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Kodak DC3400

Kodak updates the popular DC280 with a new sensor, lower power consumption, and a new color scheme...

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

DC3400 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 10/5/2000

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: (511k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Kodak DC3400's white balance system handles the test well. (Throughout this analysis, we'll be comparing the images from the DC3400 to those from the DC280, since the DC3400 is essentially an updated version of the DC280. For a full comparison of all of the test shots, pull up both cameras in our Comparometer.) We shot this image in the daylight white balance mode, which provided a very nice, vibrant color balance. The blue flowers and pants look very accurate (these blues are somewhat difficult for many digicams to reproduce correctly). Detail and resolution look very nice throughout the image. There's a good amount of detail in the shadow areas, and just a moderate level of noise. Our main image was taken with no exposure adjustment. As far as color balance, detail, and resolution are concerned, the DC3400 seems to produce similar images as the DC280. The only difference we noticed is in the exposure. The DC280's shot (446k) required a +0.5 EV adjustment, while the DC3400 main shot (511k) required none. This could be a result of the difference in available light, since the shots were taken at different times, but it's clear that the DC3400 has higher overall contrast than the earlier 280. Adjusting the DC3400's exposure compensation to +0.5 (508k) blows out the highlights a little more than we'd like. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.5 EV in the daylight white balance mode.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/360
Aperture: F9.5
(511k)
0.5 EV
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F9.5
(508k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F6.7
(482k)
1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/180
Aperture: F6.7
(416k)



 
Closer portrait: (501k)
The DC3400 again performs well on this closer, portrait shot. (Shorter focal length lenses tend to distort facial features in close-up shots like this and the availability of longer focal lengths is a key feature if you're going to be shooting close-up people shots). We noticed just a little distortion on the face from the lens, due to its somewhat limited zoom range (maximum telephoto position is only equivalent to a 76mm lens on a 35mm film camera). We again shot with the daylight white balance setting, with our main shot requiring no exposure compensation adjustment. Resolution and detail look crisp and clear, especially in the strands of the model's hair. Noise level remains moderate in the shadow areas. Comparing this image to that from the DC280 (446k), the main difference seems to be in exposure, which, as we mentioned before could be due to a difference in light. We also noticed that color balance on the DC3400 image seems to be just a bit warmer than the DC280 image, particularly in the area of skin tone. Relative to other 2 megapixel digicams we've tested, our main comment is that the skin tone is both a bit yellowish, and a bit "hot" (slightly over-saturated). The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings on the DC3400, from zero to +1.0 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/360
Aperture: F9.5
(501k)
0.5 EV
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F9.5
(506k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/180
Aperture: F9.5
(463k)



 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (391k)
The DC3400's built-in flash does a good job of illuminating the subject, though a slightly warm, orange color cast is present in the image. Despite the warm cast, color balance looks pretty good, particularly in the flowers. The highlight areas of the white shirt appear slightly orange, while the shadow areas appear bluish. The DC3400 produces similar results on this test to the DC280. The major difference is that the DC280's (354k) flash looked very slightly stronger, thereby reducing the orange cast somewhat. Overall though, both images look nearly identical in color balance and tone. We've recently begun testing the effectiveness of digicam's red-eye reduction flash modes. Here's a sample of the DC3400's Redeye mode (371k), which seemed to do a good job of eliminating redeye in the model's eyes. We did note though, that the delay before the pre-flash and main flash on the DC3400 is quite long, making it easy to catch people with their eyes blinking closed: You'll need to warn your subjects about that, and tell them to be sure to keep their eyes open!


 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (407k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the DC3400's white balance system did an excellent job. We tested the automatic (143k) and incandescent (141k) white balance settings, choosing automatic for our main series. Both white balance settings produced very similar results, though the incandescent appeared slightly darker and possibly a hint cooler in its color cast. For our main shot, we chose a +1.0 EV adjustment. Color balance looks quite neutral and colors are vibrant and accurate, though the blue flowers appear just slightly dark. We compared the DC3400 image to that of the DC280 (324k), and noticed that the images are nearly identical in color balance and exposure, meaning that the same white balance system is being employed by both cameras. Relative to other cameras we've tested, the DC3400 does a very good job on this difficult test, producing a nearly neutral color balance with essentially no fiddling. The table below shows a range of exposure adjustments from zero to +2.0 EV using the DC3400's automatic white balance setting.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F3.1
(413k)
0.5 EV
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F3.1
(408k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F3.1
(407k)
1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F3.1
(394k)
2.0 EV
Shutter: 1/4
Aperture: F3.1
(366k)



