|You can easily change continuous-shooting, self-timer, and flash settings via buttons on the camera top. The nearby speaker lets you hear the sound in your video clips.||To the left of the LCD, you'll find a mode/power dial encircling a menu-navigation joystick; a dedicated image-deletion button; and the Share key, which lets you mark photos for e-mailing or printing after download.|
We like the control placement. It's a bit different from the layout of many of the DX6340's competitors, which typically have a four-way menu pad and a top-mounted mode dial. On the left side of its back, the DX6340 has a mode/power dial. It encircles a small joystick, which you tilt to navigate the menu and press to select settings. The mechanism takes some getting used to, but it works well, and left-handed shooters might find it especially appealing.
|Buttons for menu activation and image review are in the lower-right corner of the camera back.||The zoom toggle falls under your right thumb and is easy to manipulate, even during one-handed shooting.|
The DX6340 is extremely novice-friendly. It has dedicated buttons for many frequently used functions, including deletion, the flash, the self-timer, and continuous shooting. A couple of unfortunate exceptions are exposure compensation and white balance, which are in the menu system. Selecting one of the automatic scene modes, which are instantly accessible via the mode dial, calls up an onscreen description, such as "Landscape: use for distant scenery." You'll have to dig into the menus for the more advanced settings, but a single-level structure and clear labeling make them easy to understand.
Kodak committed an irritating design faux pas with the placement of the camera's bright-green ready light. It's right next to the optical viewfinder, well within your peripheral vision. We preferred to frame our shots with the large 1.8-inch LCD.
As with all Kodak EasyShare cameras, you can purchase an optional dock that enables one-button file transfer. But that feature alone isn't worth the cost; moving pictures to the desktop using the included USB cable is simple enough. You probably shouldn't buy a dock unless it also has a built-in printer or you want it for charging your batteries.
The 16MB of internal memory can store only 17 highest-quality images, but optional SD/MMC media will expand the camera's capacity.
Experienced users can choose PAS mode, which lets you switch easily between program, aperture-priority, and shutter-priority operation. Beyond exposure options, PAS gives you access to more image-parameter controls, including white-balance presets, focus zones, ISO settings, and metering modes. No fully manual exposure mode is available, however. The f/2.2-to-f/4.8 4X zoom lens offers a range of 36mm to 144mm in 35mm-film terms.
The DX6340 saves images in four sizes. The 2.8-megapixel option, for example, has a 3:2 aspect ratio that's perfect for printing snapshots. You don't get manual control of JPEG compression level, however, and the camera doesn't support the TIFF format. You can create 320x240-pixel clips with sound in video mode. The 16MB of internal memory can store slightly less than 1.5 minutes of footage, but 256MB SD/MMC media can hold as much as 23 minutes.
Kodak rates the included disposable CRV3 lithium battery at 450 shots.
The 4X zoom lens functions rapidly and responsively. You have to press the zoom button twice to trigger digital zoom; that design helps prevent you from unintentionally sacrificing shot quality in your efforts to bring your subject closer. Autofocus uses a multizone system to achieve accuracy even with off-center subjects.
You couldn't ask for more battery options. The camera ships with a disposable CRV3 lithium battery that Kodak rates at 450 shots. The optional EasyShare dock includes a rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. Another possibility is a pair of lithium or rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride AA cells. We tested the DX6340 with nickel-metal-hydride cells and got an impressive 1,000 shots on one charge, about two-thirds of them with the flash. In a pinch, you can use alkaline AAs; Kodak doesn't recommend them, but they'll work for a short while.
The flash has excellent range: 19.4 feet with the lens at its wide angle. Despite its strength, the flash doesn't wash out nearby subjects. The DX6340's automatic settings did a good job of capturing accurate, well-saturated colors, and our test images were fairly sharp, with a good amount of detail for their class. Noise levels were pleasingly low, especially at ISO 100, of course. The automatic white balance worked well, even under tungsten lighting. And we saw little chromatic aberration in high-contrast areas.
|The DX6340's color rendition and low noise are pleasing, but a close look reveals artifacts that make the cat's fur look painted on. We took this photo, shown at 100 percent on the right, using ISO 100 and the Tungsten white-balance preset.|
So what's not to like? Unfortunately, artifacts and poor handling of highlights marred what could have been very nice and enlargeable pictures. Compression and other processing artifacts were obvious around most areas of color transition, and some textured surfaces looked like they'd been produced with graphics software. The effects weren't all that noticeable in 4x6 prints, but objects in larger prints and in blown-up sections had decidedly fuzzy edges. In our more contrasty photos, the camera often completely blew out highlights, leaving blank areas.
|Contrasty shots cause problems for the DX6340. It completely blows out bright highlights, and artifacts give textured areas an artificial look. The detail on the right is shown at 100 percent.|