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We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)

Outdoor portrait: (511.5k) Absolutely gorgeous color has become Kodak's trademark in digital cameras, and the DC290 upholds the tradition easily! This shot shows beautiful color, excellent detail, and excellent tonal range. Colors are actually a trifle more saturated than the original, but there's no sign of over-saturation in the sensitive skin tones. All colors are very pure, with none of the reddish tinge in the blues that plague many cameras on this shot. Only 0.5 EV of positive exposure compensation was required here (511.5 K), producing a shot with only the very brightest highlights starting to wash out, and excellent shadow detail. Compared to the previous DC260 and DC265, detail in areas of subtle contrast (like the model's hair) is preserved much better. One of the better shots we've seen of this test subject! The table below shows the results of exposure adjustments from 0 to +1.5 EV.

Exposure compensation series
+0EV
510.5 K
1/289 sec
F8.57
+0.5EV
511.5 K
1/ 268 sec
F7.49
+1.0EV
(n/a)
+1.5EV
509 KB
1/ 230 sec
F5.71

 
Closer Portrait (422.4 k) Again, absolutely beautiful color and tone, with accurate, pleasing skin tones. Excellent detail again, although this shot shows a very slight softness to it that we found characteristic of our test unit when shooting at the longest telephoto setting. Still, detail is very good, color and tone are at the absolute top of the field. The table below shows the results of exposure adjustments from 0 to +1.5 EV

Exposure compensation series
+0EV
420.2 KB 1/ 263 sec
F7.24
+0.5EV
422.4 KB
1/ 249 sec
F6.54
+1.0EV
433.6 KB
1/ 230 sec
F5.71
+1.5EV
409.6 KB
1/ 214 sec
F4.99

 
Indoor Portrait, Flash (410k)The DC290's on-board flash appears to be color-balanced to match daylight illumination, with the result (410k) that it produces a slight bluish cast in the highlights when mixed with the bright incandescent room lighting of this test. Of course, the ability to use external flash units with the DC290 opens a whole world of lighting adjustment. In this shot (393k), a garden-variety Sunpak strobe unit provides the light, bounced off the ceiling. The light from the external strobe is bright enough to swamp the room light, producing a nicely color-balanced image with even illumination.
 
Indoor Portrait, No Flash (393k) This scene 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 DC290's white balance system worked exceptionally well though, producing more or less identical results with the automatic (392k) and incandescent (393k) settings. We preferred the incandescent results very slightly, but both were excellent performances. The light background usually requires some exposure compensation, but the DC290 required more than most, needing +1.5EV of compensation for our main shot (393k). The table below shows a range of exposure settings from 0 to +1.5 EV, with both Automatic and Incandescent white balance settings.

Exposure compensation series
AutoWB, +0EV
360.5 K
1/ 24 sec
F3.03
AutoWB, +0.5EV
374.2 K
1/ 17 sec
F3.03
AutoWB, +1.0EV
384K
1/16 sec
F3
AutoWB,
+1.5EV
391.5 K
1/ 8 sec
F3.03
Tungsten WB,
+0EV

374.4 KB
1/ 24 sec
F3.03
Tungsten WB,
+0.5EV

380.8 KB
1/ 17 sec
F3.03
Tungsten WB,
+1.0EV

385.4 KB
1/ 12 sec
F3.03
Tungsten WB,
+1.5EV
392.8 KB
1/ 8 sec
F3.03

 
House Poster (965k) This subject is a good test of camera resolution. The DC290 produced a good shot here, with resolution about in the middle of the pack of current 2 megapixel models. Color balance is a bit on the warm side, both in our main shot (965k), shot with the automatic white balance setting, and in this one, shot using the "daylight" option (955k). The yellow cast is pretty uniform though, and cleans up easily in Photoshop(tm) or other image-manipulation programs.

One of the nice features of the DC290 is that it can capture images at any of four different resolutions, and the resulting images are all "clean" and free of artifacts. (We've found that some high-resolution camera models don't do a particularly good job of capturing lower-resolution images. The DC290 shows no such weakness though.) The DC290 can also create "Ultra" resolution images, with pixel dimensions of 2240 x 1500. These are interpolated though, and while the images are larger, they really contain no additional detail information beyond that available in the "High" resolution images. The table below shows images shot at the full range of image sizes and quality settings.

