Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Kodak Digital Cameras > Kodak EasyShare LS743

The Imaging Resource

Quick Review

Kodak EasyShare LS743 Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date
8/12/2004
User Level
Novice to experienced amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot / Some Manual Control
Picture Quality
High, 4.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
Sharp prints to 8x10
Availability
Now
Suggested Retail Price
(At introduction)
$299.95

 

Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Test Images
Specifications
Conclusion

Introduction

The Kodak EasyShare LS743 digital camera is one of the latest in a long line of easy to use digital cameras from the photo giant. The Kodak LS743 and its twin the Kodak LS753 are near-identical four- and five-megapixel models that allow a little more user control than lower-end models in the EasyShare line, while still retaining the ease of use that's the hallmark of the EasyShare line as a whole. The 4.0-megapixel CCD-based Kodak LS743 features a little less resolution than the LS753, but in the same sleek, stylish case, and at a list price that's $50 lower. The high resolution CCD chip provides a lot of detail in its images, although the strong anti-noise processing that contributes to the camera's low-noise image compromises subtle image detail somewhat. Boasting a good feature-set, stylish looking design, reasonable price, the flexible automatic white balance capability and rich color we've come to expect from Kodak, and compatibility with Kodak's optional EasyShare 6000 series camera and printer docks, the LS743 looks to continue the EasyShare tradition rather nicely. Read on for all the details!

NOTE: If you've already read my review of the Kodak LS753, you can skip most of this one, as the two cameras are functionally very similar, apart from minor menu differences, and the deletion of four scene modes (Fireworks, Backlight, Flower, and Children) from the LS743, and the 743's 16 MB of internal memory vs the 753's 32 MB. If you want, just skip to the bottom of this review, to see the results of my tests and my conclusions from them.

 

Camera Overview

Boasting a handful of manual controls and a 4.0-megapixel CCD, the Kodak EasyShare LS753 expands the capabilities of Kodak's line of exceptionally user-friendly digicams. Noticeably more svelte than the LS443 model I reviewed eighteen months ago, the LS743 measures only 4.3 x 1.9 x 1.2 inches (109 x 49 x 30 millimeters) and weighs only 6.5 ounces (183 grams) with the battery and memory card loaded. The all-metal body (with some plastic trim) is durable, rugged, and ready for travel. A neck strap keeps it safe while walking around or shooting photos, but I'd recommend a soft case for longer trips and better protection. The LS743 slips into larger shirt and coat pockets with ease, and should fit most average-size purses as well. A retractable lens keeps the front panel relatively flat, and is protected by a shutter-like lens cover that automatically protects the lens when the camera is turned off. The 4.0-megapixel CCD captures high resolution, print quality images (for potential prints as large as 20x30 inches according to Kodak, but I'd personally say to not plan on usable images much larger than 11x14), as well as smaller image sizes suited for sharing via email.

The LS743 features a 2.8x, Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon zoom lens, equivalent to a 36-100mm zoom on a 35mm camera, with a maximum aperture of f/3.0. By default, the camera's autofocus mechanism uses a Multi-Zone system to "find" the primary subject closest to the lens, but a Center Zone mode is also available. In Multi-Zone mode, brackets highlight the AF area in the LCD display, and the AF point is chosen based on the proximity of the subject to the lens, while Center-Zone simply focuses on the center of the frame. Focus ranges from 23.6 inches (0.6 meters) to infinity in normal mode, with a Macro mode range from a very close 2 to 39.4 inches (5 centimeters to 1 meter) for closeup shots. While it shows a fair bit of barrel distortion at wide angle settings, the LS743's lens shows virtually no geometric distortion at the telephoto end, and chromatic aberration is very low overall: In short, a lens of better than average quality. A Landscape shooting mode fixes focus at infinity, for distant subjects and scenery. In addition to the 2.8x optical zoom, the LS743 also offers 3.6x Advanced digital zoom, which effectively increases the camera's zoom capabilities to 10x. Keep in mind though, that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality in direct proportion to the enlargement it provides, since it just "stretches" the central area of the CCD image digitally, rather than actually magnifying the image the CCD is seeing. For composing images, the LS743 offers a real-image optical viewfinder, as well as a 1.8-inch, 134,000 pixel color LCD monitor. In my testing, the LS743's optical viewfinder was rather tight, showing only 81-81% of the final image area, but its LCD viewfinder was nearly 100% accurate.

Exposure control is fully automatic on the LS743, although the camera does offer a Long Time Exposure mode for exposures as long as sixteen seconds. This lets it work quite well in very dark surroundings, and its autofocus system does better than average under dim lighting as well. A Mode wheel on the camera's top panel controls the main operating mode, offering Auto, Portrait, Macro, Scene, and Movie settings, as well as access to the camera's Favorites feature. While Auto mode is best for general photography conditions, the remaining preset modes match specific shooting situations from city night shots to track meets. In Portrait mode, the camera uses a wider aperture to blur the background, drawing attention to your subject, and fires the flash at a reduced strength to soften shadows. Macro mode enables the closer focusing range of 2 to 39.4 inches (5 centimeters to 1 meter), and requires use of the LCD display for framing to avoid parallax error (where the framing of nearby objects in the optical viewfinder doesn't match that of the image sensor). As noted above, the LS743's macro mode permits closer shooting than most, with a minimum subject area of just 1.76 x 1.32 inches (45 x 33 millimeters).

