Kodak C663 Review

 
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Kodak C663 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
A tendency toward slightly warm-hued white balances, but very good color overall, more accurate than that of most consumer digital cameras we test.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The Kodak C663 does push the strong red and blue tones a little, but actually less than do most consumer cameras we test. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. However, the Kodak C663 captures good, believable skin tones under a variety of lighting.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. While the camera had a tendency toward slightly warm white balances, its color accuracy was nonetheless quite good. Bottom line, most consumers should find the Kodak C663's color performance quite pleasing.

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Very good color with the Incandescent white balance setting, better than average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance +0.7 EV Incandescent WB +0.7 EV

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was rather reddish in Auto white balance mode, but the Incandescent setting produced much more pleasing results (just very slightly greenish). Even the Auto result looked OK when printed out though. The Kodak C663 only required a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, a bit better than average for this shot. Overall color is a bit dark here, making the blue flowers quite dark indeed. (A very common outcome for this shot.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulb, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the US.

Outdoors, daylight
Good color balance, though slightly dark color overall. Better than average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance, +0.3 EV Auto White Balance, Auto Exposure

Outdoor shots generally showed accurate exposure with slightly blown out highlights and limited shadow detail. Overall exposure accuracy was better than average, as the camera typically required quite a bit less exposure compensation than many consumer digital cameras do on these shots. Good results, especially given the Kodak C663's entry-level price and feature set.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
High resolution, 1,250 - 1,300 lines of strong detail.

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,250 - 1,300 lines per picture height (1,250 horizontally, 1,300 vertically), with extinction at around 1,650. (The camera also produced very slight color artifacts at lower line frequencies though, visible in the full-sized res target shots.) Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail. Beware that while you might be able to make out what looks like distinct lines at numbers higher than those we've mentioned here, the camera is just doing its best to continue interpreting the lines. If you zoom in and follow them from the wider portions, you'll see the lines converge and reappear several times, so the lines you see at 1,600 and higher are really only artifacts generated by the camera's imaging system.

Strong detail to 1,250 lines horizontal Strong detail to 1,300 lines vertical

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Sharp images, though with some edge-enhancement from the camera. Noise suppression blurs detail slightly in the shadows.

Good definition of high-contrast elements, though with some over-sharpening, and not as sharp as some 6-megapixel models. Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, as in the lower midtones of Marti's hair here.

The Kodak C663's images are pretty detailed, though the camera is guilty of a little edge-enhancement in high contrast areas, and is images aren't quite as sharp as the best competing 6-megapixel models. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.)

Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop at far right shows this, with darker areas of Marti's hair showing limited detail. (In fairness though, this effect wasn't all that evident in prints we made from the C663.)

ISO & Noise Performance
Low noise at the normal sensitivity settings, very high noise and lost detail at the highest setting.

ISO 80 ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400

The Kodak C663's lower ISO settings produced low to moderate noise, with only slightly blurred detail in the dark areas. At ISO 400, however, image noise is quite high, despite strong blurring from the anti-noise processing.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with pretty good overall detail, though somewhat high contrast and limited shadow detail. Good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and much darker conditions.

Normal +0.3 EV +0.7 EV

Sunlight:
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

The Kodak C663 responded to the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above with slightly high contrast and deep shadows. However, highlights are just on the verge of blowing out. Noise suppression is visible in the shadows as well, contributing to the loss of detail here. The camera required less than the average amount of exposure compensation for this shot, at only +0.3 EV for a bright exposure. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)

 

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Low light:
The Kodak C663 performed well under low lighting, capturing bright images down to about 1/4 foot-candle (about 1/4 as bright as average city street lighting) at the lowest ISO setting. At ISO 400, images were bright down to the darkest light levels we test at. The camera's autofocus system only worked down to just above the 1/4 foot-candle light level, however. (The C663 does not have an AF assist lamp.) Keep in mind that the long shutter times demand the use of a tripod or other camera support to get sharp photos. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.) Bottom line, the Kodak C663 should have no problem capturing bright images under typical city night-time street lighting.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Flash

Coverage and Range
Slightly uneven coverage at wide angle, though better results at telephoto. A slightly weak flash overall, our standard flash shots required more exposure compensation than average.

34mm equivalent 102mm equivalent
Normal Flash +1.3EV Night Portrait Mode

Flash coverage was quite uneven at wide angle but very good at telephoto. In the Indoor test, the flash on the Kodak C663 underexposed our subject at its default setting, requiring a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get reasonably bright results. Even here, the exposure is a little dim, with a moderate pink cast. The camera's Night Portrait mode produced slightly brighter and more even results, though with a stronger pinkish-orange cast from the room lighting. Night Portrait mode disables the exposure compensation adjustment, though the shot fortunately didn't need a boost in this mode.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
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Flash intensity remains pretty good to about nine feet, before becoming weak. Results at 14 feet were quite dim.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, great color, usable 11x14 inch prints. ISO 400 images are very soft at 8x10, a bit noisy but acceptable at 5x7, fine at 4x6.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5000 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

With the Kodak EasyShare C663, we found that it had enough resolution to make sharp 8x10 inch prints. At 11x14, its prints were a bit softer looking, but perfectly adequate for wall or table display. As usual, the toughest test came at higher ISOs. At ISO 200, its images were still clean enough to make good-looking 8x10 inch prints, but at ISO 400, images became much softer, with visible noise. 5x7 inch prints made from the C663's ISO 400 photos would probably be acceptable to most consumers, although the noise levels were notably high. At 4x6 inches though, even ISO 400 shots looked fine.

Color-wise, the Kodak C663's images looked very nice when printed on the i9900, with bright, vibrant color. Users who prefer more subdued, technically accurate color saturation levels may find the V550's images a little too bright, but we think most consumers will be very happy with the C663's bright, snappy images.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Kodak EasyShare C663 Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Kodak EasyShare C663 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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