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Digital Cameras - Kodak DC240 Test Images

Outdoor portrait: (308k) The outdoor portrait shot captured by the DC240 shows the excellent color we've come to expect from Kodak cameras, with natural skin tones, and bright, pure primary colors, as seen in the blue, red, and yellow flowers. Exposure is also surprisingly good, as the "high key" content of this subject generally causes problems for cameras' autoexposure systems. The default exposure of the DC240 (296k) indeed came out somewhat dark, but the main shot here (308k) required only a half-stop (+0.5 EV) of exposure compensation to result in an excellent balance of highlight and shadow detail. Pushing on to a full stop of compensation (+1.0 EV) resulted in this (292k) rather blown-out shot.

Important Note! - The original of this shot was rather fuzzy, which puzzled us quite a bit, since none of the other shots showed the same problem. It turned out that early-model DC240 cameras stopped-down their lenses too far, rather than increasing the shutter speed in bright light. The result was diffraction-limiting in the optics, and fuzzy pictures. Kodak produced a firmware fix for this, and we note that current models appear to have a higher maximum shutter speed as well. Bottom line: We reshot this test with a vintage DC240 that had the fix applied to it, and found the problem to have been entirely cured! Good news, and a great tribute to the value of user-upgradeable firmware, a hallmark of Kodak digicams!

For those of you wondering what all of this is about (and especially for Andrew ;) here's a copy of the original "outdoor portrait" shot. - If your DC240's pictures look like this, go directly to the Kodak pages for the DC240, and download and install the 1.08 (or later) firmware upgrade!

 

Closer portrait: (256k) With the model's face filling most of the frame, the detail is obviously better, but we were surprised that the exposure compensation adjustment required remained the same. (Given the very nearly optimal exposure in the more distant shot, we would have expected the default exposure to work here, given that the subject itself dominates the frame.) The zoom lens of the DC240 is a real help for portrait shots like this, as the longer focal length at the telephoto end of the zoom doesn't distort facial features (such as the nose) the way a fixed-focus, wide-angle lens would.  

Indoor portrait, flash: (276k) This shot is very tricky for most digital cameras, due to the vastly different color balance of the flash and household tungsten lighting. The fairly bright incandescent lighting means relatively little flash is needed, which generally results in some odd colors in the final picture. The DC240 did about as well as most here, producing rather bluish highlights wherever the flash illumination dominated, and warmer tones elsewhere.   

Indoor portrait, no flash: (276k) This subject is a very tough test of a camera's white-balance capabilities, given the strong yellow cast of the household incandescent lighting it's shot under. The DC240's auto white balance performed very well here, producing natural colors, while leaving enough of the warm cast to preserve the mood of the incandescent lighting. We generally find that the cameras' default exposure settings produce rather dark images, as shown in this shot (272k), taken with no exposure compensation adjustment. Here are a couple of more shots, each taken with a half-stop (0.5 EV) more exposure, or compensation adjustments of +0.5EV (276k), and +1.0 EV (272k). This shows the value of playing with the exposure compensation adjustment: Of the series, the +0.5 EV sample (276k) is the best, a smaller amount of compensation than this shot typically requires. (This mirrors the DC240's autoexposure performance in the outdoor portrait test: It appears that its exposure system is more accurate than most with high-key subjects like this.) We also shot a series of exposures with the white balance set to "incandescent", but found the results virtually identical to those obtained with the automatic setting. Both sets of images are arranged in the table below.  

House shot: (616k) Our standard House poster is one of our strongest tests of detail and resolution. Here, the DC240 responded quite well, very much on a par with other cameras of similar resolution. (And much better than it did on the outdoor portrait shot above.) Color again was very good, among the most accurate of cameras we've tested to date (April, 1999).

For this test, we shot a series of images, showing the camera's performance at each of its resolution/image quality settings. The results are arranged in the table below for your perusal.

Large/Best
(616k)

Large/Better
(424k)

Large/Good
(224k)

Small/Best
(204k)

Small/Better
(148k)

Small/Good
(80k)


The DC240 also has settings to adjust the in-camera "Sharpening" function. As noted in the main review, it appears that the "Soft" setting actually blurs the image slightly,while the "Sharp" option provides a fairly strong edge-contrast enhancement. Here are some samples:

Sharp
(711k)

Normal
(454k)

Soft
(250k)

 
 

Far-Field shot: (504k) This image 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 DC240 did very well here, right at the top of the range among 1280x960 cameras we've tested. Color is also very good, with a beautiful bright, clear sky color, and just the right color in the bricks on the front of the house.

As with the House poster shot, we've also taken a series of pictures here, exercising the camera's various resolution and image-quality modes. The results are in the table below.

Large/Best
(504k)

Large/Better
(344k)

Large/Good
(176k)

Small/Best
(172k)

Small/Better
(124k)

Small/Good
(68k)

 

"Musicians" poster: (420k) While this is just a picture of a poster, the color values for the various skin tones are pretty representative of the three ethnic groups represented. Skin tones are tough for digital cameras, both because the Caucasian skin color is so sensitive to over-saturation, and because all of the tones are "memory colors:" People are so familiar with the range of "correct" colors that any deviation is immediately obvious. In this test, the DC240's automatic white balance was fooled a bit by the bluish cast of the background, and the strong blue of the Oriental model's robe. The result was a rather warm tone, as shown in this (112k) VGA-resolution shot. Using the "daylight" manual white-balance setting, the excess yellow was removed from the images, with the excellent results shown in our main image (420k). With the manual "daylight" white-balance setting, the DC240 did a really excellent job here, among the best we've seen: Skin tones are nicely balanced, yet color saturation in the model's costumes is high, and color overall is very accurate. Excellent job!