The Scene mode setting accesses a range of scene modes including Night Landscape, Night Portrait, Sport, Landscape, Snow, Beach, Party, Self-Portrait, Manner / Museum, Fireworks, Backlight, Flower and Children. Night Landscape mode optimizes the camera for shooting cityscapes and other distant scenery at night, disabling the flash in combination with a slower shutter speed to let more ambient light into the image. Night Portrait mode optimizes the camera for portraits where the subject is in front of a distant, dark background, automatically combining a double-flash to avoid red-eye with a slower shutter speed as in Night Landscape mode. In Sports mode, the camera uses faster shutter speeds to "freeze" action. Landscape mode fixes focus at infinity, for capturing subjects far away from the camera, and disabling the flash since it has no effect on such distant subjects anyway. Snow mode and Beach mode automatically set the exposure compensation to +1.0EV, to prevent the bright foregrounds fooling the camera's exposure metering into giving an underexposed image. Party mode fires a double-flash to avoid red-eye, somewhat similar to Night Portrait mode but without the slower shutter speed. Self-portrait mode enables Macro focusing, and fires a double-flash to avoid red-eye. Manner / Museum mode disables camera sounds and the flash, to avoid disturbing other people. Fireworks mode disables the flash, and uses a longer exposure to capture the colorful firework trails. Backlight mode fires a burst of fill flash to help balance the exposure of your subject with a bright background. Flower mode enables the camera's Macro focusing and disables the flash, although this can be re-enabled if necessary (the red-eye reduction mode remains disabled, however). Children mode uses a fast shutter speed and a double-burst of flash to avoid red-eye and capture quickly-moving children without blurring. I suspect that many users never venture into their cameras' "scene" modes, but encourage you do to so if you end up with an LS743: The scene modes make it easy to bring back good-looking photos of what would otherwise be difficult subjects.

The LS743 employs a multi-pattern metering system by default, which bases the exposure on several light readings taken from various points throughout the frame. You can also opt for Center-Weighted or Center Spot modes, as chosen through the Record menu. Center-Weighted metering bases the exposure on a large area in the center of the frame, while Center Spot reads the exposure only from the dead center of the frame. (This is handy for subjects that are either much lighter or much darker than the background. A good example is a shot of a person with their back to the sun. Using Center Spot mode will help set the exposure correctly for their face, rather than the brighter background.) Although you can't adjust the LS743's aperture or shutter speed (apart from Long Shutter mode), you can increase or decrease the overall exposure through the Exposure Compensation setting under the Record menu. Exposure compensation adjusts the image from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in half-step increments. White balance options include an Auto setting, as well as Daylight, Tungsten, and Fluorescent presets. Using Kodak's proprietary Color Science technology, the LS743 manages a pretty accurate color balance under an amazing range of conditions with the Auto setting, although I found a slight reddish cast with several of my test subjects, most notably in my Outdoor Portrait test. It did a particularly good job with the household incandescent lighting of my Indoor Portrait test, that gives most cameras' white balance systems fits. (See my comments in the Test Results section below and on the Sample Images page.)

For creative effects, the LS743 offers special color modes to produce Black and White and Sepia-toned images. The LS743 also offers a light-sensitivity adjustment, with options for 80, 100, 200, 400 and 800 ISO equivalents, but this feature unfortunately can't be combined with the longer exposure times of the Long Shutter mode (which appears to default to ISO 100). At ISO 800 equivalent, the camera is forced to "Good" picture quality mode, at a reduced resolution of 1.1 megapixels (1,200 x 900 pixels). There's also an Auto ISO setting, which adjusts the ISO automatically over a range of 80-160, depending on the light level, although the camera doesn't report on the ISO level it's using. The built-in flash is rated as effective from 2 to 10 feet (0.6 to 3.0 meters) with the lens at its wide-angle position, or 2 to 6 feet (0.6 to 1.8 meters) with the lens at telephoto, and operates in Auto, Fill, or Red-Eye Reduction modes. Self-Timer mode provides a 10-second delay between a full press of the Shutter button and the time that the shutter actually opens, perfect for self-portraits.

In addition to its still photography modes, the LS743 offers Burst and Movie recording modes. Burst mode captures a maximum of six consecutive images at short intervals (0.31 seconds between successive frames, in my testing), while the Shutter button is held down. Actual frame rates will vary somewhat depending on the image resolution. Movie mode captures moving images with sound for as long as the internal memory or SD card has available space. Recording begins and ends with a full press of the Shutter button (you can also just hold it down), and the full length of available recording time appears in the LCD monitor. Movie lengths depend on the amount of memory space available.

One of the more unique features on the LS743 is its "Favorites" mode. In a nutshell, the "Favorites" feature lets you keep a fairly large collection of your favorite photos on the camera itself, as medium-resolution files suitable for emailing or for making prints up to ~4x6 inches. The Favorites images are stored in a discrete memory partition, separate from the rest of the camera's memory, and so can remain in the camera even as memory cards are swapped, or the normal internal image-storage memory is erased. With a resolution of roughly one megapixel, the Favorites files have enough data to make decent prints up to 4x6 inches, the most common album size here in the US. The reason I think this is such a neat feature is that it matches the behavior of a lot of consumers. - I can't tell you how many times I've come across people whose in-camera memory card is full of favorite photos that they don't want to delete. While it's entirely contrary to how digicam designers likely planned in-camera storage to be used, there's no denying the appeal of this usage model. So why not support it directly? Kudos to Kodak for watching how people actually use their cameras, and responding with features that match.

