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Kodak DC5000

Familiar 2 megapixel electronics in a super-rugged case make a *true* take-anywhere camera!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 09/10/2000

Executive Overview
Kodak's new DC5000 Zoom is like a sport utility version of their previous DC280. (Because of their close similarity, we'll focus mainly on the external features of the camera in this review. For information on camera operation and exposure features, refer to the DC280 review.) Internally, the two cameras are identical, sharing the same exposure features, menus and user interface. It's the new rugged exterior that makes all the difference. The shape and style of the DC5000 remain very similar to the DC280, but the addition of a slightly textured, thick rubber covering on the majority of the camera provides excellent protection against shocks and falls, and O-ring seals on its control shafts and access hatches makes it virtually weatherproof. While you can't submerse the DC5000 in water, you can expose it to rain and snow and really dusty environments like construction sites or the gritty sand of the beach without ill effect. And, according to Kodak, the camera can withstand a three foot fall onto concrete without any major damage, thanks to the rubber padding. (We must confess though, that we weren't brave enough to test this feature.) We can think of dozens of situations where this camera would be particularly handy, from ski slopes to rafting trips, to industrial/commercial applications. Its two megapixel resolution is plenty to print full-page images with good detail too, so there's no compromise in the photos you'll bring back.

All this extra protection costs little in terms of added weight and size, as the DC5000 measures 5.5 x 3.5 x 3.25 inches (140 x 89 x 83 mm) and weighs a solid 16 ounces (459g). Another bonus from the rubber covering is that you get a very firm, secure grip on the camera. (It does come with a neck strap, added peace of mind though). To make the camera weatherproof, all the doors and buttons feature rubber seals or "O-rings," that keep any moisture or dust from getting into the camera's interior. Additionally, the compartment doors feature small, turning locks that completely seal the opening once locked shut. There's also a non-removable protective filter over the lens which provides 37mm filter threads for attaching lens accessories in addition to blocking scratches. The rigid aluminum barrel supporting the protective filter guards the delicate lens mechanism itself from damage due to bumps or bangs while it is extended, and provides a sealed environment to keep out moisture and dirt. Finally, the oversized controls and rubberized buttons accommodate sea-soaked fingers as well as gloved hands.

As we mentioned, the DC5000 has all the same features and exposure controls as the DC280, but we'll just briefly cover them here those readers who may be unfamiliar with the earlier model. The camera is equipped with a 2x, 6.5 to 13mm lens (30-60 mm equivalent focal lengths) with a maximum aperture of f/3.0. Focus ranges from 1.6 feet (0.5m) to infinity in normal mode and from 0.82 to 1.6 feet (0.25 to 0.5 m) in Macro mode. There's also an Infinity Focus mode that sets focus at infinity for far away subjects like landscapes. The 3x digital telephoto extends the camera's zooming capabilities somewhat, but remember that digital telephoto decreases image quality (visually noticeable as excess noise and lower resolution), because it simply enlarges the center of the image. A real-image optical viewfinder features central autofocus and exposure targets, and a rear panel, color LCD monitor allows you to compose images, play them back and navigate menus.

Exposure is automatically controlled on the DC5000, but you do have a few options to play with. The built-in flash operates in Automatic, Off, Fill and Red-Eye Reduction modes, all selected via the flash button. Exposure compensation (EV) can be adjusted from -2.0 to +2.0 through the capture menu. White balance can be set to Automatic, Daylight, Fluorescent or Tungsten, to match existing light sources. For metering, you can choose between Multi-Pattern, which averages the light values of the entire image, or Center-Weighted, which simply meters from the very center of the subject (good for high contrast or backlit subjects). The ISO menu selection optionally enables the Auto ISO Sensitivity function, which automatically increases the shutter speed when the flash is turned off (intended for low-lit indoor shooting scenarios). You can adjust the image sharpness and there's a fun selection of image borders and effects to dress up your images. There's even a Document mode that increases the contrast and image brightness so that captured text stands out. Finally, a 10 second self-timer gives you an opportunity to jump into the picture before the shutter is fired.

Images can be saved at 1760 x 1168 or 896 x 592 file sizes, with three quality levels available. Files are saved as JPEGs to CompactFlash Type I cards (a 10MB card comes with the camera). The DC5000 has NTSC and PAL video output capabilities for reviewing images on a TV set, and comes with the appropriate cable. For downloading images to your computer, a combination serial/USB port provides faster download times than the earlier serial-only interfaces. Accompanying the camera are two software CDs containing Kodak's own digital camera software and ArcSoft's Photo Impression 2000, letting you download and organize images as well as make minor corrections and apply creative picture effects. For power, the DC5000 runs on four alkaline, Ni-Cd or Ni-MH batteries (four alkaline batteries are supplied with the camera), and an AC adapter is available as an accessory. (As always, we strongly recommend the purchase of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a charger with any digital camera: Alkaline cells really aren't adequate to the power demands of digicams.)

We were already impressed with the versatility and good image quality of the DC280 (Kodak's first two megapixel camera), which succeeded in delivering great resolution and color while maintaining a very user friendly interface. On the DC5000, we found the same quality and ease of use with the exciting bonus of an attractive, weatherproof exterior. Portable to the ends of the Earth, the DC5000 is a fun camera to use that should withstand the toughest of job-site applications, vacations, and maybe even kids.

The body, at 5.2 x 2.0 x 3.0 inches (133 x 51 x 76 mm), consists of metallized plastic and has a nice "grip" area to the right of the camera. The power switch is easily activated with your thumb while holding the camera in your right hand. The shutter button is readily accessible without stretching your finger, which makes for easy one-hand capturing of images. The camera mode dial on the rear of the camera is easily rotated with the thumb of your right hand, reinforcing the one-hand capture paradigm. The picture card compartment is also easy to access on the left-hand side of the camera, and it's equally as easy to load or eject the 8 MB picture card, even when the camera is mounted on a tripod.

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