
Kodak EasyShare C743 User Report
Basic and Boxy. The Kodak EasyShare C743's basic and boxy design isn't going to win any beauty contests but it is light weight and functional.
Basic Boxy Looks. Befitting its low price, the Kodak C743 is basic and boxy to look at, composed largely of grey matted polycarbonate that's light weight but feels cheap. There are a few metallic accents but there's no escaping that this model is built for functionality and not for style. With SD card and two AA batteries loaded, the Kodak C743 weighs just 6.77 ounces (192 grams) with dimensions of 3.6 x 2.6 x 1.3 (92 x 66 x 32mm). While its looks may be rather spartan, feeling slightly toy-like, the Kodak C743 is easy to carry around and shoot with, and I had no trouble picking up this model and taking photos right away.
Buttons and dials on the Kodak C743 are smaller than its higher priced counterpart, the Kodak C875, but like all Kodak consumer models they're clearly labeled in plain English, so beginning users won't need a glossary to decipher their meaning. Delete isn't a trashcan, it just says, "delete;" and the playback button says "review." I love it.
The Kodak C743's 2.4-inch LCD is basic but functional, offering just 112,00 pixels of resolution, so images in live preview and playback come out slightly fuzzy. Unlike the Kodak C875, the C743 has a tiny, square-shaped optical viewfinder that helps in direct sunlight and lets you disable the LCD to save battery life when accurate framing isn't vital. And that's the tradeoff -- the optical viewfinder on the Kodak C743 will let you see only about 80 percent of the image you're capturing. Still, that beats trying a blind "Hail Mary" shot when you can't see the LCD.
In another recent camera review, I complained about manufacturers getting rid of paper versions of their advanced manuals in favor of placing the manual on an enclosed CD as a pdf file. Well, Kodak goes one step further by listing a web address in the C743's basic user's guide where consumers can download an "extended user's guide" for the camera. Talk about inconvenient!
Snapshooting Speed. While it's no speed demon, the Kodak C743 takes pictures fast enough for basic snapshooting purposes. According to our tests, the camera powers on and is ready for first shot in 2.7 seconds. We timed shutter lag at a noticeable 0.865 seconds when the camera is at the wide-angle focal setting. When you pre-focus the Kodak C743 however, shutter lag gets reduced considerably to 0.074 second which is actually quite a bit better than its pricier counterpart, the sub-$300 Kodak 875. As long as I pre-focused, this camera seemed to gobble up pictures and was perfectly suited for snapshots of friends, family, and for vacation photos. Using the camera's sports setting, I was able to get some reasonably sharp images of a pack of dogs cavorting around at a nearby park.
On the downside, the Kodak C743 suffers from what we call "early shutter penalty" which is when a camera refuses to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode. This glitch jammed me up a couple times when I was too quick on the draw with the Kodak C743. Shot-to-shot speed was also a bit slow on this camera, averaging about 4.5 seconds per picture.
Mediocre Image Quality. Though I wasn't expecting the Kodak C743's image quality to rival pricier cameras, images were mediocre. Other than in very good outdoor lighting conditions, colors lacked pop and images lost sharpness in the corners and in areas of high contrast, such as where a building meets the sky. The Kodak C743 also seemed to have exposure problems in high contrast situations, frequently blowing out highlights and overexposing bright areas. Worse, there's a lot of chroma noise even at the lowest ISO setting of 80, a terrible performance compared to the C875 which can be had for about $30 more online.
Though the Kodak C743's 7.1 megapixel sensor produced images with good resolution, the camera had trouble handling low-light situations particularly when using its underpowered flash. Many images in a series of shots I took at dusk along the East River in my neighborhood in New York City came out blurry. Though one might be inclined to overlook the Kodak C743's image quality deficiencies given its low price, I was disappointed with pictures I took with this camera and I think buyers will feel the same.
Bare Bones Features. As expected in a camera this low-priced, the feature-set on the Kodak C743 is pretty bare bones. Though there are 13 scene modes, the camera does not include the helpful smart scene function that's available on the Kodak C875 which automatically picks the best scene mode depending on the shooting circumstances. For easy access, the two most popular scene modes -- landscape and macro -- have individual designations on the mode dial while other scene modes can be chosen in the SCN selection on the dial. The Kodak C743 has a decent movie setting -- which is also selectable on the mode dial -- which can capture VGA or QVGA clips with audio at 30 frames per second using MPEG4 compression -- which offers higher quality compression than the MotionJPEG compression used in most cameras.
ISO light sensitivity ranges from 80 to 400 and is automatically or manually selectable. There is an ISO 800 setting but image size drops to 0.8MP so this setting should be used only for emailing pictures, at best. In another cost-cutting move, the Kodak C743 only offers USB 2.0 Full Speed connectivity, not the faster USB High Speed access that's available on many cameras these days. If you're planning on buying the Kodak C743, I would suggest also purchasing a card reader with USB 2.0 High Speed connectivity for faster transfers. With alkaline batteries, this camera can only snap off between 80 and 100 pictures versus upwards of 300 shots with NiMH rechargeables or Lithium batteries. With all the money you saved by buying the C743, I would definitely suggest splurging a bit and buying the longer lasting batteries.
The Bottom Line. It's hard to resist the urge to grade the Kodak EasyShare C743 on a curve since this is a camera with very decent specs for a very reasonable price. But while it's true that the Kodak C743 has a 7 megapixel imaging sensor, a 3x optical zoom, a host of helpful scene modes, and a 2.4-inch LCD for less than $160, in the end the quality of the images I captured were disappointing. In particular, low-light indoor shots and images I captured during a couple of overcast days in New York City were often soft, and the color was flat, with frequent exposure problems. So while on paper the Kodak C743 would seem to give you good bang for your buck, mediocre image quality is the price you'll pay in the end with this camera.
In the Box
The retail package contains the following items:
- Kodak EasyShare C743 digital camera
- Wrist strap
- Getting started guide with software
- 2 Kodak AA alkaline batteries or equivalent
- Cables for USB and video
- Insert for optional Kodak EasyShare docks
- Large capacity SD/MMC memory card, 512MB as minimum; preferably 1GB
- Card reader with USB 2.0 High-Speed Connectivity
- Soft camera case
- NiMH rechargeable batteries or Lithium AA batteries
On paper, the Kodak EasyShare C743 seems like a steal. With a bargain basement price of under $160, the camera offers a good feature set including a 7.1 megapixel imaging sensor, a Kodak-branded 3x optical zoom lens with a 37-111mm equivalent focal range, and a 2.4-inch LCD along with a real-image optical viewfinder -- an increasingly rare option on compact digital cameras these days. Like most of Kodak's cameras, I found the C743 to be very easy to use with relatively good speed for basic snapshooting.
On the other hand, I found the Kodak C743's imaging quality mediocre at best, especially in anything but good outdoor sunlit conditions. Though noise levels were better than I expected, many shots I took in low light were blurry. The camera's underpowered flash was not a lot of help either, often failing to illuminate a scene even in a slightly overcast setting. I was also frustrated by frequent overexposure problems in pictures taken in high contrast conditions. In several cases, a blue sky or the white exterior of a car were completely blown out. So while the Kodak C743 would appear to give you good bang for your buck, its problems with image quality keep it off the Dave's Pick list.