Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.Decked out in black, gray, and silver plastic, the Kodak DX7630 has small dimensions, but at at 9.5 ounces with battery and media installed, it doesn't quite make the compact cut. It has enough surface area and bulk to please those who like a camera to feel substantial, and a rubberized handhold complements its comfortable grip.
An illuminated mode dial sits next to the large 2.2-inch LCD. Although the dial's position is perfect for powering the camera on and off and switching between exposure modes, it can be tricky to operate. In order to power up the DX7630 or to change modes, you must push in a lock button to turn the dial. It sounds easier than it is; the dial is stiff and ratcheted. On the other hand, there's no chance that the camera will accidentally power up and run down the batteries, and the joystick in the center moves easily and accurately.
We like the bright, colorful menu system, which supplies text descriptions for the tiny icons. The DX7630's jog dial and clear information display make manual exposure adjustments seamless, so you can easily see f-stop and shutter speed changes as you make them. With a focal range of 39mm to 117mm, the Kodak DX7630 lacks a decent wide-angle view; that's a problem if you like to shoot landscapes or interiors. But the f/2.8 lens is fast at its widest, so you have more flexibility for low-light shots.
The DX7630 doesn't have lots of bells and whistles, but it has a respectable number of manual controls--certainly enough to satisfy basic needs. These include aperture- and shutter-priority modes, along with full manual and custom settings. Rounding out the set are autofocus; exposure metering and bracketing; two continuous-shooting modes; ISO settings from 100 to 400, with an optional ISO 800 for 1-megapixel shots; preset and automatic white balance; and a few others. We really would like a manual white-balance option, particularly for indoor shots, but the DX7630 offers only automatic and three presets.
A first for the EasyShare line, the DX7630 offers two compression settings: Fine and Standard. It's better than the one-compression-scheme-fits-all approach but still not enough. We'd like more flexibility and maybe an uncompressed option.
But consistent with the rest of the EasyShare line, this camera makes digital photography easy, especially when it comes to organizing and sharing. You can mark images so that they're automatically designated for specific albums, even when uploaded to your computer using the EasyShare software. And uploading is more than easy with Kodak's one-touch system, especially if you use one of Kodak's docks (a printer dock is available for direct printing). Unfortunately, the dock is a separate purchase, as is an SD card to augment the camera's 32MB of internal memory.
Though video and sound recording are limited only by the memory card's capacity, the camera's video quality tops out at 24fps, at a maximum 320x240 resolution. In contrast, increasing numbers of cameras are capable of 30fps VGA movies. The Kodak DX7630's performance ranges from about average to above average. Going from power on to first shot took a little more than 3 seconds--respectable but not awe inspiring. Overall, the camera is relatively responsive. For instance, typical time between shots ran about 2 seconds, with a minimal 0.8 second added on for flash shots. For real speed, you'll need to use the burst mode, which clocks between 3fps and 4fps, although it limits you to four shots. A second burst mode takes up to 30 consecutive shots and saves the final 4; it's useful for shooting action if you're not sure when the decisive moment will occur.
The DX7630's 3X Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon optical zoom lens performed well. It operates relatively smoothly but zooms in six steps, which doesn't leave as much room as we'd like for fine-tuning the framing. The camera's low-light autofocus capability was quite good, and the LCD gained up slightly for better viewing. The LCD also performed well outdoors in all but very bright light. The Kodak DX7630 will give you decent snapshots. It delivers good exposures and generally has little noise. Its white balance tends to be warm or cool, depending upon the ambient lighting. Although it doesn't reproduce colors very accurately, it does render them attractively.
|In the DX7630's photos, we spotted purple fringing in places we'd never before seen it. We also saw edge artifacts stemming from Kodak's aggressive compression.|
The DX7630 produced generally sharp images with good detail capture. But its sharpness was overshadowed by various problems, including bad purple fringing, compression artifacts, and a total loss of detail in the red channel.