 
House shot: (827k)
NOTE that this is the "new" house shot, a much higher-resolution poster than we first used in our tests. To compare the image of the DC3400 with previously tested cameras, here's a shot of the original house poster in the automatic (980k) white balance setting. (We again noted nearly identical results to the DC280's house shot (928k), which is of the older poster. Unfortunately, the newer house poster was not available back when we tested the DC280.)

We shot this image with the automatic (117k), daylight (118k) and fluorescent (118k) white balance settings, ultimately deciding on the automatic setting for our main series. The daylight setting produced slightly warmer results, and the fluorescent setting resulted in a very cool, bluish image. Resolution and detail are excellent in this shot, as the tree limbs, shrubbery and bricks look crisp and clear. The roof shingles show only a moderate level of noise, and the in-camera sharpening is about average, producing only slight halos around high-contrast edges (the white trim against the dark bricks in the central gable of the house). We did feel that some fine details in the foliage of the garden plantings were a bit "heavier" due to sharpening that we would have liked to see. Overall though, this is a good performance, solidly in the mainstream of 2 megapixel camera performance. Color is very good, and resolution/detail is in the upper midrange of 2 megapixel cameras we've tested. Contrast is a little high, and the image a bit darker overall than we'd consider ideal, but overall a good performance. The table below shows the full range of resolution and quality settings for the DC3400, in the automatic white balance mode.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.2
(527k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.2
(629k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.2
(325k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.2
(311k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.2
(224k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.2
(117k)


We shot a series with the DC3400's sharpness adjustments, which seem to be altering the contrast slightly. The Sharper image appears somewhat lighter and with higher contrast, while the Soft image is a little dark with less contrast. (We've seen this on other cameras with options for sharpness variation, and it always puzzles us: Why should a sharpness adjustment affect exposure? Our strong preference would be for sharpness to affect only that parameter, and leave exposure alone. Not a large defect, but definitely something we'd like to see Kodak (and others) avoid on future designs.

Sharpness series
Sharp
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.2
(964k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.2
(887k)
Soft
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.2
(805k)



 
 
Far-Field Test (841k)
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.

We shot samples of this image with the daylight (110k) and automatic (120k) white balance modes. Both modes produced similar results, so we shot with the automatic setting for our main series. This is the strongest test of detail of any that we do, given the very fine details present in the pine needles and small branches against the sky. The DC3400 has just a hint of softness in this test, which we partially attribute to the slightly heavy-handed in-camera sharpening. Overall, resolution on this shot seems to be comfortably in the midrange of 2 megapixel digicams we've tested.

The other parameter this subject tests severely is dynamic range (the ability of the camera to handle extremes of brightness): Cameras have a very hard time holding detail in the very strong highlight on the white trim around the bay window on the front of the house. The DC3400 falls prey to this in this test, with the white trim largely blown out to pure white. Shadow detail is quite good however. (Overall, the DC3400 has fairly high contrast. This is a common characteristic of cameras with good color saturation, but leaves them prone to losing detail in strong highlights, as seen here.)

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/360
Aperture: F6.7
(841k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F6.7
(604k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F6.7
(331k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/180
Aperture: F6.7
(319k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/180
Aperture: F6.7
(227k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/180
Aperture: F6.7
(120k)


We also shot with the variable sharpness adjustments, which again seemed to be altering the contrast of the images.

Sharpness series
Sharp
Shutter: 1/180
Aperture: F6.7
(950k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/125
Aperture: F6.7
(916k)
Soft
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F6.7
(798k)



 
 
Lens Zoom Range
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full telephoto and the lens at full telephoto with 3x digital telephoto enabled. The wide angle shot looks reasonably crisp, with no visible distortion. At full telephoto, resolution increases slightly. The 3x digital telephoto setting enlarges the image well, but also softens it pretty drastically. Overall, the DC3400 is a bit limited in the zoom department, with only a 2x zoom lens that covers effective focal lengths of 38 to 76mm. This range of effective focal lengths is one of the few differences we found between the DC3400 and the earlier DC280: We believe that the DC3400 is using one of the new, physically smaller 2 megapixel CCD chips, resulting in an increase of effective focal length.