Resolution/Quality series
Ultra/Best
1274.3 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Ultra/Better
876.7 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Ultra/Good
500.7 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
High/Best
965.1 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
High/Better
665.7 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
High/Good
376.6 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Medium/Best
655.5 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Medium/Better
461.7 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Medium/Good
264.2 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Standard/Best
260.6 KB
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Standard/Better
195 KB
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Standard/Good
112.5 KB
1/ 80 sec
F3

A first for Kodak, the DC290 can save images in an uncompressed TIFF file format. Not only that, but the uncompressed format is available at all three uninterpolated image resolutions. We put the uncompressed images in this separate table to avoid confusion, as web browsers generally don't know what to do with TIFF files: You'll probably need to download these to your hard drive and open them in an image editing program to view them.

Uncompressed Resolution Series
(Download to your disk to view in an imaging program - NOTE: 6,483k files!)
Uncompressed
/High
Uncompressed
/Medium
Uncompressed
/Standard

 
 
Far Field Shot (448k) 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.

Again, absolutely beautiful color and tone, and detail seems quite good as well. (Although it is rather hard to make detailed comparisons on this image, given the huge variations as the seasons change, the sun angle drops, etc.) At least as far as the main purpose of this test goes, the DC290's lens appears to do just fine at infinity. This time, we also include a single "Ultra" res shot, saved in Best compression mode (1,064k), so you can compare to the "High" resolution for yourself: We don't see any additional detail in it at all, although the interpolation is in fact quite smooth. The table below contains samples of images shot at all other combinations of resolution and image quality.

Resolution/Quality series
High/Best
807.8 K
1/ 258 sec
F7
High/Better
566.6 K
1/ 258 sec
F7
High/Good
238.2 K
1/ 258 sec
F7
 Medium/Best
566 K
1/ 258 sec
F7
 Medium/Better
404.4 K
1/ 258 sec
F7
Medium/Good
238.2 K
1/ 258 sec
F7
Normal/Best
241.5 K
1/ 258 sec
F7
Normal/Better
180.3 KB
1/ 258 sec
F7
Normal/Good
107.4 KB
1/ 253 sec
F6.76

As before, we're also including samples of images saved in uncompressed mode, in all three image sizes. We put the uncompressed images in this separate table to avoid confusion, as web browsers generally don't know what to do with TIFF files: You'll probably need to download these to your hard drive and open them in an image editing program to view them.

Uncompressed Resolution Series
(Download to your disk to view in an imaging program - NOTE: 6,483k files!)
Uncompressed
/High
Uncompressed
/Medium
Uncompressed
/Standard

 
    Lens Zoom Range (448k) In response to reader requests, we now routinely shoot images showing the range of each camera's zoom lens. The table below links to Standard-resolution images (to save download time), shot at wide angle, telephoto, and telephoto with the digital tele option engaged. Somehow, the wide 3:2 format of the DC290 makes the zoom range look wider than the 3x it actually is. At the small image size, the "digital zoom" actually works as you'd expect it to, since the cropped-down image is using the CCD pixels 1:1 relative to a full-resolution non-digital telephoto shot.

Wide
244.7 K
1/ 279 sec
F8.01
Tele
203 K
1/250 sec
F5.7
2x Dgital Tele
147.6 KB
1/ 230 sec
F5.71

 
Musicians Poster (678k) For what seems to be a fairly straightforward image, this shot causes surprising problems for many digicams, producing color casts in cameras that have no trouble whatsoever with our other tests. Such was the case with the DC290 here (678k), where it really seemed to want to put a tinge of yellow into the picture. The effect isn't severe, although the camera did much better using the daylight white balance option (used in our main choice for this test) (678k), as opposed to the auto white balance setting (673k). Very puzzling, particularly given that a simple "auto levels" in Photoshop(tm) cleans it up beautifully. Other than the slight yellow cast, color is excellent, and detail is also. (For detail, we usually look at the fine silver threads on the shoulder of the Oriental model's kimono.) As before, we've shot a full range of resolution/quality combinations and put them into the table below, and have uncompressed versions available separately as well.