Using the Favorites feature involves tagging photos as favorites via the camera's "Share" menu. Then, when the camera is next plugged into a computer running Kodak's EasyShare software, the newly-tagged photos will be resized to the 1MP resolution and uploaded back into the camera's Favorites memory partition. The EasyShare software lets you choose how much of the camera's internal memory to devote to Favorites storage, from 0 to 100% of it. On the LS743, the 16 MB of internal memory will hold up to about 93 resized favorite photos.

The LS743 is compatible with Kodak's optional EasyShare 6000-series camera and printer docks, and includes a camera insert to adapt the dock to fit the shape of the camera's body. The docks offer hassle-free image downloading, simply by placing the camera into the cradle and pressing the Connect button. (Assuming of course, that you've loaded the Kodak EasyShare Software onto your computer.) They also serve as an AC adapter and in-camera battery charger. Built into the LS743 is 16 megabytes of internal memory, but the camera also supports SD memory cards for additional storage capacity. I highly recommend picking up at least a 32 megabyte card, preferably a 64 megabyte one right away, given the camera's 2,304 x 1,728-pixel maximum resolution, and the resulting large file sizes. For power, the LS743 uses a single, rechargeable, lithium-ion battery pack, provided with the camera. Battery life is decent for a compact digicam model, with a worst-case run time of about 101 minutes, and as long as 10 hours when the LCD is turned off. As always though, I strongly recommend picking up an additional battery when you purchase the camera and keeping it on-hand and freshly charged.

Basic Features

  • 4.0-megapixel CCD delivering image resolutions as high as 2,304 x 1,728 pixels.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.8-inch color LCD monitor.
  • 2.8x, 36-100mm (35mm equivalent) lens.
  • 3.6x Advanced digital zoom.
  • Multi-Zone and Center-Zone autofocus modes.
  • Automatic exposure control.
  • Adjustable white balance with four modes.
  • Sensitivity setting with five ISO equivalents.
  • Maximum aperture of f/3.0.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/1,400 to sixteen seconds.
  • Built-in flash with four modes.
  • 16MB internal memory.
  • Optional SD/MMC card storage (card not included).
  • Power supplied by a single lithium-ion battery pack or AC adapter (both included).
  • Compatible with Kodak EasyShare 6000-series camera and printer docks (optional, camera insert included).
  • Kodak EasyShare Software included for both Windows and Mac platforms.

Special Features

  • Movie mode (with sound).
  • Portrait, Macro, and Scene ( Night Landscape, Night Portrait, Sport, Landscape, Snow, Beach, Party, Self-Portrait, Manner / Museum, Fireworks, Backlight, Flower and Children) photography modes.
  • 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Long Time Exposure mode provides longer exposures for dim shooting conditions (maximum sixteen seconds).
  • Burst capture mode.
  • Black and White and Sepia color modes.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).


Recommendation
Small, compact, and easy to operate, the LS743 is a great option for novice users who want just a taste of exposure control, and more advanced amateurs looking for a good point-and-shoot digicam that's relatively hassle-free. It manages to deliver good color and good image quality under a surprising range of conditions, without the need for manual adjustment. In my testing, its strong anti-noise processing delivered very "clean" looking images, but at the cost of subject detail in areas with subtle contrast. (People's hair, for example.) Still, the LS743's images should make good-looking prints as large as 8x10, even with some cropping. The optional 6000-series camera and printer docks and the included very user-friendly software make it easy to actually use your photos after you've shot them, more than can be said for many cameras on the market. Overall, a capable digicam that's also very easy to use.

 

Design

Compact and small in size, the LS743 measures 4.3 x 1.9 x 1.2 inches (108 x 49 x 30 millimeters), small enough to fit into most coat pockets and purses, but perhaps a close fit for some shirt pockets. The LS743 is light weight as well, at just 6.5 ounces (183 grams) without battery or SD card. A neck strap comes with the camera, but I'd recommend a soft carrying case for safekeeping while traveling.

The telescoping lens is the dominant feature on the LS743's front panel, almost perfectly flush with the front of the camera, letting the camera slide smoothly in and out of pockets. The lens extends outward just under an inch further when the camera is powered on. A shutter-like cover protects the lens, automatically sliding open when the camera is activated and closing again when the camera is turned off. There's thus no need for an easily-lost lens cap. Also on the front panel are the optical viewfinder window, flash, Self Timer / Video light, light sensor, and a tiny microphone. A slight depression between the lens panel and neck strap attachment, in the area of the diamond-cut Kodak logo, provides a subtle finger grip.

The right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) holds the battery / SD memory card compartment, and the eyelet for attaching the wrist strap. A hinged, plastic door protects the battery / memory compartment.

The opposite side of the camera features the connector compartment, covered by a flexible rubber flap. Inside the compartment are the DC In, Video Out, and USB connector terminals.

On the LS743's top panel, located on a ridge spanning most of the width of the camera, are the Power, Shutter, and Flash buttons, and a grille concealing the speaker. The Power button glows blue when the camera is powered on, making it extremely easy to see whether it is on or off. At the very front right hand corner of the camera is the Jog dial, similar to those found on some Sony products. This dial rolls (with a very nice feel) back and forth to scroll through available camera modes. It also functions as a button - pushing firmly down on it selects the currently highlighted camera mode for use. Given how close the Jog dial is to the corner of the camera, the somewhat slippery hand-grip, and the dial's proximity to the previously mention ridge, it can occasionally be a little awkward to use at first, but with a little practice it is quite a nice control method.

The remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, along with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. A two-way Zoom lever in the top right corner controls optical and digital zoom. Located in the center of the Zoom rocker, a four way controller navigates menu items and options. Pressing firmly down on the center of this four way controller serves as an "OK" button, confirming menu selections. Due to its small size, the four-way controller takes a little getting used to, and it can require a sensitive touch to press it in to acknowledge options without accidentally changing the setting. As with the Jog dial, you get used to it relatively quickly, however, and it does give a nice tactile "click" as the controller is moved or depressed.

In Capture or Playback modes, the Up arrow of the four-way controller enables or disables an information overlay on the camera's LCD, providing details include the current camera mode, battery status, camera settings, etc. Pressing the Down arrow in Record mode accesses the exposure compensation function, allowing the exposure compensation value to be selected with the Left and Right arrows. In Scene mode, the Left and Right arrows select from the available scene modes. Pressing down on the center of the controller turns the LCD display off and back on again in Record mode. In Playback mode, pressing the Left or Right arrows scrolls through captured images and movies, while pressing the Down arrow access a thumbnail display of images on the flash card or the camera's internal memory.

To the left of the LCD are the Delete, Menu, Review and Share buttons. Delete does just what it says, bringing up a menu allowing the currently reviewed image, or all images in memory, to be deleted. The Menu button calls up the Record or Playback-mode menus. Review switches the camera to playback mode so you can review previously-captured photos. The Share button lets you mark individual photos for printing, emailing, or simply as a "favorite." To the right of the LCD is the camera's Mode indicator, consisting of six icons (Auto, a camera icon; Portrait, a face icon; Macro, a flower icon; Scene, the letters SCN; Movie, a movie camera icon; and Favorites, an icon of a folder with a heart on it) that glow orange to show the current operating mode, and flash in orange when browsing the available modes.

The LS743's bottom panel holds the metal-threaded tripod mount, and dock connector terminal. Despite the consumer focus of the camera, I really like seeing the rugged and easily repaired metal tripod socket. I also note with pleasure that since they're both accessed from the side of the camera, the battery and flash can be replaced while the camera is mounted on a tripod. One minor troubling note though: The tripod socket on my evaluation sample of the LS743 protruded slightly below the bottom of the camera. This wouldn't be a problem on a tripod with a resilient rubber mounting surface, but could be an issue on tripods with fairly firm mounting plates.

 

Camera Operation

As I've come to expect from Kodak's EasyShare digicam line, the LS743 has a very user-friendly interface with simple-to-navigate menus and controls, and plain-English menu prompts. The largely automatic exposure control limits user decisions, making the LS743 well-suited for most point-and-shoot users, while a few manual options expand the camera's range of application. The LCD menu system is short and logical, and the Mode Jog-dial lets you change camera modes quickly. As with the rest of the Kodak EasyShare digicam line, I doubt it'll take more than a half-hour for even novice users to become familiar with the LS743's setup.

Record Mode LCD Display: In Record mode, the LS743's LCD shows limited status information, including self timer/burst setting, flash mode, picture quality, pictures remaining at the current quality setting, image storage location (internal memory or SD card), exposure metering mode, white balance setting, ISO, camera mode, battery status, current exposure compensation setting, and current "album" used for image storage, if one is selected. When you actuate the zoom toggle, the current lens zoom position is displayed via a thermometer-like icon in the lower left corner. Half-pressing the shutter button doesn't reveal exposure settings, but the set of brackets near the center of the display will flash red to indicate that focus has been locked, and they'll change position in Area focus mode, to indicate the portion of the subject that the camera has focused on. Pressing the up-arrow on the 4-way controller toggles between the screen showing the information overlay, and one that shows just the focus brackets and the icon for camera mode. Pressing the 4-way controller in evenly (its "OK" option) toggles the LCD display itself on and off. The screen shot above right shows the default record-mode LCD display.


Playback Mode LCD Display: In Playback mode (accessed by pressing the "review" button), the LCD reports the image series number, current memory location (internal or SD card), an icon to indicate playback mode, and forward/back arrows at the bottom of the screen, to give you the idea to press the left/right arrows on the 4-way controller to scroll back and forth through the saved images. As in Record mode, pressing the up-arrow button on the 4-way controller toggles the information overlay on and off. You can zoom out to a 9-up "index" view of captured images either by pressing the down-arrow button, or by entering the menu system and selecting the "Multi-Up" option. In multi-up mode, you can scroll a cursor through the stored images quickly, and then return to full-screen viewing of the currently-selected photo by pressing the center of the 4-way controller. You can zoom in on an image up to 4x, via an option on the playback menu. (Considerably less convenient than using the zoom lever, as on the LS743.) The animated image above right shows examples of the playback-mode LCD screens.

 

External Controls


Shutter Button
: Located on the camera's top panel, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed. In Playback mode, pressing this button returns the camera to the selected Record mode, ready to take the next picture.


Flash Button
: Directly to the left of the Shutter button, this button controls the flash operating mode. Options are Auto, Fill, Red-Eye Reduction, and Off (not all options are available in all Record modes). Pressing this button displays the flash mode screen, which shows the current mode. Successive presses of the button cycle through the available flash modes. As part of the flash mode display, a small Info section in the lower left-hand corner of the screen reports any exposure settings that you've manually adjusted, such as exposure compensation, white balance, etc. This is a quick way to review any settings you've made without fishing through the menu system.


Power Button
: To the left of the Flash button, this button powers the camera on or off, and glows blue when the camera is powered on.