Wide
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F5.6
(848k)
Tele
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F6.7
(757k)
3x Digital Telephoto
Shutter: 1/250
Aperture: F6.7
(379k)



 
 
Musicians Poster (722k)
We shot this test with the automatic (92k) and daylight (91k) white balance settings, choosing daylight as the most accurate overall. The automatic setting produced much warmer results, probably in response to the significant amount of blue in the image, which often tricks digicams' white balance systems. Color is really excellent throughout, judging by the skin tones and other, more saturated colors. The blue of the Oriental model's robe is almost exactly right, but has a slightly darker tone (this is a common problem for digicams with this image). The image appears relatively sharp, with a fair amount of detail showing in the bird wings and silver threads on the blue robe, as well as in the flower garland of the blonde model's hair and the beaded necklaces of the African-American model. Noise remains moderate throughout the image, mostly visible in the blue background. Again, we compared the DC3400 image to that of the DC280 (722k), and found nearly identical results. Color balance, tone and resolution all appear to be the same. Performance relative to other digicams is excellent on this image: Color handling is much better than average. Below is our standard resolution and quality series in the DC3400's daylight white balance setting.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.2
(742k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.2
(461k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.2
(245k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.2
(265k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.2
(177k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.2
(91k)



 
Macro Shot (666k)
The DC3400's performance is about average in the macro category, capturing a relatively large minimum area of 4.36 x 2.89 inches (110.71 x 73.47 mm). Color balance, detail and resolution are all excellent. The DC3400's built-in flash (703k) does a very nice job of throttling down for the macro area, managing not to be tricked by the shiny coin. The DC3400's performance in the macro category is slightly better than the preceding DC280, which captured a minimum area of 4.2 x 6.4 inches (108 x 162 mm).


"Davebox" Test Target (362k)
We shot samples of this test target with the automatic (101k) and daylight (101k) white balance settings, choosing automatic because of its more accurate white value (based on the small resolution target). The daylight setting produced slightly warmer results. Color balance in the automatic white balance setting appears very accurate. The large cyan, magenta and yellow color blocks are right on the mark, a difficult task for digicams, in our experience. The DC3400 picks up the difference between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart, a problem area where many digicams try to blend the two colors. However, the image appears to be a little overexposed, as the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 chart are only visible up to the "E" range (another common problem for digicams). Actually, based on its performance in our other test shots, we suspect that the loss of detail in highlight areas is a result of the DC3400's somewhat higher-than-average contrast. The shadow area of the briquettes shows a fair amount of detail, with moderate noise, but the detail in the white gauze area is completely blown out in the highlights. We found a few differences between the performance of the DC3400 and the DC280 in this shot, all seemingly related to exposure. Both cameras produced excellent color, but the DC280 did a better job of holding detail at the extremes of the tonal range. Still, nice results from both cameras, and the DC3400's color handling is quite a bit better than average. Below is our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(362k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(244k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(143k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(154k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(100k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(58k)


We shot with the DC3400's sharpness adjustments again, achieving similar results to our other tests.

Sharpness series
Sharp
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(394k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(371k)
Soft
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.4
(327k)



 
Low-Light Tests
The DC3400 had some difficulty in the low-light category, as we were only able to obtain relatively useable images at light levels as low as two foot-candles (22 lux). Anything below one foot candle was barely visible. Though the camera isn't able to produce bright images at lower light levels, the resulting images at one foot candle show only moderate noise. Turning on the camera's Auto ISO function produced the same results, but with a higher noise level and shorter exposure time. (This was similar to the behavior of the DC280, and somewhat puzzling to us: Usually, increasing the ISO of the sensor will result in a reduction of the low-light limit, but Kodak appears to have mandated a maximum acceptable noise level, and constrained the camera's exposure time as a result.) Overall, the DC280 wouldn't be the camera to choose if you really want to be able to do outdoor photography after dark: For reference, a light level of 1 foot-candle is about what you'd find in a city night scene under typical street lighting. The DC280 needs about twice that light level to produce an acceptable image. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

