With 4-megapixel cameras that cost less than $300 becoming more common, the Kodak EasyShare CX7430's standout features are an intuitive control layout, a quick-trigger response, and a design that makes shooting and changing settings fast and easy. Snapshooters on a budget will appreciate the EasyShare CX7430's value but should note that rechargeable batteries and a memory card cost extra. Photo enthusiasts looking for manual controls will probably want to spend a little more for a camera with the features they need.
Although not small for a 4-megapixel camera, at eight ounces, the Kodak EasyShare CX7430 feels light for its size. Its rounded corners fit comfortably in your hand. You'll notice the EasyShare CX7430's clean design right away, and it makes even more sense after you've used the camera for a while. For example, while the top shutter release and the rear-mounted zoom rocker are located exactly where your right index finger and thumb expect to find them, the knurled power/mode dial is also within easy reach of your thumb, so you can simultaneously bring the camera to your eye and turn it on. Similarly, the dime-size four-way controller pad is located to the left of the LCD, where your left thumb can rest on it, ready to activate exposure compensation with a quick press in the down direction, followed by nudges left or right. There's no need to dive into the menus to make a quick exposure adjustment. Rounding out the controls are a quick-delete key and Kodak's Share button for marking images to print or e-mail to addresses that you can download from your computer.
The Menu button produces a clear and easily navigated two-level LCD menu system that lists the most frequently accessed settings, including quality, white-balance, ISO, exposure mode, and autofocus options, roughly in the order you're likely to need them. A second setup menu is accessible from the bottom of the list. Farsighted photographers will be pleased by the relatively large type used in the menu text.
The big news for indoor photographers is the relatively wide view at 34mm (equivalent to a 35mm-camera lens) offered by the 3X zoom lens. As long as you're not trying to shoot sports from the stands, the 102mm (equivalent) maximum focal length is probably long enough for everyday use, and it provides a pleasing perspective for portrait photography.
Kodak's Sport and Portrait scene modes do a decent job of optimizing shutter speed and aperture, though you won't find any manual settings suitable for fine-tuning exposures for either of these activities. The camera also has modes for night photography, landscapes, and close-up work. You can choose multizone or center-spot focus--there are no manual focus adjustments--and focus down to 5 inches in macro mode. The automatic-picture-rotation feature will correctly orient your vertical and horizontal shots when you review them on the camera's 1.6-inch LCD. The screen itself, however, is too small for gauging picture quality, especially under bright light. In Review mode, a magnification option that makes it easier to evaluate your shots is available from the menu.
Metering options include multipattern, center-weighted, and spot. The EasyShare CX7430 will automatically choose shutter speeds from 1/2 to 1/1,400 second, an f-stop from f/2.7 to f/5.2 (f/4.6 to f/8.7 when zoomed all the way in), and ISO settings from 80 to 160. You can also manually set light sensitivity to ISO 80, 100, 200, or 400.