Mode Jog-dial
: Directly in front of the shutter button, this jog-dial controls the camera's operating mode, with the following options available (current modes being indicated by illuminated icons to the right of the LCD display, and on the LCD display itself if information overlay is enabled):

  • Automatic: Best for average shooting conditions, this mode places the camera under automatic exposure control, with limited user options available through the Record menu.
  • Portrait: Optimizes the camera for portrait photos, using a wider aperture to blur the background (drawing attention to your subject), and firing the flash at a reduced strength to soften shadows.
  • Macro Mode: Changes the focus range for close-up subjects.

  • Scene Mode: Accesses a range of scene modes (selected using the Left or Right arrow buttons), including the following. (This is one area where the LS743 differs from the LS753, as the 743 lacks the Fireworks, Backlight, Flower, and Children modes of the 753.)
    • Night: Disables the flash in combination with a slower shutter speed to let more ambient light into the image.
    • Night Portrait: Automatically combines a double-flash to avoid red-eye with a slower shutter speed as in Night Landscape mode.
    • Sport: Uses faster shutter speeds to "freeze" action.
    • Landscape: Fixes focus at infinity, for capturing subjects distant from the camera, and disabling the flash since it has no effect on such distant subjects anyway.
    • Snow: Automatically sets the exposure compensation to +1.0EV, to prevent the bright foregrounds fooling the camera's exposure metering into giving an underexposed image.
    • Beach: Automatically sets the exposure compensation to +1.0EV, to prevent the bright foregrounds fooling the camera's exposure metering into giving an underexposed image.
    • Party: Fires a double-flash to avoid red-eye, somewhat similar to Night Portrait mode but without the slower shutter speed.
    • Self-Portrait: Enables Macro focusing, and fires a double-flash to avoid red-eye.
    • Manner / Museum: Disables camera sounds and the flash, to avoid disturbing other people.

  • Movie: Records moving images with sound, for as long as the memory card has available space.
  • Favorites: Accesses the camera's Favorites feature, which functions similarly to the review mode, but allows you to browse downsized versions of images you previously marked as favorites, which have been stored in the camera's internal memory. This unusual and rather clever feature lets you use the camera as a portable photo album, bringing your favorite photos with you to show friends and family, without wasting unnecessary space on your flash memory card. Once in Favorites mode, you can press the Review button to browse all images on your flash card, or the camera's internal memory, without waiting for the lens to extend.

Zoom Lever (see above): In the top right corner of the back panel and surrounding the four-way controller, this lever controls the optical and digital zoom in any record mode. Moving the lever to the right, towards the "T" icon, zooms the lens towards its telephoto position. When the lens reaches full telephoto, the zoom pauses until you release and press the control again. The second press activates the digital zoom. This two-step process prevents you from activating the digital zoom accidentally. When zooming back out, the zoom proceeds from digital to normal zoom with only a brief pause as you move back into normal zoom operation. (No second press is needed when going from digital zoom back into normal zoom mode.)

Four-way Controller (see above): In the center of the Zoom lever, this four-way controller navigates through menu options in any settings menu. Pressing down on the center of the controller acts as the "OK" to confirm selections. In Capture or Playback modes, the Up arrow of the four-way controller enables or disables an information overlay on the camera's LCD, providing details include the current camera mode, battery status, camera settings, etc. Pressing the Down arrow in Record mode accesses the exposure compensation function, allowing the exposure compensation value to be selected with the Left and Right arrows. In Scene mode, the Left and Right arrows select from the available scene modes. Pressing down on the center of the controller turns the LCD display off and back on again in Record mode. In Playback mode, pressing the Left or Right arrows scrolls through captured images and movies, while pressing the Down arrow access a thumbnail display of images on the flash card or the camera's internal memory.


Delete Button
: Adjacent to the top left corner of the LCD monitor, this button pulls up the Delete menu in Review mode. You can delete individual images or all images on the card. There's also an option to cancel.


Menu Button
: Directly below the Delete button, this button displays the settings menu in Playback or Record modes.


Review Button
: Below the Menu button, this button activates Playback mode when pressed in any Record mode. Once in Playback mode, pressing the Review button again or lightly pressing the Shutter button returns the camera to normal record-mode operation.


Share Button
: Directly below the Review button, this button lets you tag images for printing, emailing, or as favorites. (A heart icon appears on "favorite" images.) Pressing this button in Review mode displays the Share menu, with options for DPOF, Email, or Favorite.

 

Camera Modes and Menus


Auto Mode
: Marked with a camera icon on the Mode indicator and the word "Auto," this mode is best for average shooting conditions. Exposure is automatically controlled, but a small selection of user options is available through the Record menu.


Portrait Mode
: A small icon of a female head marks this mode on the Mode indicator. Optimizes the camera for portrait photos, using a wider aperture to blur the background (drawing attention to your subject), and firing the flash at a reduced strength to soften shadows.


Macro Mode
: The traditional flower symbol marks this mode on the Mode indicator. The focus range adjusts for close-up subjects, and only limited exposure options are available.


Scene Mode
: This mode is indicated by the abbreviation "SCN" on the Mode indicator, and accesses a range of scene modes selected using the Left or Right arrow buttons, including:

  • Night: Disables the flash in combination with a slower shutter speed to let more ambient light into the image.
  • Night Portrait: Automatically combines a double-flash to avoid red-eye with a slower shutter speed as in Night Landscape mode.
  • Sport: Uses faster shutter speeds to "freeze" action.
  • Landscape: Fixes focus at infinity, for capturing subjects distant from the camera, and disabling the flash since it has no effect on such distant subjects anyway.
  • Snow: Automatically sets the exposure compensation to +1.0EV, to prevent the bright foregrounds fooling the camera's exposure metering into giving an underexposed image.
  • Beach: Automatically sets the exposure compensation to +1.0EV, to prevent the bright foregrounds fooling the camera's exposure metering into giving an underexposed image.
  • Party: Fires a double-flash to avoid red-eye, somewhat similar to Night Portrait mode but without the slower shutter speed.
  • Self-Portrait: Enables Macro focusing, and fires a double-flash to avoid red-eye.
  • Manner / Museum: Disables camera sounds and the flash, to avoid disturbing other people.


