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Kodak DC4800 Zoom

Kodak's first true 3 megapixel consumer camera has excellent color and *amazing* low-light capability!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 7/31/2000

Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the DC4800's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the DC4800 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

On the whole, the Kodak DC4800 produced very nice images. Color accuracy was excellent, with an outstanding selection of white balance choices including a range of Kelvin color temperatures (which we used with many of our test targets). Color saturation on our Davebox test target appeared very good overall, although the cyan, magenta and yellow did appear slightly weak in the "neutral" saturation shots. The default "Saturated Color" mode eliminated this weakness entirely, but some of the other colors then seemed a bit over-saturated. Still, the DC4800 does a nice job with subtle tonal variations and provided great color results for most of our tests.

The DC4800 performed well in our resolution tests, coming in about in the middle of the current (July, 2000) pack of 3 megapixel digicams. We called the resolution at about lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, although we found some aliasing as low as 650 lines, albeit pretty mild. Vertical resolution was lower, about 650-700 lines per picture height, but aliasing appeared as early as 600 lines. As noted, this is about the middle of the field for 3 megapixel cameras we've tested to date. We felt the results from the DC4800 were actually a bit better in the "real world" images we shot than in this laboratory test. Color aliasing was quite pronounced at vertical frequencies over about 900 lines per picture height, and present to a much lesser extent along the horizontal axis beginning in the same frequency range. Overall, a good performance, if not at the top of the field. Optical distortion on the DC4800 is moderate to high on the wide-angle end, as we measured a 1.01 percent barrel distortion at that focal length. Distortion is lower at the telephoto end, with a 0.2 percent pincushion effect present. Chromatic aberration is also very low, showing about one and a half 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.) Flash distribution looks pretty good, although there's a moderate amount of falloff on the left and right sides at the wide-angle setting.

The DC4800 offers a good range of exposure control, with aperture priority and full manual modes available, as well as the ability to set the ISO from 100 to 400 and select from spot, center weighted or multi-pattern metering. The camera does a truly exceptional job in low light shooting situations, as we were able to obtain useable images as low as 1/16 foot candles, or about 0.67 lux, with great detail (even at the 100 ISO setting!). Since we were using shutter speeds as slow as 16 seconds at these low light levels, there is some noise in the images, particularly at the 200 and 400 ISO settings. (We direct readers to Mike Chaney's excellent Qimage Pro program, for a tool with an amazing ability to remove image noise without significantly affecting detail.) Overall though, the DC4800's low-light shots showed some of the lowest noise and best color of any consumer-level digicam we've tested to date (July, 2000). To fully understand the DC4800's low light capabilities, note that an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about 1 foot candle. Thus, the DC4800's ability to produce clear images at 1/16 foot candles is an exceptional performance.

We found the DC4800's optical viewfinder to be pretty accurate, just a little bit "tight", showing fully 98 percent of the final image area at wide-angle and about 93 percent at telephoto. (Note the change in our nomenclature, dating from spring 2000: Previously, we referred to this viewfinder behavior as "loose" rather than "tight".) The LCD monitor was even more accurate, showing 100 percent of the final image area at wide-angle and 98 percent at telephoto. (We suspect this variation was actually more reflected the difficulty of determining *exactly* where the boundaries of our test target rectangle are on the LCD, rather than any actual variation in LCD accuracy as a function of focal length. We like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, and DC4800 (like essentially all Kodak digicams) does very well in this category. We did notice that the images framed with the optical viewfinder are rotated clockwise slightly, about 0.5 degrees. This is an annoying but not uncommon digicam manufacturing defect, caused by the CCD being placed in the camera slightly rotated relative to the camera body itself. The 0.5 degree error of the DC4800's optical viewfinder is fairly slight , and you'll probably want to rely on the LCD finder if you're doing really critical framing anyway.

The DC4800 performs pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.65 x 2.43 inches (92.77 x 61.84 mm), which seems to be about average among digital cameras we've tested. Additionally, the flash does a pretty good job of throttling down for this small area, not being entirely fooled by the shiny coin on the target.

Overall, the DC4800 about average resolution and above-average color and color control for its 3 megapixel class. Image quality and color accuracy are both good, although resolution is a little softer than the best we've seen. Fantastic performance in low light conditions, a nice range of exposure control and an excellent selection of white balance choices make the DC4800 a serious contender among the top echelon of 3 megapixel consumer digicams.

With its compact size, relatively smooth contours and available neck strap, the DC4800 should be able to travel just about anywhere. The availability of a full manual mode and a generous range of features will make this digicam attractive to advanced and novice consumers alike. Good exposure control, external flash support, an unusual degree of white balance adjustment, the option of either "neutral" or "saturated" color settings, and fantastic low-light capability make the DC4800 a serious player at the upper end of the current consumer digicam market.

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