Kodak 6490 Digital Camera

An SLR styled digital camera with high end features and a modest price.

This offering from Kodak sits along side of the Minolta Dimage Z2, the Fuji S3000 or 3800 and the Canon S-1. It is several times large than the size of the average moderate priced digital camera, but far smaller than the full sized SLR cameras such as the Digital Rebel EOS.

This is an around the neck, two fisted camera designed for the discriminating amateur or more professional photographer who doesn’t intend in using other lenses (which is one of the reasons you pay over $700 and buy something like the EOS).

Speaking of lenses, the Kodak 6490 comes with a 10x Schneider Kruznak Varigon zoom lens that has an effective 35mm focal length of about 38mm (somewhat wide angle) to 380 mm (ultra telephoto). On top of this is a 4x digital zoom giving you almost 1400 mm super telephoto zoom, although at that setting your effective sensor is about 1 megapixel, which is good enough for 4 x 6 pictures, but far under the mark of the full 4 megapixel potential of this camera, which is almost film quality.

Digital zoom, remember, is cropping the central 25% of that 4 megapixel sensor and spreading the image out over the full size of the sensor by multiplying the pixels. Most people only use their digital zoom when absolutely necessary.

We tested this camera at length and found great detail in portraits that hold up in 8 x 10 prints made directly from the memory card (which is an SD/MMC format card), making this camera perform on the level of a film camera with 200 speed film.

The LCD screen is also a tad larger and sharper than most we’ve seen in almost every price range and you can switch to the thru the lens (TTL) prism view by the press of a button, this conserves power, which is provided by a custom Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. A small external charger is included which provides fairly fast recharging (several hours maximum) while a fully charged battery works for hours viewing and taking pictures.

As with the Minolta and Fuji offerings there is a flip flash on the top of the prism hood, plus there is an external PC cord adapter for a side fill flash that you don't find on any of the competition! It should be noted, however, that of the competition only the Minolta Z2 is a true contender! The Canon S-1 and both Fuji offerings are 3+ megapixels, while the Kodak 6490 is a full 4 megapixels... The Canon, Fuji and Minolta offerings, however, do use regular AA batteries while the Kodak uses a special Lithium Ion battery that will be hard to find a replacement for out in the field or on vacation.

Manual settings allow you to control shutter speed settings, plus there are several automatic options including auto flash and red-eye reduction flash.

You can also take very high quality digital movies with sound at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels (almost full TV screen size) but only up to 24 frames per second (television works at 30 frames, so there will be a lag every so often). How long this movie clip is depends on the size of your memory card.

The Kodak 6490 comes with 16MB internal memory which is enough for a few pictures at maximum resolution (you can lower the picture quality if you want to get more shots) so you’ll probably want to invest in at least a 64 MB SD card, but because of the 4 mega pixel image size (which means you per picture images will easily be 1.5 megabytes verging on 2 megabytes each) a 256 or 512 MB card would be a more prudent investment, especially for those planning vacations.

Yes, this is an “easy share” camera and it comes with a mounting template so you can use the 6000 printer dock (as would any other 6000 or 7000 series camera, such as the smaller 6330 and 7340).

This offering from Kodak is the most impressive camera marketed by them since the Retina back in the 1940s and 50s (which was also made by Schneider for Kodak). Schneider has been making excellent lenses since 1900, including engraved T-stop lenses for Bolex and other professional movie cameras. It packs all the features anyone would want (except for interchangeable lenses) and is priced lower than the competition (the Minolta Z2)! The quality probably can’t be beat by either Minolta, Nikon, Fuji, Canon, Sony or Panasonic, the last two sporting Carl Zeiss and Leica lenses in their top of the line units, which are far higher in cost than the Kodak 6490, which sells for generally under $400, and offering less zoom (generally 3x for the Panasonic and Sony, while the Kodak has 10x).

Remember, that $400 buys you a 4 megapixel, 10 power optical zoom camera with a Schneider made lens. This is the same price as the 3.2 megapixel Minolta Z1 and just a little higher than the now discontinued Sony P-92 (which has the Sony not the Zeiss lens), Nikon Cool Pix 4300 and Canon S4000, all of which are 4 megapixels or larger with at least 3 power optical zoom lenses. The only advantage for some that these other units offer is smaller purse size footprints, like the Z1, Z2 and Fuji 3000 this Kodak is a two fisted, SLR styled camera designed for a he-man professional photographer to sling around their neck.

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