Many imaging and photographic companies are only just getting round to releasing their first generation digital products, but Kodak has been there since day one. Its current line-up consists of no fewer than five digital cameras, priced from as little as #149 ? and that doesn?t even include its high-end professional collaborations with Nikon and Canon.
The DC210 is the latest in a long line of digital cameras from the US photographic giant. It comes in at the top of the company?s main range at #849, pushing the DC120 into second place at #599.
Both models have one important feature in common ? a high resolution of 1,160x864 pixels, compared with the 640x480 pixels of cheaper digital cameras. Such high resolution provides sufficient detail to reproduce at about 4x3in in a top-quality publishing environment, such as a magazine, or to fill an A4 page on an average colour inkjet printer.
Electronic publishing ? whether part of a CD-ROM, an on-screen presentation or on the Web ? has always been the staple application of digital cameras. As most on-screen images measure less than 320x240 pixels, the DC210?s high resolution provides plenty of room to crop and trim as required. A 640x480 pixels mode is also offered, allowing more images to be squeezed into the built-in memory.
The DC210 uses removable flash memory cards and is supplied with a 2Mb card as standard. An optional converter turns these mini cards into industry-standard PC-Cards, allowing images to be accessed quickly on most notebook computers.
Kodak supplies a serial cable for either a PC or Macintosh to transfer images in a more conventional manner. There is a built-in infra-red port for wireless connection, and even a composite video output (in PAL or NTSC format) for display on a TV or VCR.
Three levels of compression are available, storing about eight, 11, or 19 high-resolution images on a single 2Mb card. From two to four times as many 640x480 pixel images can be squeezed on, depending on complexity. The DC210 stores compressed images in JPEG or Flashpix format.
The built-in 2x zoom lens is equivalent to a 29 to 58mm lens on a conventional 35mm film camera. The optical viewfinder can be slightly tricky to look through, but once lined up it gives a good idea of composition. Images can also be composed on the colour LCD on the rear, which is also used to work through the attractive, easy-to-use preferences menu. So long as the screen is used sparingly, you?ll get a decent lifespan out of the four AA batteries.
The PC software for Windows 95 consists of a standard Twain driver, Picture Easy software for basic image manipulation, and a rather cunning desktop mounter, which treats the DC210 and memory card as another drive within the My Computer group. Looking at the properties of the mounter allows you to view the camera?s LCD Status Display, apply any changes, and even operate it under remote control.
Digital cameras are maturing quickly, even by IT standards, and every month sees a new contender for the throne. If this is the month you go out shopping for a decent digital camera, the DC210 should be on your shortlist.
R Contact: Kodak on 0800 281487 or www.kodak.com/daiHome/dc210/
R Price: #849
R Applications: Flexible digital photography for print or electronic publishing.
The business verdict
Kodak?s latest digital camera is its best yet. The images are genuinely useful, the functions flexible, software cunning, and the design small, light, discreet and attractive. It uses normal batteries and you don?t have to rely on the power-hungry screen alone for composition. Well worth the price.
Also, what's a USB stick?
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