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Kodak DC-4800 (Digital Camera)

Kodak DC-4800 Finally I wanted to get some experience with digital photography, and so I spent approx. 625 Euros for my Kodak camera (June 2001), and after 1,500 shots I can say that I really like the camera. The pictures are okay for snapshots and almost okay for semi-professional work. Images under difficult light conditions are surprisingly good.

I think there are mainly four reasons for "going digital":

  1. I do not always want to carry the full equipment of my Canon SLR system. It weighs several Kilos, and this is sometimes simply "overkill" for a weekend trip or a snapshot session.
  2. Digital photography seems the perfect system for snapshots, e.g. at parties. For this I need a fairly simple but quick camera that makes good shots. On the other hand, I do not want to waste film for shots that have been made just for fun. :-)
  3. It is really convenient to have images in digital format, especially when you plan to publish your pictures on a Web site. This saves a lot of time.
  4. I save real money on film material, processing and scanning.
Images shot with the DC-4800 are surprisingly good, even under difficult light conditions:


Party introducing the Quam brand
The light for this party shot was coming almost just from below the tables, and I did not want to use the flashlight, because this would have destroyed the image.

I use the "high-quality compression" setting of the camera, which stores the 3.1 megapixel for the image as JPEG (2160 x 1440). The resulting file is usually on average 850 KB. Thus, the camera can hold roughly 140 to 150 pictures with a 128 MB memory card! Unfortunately, the camera came only with a 16 MB memory card, which is by far not enough for any serious use. The 128 MB card was roughly 130 Euros (June 2001) and is suitable even for a full week of vacation.

The colour display at the back of the camera is bright, and it helps you to see the shot immediately after it has been made. However, I think the display is too bright. Pictures that look good on the display are often darker when opened on the PC in Adobe Photoshop. Also, the display allows you to zoom into the picture (2x and 4x), but again this does not really help you in determining whether a photo is sharp. Always be prepared for a disappointment when you open a picture in Photoshop!

While you can display the "live" camera picture of the photo you are about to shoot. This is a very useful function when you are shooting from difficult angles (e.g. from close to the floor), but it drains the battery quite quickly. I prefer to use the optical viewfinder, which gives you an almost correct impression of the image. If you set the lense to wide-angle, be prepared to see a difference between viewfinder and resulting image. If you use the zoom function, the viewfinder will adjust as well. Most of the time, the viewfinder works for me.

The image quality is almost always okay, but sometimes I am really disappointed when I zoom into it with Photoshop. Often there is "noise" or "grain" that really destroys the whole image. Some pictures carry more noise than others, and I have not really figured out why. I find that pictures with enough light (e.g. shots in the bright sun) have better quality (less noise) than those with little light.


London Bus Frenzy, Oxford Street

This is an image I created for the Web site. Please have a look at this full-size detail (129 KB) from the original image file that has been saved in Photoshop with the best quality setting of "12". This is as good as a shot gets with the Kodak DC-4800. Here is the luminance histogram from the above picture:

You can see that there are no drop-outs, and that almost the full range has been used. It seems that the picture is a little over-exposed, but I like it exactly the way it is.

Another funny thing is the built-in flashlight. It is really easy to operate, and it has enough power for standard situations. Often I do get "wiped" results like this:


London, Oxford Street.
While this photo makes me look like a good photographer, it really was an accident. :-)

Finally, a word of caution: please develop a backup strategy when starting to work with digital photography. Without CD-ROM burner you are pretty much lost should your computer seriously crash. With slides, negatives or Kodak Photo CDs, you can build huge archives completely independent of your computers health. With digital photography, everything is lost if its lost!

Important Update 20/07/2004
Yesterday, almost exactly three years after purchase, my DC 4800 died a mysterious death. In the afternoon I made a few pictures of an appartment that Petra and I had been looking at (no art stuff), and after picture # 1,893 the camera simply quit working. The screen stayed dark (even in setup mode and when connected to A/C), the LCD display would not show the usual set of information, and the lense would not retract properly into the camera any longer. Also, the camera switched itself off after a few seconds.

At home, I found that I still could download the images to the PC, all nice and sharp, and even when connecting the camera to a TV screen, all the menu items could be seen and navigated as usual. Even the output from the camera (live video feed) would show up on TV, but the cameras screen was still dark. The Kodak website hardly bothers with such legacy users and is no help at all in solving this. From various newsgroups I gathered the information that Kodak charges $150 for just looking at the camera, regardless whether they are able to repair it or not. What a pile of rubbish!

Reference photos made with a Kodak DC-4800

The following photo sets have been done using the Kodak DC-4800:


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