Kodak Easyshare DX6490 Review
Date: Feb 20, 2004
Jan 22, 2004 - Here's what I receive in the box:
memory card; (16MB internal memory)
Cables: USB and Video
Camera Dock 6000 with power adapter
Instruction Manual: User's Guide
Software CD: Easyshare Software 3.1, User's
Guide on CD
Kodak Easyshare DX6490 is well designed
and well built. It looks quite handsome in its
two tone black and silver body, and handles superbly.
[Editor's note: Instead of going through every
single control on the DX6490, I'd rather refer
you to the Kodak
Easyshare DX6490 User's Guide available online
on the Kodak web site. Here, I'll bring out those
features that I find worth noting on the DX6490.]
inclusion of the Camera Dock 6000 in Canadian
and U.S. models adds to the ease of use of the
DX6490 and its operations. The Camera Dock 6000
allows the DX6490 to be recharged by simply placing
the camera on the dock; transferring images from
camera to PC is then simply a matter of pressing
a button on the Camera Dock 6000. This way, there
is absolutely no need to ever remove the battery
or the SecureDigital (SD) memory card from the
camera, which is how I like it!
life is very good, and with the Camera Dock 6000,
it is easy to keep the battery power top up at
all times. The DX6490 comes with a neck strap,
but as I mentioned in a previous review, I wish
they would provide a hand strap like those popular
in video cameras.
to Kodak for labelling the DX6490 clearly as a
10x optical zoom digital camera -- and not confuse
consumers with the total zoom (optical
zoom x digital zoom) as some like to do.
Easyshare software is easy to install but I find
it's easy to use only if you accept the default
settings. More on that later.
received only the English documentation; so, if
you prefer the French version, be sure to specify
this on your order.
The User's Guide is well illustrated but
the font used goes from small to tiny. Fortunately
an electronic version is available on the CD to
install on your PC and you can view this at enlarged
Shooting Mode, I mostly leave it at Programmed
Auto because it gives me more control over using
Auto mode. In Auto mode, the camera will automatically
choose the ISO, exposure metering, and focus zone.
take the time to set the Kodak Easyshare DX6490
to the way I would like to use it (Menu choices
are dependent on the exposure mode you choose.
Here, I select Programmed Auto (PASM) on the Mode
Dial before pressing the Menu button):
Storage = AUTO
Quality = BEST *** [if you mostly intend to
print 4x6 in. (i.e. 3:2 aspect ratio) prints,
you may want to select BEST (3:2) *** instead
and avoid having to crop your images to fit
the print paper]
Balance = AUTO (also available: Daylight, Tungsten,
Speed = 80 (also available: Auto, 100, 200,
Mode = Neutral Color (also available: Saturated
Color, B&W, Sepia)
Metering = CENTER-SPOT (also available: Multi-Pattern,
Zone = CENTER-ZONE (also available: Multi-Zone)
= STANDARD (also available: Sharp, Soft)
Sensor = OFF
Digital Zoom = NONE (also available: Continuous,
Sound = ON [One of the most beautiful shutter
sound on a consumer digital camera!]
Description = OFF
over Pittsburg through window of USAirways 5316
38mm, Manual, Spot, 1/1.4 sec., F2.8 and ISO 100
Adjusted in Photoshop Elements
Kodak Easyshare DX6490 boasts a number
of features that set it apart from its competitors.
I like the placement of its control buttons, the
large 2.2. in. LCD, the clear very usable EVF,
the Jog Dial that allows me to concentrate on
the picture while changing exposure settings,
and the handy Camera Dock 6000 (for Canadian and
U.S. models). The Camera Dock 6000 serves not
only as a very handy recharger (just place the
camera on it), but also makes transfer to your
PC a simple matter of pressing a button on the
Another helpful feature you might not notice with
first use is that the LCD/EVF is usable
in low-light! Instead of displaying an unusable
dark colour image, the LCD/EVF switches to displaying
a clearer (though somewhat grainy) B&W image.
I bring the DX6490 to an indoor concert fully
expecting the pictures to be way underexposed
and useless. Here's my chance to test out the
higher ISOs of 400 and 800, I reason. Imagine
my pleasant surprise to find the images clear
(though pixelated as one would expect at higher
ISOs -- see the Image
Quality page). I also tried out the Movie
mode (320 x 240 pixels) and was able to record
at full telephoto (you must set the optical zoom
before starting to record) with clear images
and sound. The video length is limited only by
the size of the SD memory card you are using.
Mode Dial at the back of the camera has
an elevated notch at just the right place to be
easily rotated using the thumb of the right hand.
The different selections are also illuminated,
making it easy to see your selection. These small
design items are what give users a sense that
the DX6490 is a well-designed camera. What would
have been perfect is, of course, to have the On/Off
switch moved from the Mode Dial to a separate
button so you don't lose your preferred exposure
mode everytime you turn off the camera. Though
you'd have to bump the Mode Dial really hard to
inadvertently change settings, I've got to admit
that it did happened to me exactly once when I
inadvertently turned on the camera as I was slipping
it into a soft case (and that is why a seperate
on/off recessed button is much preferable). That
is part of getting to know your camera; afterwards,
I was careful and it never happened again.
is quite fast, and there is negligible shutter
lag in well-lighted situations, and a very
slight lag in low-light situations. Start time
is about 3 sec. In low-light situations, the Auto
Focus may hunt for about 1-4 sec. but manages
to lock focus almost everytime. The zoom toggle
feels quite soft but not unpleasantly so. You
move it to the left (wide-angle) or right (telephoto)
and hold it there to engage the zoom mechanism
(there is a very slight delay). You release the
zoom toggle when you have reached the desired
focal length; or, you can toggle it to the right
or left in short presses and wait for the zoom
to engage to that focal length. It takes about
3 sec. to zoom from wide-angle to full telephoto.
