Offering a 3-megapixel CCD sensor, a 3X zoom lens, good performance, modest versatility, and portability, the Kodak CX6330 has most of the ingredients of an excellent snapshot camera. But this EasyShare is too automatic, and while its photos are pleasing, they have an odd, slightly painterly look that may give you pause. The silver Kodak EasyShare CX6330 has a clean, attractive style, and while the camera isn't superslim like the latest ultracompacts, it's trim enough to fit in a pocket without trouble. Weighing 8.3 ounces with the batteries and the memory card installed, the plastic body is also fairly light, and a ridge along the face's left side helps you maintain a secure grip. Construction quality feels very good, except for the plastic cover protecting the media slot and the USB port. The door is supposed to slide over and swing out, but ours jammed a lot, and we predict short life spans for many of them.
This EasyShare's control layout is reasonably good, though we'd prefer to have the four-way controller under the right thumb rather than the left. A straightforward mode dial combines with an equally simple menu system to make the CX6330 admirably easy to use.
The 3X zoom lens covers a reasonably sensible focal-length range of 37mm to 111mm (the 35mm-camera equivalent). At f/2.7 to f/5.2, the lens's variable maximum aperture is lackluster but roughly average for this class of camera.
A sensor automatically detects vertical compositions and rotates them for properly oriented playback--a very nice convenience. In movie mode, the EasyShare CX6330 can record 320x240-pixel QuickTime video with sound until your storage card is full.
Like all EasyShare cameras, the CX6330 is compatible with Kodak's EasyShare docks and software. The system facilitates photo printing and sharing. Though it doesn't break any records, the Kodak EasyShare CX6330 performs somewhat better than most cameras in this class. Start-up takes about 4 seconds; shutter lag, including autofocus time, is a reasonable 0.8 second or so; and the delay between shots is a bit longer than 2 seconds. The flash recycles in around 3 seconds; that's very quick, much better than the 7 seconds Kodak lists on the spec sheet. In continuous-drive mode, the CX6330 can record four photos at slightly more than 3 frames per second.
The fairly decisive autofocus achieves only average speed in well-lit scenes, but dim conditions don't slow it down much, so the EasyShare CX6330 ends up delivering above-average low-light focusing until it gets very dark. Then the absence of an autofocus-assist lamp forces the camera to give up. The lens zooms quietly, but its travel is a tad jerky and difficult to control precisely.
In outdoor light, the 1.6-inch LCD is easily visible, and you'll see 100 percent of the picture area, but the small image is not terribly sharp. Though not very bright, the optical viewfinder is better than average, offering an unusual 90 percent of the scene and reasonable sharpness. The flash's maximum range is a slightly short 11.8 feet at ISO 200, which is equivalent to 8.4 feet at ISO 100. We found a lot to like in the EasyShare CX6330's photos, but Kodak's very aggressive noise reduction also eliminates fine detail, especially surface textures, and that smoothness combines with compression artifacts and mosquito noise to give the pictures a peculiar airbrushed quality. We easily duplicated the effect with Adobe 's Smart Blur function. Shots end up looking a bit like paintings, more and more noticeably as the print size increases. As a result, we lowered the camera's image-quality score, but we recognize that some folks might not mind painterly photos. Kodak evidently believes that lots of people won't.
Our test shots were very clean; the camera Smart Blurred electronic noise into near oblivion along with our surface textures and other fine details. Large details and clear-cut edges came out crisp, so our pictures looked sharply defined, especially in modest enlargements. Most of our exposures were good, with vibrant and reasonably accurate colors. The EasyShare CX6330 also ably avoided blown-out highlights, although high-contrast edges exhibited moderate purple fringing. In flash photos, we noted a slight tendency toward reddish skin tones.