Kodak DC3200 1MP Digital Camera
In 1900, Kodak introduced the Brownie camera--a basic, simple design that cost $1. Its ease of use and low cost popularized amateur photography virtually overnight. Now, 100 years later, Kodak is hoping their DC3200 will play the same role and bring digital photography to the masses.
It's as though Kodak asked us, "What's the minimum set of features you feel are necessary in an entry-level digital camera?" and built the DC3200 around these specifications. There's a traditional optical viewfinder (great if you want to save batteries or you like to compose photos the old-fashioned way), an LCD screen (for previewing and reviewing photos to ensure you're getting exactly the shot you want), 1 megapixel of image resolution (enough detail to produce sharp 4-by-6-inch prints), video-out mode (for viewing your pictures on a TV), a flash, plus expandable memory (via a CompactFlash slot). You can find digital cameras that cost less, but they're almost certainly lacking at least one of these key features.
Where did Kodak cut corners to keep costs low? The lens is quite basic: it's fixed-focus instead of autofocus, and there's no zoom or macro--or even a lens cap. To transfer images to your computer, you use an older (and slower) serial cable instead of an increasingly common and much quicker USB cable. Finally, the 2 MB of memory that comes with the camera is internal and not on a removable card, so you can't use a separate card reader to transfer your photos. And last, you're forced to use Kodak's image-transfer software (compatible with Windows 95, 98, and 2000, but not Mac version) to put the photos on your computer.
Camera operation is extremely easy. To take a picture, you just turn the camera on and press the shutter release--true point-and-shoot simplicity. Transferring images to your computer is nearly as easy: install the included software, connect the cable between your computer and your camera, set the camera to "PC Connect" mode, and start the software. A thumbnail index of the pictures on your camera should automatically appear on your computer's screen. A few mouse clicks later, the pictures are stored safely on your computer's hard drive. Picture quality is on a par with other 1-megapixel fixed-focus cameras--great for e-mailed photos and sharp enough for 4-by-6 prints that look like they're from a film point-and-shoot. Though there's no macro feature, everything from two feet to infinity is in focus.
It's clear that Kodak is trying to make this camera as easy to use as possible. An included double-sided "Quick Set Up" sheet contains all of the information that most people will need to start using the camera, and both the hardware and software are designed to be simple. Compared to most digital cameras, this one is pretty easy to use, but if you're afraid to install software or crawl around to the back of your computer to connect the serial cable, you might want to invite a technically savvy friend or relative over to help you with the initial setup. For example, we had to install the software twice to get it to work properly, and if the transfer cable wasn't inserted all the way into the camera (it felt like it was plugged in firmly even when it wasn't), we had problems. These aren't major issues, but they can be frustrating, especially for beginners.
If you're curious about digital photography but don't want to spend a fortune on a deluxe model, the Kodak DC3200 is a good choice. Though it doesn't have many bells and whistles, the camera is easy to use and captures images with enough detail for both e-mailed pictures and prints.
- Extremely simple operation.
- Good image quality for the price
- Built-in flash, LCD, and video-out port not often seen on cameras in this price range
- No self-timer
- Included memory is built-in instead of removable (though removable memory can be used)
- Not compatible with newer USB port; uses older (and slower) serial port
- Camera includes video-out connection, but cable is not included.