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Kodak DC220 Test Images

 

In our normal fashion, we're posting the test images for the DC220 as soon as they are available. We'll post the full review as soon as possible, although travel plans mean that probably won't be until the end of this month (June). (We hope to have these images patched into the Comparometer(tm) by Monday, 6/15/98, so you can readily compare with other cameras.) NOTE: Our test sample of the 220 was an early pre-production "beta" unit. We believe these images will generally be representative of production devices, but some aspects (particularly the image compression settings) may be improved upon in the final, shipping units.

Several readers have requested that we include more examples of cameras operating in their lower-resolution modes, and we have responded in this set of test images by exercising more of the permutations and combinations of image size and compression level in key test scenes.

This test also marks the addition of two new images, again in response to reader requests. First, we've added a close-up to the outdoor portrait shot, responding to a request for something that would better show portrait performance. (We don't have the resources or time to set up a true studio portrait system, but this should at least give some idea of attainable detail.) Second, we've added a "live" version of the house shot, to test far-field lens performance. This goes against our philosophy a bit, in that the picture is obviously going to change drastically over time, with the weather, seasons, and growth of the landscaping. Some elements will nonetheless stay the same, and we believe the shot will give at least a reasonable indication of optical performance at infinity.

Overview
Overall, the DC220 is an interesting hybrid of its big brother the DC260, and its predecessor, the DC210. We initially expected the DC220 lens and sensor to be duplicates of those from the DC210, given the generally similar specs of the two products in that area. As the tests below show though, there appear to be some improvements in both components: We noticed both greater sharpness and lower image noise in the final images from the DC220 than the earlier DC210. The camera body, electronics, and sophisticated operating system are (with a few less features) essentially those of the DC260. The result is a nice update to the feature set and performance of the 210, while still coming in at an affordable price point. When we post the DC260 review, we'll post an update on this page describing differences in the feature set between the two.

Outdoor portrait: (276k) The DC220 continues Kodak's tradition of excellent color in digital cameras. Colors in the flowers are rich and saturated, yet skin tones are well-balanced. Overall color cast almost perfectly matches the original scene. Some noise/compression problems evident in the shadows on the face. We suspect these may be the result of our test unit being a very early "beta" sample. Like it's big brother the DC260, the DC220 has the very convenient ability to rotate "portrait"-format shots inside the camera, eliminating an extra step on the computer later - a nice touch.
 

Closer portrait: (247k) This is one of the new test shots we mentioned above. Excellent skin tone and tonal range, with no color cast. Image compression appears to slightly "flatten" details in areas with subtle contrast, leaving hair indistinct. (Actually though, the resulting softness is flattering in overlooking skin blemishes, etc.)  

Indoor portrait, flash: (394k) Nice balance between flash and ambient light, good color, good detail. We liked the DC220's flash better than that of the DC210. The 220's is much more subtle, blending better with available light. This shot was taken with the camera's white balance set to "daylight." The DC220 seems to allow some of the same flexibility with the flash that we found in the higher-end DC260, although we didn't shoot as extensively with it, or post multiple flash images here. The balance between flash and ambient light does adjust nicely via the EV compensation (which affects the ambient light, but leaves the flash alone). Also, the white balance will affect the scene color as you would expect it to. We found useful variations between setting the white balance to "auto" or "daylight". "Daylight" better matched the color of the flash, while "auto" left a bit cooler cast overall. "Incandescent" went too far, leaving a strong bluish cast wherever the flash illuminated. This ability to subtly affect the balance between flash and ambient lighting is a welcome feature.  

Indoor portrait, no flash: (399k) This indoor shot is another area where we noticed significant improvements over the earlier DC210: The camera handled the low light level much better, able to produce a bright, reasonably color-balanced image with a much lower noise level in the final file. White balance for this shot was set to "incandescent", and the exposure adjusted upward by 1 EV from the default determined by the autoexposure program.  