Movie Mode
: The first mode on the Mode indicator, Movie mode is indicated by a movie camera icon. In this mode, you can record movies with sound, for as long as the memory card or internal memory has available space.


Favorites Mode
: Accesses the camera's Favorites feature, which functions similarly to the review mode, but allows you to browse downsized versions of images you previously marked as favorites, which have been stored in the camera's internal memory. This unusual and rather clever feature lets you use the camera as a portable photo album, bringing your favorite photos with you to show friends and family, without wasting unnecessary space on your flash memory card. Once in Favorites mode, you can press the Review button to browse all images on your flash card, or the camera's internal memory, without waiting for the lens to extend.

Playback Mode: Accessed by pressing the Review button, this mode lets you review captured images and movies, as well as manage files.

Record Menu: The following menu items appear whenever the Menu button is pressed in any Record mode. However, not all menu options are available in all modes.

  • Self Timer: Enables or disables the camera's self-timer, which creates a 10-second delay between pressing the shutter button and the photo being taken. (secondary screen)
  • Exposure Compensation: (Not in Scene or Movie modes.) Adjusts the overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in half-step increments. (This is useful for subjects that are bright or dark overall, which can fool the exposure meter.) This setting is remembered until the camera is powered off, the mode is changed, or Long Time Exposure is set. (secondary screen)
  • Burst: (Not in Scene or Movie modes.) Enables or disables the burst mode, which captures up to four images at a speed of 2.4 frames per second while the shutter button is held down. Flash, Self-Timer and Long Time Exposure are disabled when Burst mode is set. (secondary screen)
  • Picture Quality: (Only in still-image modes.) Sets the image resolution to Best (2,304 x 1,728 pixels), Best (3:2) (2,304 x 1,536 pixels), Better (1,656 x 1,242 pixels), or Good (1,200 x 900 pixels). (secondary screen)
  • Video Quality: (Only in movie mode.) Sets the video resolution to Best (640 x 480 pixels) or Good (320 x 240 pixels)
  • White Balance: (Not in Scene or Movie modes.) Sets the white balance to Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, or Fluorescent modes. (secondary screen)
  • ISO Speed: (Not in Scene or Movie modes.) Sets the camera's sensitivity to Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, or 800 equivalents. Setting the ISO to 800 automatically limits the resolution to Good (1,492 x 1,112 pixels). (secondary screens)
  • Color Mode: (Still capture modes only.) Options are Color, Black and White, and Sepia. (secondary screen)
  • Exposure Metering: (Not in Scene or Movie modes.) Default setting is Multi-Patterned, but Center-Weighted and Center Spot options are available. (secondary screen)
  • Focus Zone: (Not in Scene or Movie modes.) Switches the AF area to Multi-Zone (default) or Center-Zone. (secondary screen)
  • Long Time Exposure: (Still capture modes only.) Accesses longer exposure times, for darker shooting conditions. Shutter speeds choices are 1, 2, 4, 8 or 16 seconds, and are set manually. (Don't worry if you don't know what exposure time to use - Just shoot a test picture and see how it looks, adjust as needed, and discard any photos that don't turn out. - Isn't digital great?) (secondary screens)
  • Image Storage: Dictates where images are stored, either in the 32MB internal memory or SD card. Auto tells the camera to store images on the SD memory card if one is inserted and has space available, while "Internal" restricts storage to the internal memory only. (secondary screen)
  • Set Album: Allows you to select one of up to 32 album names which you have pre-created through the EasyShare software on your computer. Subsequent pictures and videos are tagged with the selected album name, and sorted into the correct albums automatically when transferred to the EasyShare software. Still images and movies can be stored in separate folders. (secondary screen)
  • Video Length: (Movie mode only.) Allows you to set the maximum length for single video clips to Continuous (the default), which will record video until the camera runs out of space on the flash card or internal memory. Other options are to limit video clips to a maximum of 5, 15 or 30 seconds.



  • Setup Menu: Accesses the following main camera settings:
    • Return: Returns to the previous menu display.
    • Liveview: Enables or disables the LCD's "live" view, meaning that it turns on or off the LCD viewfinder. The same thing can be accomplished by pressing the center of the four-way controller. (secondary screen)
    • Sound Themes: Allows you to select from several themes for the camera's sounds. Options are Shutter Only, Standard (the default), Music, Sci-Fi, Fun, Automobile, and Animals. (secondary screens)
    • Sound Volume: Sets the volume of camera sounds. Options are Off, Low (the default), Medium, and High. (secondary screen)
    • Date & Time Set: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar. (secondary screen)
    • Video Out: Specifies PAL or NTSC timing for the Video Out signal. (PAL is used in Europe and China, NTSC is used in the US and Japan.) (secondary screen)
    • Orientation Sensor: Controls the camera's orientation sensor, which detects when the camera is being held in portrait orientation, and tags portrait images so they are displayed in the correct orientation on the LCD monitor, or using compatible software. (secondary screen)
    • Date Stamp: Imprints the date on images. Options are Off (the default), "YYYY MM DD", "MM DD YYYY", or "DD MM YYYY", where DD is the two-digit day, MM is the two-digit month, and YYYY is the four-digit year. (secondary screen)
    • Video Date Display: Enables or disables showing the date and time on the LCD display when browsing videos (as opposed to during the actual playback of the video). Options are Off (the default), "YYYY MM DD", "MM DD YYYY", "DD MM YYYY", "YYYY MM DD HH:MM ", "MM DD YYYY HH:MM", or "DD MM YYYY HH:MM", where HH:MM is the time of day (two-digit hour: two-digit minute), DD is the two-digit day, MM is the two-digit month, YYYY is the four-digit year. (secondary screens)
    • Language: Sets the menu language to English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean or Japanese. (secondary screens)
    • Format: Formats the SD memory card or internal memory. Provides an option to cancel, instead of selecting either option. (secondary screen)
    • About: Displays the camera's firmware information. (secondary screen)

