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Compared to the Nikon Coolpix 880

At the 3 megapixel level we have a wide range of cameras which we could use for comparison, however the DC4800's $750 price tag brings it in below the likes of the Nikon Coolpix 990, Olympus C-3030Z and Canon Powershot G1, so a comparison with those cameras would be unfair. It's nearest competitors would be the Nikon Coolpix 880 and Olympus C-3000Z (the slightly less powerful C-3030Z). We chose to base this comparison on the 880 because despite the price tag of $750 this camera can be found for $650 (add another $50 for the Nikon rechargeable battery).

  Kodak DC4800
 
Nikon Coolpix 880
Price Street US$ 750 Street US$ 700 (inc. Nikon battery)
Lens 3 x optical zoom (28 - 84 mm) 2.5 x optical zoom (38 - 95 mm)
Lens thread Yes, requires adapter Yes, requires step-down adapter
Sensor 3.34 megapixel CCD 3.34 megapixel CCD
ISO Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 Auto / 100 / 200 / 400
Image sizes 2160 x 1440, 1800 x 1200,
1536 x 1024, 1080 x 750
2048 x 1536, 1024 x 768,
640 x 480
Image ratio 3:2 4:3
TIFF Yes Yes
JPEG 2 compression levels only at 2160 x 1440 3 compression levels
Movies No Yes
Image adj. Colour: 3 levels, Sharpening: 3 levels Tone: 6 levels, Sharpening: 5 levels
B & W 4 modes 1 mode
Exposure Program, AP, Man Auto, 11 Scene modes, Program, AP, Man, CSM
Exposure comp. +/-2EV in 0.5 EV steps +/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps
Metering Multi-Pattern, Center-Weighted Avg, Spot 256 Segment Matrix, Center-Weighted Avg, Spot, AF area spot
AE Lock No ** Yes
Bracketing No Yes
Focus AF, Infinity lock AF, 5-area, 48 step manual, Infinity lock
(on-screen sharpening for focus confirmation)
Normal focus 50 cm 40 cm
Macro focus 20 cm 4 cm (full zoom)
Apertures 3 selectable apertures 2 selectable apertures
Shutter 16 sec - 1/1000 sec BULB + 8 sec - 1/1000 sec
White balance 5 position + colour temp + selectable col. 6 position + fine tuning + manual preset
Flash Internal & External (PC Sync) Internal only
Burst 3.2 fps up to 4 images 1.4 fps up to 10 images (several modes)
Self Timer 10 sec 3 or 10 secs
Playback zoom 2.0x or 4.0x 1.2x to 4.0x (many steps)
Histogram No Yes
Storage CompactFlash Type I CompactFlash Type I
Storage 16MB Supplied 8MB Supplied
Remote None Optional wired (USB)
Connect USB, Serial USB, Serial
Other Top of camera exposure compensation Best-Shot Select
Battery 1 x Kodak Li-Ion & charger 2CR5 / Nikon Lithium recharge*
Weight 320 g 320 g
Dimens. 120 x 69 x 65 mm 100 x 75 x 53 mm
* Optional, ** Half-press of shutter release performs AE & AF lock together

Clearly the DC4800's lens is more attractive, offering a big wide 28mm bottom end and a full 3 x zoom from there the 880 loses out in comparison. Some will also prefer the DC4800's 3:2 image ratio which is far easier to print. However a glance over the remaining items in this feature comparison leaves the DC4800 looking a little pale, you get far more bang for your buck choosing the Nikon Coolpix 880. But what about image quality?

A few notes about this sample shot: Lighting - 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white overhead reflector.

Obviously the problem with directly comparing the DC4800 and 880 are the difference in image aspect ratios (2160 x 1440 vs. 2048 x 1536), to get around this I first shot the DC4800 image then several 880 images a gradually further distances (we're only talking cm's here) until the height of a measurable object in the scene was identical for both images.

Both shots taken in the cameras native JPEG mode, on the 880 this was JPEG FINE, on the DC4800 the setting labelled "3.1MP" (which is the highest JPEG mode). Exposure wise both cameras were locked at ISO 100 and I had to set a -0.3 EV exposure compensation on the 880 to match the DC4800's darker exposure, white balance was set to auto on both cameras all other settings were default.

All of the crops below were of a 120 x 90 area of each image magnified 200% (nearest neighbour interpolation; blocky) except for the last crop (flower) which is a straight 240 x 180 crop.

Kodak DC4800
F4.1, 1/8s
Nikon Coolpix 880
F3.8, 1/10s
Kodak DC4800 Nikon Coolpix 880
Kodak DC4800 Nikon Coolpix 880
Kodak DC4800 Nikon Coolpix 880

In a head to head it's clear to see why I had reservations about the DC4800's image quality. It's let down by colour (moiré / CFA interpolation) artifacts, overaggressive sharpening, a less than average lens (by the looks of it) and visible noise (even at ISO 100). In nearly every crop the Coolpix 880 performs better, the overall tone of the image is similar except that the DC4800 seems to emphasise primary colours but not secondary shades (such as the colour of the flower).

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