House shot: (534k) Typically excellent color on this shot (among the best this image), good detail. As noted above, we expected the lens of the DC220 to be the same as that in the DC210, but this shot shows there's been some improvements. The DC220 looks significantly sharper in the bricks and fine foliage than did the DC210, although the 220 appears to lose a bit more to image compression in areas of subtle contrast. While not dramatic, we feel the overall effect is a slight increase in quality with the 220. We shot this image at the largest image size of the camera, in all compression modes, so you can see how the different compression settings affect final image quality. The entries in the matrix below refer to image size/compression level.

Large/Good (211k)

Large/Better (372k)

Large/Best (534k)

 
 

Far-Field shot: (415k) This is the second of the new shots we mentioned above. It is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles, and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows. The DC220 produced its typical excellent color in this shot, but its fixed-focus lens appears to perform better up close than far away. While we can't directly compare this image to the poster shot taken in the lab, detail in the bricks, roof, and window details appear softer in this shot taken at infinity (well, maybe about 100 feet) than in the poster version above.  

"Musicians" poster: (394k) We did the full matrix (six combinations) of image size/compression settings for this shot, letting you see how the camera performed across its full range of settings. Good color and tonal range, with a (very) slightly cool overall cast. Again, relative to the DC210, sharpness is improved, but some detail is lost to compression in areas of subtle tonal gradation:


Large/Good (160k)

Large/Better (266k)

Large/Best (394k)

Small/Good (85k)

Small/Better (131k)

Small/Best (177k)
 
Macro shot: (268k) The DC220's fixed 8" (20cm) macro distance produces a moderate macro close-up, with a viewing area of 4.1 x 5.5 inches (10.5 x 14 cm). This shot taken under studio lighting, but flash works well up close, too.  

"Davebox" test target: (276k) Excellent color, excellent tonal range. Color saturation is excellent in the strong primaries of the MacBeth chart, but the delicate pastels of row "B" of the Q60 target are maintained. Highlight detail is excellent, shadow detail good to very good. (The '220 discriminated between steps 17 and 18 of the large gray scale, but noise and compression artifacts were very noticeable that far down the tone curve.) Highlight detail in the layered gauze was preserved very well. In this shot, we didn't go to the extreme of providing every combination of image size and compression, but did include images captured with each of the three different compression levels, so you could assess how the compression affects color rendition.

Large/Good (119k)

Large/Better (184k)

Large/Best (276k)
 

"WG-18" resolution target: (268k) Overall, the lens is ever so slightly sharper at the wide-angle end of its range than at the telephoto. Both settings result in a very good ~700 line pairs per picture height both horizontally and vertically. Virtually NO color artifacts are visible. Geometric distortion is also practically non-existent across the full focal-length range, with just the slightest "bobble"in the lower left-hand corner of the wide-angle shot. (Many cameras we've tested show some geometric distortion at the wide-angle end of their zooms.) Herewith the size/compression matrices:

Telephoto

Large/Good (132k)

Large/Better (195k)

Large/Best (261k)

Small/Good (76k)

Small/Better (104k)

Small/Best (132k)

Wide-Angle

Large/Good (134k)

Large/Better (200k)

Large/Best (268k)

Small/Good (77k)

Small/Better (106k)

Small/Best (134k)

We also shot the resolution target with the "Digital Zoom" enabled at both Large (189k) and Small (105k) image sizes.

 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: Viewfinder accuracy and flash uniformity on the DC220 were both excellent. The optical viewfinder follows common practice, showing an area about 11% smaller vertically and horizontally than that captured by the CCD. The area actually captured was also shifted down very slightly on our test unit. Where Kodak really shines though, is in the accuracy of their LCD viewfinders. On most digital cameras, the LCD is somewhat more accurate than the optical viewfinder, but they generally still crop the image area somewhat. In the 220 though, we found we could rely absolutely on the LCD as an accurate indication of what would be captured by the CCD. We include here shots taken with both telephoto and wide-angle lens settings, using both the optical and LCD viewfinders. Herewith: wide-angle/optical (101k), wide-angle/LCD (101k), telephoto/optical (102k), telephoto/LCD (99k), and Digital Zoom/LCD (image coming) (0k).  

 

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