Kodak DC215 review

Started Nov 13, 2002 | User reviews
Dave Thornber New Member • Posts: 6
Kodak DC215 review

I bought this camera about 18 months ago while on holiday, and have since taken over 2000 photos with it.

Overall construction quality is pretty solid, but let down by the flimsy battery compartment. If the camera is dropped and lands on the corner of the battery tray, there is a good chance that it will break the retaining clips. Other than that, it handles knocks and bumps remarkably well.

Curiously, while most of the reviewers liked the slide-out battery tray, I though it was one of the camera's most annoying features: It's not a problem if you have somewhere to put the camera, but if you're trying to change the batteries while out and about, it just gives you one more thing to juggle. For some bizarre reason, the tray is designed so that if it is tipped upside down, two of the batteries will drop out but the other two will be retained. If they all stayed put, then it might make sense to carry a second pre-loaded battery tray (as long as it was cheap enough) and if they all dropped out, at least it would make the juggling act a bit simpler. As it is, you get the worst of both worlds, and I'd much sooner be able to load the batteries straight into the camera body.

The location of the battery compartment also means that the tripod mounting point is in a corner of the camera, rather than in the centre. This is not a problem on a full-sized tripod, but can make the camera difficult to balance on a mini tripod.

To my mind, picture quality is spoiled by excessive JPEG compression. Even at top quality and resolution, pictures are only 200-300K. JPEG artefacts pretty much prohibit zooming and cropping of pictures, even on the highest quality setting.

I invested in a 128Mb CF card, and found that power-on time is considerably longer than with the smaller (I also have 32 and 16Mb) cards. 128Mb is a ridiculous amount of memory to have in this camera though - even on maximum resolution and quality, it'll hold over 400 pictures.

There is an annoyingly long delay (around 10 seconds) after taking each photo, during which the camera is 'locked out' - you can't take another photo or switch off until it is finished. This means that, when taking pictures of something that's likely to move suddenly (animals, vehicles etc.) you'll often only get 'one shot' at your picture.

The camera's wide angle lens makes it good for taking landscape shots, but the trade-off is that the zoom is not up to much. The 1.0-2.0x zoom claimed by Kodak is misleading. Realistically, the camera has a zoom range of about 0.8-1.5x, leading to pretty restricted zooming. This is compounded by the low CCD resolution (by today's standards), lack of digital zoom and the inability to zoom in with image editing software, thanks to the excessive JPEG compression.

Unlike most digital cameras, the 'review' option does not allow you to zoom into the picture on the LCD panel sufficiently to check the focus. This is particularly annoying when taking macro shots, as the distance between the lens and the subject is fairly critical. Often the images appear perfectly sharp on the LCD, but are out of focus when downloaded to the computer. The review option also behaves rather oddly: It immediately shows a low-resolution (very blocky) version of your image, and then improves the resolution after a few seconds. This behaviour is replicated on the 'TV out' slideshow, which is annoying if you wish to transcribe your photos onto videotape.

The lack of USB port is annoying. The supplied serial cable is painfully slow, and the download software stupidly fails to preserve the date and time of the images when writing them to the PC. Both of these problems are resolved by investing in a CF card reader for your computer. A handy tip for owners: Fighting with the fiddly card eject button can be avoided by sticking a tab of tape to the edge of the card - just pull on the tape to remove the card!

Anyway, enough of the negative stuff.

By far the camera's best feature is its ease of use. The interface and option settings are very straightforward, making the camera ideal for the first-time 'non-techie' user. The most commonly used options (flash modes, macro, self-timer etc.) have their own buttons on the top of the camera, making them much easier and quicker to set up than on cameras that provide these functions via menus.

As a simple 'point and shoot' camera, it does its job admirably, and only really lets itself down when you can't get close enough to your subject to fill the frame at maximum zoom. Otherwise, the results are perfectly acceptable for holiday snaps and everyday use. I have blown some images up to full A4 size and framed them, and they bear up to all but the closest scrutiny.

You'll only see these cameras on the second-hand market now, but if you see one at the right price and all you want to do is take snaps without the expense of developing and printing, you'll probably be more than happy. If you want to get clever and start manipulating your images, go for something with more pixels and less aggressive JPEG compression.

Problems:

A quick summary of above:
Easy to damage battery compartment if dropped
Battery changing is a fiddly procedure
2.0x zoom is really only 1.5x
Excessive JPEG compression
No USB
Review option does not zoom in enough to show out of focus picture.
Excessive 'turn-around' time between photos.
Excessive start-up time with large memory cards.

Kodak DC215
1 megapixels • 1.8 screen • 29 – 58 mm (2×)
Announced: Aug 3, 1999
Dave Thornber's score
3.3
Average community score
3.9
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