Kodak EasyShare DX7590
The Kodak EasyShare DX7590 looks great on paper: it has a 10X optical zoom, a 5-megapixel resolution, an SLR-like electronic viewfinder, and manual exposure controls. Unfortunately, its photos tell a different story. A variety of artifacts, including purple fringing around highlights and noise at higher ISO settings, drop this camera's desirability a few notches. Still, niceties such as an action-ready burst mode and a standard PC (Prontor-Compur, not personal computer) connection for an external flash will appeal to photographers who love to play with a full set of features.
This camera shares much of the DNA of its 4-megapixel cousin, the EasyShare DX6490, but costs about $100 more and has twice as much internal memory (32MB), nearly a dozen more scene modes, the PC flash connection, and the ability to specify JPEG compression ratio (either Standard or Fine). The DX7590 also lets you zoom in twice as far (8X) during picture review. Its 3.9-by-3.2-by-3.2-inch dimensions are boxy, but the handgrip makes the 13.5-ounce camera comfortable even for one-handed shooting, and the most-used controls are readily available without juggling.
Sports and wildlife photographers will be drawn to the EasyShare DX7590's 38mm-to-380mm (35mm-camera equivalent) zoom lens, which sacrifices a little wide-angle coverage to pull in distant subjects. This lens offers f-stops from f/2.8 to f/8 in wide-angle mode (f/3.7 to f/8 at the longest tele setting) and autofocuses down to 4.7 inches in macro mode. There's no manual focus capability, but you can fine-tune focus by switching from three-zone to center-spot or selectable zone autofocus.
There are lots of buttons to please control freaks, but once you've mastered all the options, you'll appreciate the clever touches. For example, move your index finger from the shutter release to the front-mounted jog wheel, and you can spin the wheel to cycle among settings such as lens aperture, shutter speed, EV adjustment, or ISO setting. Depress the wheel when the setting you want is highlighted in the viewfinder, then jog the wheel to make the adjustment. It provides separate buttons for flash options and macro mode, and a single key cycles between exposure bracketing and two kinds of burst modes.
Both the 2.2-inch back-panel LCD and the internal electronic viewfinder are bright and easy to view, but they show an annoying amount of ghosting when the camera is panned or tilted to track moving subjects. The electronics boost the LCD gain when imaging low-light levels and simultaneously increase the distracting multicolor speckles that come from onscreen noise.