Smile, say 'ease,' and snap with Kodak's new Dew Digital Camera 40

Kodak's new Digital Camera 40 takes a nice color picture and is
very easy to use, but there are quirks in the software that pulls images into your Windows
PC or Macintosh.


You'll find the little black camera handy for snapping and quickly reviewing up to 48
photos or for capturing images to post on your agency's Internet Web page--just step down
the resolution a bit to reduce transfer times.


The DC40 and its successors should find plenty of uses in the military, the U.S.
Geological Survey and other photo-heavy organizations. At just 1 pound, 5 ounces, it's
perfect for a briefcase or pack.


Shutter speed of the fixed-focus f2.8 lens is set automatically, but an LCD panel in
the rear lets you adjust settings a bit. The panel also shows battery life and number of
exposures remaining.


Priced at $960 on the General Services Administration schedule of Government Technology
Services Inc., Chantilly, Va., the DC40 has about the same functions as an ordinary film
camera selling for $40. Some users will find this price gap hard to accept, although the
hardware is your only expense.


You won't ever have to pay for film, developing or scanning. You won't need a special
board for your computer--the DC40 plugs right into a printer or modem port. The DC40
stores up to 48 photos--96 at low resolution--that you simply move onto your hard drive.
They occupy about 1M apiece in PICT format.


Bad photos take up no room at all. Just erase them.


A Filter by Example feature makes it a breeze to enhance pictures with different
contrast, focus, exposure and color. Eventually you might want a color photo printer,
which can run a few hundred to several thousand dollars. But this camera really is meant
for quick, on-screen images. If you prefer print images, stick with film.


The 756- by 504-pixel grid in the DC40 produces the highest resolution of any digital
camera priced below $1,000; Kodak's DCS420, with only twice the resolution, lists for
$10,995.


The DC40's array of specialized semiconductors, or charge-coupled devices, contains
hundreds of light-sensitive elements to capture images in real time. That's an advantage
over higher-resolution studio digital cameras, whose scanning technique can force the
subject to remain still for several seconds.


Kodak's closest competition for the DC40 is Apple Computer Inc.'s QuickTake 150, which
lists for $739. Both cameras contain many of the same components, including a body by
Chinon Industries Inc. of Japan. The Kodak model is the better value, though, because the
QuickTake 150 produces lower-resolution, 640-by-480 images and has only enough memory to
store 16 images, or 32 at low resolution.


The DC40 comes with PictureWorks Technology Inc.'s PhotoEnhancer software for Macintosh
and Microsoft Windows computers, as well as both types of serial cables. PhotoEnhancer
takes up 4M on the hard drive.


Unfortunately, the Mac version works correctly only under Apple System 7.5, and you
must scroll through a long text file on the installation disk to discover that fact. If
you install the software on a System 7.1 or earlier Mac, your pictures will look smudged,
and there's no explanation in the manual's troubleshooting section.


Even so, I prefer the Mac version. The Windows software doesn't have the same filtering
and image enhancement functions, and when it runs into trouble, the Windows viewer leaves
you in the dark. It told me it was receiving photos from the camera and created a
temporary file, but there were no images. I had to figure out for myself that the software
was looking at a different port. It never located the camera but went through the motions
as if it had.


For electronic publishers, PhotoEnhancer has built-in options to save files in .EPS,
TIFF and JPEG formats. It would be nice if the .GIF format were supported for Web page
building.


On both Windows and Mac, I had trouble saving photos in formats other than the default
PICT. Colors got scrambled, making very ugly portraits. The answer was to open the PICT
files with Adobe Systems Inc.'s Photoshop and use the indexed color option before saving
in other formats. That extra step shouldn't be necessary, and you're stuck if you don't
have Photoshop.


The DC40, though not perfect, represents a good effort at a good price. If this is
indicative of what we can expect from Kodak, it should succeed in making the leap from
film to digital technology.


Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y.; tel. 716-724-9093.


About the Author

Shawn McCarthy, a former writer for GCN, is senior analyst and program manager for government IT opportunities at IDC.

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