Playback Menu:

  • Magnify: Magnifies the playback image either 2x or 4x.
  • Album: Allows you to select one of up to 32 album names which you have pre-created and downloaded to the camera through the EasyShare software on your computer. Subsequent pictures and videos are tagged with the selected album name, and sorted into the correct albums automatically when transferred to the EasyShare software.
  • Protect: Write-protects the displayed image, preventing it from being accidentally erased or manipulated (except via memory reformatting). Alternately, removes protection from previously-protected images.
  • Image Storage: Selects between the internal memory or the SD card for image storage. "Auto" stores files on the SD card if one is available, while "Internal" forces the camera to use the internal memory only. (secondary screen)
  • Slide Show: Enables a slide show of captured images, with user-adjustable intervals between images, and the ability to loop the slideshow when completed. (secondary screen)
  • Copy: Copies files from the internal memory to the SD card, or the reverse. (secondary screen)
  • Multi-Up: Displays the nine-image index display. (secondary screen)
  • Picture / Video Info: Displays the filename, directory, date, time, and quality information for the current image. (secondary screen)
  • Setup Menu: Displays the same settings as under the Record menu.


"Share" Menu: The "Share" menu is where you'll find options for printing, emailing, or tagging images as "favorites."

  • Cancel Prints: Sets the print quantities of any previously-tagged photos to zero, cancelling all printing.
  • Print All: Marks all photos in memory for subsequent printing on a DPOF-compatible printer or one of Kodak's Printer Docks, lets you select a quantity from 1 to 99.
  • Print: Marks just the current photo for subsequent printing, and lets you set the quantity anywhere from 1 to 99.
  • E-Mail: Lets you mark a photo for emailing when the camera is next connected to a computer running Kodak's EasyShare software. To use this feature, you first have to set up an address book in the EasyShare software, and download it to the camera. Address books can contain up to 32 email addresses.
  • Favorite: Tags the current image as a "favorite." The next time the camera is connected to a computer running the EasyShare software, "favorite" photos will be downloaded, resized to roughly a 1 megapixel resolution (fine for making prints as large as 4x6), and then uploaded back to the Favorites region of the camera's internal memory.


In the Box

The EasyShare LS743 ships with the following items in the box:

  • Kodak EasyShare LS743 digital camera.
  • Custom insert for Kodak EasyShare 6000-series camera or printer dock.
  • Kodak EasyShare KLIC-5000 lithium-ion battery pack.
  • Battery charger with adapter plug for the market in which the camera is sold.
  • USB cable.
  • Video cable.
  • Neck strap.
  • Software CD-ROM.
  • Instruction manual and registration card.


Recommended Accessories

The Kodak LS743 will function fine right out of the box, but the following would likely contribute to your enjoyment of it.

Specifications

See the specifications sheet here.

 

Picky Details

Information on shooting speed, battery life, etc. can be found here.

 

Test Images and Photo Gallery

See our test images and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of our test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo. For a set of more pictorial sample photos from the LS743, visit our Kodak LS743 photo gallery.

Outdoor
Indoor
Indoor Flash

House
Musicians
Macro

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy


Test Results

In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the LS743 Zoom's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how LS743 Zoom's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the LS743 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

  • Color: Good to very good color, under a wide variety of conditions. Throughout my testing, the LS743 Zoom produced good color, though usually with either a slight reddish or yellow color cast. (I found the 5-megapixel LS753's color somewhat more accurate, so would recommend that model over the LS743, if you can afford the price difference.) Notably though, it handled the always-difficult blue flowers of the Outdoor and Indoor Portrait tests well. Skin tones tended to be a bit on the pink side, a tendency that was aggravated in the Outdoor Portrait test by the distinct pinkish hue the camera left in those images. The LS743 did a very good job with the tough lighting of the Indoor Portrait test though, with both Automatic and Incandescent white balance options producing good results. Apart from its tendency toward a warm color balance though, the LS743's color was accurate and well-saturated. (Perhaps a bit oversaturated on the brightly colored swatches of the MacBeth target in the DaveBox shot though.)