8fc
10EV
88lux
4fc
9EV
44lux
2fc
8EV
22lux
1fc
7EV
11lux
1/2fc
6EV
5.5lux

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F3.7
(597k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F3.7
(550k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F3.7
(465k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F3.7
(387k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F3.7
(281k)

Standard ISO
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F3.7
(399k)

Standard ISO
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F3.7
(354k)

Standard ISO
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F3.7
(275k)

Standard ISO
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F3.7
(208k)

Standard ISO
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F3.7
(127k)



 
Flash Range Test
(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 estimates the DC3400's flash range as effective to 9.8 feet (3.0m). In our testing, we found the DC3400's flash to be effective all the way out to 14 feet, with no apparent decrease in brightness: We'd therefore rate Kodak's range specification as rather conservative. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.8
(90k)
9 ft
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.8
(84k)
10 ft
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.8
(85k)
11 ft
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.8
(79k)
12 ft
Shutter: 1/30
Aperture: F3.8
(79k)
13 ft
Shutter:
1/30
Aperture: F3.8
(76k)
14 ft
Shutter:
1/30
Aperture: F3.8
(77k)



 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (419k)
Visual resolution of the DC3400 in this test is roughly 650 lines per picture height vertically, and 650-700 horizontally, well on a par with other 2 megapixel cameras we've tested. These numbers are lower than we assigned to the DC280, but in the intervening time since the DC280's introduction, we've tightened our standards somewhat in this area. (This is a more subjective "call" than we'd like, and we've decided that some of our earlier ratings weren't taking aliasing and artifacts sufficiently into account.) In side-by-side comparisons, we felt the resolution of the DC3400 was just slightly lower than that of the DC280, which we attribute to what appears to be a smaller CCD chip: Since the lens itself seems to be the same, the smaller pixels of the new CCD make for lower resolving power on a pixel-by-pixel basis, although the difference is rather slight.

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

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3
(419k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3
(308k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3
(192k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3
(170k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3
(127k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3
(78k)

Resolution Series, Telephoto
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(387k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(282k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(176k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(162k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(119k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.8
(74k)

Resolution Series, Digital Telephoto
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/125
Aperture: F3.8
(294k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(164k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(116k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/125
Aperture: F3.8
(98k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(74k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(50k)

Sharpness Series
Wide-Angle
Sharp
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3
(437k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3
(420k)
Soft
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3
(392k)
Telephoto
Sharp
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(402k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(388k)
Soft
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(356k)
Digital Telephoto
Sharp
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
(201k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.8
(203k)
Soft
Shutter: 1/125
Aperture: F3.8
(210k)



 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
We found the DC3400's optical viewfinder to be only a little tight, showing about 91 percent of the final image area at wide angle (130k) and 90 percent at telephoto (127k) (at both 1760 x 1168 and 896 x 592 image sizes). The LCD monitor was much more accurate, showing almost exactly 100 percent of the final image area at both wide angle (48k) and telephoto (126k) (also at both image sizes). (High LCD viewfinder accuracy seems to be a Kodak hallmark.) Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the DC3400's LCD passes with flying colors. The DC3400's digital telephoto (99k) also produces about 100 percent accuracy at both image sizes, but image quality is highly degraded. These numbers bear some resemblance to those of the DC280, although the DC3400's optical viewfinder appeared to be a little more accurate than the DC280's 89 percent at wide angle and 85 percent at telephoto.

Optical distortion on the DC3400 is very low on both ends of the zoom spectrum. We caught only about one pixel of barrel distortion at wide angle, and about a half pixel of pincushion distortion at the telephoto end. Chromatic aberration is also very low, showing about two to three pixels of coloration on each side of the black target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) - It's interesting to note that the lower distortion numbers of the DC3400 relative to the DC280 also support the hypothesis of a smaller CCD inside the DC3400: With the sensor covering a smaller portion of the lens' field of view, all forms of distortion around the edges of the picture will be reduced. Flash distribution looks pretty good as well, with some slight falloff around the edges visible at the telephoto setting and increased falloff at the wide angle setting.

 

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<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

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