Resolution/Quality series
Ultra/Best
889.8 K
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
Ultra/Better
614.9 K
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
Ultra/Good
358.8 K
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
High/Best
678.4 K
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
High/Better
459.6 K
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
High/Good
265 K
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
Medium/Best
467.3 K
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
Medium/Better
323.5 K
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
Medium/Good
190.8 KB
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
Standard/Best
208.4 KB
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
Standard/Better
152 KB
1/ 48 sec
F3.03
Standard/Good
89.4 KB
1/ 48 sec
F3.03

 

Uncompressed Resolution Series
(Download to your disk to view in an imaging program - NOTE: 6,483k files!)

Uncompressed
/High
Uncompressed
/Medium
Uncompressed
/Standard

 
Macro Shot (634k) Like the DC260 and DC265 before it, the DC290 isn't a particularly strong performer in the macro department, with its 12 inch minimum focusing distance. Still, even at that range, the macro test shot (634k) shows a respectable minimum image area of 3.0 x 4.5 inches (76 x 114 mm). For serious close-up work, we highly recommend a third-party macro kit, such as the LensMate or Xtend-A-Lens systems mentioned in the main review. These adapters, combined with high-quality auxiliary close-up lenses turn the DC290 into a very capable macro camera, bringing you as close as about 4 inches (with a total of +6 diopters of filters added), and a minimum capture area of only 1.0 x 1.5 inches. (Check the main review for links to these adapters, which should be considered mandatory equipment for any DC290 owner.)

At least at the 12 inch standard minimum-focusing distance, the DC290's flash does a reasonably good job of throttling-down, as seen here (715k), although one of the great advantages of the DC290 is that you aren't constrained at all by the internal flash, and can in fact use all manner of external strobe units. (Including no doubt, fancy gadgets like ring flashes, in conjunction with the aforementioned auxiliary lens adapters.) The digital telephoto option can be a help in macro work, as seen here (145k), but really only if you're just looking for lower-resolution images anyway. (The CCD cropping, you know...)

 
"Davebox" Test Target (407k) If there's anything amiss with a camera's color rendition, this test will smoke it out! As noted earlier, the DC290 boasts really exceptional color handling, although there's a slight warm cast in this shot again. Tonal range is good, with good detail in the highlights, and reasonable detail in the shadows. The table below has the standard range of resolution/quality samples. As before, we've shot a full range of resolution/quality combinations and put them into the table below, and have uncompressed versions available separately as well.

Resolution/Quality series
Ultra/Best
556.6 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Ultra/Better
371.2 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Ultra/Good
225.8 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
High/Best
406.6 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
High/Better
269.4 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
High/Good
167 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Medium/Best
275.2 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Medium/Better
189.6 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Medium/Good
124.3 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Standard/Best
128.8 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Standard/Better
93.1 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03
Standard/Good
65.8 K
1/ 80 sec
F3.03


Uncompressed Resolution Series
(Download to your disk to view in an imaging program - NOTE: 6,483k files!)
Uncompressed
/High
Uncompressed
/Medium
Uncompressed
/Standard

 
  Low Light Tests
The biggest surprise for us in testing the DC290 was its incredible low-light capability. According to Kodak's specs for the unit (ISO, aperture, max shutter time), it should be capable of producing usable pictures down to a light level of only 0.125 foot-candles (1.4 lux), about EV4, in our earlier parlance. We're used to manufacturer specifications being a bit optimistic in the area of long exposure times though, so didn't really expect too much from the camera when we started our tests. Much to our surprise, the camera actually can capture an image with that little light, although it is somewhat noisy. More impressive though, is that it can grab a genuinely useful image at a light level of 0.25 foot-candles, and a positively bright one at 0.5 foot-candles. The most amazing part about this though, is that these extremely low-light images actually have very good color rendition, something that no other camera we've tested to date (November, 1999) has managed to do! Although the ISO 100 sensitivity rating means that you'll only get to these light levels with the time-exposure option (very long exposure times), for non-moving objects, the DC290 absolutely reigns supreme among sub-$5,000 digicams in the low light arena at this time. If you need to shoot night-time architectural or landscape photography, the DC290 has our unqualified recommendation!

The table below shows the results we obtained with the DC290 at light levels ranging from 8 foot-candles down to 0.125 foot–candles (10EV to 4EV).


