Budget cameras are a dime a dozen these days, and without high-quality photos or unique capabilities, it's easy for these sub-$200 shooters to fall between the cracks. Of course, without a major flaw it's hard for a sub-$200 camera to really screw up, either. The Kodak EasyShare C743 is one such mediocre camera. It doesn't offer any notable benefits, but its flaws, while irritating, aren't enough to render it completely useless.
The C743's 6.8-ounce, blocky body feels bulky and cheap. The light and flimsy plastic shell doesn't feel very sturdy, and its thick profile makes it a bit too chunky to fit into a pocket. Fortunately, the control layout is standard and relatively comfortable, with well-spaced and accessible buttons.
Like most budget cameras, the C743's feature set delivers just the basics. With a standard 3x zoom lens (37mm to 111mm-equivalent), a 30fps VGA movie mode, and a handful of image presets, the C743 bears all the standard features of a low-end point-and-shoot camera. Photography controls are predictably scarce, with only a few white balance and ISO selections and no advanced exposure settings. Fortunately, a handy in-camera editing program lets users crop and tweak their images after they're shot. Finally, an optical viewfinder proves to be a welcome surprise on the budget shooter, offering an alternative to the camera's slightly smaller than usual 2.4-inch LCD.
The C743 proved to be a bit sluggish in our tests, but was still responsive enough to still be useful. After a 3-second wake-up time, the camera snapped off a shot every 2.1 seconds. With the flash enabled, that time increased to 3 seconds between every shot. The shutter response was also decent, lagging only 0.7 seconds in bright light and 1.2 seconds in low light. Burst mode was quick but short, firing off three shots in just 1.3 seconds for a rate of 2.3 frames per second.
Noise is the C743's greatest problem. While the camera can only reach ISO 400, the shots look as if the camera were set at ISO 1600. At the highest sensitivity setting, our images looked incredibly fuzzy, and fine details appeared smudged and blurry. Besides the heavy grain, our test photos also showed a lot of chromatic aberration, the purplish fringe that can appear on the edges of contrasting objects. Distortion is the C743's other major flaw; images are even and accurate in telephoto mode, but zooming out to a wider angle causes images to balloon and contort sharply.
Though the Kodak EasyShare C743's price is low, its flimsy build and incredibly noisy images disappoint even in the bargain bin. If you really want an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera, skip the C743 and look at the Olympus FE-190 or the Canon PowerShot A540. The Olympus feature a slim, stylish body and simple shooting, while the Canon offers a generous handful of manual controls to tweak your images. For the same price, the Kodak EasyShare C743 offers neither.