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Design

Kodak DC290 Zoom (all round view - click for larger image)

As with the DC260 and DC265 the DC290 has the exact same brick-look body which seems to have served Kodak well. The look of the camera is quite deceiving, it's always small in real life than you'd think. Weight wise it's the same as the DC265, in your hand it's light enough not to feel straining, the hand grip (now rubberised) feels secure, shutter release and zoom control fall under your fingers easily.

As the battery and CompactFlash compartment are on the side of the camera either of these items can be changed with the camera on a tripod, this and the external flash synch port hint at Kodak's intended support of the studio.

As with the DC265 the DC290 features the small rubber molded finger grip on the front left of the camera and a thumb grip on the back, which makes stabilising the camera with both hands fairly easy.


Rear LCD

The LCD is the same found on the DC265, fairly bright and clear, my only criticism of its physical design would be that the screen itself is covered by a shiny protective plastic layer which reflects too much.. An anti-reflective coating would have helped a lot here.

In shooting mode there is very basic overlayed information, gone though is the DRAM buffer free display found on the DC265.. which is kind of odd. Kodak seem to have addressed some of the niggles I had with the DC265 display such as bright object streaking but I do have some new niggles with the display:

  1. At times (normally when shooting a very bright scene) the LCD will darken the image to a level at which all you can see is silhouette (I have yet to confirm if this was a one off problem with the DC290 I had for review).
     
  2. Image preview is still slow, gone are the horrid streaks and blurs but display is still noisy and covered in horizontal noise lines in low / medium light situations. In some circumstances it's difficult to tell colour balance or focus before you shoot.

To illustrate the difference between judging the image on the LCD preview and what you get after you've taken the shot, compare the two images below:

LCD display in capture mode
 
LCD display after taking shot in review mode


Top information LCD

The top status LCD displays the following information:

  • Flash mode (auto / red-eye / fill / off)
  • Exposure compensation (+/-2.0EV in 0.5EV steps)
  • External flash aperture setting
  • Picture type (still / burst / time-lapse)
  • Image quality mode (best / better / good / TIFF)
  • Battery status
  • IrDA status
  • Pictures remaining
  • Self-timer indicator

As shown below (taken from the DC290 manual):

The Status LCD also acts as your interface to change the value of the above features, using the SCROLL and SELECT buttons beside the LCD you scroll through each feature and may set it's value.


Viewfinder

The viewfinder on the DC290 is fairly average by digicam standard, with parallax lines near the top and a central focus / exposure bracket. Because it's positioned directly above the lens you don't get any horizontal parallax errors but close up you will need to compensate for vertical misalignment.

This image demonstrates the lines in the viewfinder, center focus / exposure and top parallax correction line.

Rear light indicators show status of:

Yellow steady Problem: bad focus / not enough light
Green flashing Camera is busy
Green steady Good focus, ready to shoot
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