A million more pixels aren't the only improvements in the Kodak EasyShare CX7530, an upgrade from the the EasyShare CX7430. You also get twice as much internal memory (32MB), a larger 1.8-inch LCD, improved performance, and the ability to select a noisy but useful ISO 800 sensitivity. Other enhancements to the CX7530 include more zoom-in power (8X) during picture review. You'll want to add rechargeable batteries and a memory card to your shopping list, but this fast-operating, simple-to-use 5-megapixel camera will please snapshooters who value quick response over manual controls.
At 102.5 x 38 x 65 mm and 190 grams, this Kodak just slips under the wire of our definition of a compact camera. It fits your hand, and all the controls are right where they need to be, from the top-mounted shutter release and the back-panel zoom lever that fit your index finger and thumb comfortably to the knurled mode dial that switches the camera on and selects full automatic operation or one of five scene modes (Portrait, Sport, Night, Landscape, and Close-up), plus Movie mode and Favorites display. A four-way controller button navigates menus, and separate buttons let you review and delete pictures; activate the self-timer/burst mode; adjust your flash settings; and display the shooting and setup menus on the LCD for adjusting exposure, white balance, ISO setting, exposure mode, and photo quality. The bright red Share button lets you mark images for printing or e-mailing to addresses downloaded from your computer.
The aspheric, all-glass 3X Retinar optical zoom lens emphasises a middle-of-the road view, running 34mm to 102mm (35mm-camera equivalent). There's no manual focus, but the multizone and centre-spot focus work well down to 5 inches in macro mode at the wide-angle setting. You can evaluate your shots in Review mode using magnification as high as 8X, with images shot in vertical orientation automatically rotated for you.
There aren't many shooting settings besides exposure compensation (plus or minus 2EV in 0.5EV steps), but you can choose from multipattern, centre-weighted, or centre-spot automatic exposure, with shutter speeds from 1/2 to 1/1,400 second and f-stops of f/2.7 to f/5.2 (f/4.6 to f/8.7 at the tele setting), and either multizone or centre-spot autofocus. While the CX7530 will set the ISO and white balance for you, sensitivity settings of ISO 80, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, and ISO 800 (the latter at a lower resolution) and daylight, tungsten, and fluorescent white balance can all be specified manually. The CX7530 offers 13fps MPEG-4 movie clips with sound at VGA resolution, or 320x240 at a less-jerky 20fps, for as long as your flash memory holds out.
Most performance figures were a tad better than this camera's 4-megapixel sibling, except for wake-up time, which amounted to a still-respectable 4.2-second lapse to the first shot. However, its shot-to-shot times were outstanding. We were able to snap off full-resolution pictures with only a 1.3-second wait between shots and just a hair more than 2 seconds when using a flash. In burst mode, the Kodak cranked out five pictures in about 1.6 seconds, a 3fps clip at both full resolution and at the 1.7-megapixel Good setting. Shutter lag amounted to only 0.7 second under high-contrast lighting conditions, but with no focus assist lamp to fall back on, the autofocus system increased lag times to just under a second with more challenging low-contrast subjects. The camera also uses power pretty efficiently; in our battery testing, we snapped more than 800 shots using our standard 1,850mAh nickel-metal-hydride AAs.
Compared to its sibling, the CX7430, the Kodak EasyShare CX7530's photos had a lot more contrast and snap, and there was less tendency for whites to blow out. Many images were a little soft, however, and lacked the sharpness we expected from a 5-megapixel camera. However, flesh tones were pleasing, and the camera did a good job of preventing red-eye.