LCD is large at 2.2 in. and very clear
at 153K pixels resolution. You do not have to
squint to read the info displayed on the LCD.
I find that I like the EVF on the DX6490
and almost exclusively use it for taking the image
samples. There is diopter correction for those
who, like me, wear glasses, but unfortunately
I could not find much difference in image clarity
when I rotated the diopter wheel either way. The
EVF turns itself off after 15 sec. of inactivity.
It also has a couple of sensors that turn it on
automatically after it has turned off when you
bring your eye to the viewfinder within 1 minute
of it having turned off; after 1 minute, press
any button to turn it back on.
Jog Dial at the front of the hand grip
takes some getting used to. You use it with a
combination of rotatling it and pressing it. Note
that this is mostly used in PASM mode. When you
select PASM on the Mode Dial, the exposure mode
defaults to Programmed Auto (P).
The following settings are displayed on the LCD/EVF:
exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, and exposure
compensation. Rotating the Jog Dial switches between
one of the above settings. A down arrow indicates
the setting you've targeted; pressing the Jog
Dial selects the setting and enables you to change
its values by rotating the Jog Dial.
For example, if the down arrow is pointing at
the exposure mode setting, pressing it will allow
you to then rotate the Jog Dial to select from
Programmed Auto (P), Aperture-Priority (A), Shutter-Priority
(S), and full Manual (M). Press the Jog Dial again
to accept the selected exposure mode. The exposure
mode will remain set even when you turn off the
camera and turn it back on.
the exposure mode set, you can then rotate the
Jog Dial to, say, the exposure compensation setting.
Press the Jog Dial and rotate it to dial in a
positive or negative exposure compensation. Press
the Jog Dial to accept the selected exposure compensation.
It's not as complicated as it reads, and becomes
quite intuitive with some practice. What I like
about it is I don't have to take my eye off the
viewfinder as I look for a button to press or
control dial to turn. The Jog Dial is right there
at fingertip control.
Kodak Easyshare software installation is straightforward
if you accept all the default settings (which
many of you probably will). Here are a few things
to keep in mind (especially if you want to customize
some of the settings):
drive location defaults to C:\Program Files\Kodak
and you cannot simply type in a new drive location
(e.g. replacing drive C with D). Instead you
need to manually create the folder you want
in Windows Explorer and then navigate to that
folder in Easyshare.
though you install the software to drive D,
the Transfer window will still default to drive
C. To change the default to drive D, click on
Preferences..., then Browse to change drive.
There is no option to create a new folder, so
you will need to once again switch to Windows
Explorer to create your folder and switch back
default JPEG compression is not defaulted to
the Highest Quality!?!? So, if you've been wondering
why your 4 megapixel image is being transferred
to your PC at less than full resolution, now
you know! To change this setting, navigate to:
Tools - Preferences - General - and slide all
the way to the right "Large file / High
that Easyshare, like many other "Album"
software, organizes pictures into "Collections."
A collection is just a logical pointer to pictures
saved on your hard drive. The major advantage
of collections is that your pictures can be
anywhere on your hard drive and can be added
and organized into more than one collection.
One major drawback with collections is that
if you ever physically move the pictures in
a collection to another folder(s), then your
collection suddenly points to pictures that
are not there anymore! Personally, I prefer
to physically organize my pictures into folders
and it would be great if Easyshare could provide
a feature to simply display what's in a folder
without creating a "Collection" of
the contents of the folder
view the EXIF info, right-click and select Properties.
Missing from the EXIF info is the type of metering
used and any exposure compensation used. (The
exposure compensation info is available while
the image is stilll on the memory card and the
Info (i) button is pressed.)
on a picture selects it. When you click on another
picture, it adds it to your selection. Some
people prefer it that way. I prefer to use the
"standard" CTL-Click to add to the
selection, and click to mean "deselect
previous selection and select current picture."
you decide to uninstall the software, it does
a reboot of your system without asking you --
so save any work in progress before uninstalling.
Easyshare software allows you to easily perform
common editing functions such as removing red
eyes, adjusting brightness and contrast, rotate,
even give it a +/- exposure compensation after
the fact, plus some fun effects such as converting
your picture into a cartoon or pretend you used
a fish-eye lens to take the picture. Lots of fun.
It also allows you to view a slide show, burn
your selected pictures on a CD, email to friends
and family members, and order prints online. In
other words, the DX6490 and the Easyshare software
(and a 256MB SD memory Card) may be everything
you need to successfully switch to digital.
full Auto mode, the Kodak DX6490 also has
Programmed Auto, Shutter-Priority,
Aperture-Priority, full Manual,
plus a number of easy to use Scene modes.
There is no Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB), so
you'll have to manually dial in your exposure
bracketing. Fortunately the Jog Dial makes it
easy to do so. A Burst mode allows you
to capture up to 6 pictures in quick succession
(at approx. 3 frames/sec.).
dedicated Macro button makes it easy to
switch back and forth into that mode. You can
get as close as 12cm (4.7 in.). There's also a
dedicated Delete button that allows you
to delete the picture displayed or all pictures
on your memory card. There is no Manual Focus.
White Balance can be manually set via the
Menu, though there is no custom White Balance.
And, remember, the flash won't fire unless you
first manually pop it up and press the Flash button
to select either Auto Flash or Flash ON.
you are just starting out in digital photography
today, are looking for an easy to use digital
camera that takes great pictures, and fancy a
long zoom lens, then you should definitely include
the Kodak Easyshare DX6490 on your shortlist.
It's an impressive package at a good price.