8fc (EV10)
444.6 KB
Shutter: 1/ 3
Aperture: F3.03
Exp. Comp: +1.0 ev
4fc (EV9)
509.3 KB
Shutter: 1/ 2
Aperture: F3.03
Exp. Comp: +1.0 ev
2fc (EV8)
423.7 KB
Shutter: 1
Aperture: F3.03
Exp. Comp: 0.0 ev
1fc (EV7)
435.7 KB
Shutter: 4
Aperture: F3.03
Exp. Comp: 0.0 ev
0.5fc (EV6)
457.8 KB
Shutter: 6
Aperture: F3.03
Exp. Comp: 0.0 ev
0.25fc (EV5)
612.7 KB
Shutter: 14
Aperture: F3.03
Exp. Comp: 0.0 ev
0.125fc (EV4)
664.1 KB
Shutter: 16
Aperture: F3.03
Exp. Comp: 0.0 ev

 
Flash Range Test (New)
(This test was added in August 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.)

Kodak specifies a maximum range for the DC290's on-board flash of 13 feet (4.0 meters) in telephoto mode. This agreed well with the results of our own tests, which showed the flash being quite bright out to 14 feet, the maximum distance we can easily accommodate in our studio. The table below shows the results we obtained at various distances, with the lens set to the telephoto end of its range.


Light Falloff (distance from test target)
8 Feet
(152k)
9 Feet
(150k)
10 Feet
(144k)
11 Feet
(140k)
12 Feet
(137k)
13 Feet
(133k)
14 Feet
(129k)

 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (487k) The DC290 tests well in the resolution area, with our resolution test showing a solid 650 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions, and with detail easily visible to 700 lines per picture height. We did find though, that the lens on our test unit was somewhat "soft" when racked out to full telephoto. This softness didn't directly affect the resolution measurement, as the sharpness loss is most prominent on the left-hand side of the image. Given that it wasn't uniform across the image, nor radially symmetric, we tend to believe that this may have just been caused by an assembly defect in our test camera. - We'll try to re-test at a later date, whenever we can get our hands on another sample. On this shot, we again offer a full range of resolution/quality samples, albeit with only a single "Ultra Res" version (654k), shot at the wide angle setting of the lens, in "Best" quality mode.


Wide Angle Resolution/Quality series
High/Best
487.2 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03
High/Better
355.1 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03
High/Good
226.3 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03
 Medium/Best
355.1 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03
Medium/Better
340 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03
Medium/Good
167.3 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03
Standard/Best
160.5 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03
Standard/Better
257.2 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03
Standard/Good
84.1 K
1/ 135 sec
F3.03

Telephoto Resolution/Quality series
High/Best
412.3 K
1/ 57 sec
F3.03
High/Better
297.2 K
1/ 57 sec
F3.03
High/Good
196.5 K
1/ 57 sec
F3.03
Medium/Best
291.3 K
1/ 57 sec
F3.03
Medium/Better
218.8 K
1/ 57 sec
F3.03
Medium/Good
146 K
1/ 57 sec
F3.03
Standard/Best
146.2 KB
1/ 57 sec
F3.03
Standard/Better
112 KB
1/ 57 sec
F3.03
Standard/Good
78 KB
1/ 57 sec
F3.03

 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
The optical viewfinder on the DC290 is about typically accurate among digicams we've tested, showing 85% of the final image area at telephoto (154k), increasing to 89% at wide angle (159k). We did find a roughly half-degree of rotation in the optical viewfinder as well though: Not enough to worry about in normal shooting, but a possible concern for architectural photography, where you may have verticals and horizontals close to the edges of the frame. Like all Kodak digicams though, the LCD viewfinder was 100% accurate at both telephoto (149k) and wide-angle (157k) settings, a huge benefit when you're trying for critical framing. Like most digicams with digital telephoto modes, the lower-resolution LCD viewfinder display in this mode of the DC290 made it hard to align our test target accurately. It does appear that the frame coverage in digital telephoto (49k) is still 100%, but we ended up mis-aiming in the vertical direction by 5 percent or so.

We now routinely measure lens distortion as part of our camera testing. The DC290 did exceptionally well in this respect. Barrel distortion is an almost undetectable 0.25% at the wide-angle end, decreasing to zero at the telephoto setting. Chromatic aberration is likewise almost non-existent, only 0.03% at wide angle, and none detectable in telephoto.

 

 

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