Again, we have a full series of resolution/image quality samples available, shot with both the daylight and automatic white-balance settings, as well as a Sharp/Normal/Soft series, arranged in the tables below.
Daylight white balance

Large/Best
(420k)

Large/Better
(284k)

Large/Good
(156k)

Small/Best
(156k)

Small/Better
(112k)

Small/Good
(60k)

Auto white balance

Large/Best
(416k)

Large/Better
(272k)

Large/Good
(156k)

Small/Best
(156k)

Small/Better
(112k)

Small/Good
(64k)

Sharp/Normal/Soft

Sharp
(468k)

Normal
(428k)

Soft
(364k)

 

Macro shot: (448k) - With its zoom lens run out to the telephoto end of its range, and the camera set for "macro" focusing, the DC240 does a very respectable job of close-up photography. The minimum focusing distance of 9.6 inches (0.25 m) results in a reasonably "tight" minimum viewable area of 2.6x3.4 inches (65 x 87 mm). Although not specified by Kodak to work that close, we were also pleased to see that the onboard flash works quite well down to the minimum 9.5 inch focusing distance, as shown in this shot (444k).


 

"Davebox" test target: (252k) Wow! We've come to expect excellent color from Kodak digital cameras, and the DC240 certainly upholds this tradition. With a slight edge even over the DC200 Plus that we reviewed at about the same time as this camera (the color-handling of which impressed us greatly), the DC240 clearly shows some of the best color-handling we've found in any camera, at any price point! All colors are accurate, strong primaries are clean and well-saturated, yet the subtle pastels of the Q60 target at bottom center are perfectly preserved as well. Highlight detail is excellent, and shadow detail is moderate. For this shot, the automatic white balance was slightly more accurate than the "daylight" manual setting, which produced a very slight yellowish cast, as shown in this VGA-resolution shot (252k) Overall an excellent performance!

Once more, we have full resolution/image-quality series shot with both automatic and daylight white-balance settings, for those interested in the camera's performance in other operating modes.
Auto white balance

Large/Best
(252k)

Large/Better
(168k)

Large/Good
(100k)

Small/Best
(104k)

Small/Better
(72k)

Small/Good
(44k)

Daylight white balance

Large/Best
(252k)

Large/Better
(168k)

Large/Good
(100k)

Small/Best
(104k)

Small/Better
(72k)

Small/Good
(44k)

 
 

Low-Light Tests (NEW!)
After a number of requests for a more quantitative measure of cameras' low-light capabilities, we've instituted an official low-light test, using the Davebox target, a single flood, neutral-density gels, and an accurate light meter to test camera performance under a range of dim lighting. (If it sounds like a pain in the neck, that's because it is!)

(This test was added in early 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available.)

Low-light performance of the DC240 Plus is moderately good, down to a minimum level of about EV7, if you use the +EV exposure compensation to the maximum level possible. At that level though, some detail is lost, and the shadows are totally plugged. Not bad though, since Kodak's "official" rating based on camera ISO, lens aperture and shutter speed ranges suggest a lower limit of about EV8.5! While not a stellar low-light performer, the DC240 should work quite well under even modest lighting in most home and office interiors. Below are a series of exposures under progressively darker lighting conditions, both with and without +2.0EV of manual exposure compensation adjustment.

EV10
(260k)

EV9
(284k)

EV8
(256k)

EV7
(192k)

EV6
(120k)

EV10
+2.0EV
(256k)

EV9
+2.0EV
(276k)

EV8
+2.0EV
(280k)

EV7
(n/a)

EV6
+2.0EV
(232k)

 

ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (272k) (Technoids only) Visual resolution of the DC240 in this test is a very solid 650 lines per picture height, both horizontally and vertically, at the top of the range for cameras at this resolution level. It appears that the DC240 renders high-contrast objects very well, but slips a bit when the scene is characterized by lower contrast, as was the case with the outdoor model shots. This shot shows the excellent resolution the camera is capable of though...

Again, we've provided a full resolution/quality series here for those who might be interested:
Telephoto

Large/Best
(228k)

Large/Better
(164k)

Large/Good
(100k)

Small/Best
(100k)

Small/Better
(76k)

Small/Good
(48k)

Wide Angle

Large/Best
(272k)

Large/Better
(196k)

Large/Good
(116k)

Small/Best
(112k)

Small/Better
(84k)

Small/Good
(52k)

Sharp/Normal/Soft

Sharp
(284k)

Normal
(264k)

Soft
(236k)

 

Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: We were pleased to find the viewfinder on the DC240 as accurate as it was. The optical viewfinder shows a well-centered view of about 91% of the final image area, making it more accurate than most. As with essentially all other Kodak cameras we've tested, the LCD viewfinder is 100% accurate, a real help in some of the critical studio shots we take. Overall, the DC240 has one of the more accurate viewfinder systems we've found to date on rangefinder-style digital cameras. Flash uniformity is excellent at the telephoto end of the lens' range, very good at the wide-angle end. The lens shows virtually NO geometric distortion, at either the wide-angle or telephoto end of its zoom range. (One of the more distortion-free lenses we've seen...) The table below contains samples shot at both the telephoto and wide-angle end of the lens' range, with both the optical and LCD viewfinders.

 

Telephoto

Wide Angle

Optical

(80k)

(84k)

LCD

(76k)

(80k)

 

 

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