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Kodak DC3800

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 10/1/2000

Executive Overview
Measuring just 3.7 x 1.3 x 2.4 inches (94 x 33 x 61mm) and weighing a trifling 5.8 ounces (165 g), the Kodak DC3800 is a compact, lightweight, and simple-to-operate digital camera. Its sleek contours make it very pocket friendly, and the padded carrying pouch and wrist strap provide added portability. It's clear that Kodak was aiming for an easy-to-use digicam, as the DC3800 offers a limited range of controls and works only in automatic exposure mode. The DC3800's simple user interface doesn't require much effort to learn, and its overall design makes it relatively easy to operate one-handed. The battery compartment and memory card slot are in close proximity, each covered by an easy-to-open clam shell cover.

For image composition, the DC3800 provides a rangefinder-style optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch color LCD monitor. The LCD is automatically activated in playback and set-up modes; it can be turned on or off in capture mode by depressing a small, round button to the right of the screen. When activated, the monitor provides basic function information, including quality setting, number of images remaining, battery status, flash mode, and whether or not digital telephoto is enabled.

The fixed 6.9mm f/2.8 lens (equivalent to 33mm focal length on a 35mm camera) has a normal focus range of 1.64 feet (0.5 meters) to infinity. The Macro mode, one of four options on the camera's mode dial, provides a focus range of 0.66 to 1.64 feet (0.2 to 0.5 meter). The 2X digital telephoto option can be accessed in either Normal or Macro capture modes, but reduces image quality by increasing noise levels and cutting resolution in half. The digital telephoto setting automatically changes the image quality to Good, which is the lowest resolution available (896 x 600 pixels).

Exposure is completely automatic, except for a choice of flash settings. The DC3800's built-in flash unit features four operating modes: Auto, Red-Eye, Fill, and Off. These must be selected in one of the two capture modes, with the LCD monitor on, by depressing the round flash button directly above the LCD. The DC3800's film speed equivalency is ISO 100, which means that the camera is best suited for use in bright lighting conditions. Using the Redeye or Fill flash modes will help open up shadows and increase illumination levels when the ambient light in the scene is uneven.

The user can choose one of three image quality settings in the Setup menu: Best or Better settings provide 1,792 x 1,184-pixel resolution, and the Good image setting equals 896 x 600 pixels. Three vertical bars in the upper left corner of the LCD identify the quality setting when the camera is in capture mode (1 = Good, 2 = Better, 3 = Best).

Other options available through the Setup menu are: Burst mode, which allows you to take up to four consecutive images at approximately two frames per second; Quickview mode, which gives you a brief view of each image when it is exposed; Date/Time Stamp, which embeds date and time information in each image files; Beep signal, which, when activated, gives an audible signal with most functions; and Language, which allows you to view camera information in one of six languages.

Images are saved on a CompactFlash memory card. The provided 8MB card holds approximately 15 images in Best mode, 30 images in Better mode, and 54 images in Good mode. The DC3800 also comes with a USB CompactFlash card reader, which allows you to download images directly from the flash card, rather than having to tether the camera to the computer for image transfer.

Kodak USB Picture Card Software is supplied on CD for installing the card reader on either Macintosh or Windows computers. A copy of ArcSoft PhotoImpression 2000 provides minor image editing and enhancement tools, as well as access to specialty templates (for making greeting cards, calendars, etc.) and special effects filters.

An NTSC video cable accompanies US and Japanese models of the DC3800, allowing you to review captured images on a television set or record them to video tape via a VCR. (We assume that European models are equipped for PAL timing.) Two AA alkaline or Ni-MH rechargeable batteries power the DC3800, and an AC adapter and battery charger are available as accessories. We highly recommend purchasing the adapter, since the camera's LCD monitor quickly drains two AA batteries.

The DC3800 is clearly meant for consumers who don't want to be bothered with a lot of camera settings and exposure controls. Its basic functions are best suited for outdoors or well-illuminated interior settings. The compact body can be easily stashed in a pocket or purse, providing quick access to great family snapshots.

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