So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Kodak EASYSHARE C663
- Manual features, Mostly solid picture quality, Cheap
- High amounts of Chromatic Aberration, Poor build quality
If you want a cheap, compact model that has some basic advanced functionality and don't need the most pristine prints in the world the C663 may be for you.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
When hearing that a product has "Perfect Touch" technology implemented, you can't help but be a little worried. Fortunately the product in question was a Digital Camera, and the technology was merely a system for improving images that had been previously available through Kodak Labs and Kiosks. The Kodak Easyshare C663 is the first digital camera to implement Perfect Touch on the unit itself, allowing users to benefit from the technology when doing prints at home. However our testing reveal the impact this had was fairly minimal, and isn't the massive selling point that Kodak is pushing here.
Perfect Touch is marketed as cleaning up shots taken in underexposed conditions, improving shadows without changing lighter areas. After running a few test shots through the filter however, we found all it really did was lighten the pictures. In some situations sure, this may be useful, but it isn't a magical formula to create the perfect prints. For the most part it just makes shots that bit brighter, which we found looked unrealistic.
Even without Perfect Touch applied the images had their problems. We received this camera in a batch with Kodak's other new model, the Z650, and after seeing the horrible Imatest Colourchecker score that that product received, we were dreading putting this one through its paces. Fortunately it passed with flying colours scoring a brilliant 5.23. As you can see in our Colourcheck diagram, most colours were spot on or close enough to be unnoticeable, with only minor inconsistencies across some shades of red and blue. Considering some SLRs have received worse scores, this it is a phenomenal achievement.
Our confidence buoyed by the colour response of the C663, we moved on to our stepchart noise test, and were again suitably impressed. A score of 0.96% greeted us, good performance in an area that many compact models struggle through.
Could we hit the elusive triple homerun? After glancing at our sharpness tests, it appeared we had. An MTU score of 1211, whilst not massive, was quite reasonable and will more than adequately print small to medium size shots. We would have liked to see it a little higher, but for a cheap, 6.1 megapixel model we couldn't realistically ask for much more.
Then we took at look at the last graph in our list, chromatic aberration, and our jaws hit the table. Scoring a massive .43%, this is one of the worst scores we have seen. Consider that any score above .15% is considered to be extreme, and that most models get roughly 1/3 of the score the C663 has achieved, and you will understand how shocked we were.
The impact of this is clearly felt on the pictures. Despite having a reasonable sharpness score, we felt the pictures weren't as clear as they could have been. There was a distinct fuzziness that really left us feeling like something was missing. Despite the great colour representation (and it is great, check out the test shots) it is hard to recommend this model on picture quality alone.
Fortunately it does have some other qualities that at least push it into contention; namely it's advanced features. For an extremely competitive price you get a camera with burst mode, bracketing, and proper aperture and shutter speed controls. They aren't fully developed, with only two aperture options and a limited continuous shooting mode, but shutter speed extends from eight seconds down to 1/1000th and even the basics offer you more control than an entry level compact.
Whilst it does have a slew of options, we did find the navigation a little pesky. The C663 uses the same strange function wheel as the Z650, that is, the manual modes don't have their own options, instead they are grouped together under a single function, which acts like a submenu and must be sorted through. We much prefer a traditional setup, but Kodak has chosen to give some of the pre-set shooting modes space on the wheel rather than the manual modes.
The rest of the design is a standard affair; a brushed silver, plastic shell with some basic buttons along the back, framing the 2.5 inch LCD. The body felt a little flimsy, but more and more cheap cameras tend to be taking the all plastic route as a way of saving money, and we can't fault them for that. All the controls are easily accessible and apart from the aforementioned placement of the manual controls, everything was quick and intuitive. We did find it a little hard to grip properly, sitting awkwardly in our hands.
It was a fairly quick unit, with a shutter speed of between .08 and .12, which is about average. It took roughly 2 seconds to power up, and shot to shot time was a breezy 1.5 seconds. Be warned, the C663 takes AA batteries, rather than our much preferred Lithium Ion, again probably to help keep costs down. It does come with a set of rechargeable NiMH AA batteries however, which lasted us roughly 200 shots before dying.
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