  • Exposure: Acceptable exposure accuracy, but +/- 0.5 EV adjustment steps are too large. The LS743 Zoom's exposure compensation setting only adjusts the exposure in half-step increments, which is too large of a step in many cases. (I don't know why manufacturers assume that novice users can't handle an 0.3 EV exposure step size. Kodak uses the smaller step size in their more advanced models, but hobbles their point & shoot models with the too-large 0.5 EV steps.) In both of the outdoor portraits, this large step size resulted in either a too-bright or too-dark exposure. However, the camera exposed most of my studio targets well. On the outdoor house shot, the camera overexposed slightly, reducing the dynamic range somewhat, but the limited shadow detail in the properly-exposed Davebox studio test was further evidence of low dynamic range. The flash required higher than average exposure compensation on the Indoor Portrait shot, but the camera required considerably less compensation than average on the non-flash versions of that test.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: High resolution, 1,100+ lines of "strong detail." The LS743 Zoom performed well on the laboratory resolution test chart. Test patterns were clean at resolutions as high as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines, slightly higher in the horizontal direction. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until 1,350 - 1,400 lines.

  • Closeups: A very small macro area, with great detail. Flash has trouble up close though. The LS743 Zoom performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 1.76 x 1.32 inches (45 x 33 millimeters). Resolution was high (though again with a lot of artifacts), with good detail in the dollar bill, though the coins and brooch were soft due to the very short shooting distance. (An optical fact of life, not the camera's fault.) As is the case with most cameras' ultra-macro modes, the corners of the frame were soft, but only about as much as is commonly the case. The camera's flash almost throttled down for the macro shot, but is located too far to the upper right for an even exposure.

  • Night Shots: Good low-light performance, with pretty good color and low image noise. Thanks to its "Long Time" exposure mode, the LS743 Zoom produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level, with pretty good color. The exposure was just slightly dim at the 1/8 foot-candle light level, but still usable. The test target was visible at the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) light level, but the image was too dark for use. Noise was surprisingly low, although as we saw at brighter light levels, subtle detail suffers at the hands of the anti-noise algorithms. While the LS743 doesn't report the ISO level it automatically sets in Long Time exposure mode, the exposure levels in my low-light tests suggest that it used an ISO equivalent of 100. The LS743's autofocus system also worked pretty well under dim lighting, able to focus to light levels just slightly darker than 1/4 foot-candle. Given that city street lighting at night generally produces a light level of roughly one foot-candle, the LS743 should do fine for typical night photography in "civilized" areas.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: A tight optical viewfinder, but nearly perfect LCD monitor. The LS743 Zoom's optical viewfinder was quite tight, showing only about 82 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 81 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor proved to be much more accurate, showing 99+ percent frame accuracy. (Actually, the lower measurement lines were just cut off in the wide angle shot.) Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the LS743 Zoom's LCD monitor performed well here, but I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder. (Particularly in light of how much the LS743's battery life is extended with the LCD turned off.)

  • Optical Distortion: High barrel distortion, but no pincushion. Very low chromatic aberration. Optical distortion on the LS743 Zoom was high at the wide-angle end, where I found approximately 1.00 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I couldn't find any geometric distortion at all. There appeared to be a little "coma" in the corners of the image, producing a little blurring of target elements there, but chromatic aberration was quite low, showing only very faint coloration on either side of the 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.)

  • Shutter Lag and Cycle Time: Fairly fast shutter response, good cycle times, but limited buffer capacity. With a shutter delay that ranged from 0.55 - 0.87 second, the LS743 is definitely on the fast side of average, among competing digicams. Its prefocus lag time of 0.099 second is better yet. At 2.0 seconds between shots in its highest-quality capture mode, its cycle time is reasonably good too, and it can snap as many as seven shots that quickly, before slowing to write to the memory card. In continuous mode, it can grab six frames at intervals of only 0.31 second, very fast indeed.

  • Battery Life: Reasonably good battery life for a compact digicam, excellent with the LCD turned off. With a worst-case run time of 101 minutes, the LS743's battery life is a little on the short side, but actually good for a camera that's as compact as it is. The real bonus though, is the more than 10 hours of battery life you can get with the LCD turned off. (This would be even better news if the optical viewfinder were more accurate, making the LCD less of a necessity.)


Conclusion

Free Photo Lessons

Check out the Free Photo School program for lessons and tips on improving your photographs!
Simple pro lighting and use tips let you snap stunning photos. Check out our free Photo School area!

Kodak's EasyShare cameras have consistently set the standard for ease of use, bright, vibrant color, and an automatic white balance system able to adapt to an amazing range of illumination. The LS743 carries that tradition forward, with 4-megapixel resolution and a good range of manual adjustments, extending the range of shooting conditions the camera can handle. In my testing though, while it does sport a true 4-megapixel sensor, I found that the LS743's aggressive anti-noise processing results in the loss of fine detail in low-contrast subject areas. I'd also like to see Kodak offer 1/3-EV exposure compensation steps on their point & shoot camera models, as the 1/2-EV steps on the LS743 can make it hard to get the exposure just right on difficult subjects. On a more positive note, I really like Kodak's implementation of the "Favorites" function, a great way to keep your favorite photos with you all the time.

While the LS743 is very similar to the 5-megapixel LS753 model, after reviewing both models, I feel that the LS753 really offers better value for the money. While the LS743 is $50 cheaper than the 753 at retail, the 753 has a few more scene modes, twice the internal memory, and seems to have a more accurate white balance system than the LS743 as well. The LS753 shares the 743's tendency to lose subtle subject detail to its anti-noise processing, but the higher resolution of its sensor will help win a little of that back. Bottom line, if you can afford the extra $50 (probably less than that, when comparing the cameras' "street" prices), I'd recommend the LS753 as a better deal.

 

Related Links

More Information on this camera from Megapixel.net:
Kodak EasyShare LS743, Kodak Digital Cameras, Digital Cameras


 

Reader Comments!
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Kodak EasyShare LS743, or add comments of your own!


Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate