We decided to buy a Point and Shoot digital camera and gift it to my wife’s cousin to reward her for her persistence which paid off in the form of #1 Rank in Kolkata University in the field of M.A. in Political Science.
The requirement was simple – a no frills camera that fits within our shoestring budget.
We chanced upon the Kodak CD14 being offered for Rs. 3799/- in retail. The camera featured a 8 MP sensor (more than enough for amateur photography), a 3x Optical zoom (great!), SD Card support and Rechargeable Battery support.
Though there were no sample images from this camera, no reviews etc., we decided to take the risk and plonk down the cash on acquiring the camera at a price that can only be considered a steal. As if Rs. 3.8K is not low enough, we actually bought the camera for substantially less.
The camera package is very bare-bones. You get a camera, a manual, a USB cable, an Application Program CD, a lanyard and two non-rechargeable batteries. No free SD-Cards, Rechargeable Battery packs, Camera Case etc. with this one. Go to Kodak’s Official Support Page for this Camera.
Though it was supposed to be a gift item, I couldn’t resist the temptation to shoot off a few snaps and compare it to the Nikon Coolpix L21 that we purchased recently at a substantially higher cost.
For a basic camera, the camera actually looks good. It’s all-plastic with all-silver finish but the images on the Internet do not do it justice. It looks pretty good for a camera of it’s price range. There’s a generous amount of Nickel flaring at the front of the camera (around lens and strip on opposite edge) which makes this camera look kinda nice. The entire back of the camera is finished in Black Matte Plastic. The LCD screen is 2.4″ wide and buttons at the back are Matt-finish silver-coloured plastic buttons. There’s a Red Laquer button prominently marked ‘Share’ which when combined with Kodak’s software is supposed to make uploading images and video from the camera to popular social networking site a breeze. The camera does not feature an eye-level viewfinder and it is not required on this camera either.
The camera produces 8 MP images using a small 1/2.5″ sensor. There’s in-built flash that can be triggered automatically or turned off altogether. The flash also features red-eye reduction.
The camera features a USB connector on the left side, Battery port at the bottom and tripod mounting socket at bottom too. Not too many flimsy rubber flaps protecting these. The battery compartment door is solid plastic like everything else on this camera.
- The quality of images that are produced by the camera are simply too good. When shooting the same subject, the Nikon Coolpix L21 consistently turned out images in which the fine details (such as veins on leaves and flower petals) had been all but obliterated.The Kodak on the other hand turned out images that were crisp. Borders were sharp, fine detail was clearly visible even in areas of very flat colors.
- 8 MP images saved by the camera are on an average 1.7 MB in size. The camera promises 600+ images on a single 1 GB SD Card. The camera also squeezes in 16 MB on-board, to squeeze in a further 7 shots if your memory card becomes full. While a file-size of 1.7 MB for 8 MP images sound like excessive JPEG compression, the image quality is actually pretty good.
- The camera is fully compatible with Google’s excellent Picasa Image Manager software. Picasa makes it super-easy to import images from the camera and delete the images that have been imported.
- The camera features quite a few scene modes; including a Macro-mode. There are no creative modes such as Sepia / B&W. Just normal scene settings like Portrait, Landscape, Fireworks etc. among others. The camera features ‘Perfect Picture’ technology. The camera also features useful functions such as Rotate / Crop. When combined, these modes actually produce great looking images right in the camera. No need to fire-up Photoshop. I shot a rather dark interior scene and applied ‘Perfect Picture’ action on it. The camera automatically corrected the under-exposed parts of the image while leaving the normal and over-exposed areas of the image intact. This resulted in an image that was much better than the original. The camera allows you to preserve the original images and save the edited/modified images in new files.
- When shooting, the camera beeps and displays green-lines around the subject that is in sharp focus. Images shot after the focus confirmation beep are very sharp. At times, the camera will display an image that appears to be sharp on the LCD, but the camera may not beep. If this is the case, do not shoot the image. Try and shift your position very slightly to achieve focus.
- The camera flash is very strong and quite effective. I shot an image of a ceiling fan in a completely darkened room and the flash was bright enough to illuminate the ceiling. The flash fall-off seems to be around 8 feet. After this distance, the light from the flash is ineffective.
- The camera features some blur-reduction technology (not optical sensor shift based image stabilisation – that’s for high end cameras). It also features face-detection for better focus and blink detection. Hopefully these features work as advertised.
- The camera does not feature an internal battery to keep track of Date/Time. It uses the main battery. Since the batteries cannot be charged in-camera, I have to remove them for charging using an external adaptor. When I plug the batteries in again, the camera starts by prompting to set Date/Time. Other camera preferences too have to be set again.
- The camera does not make the traditional shutter sound. Neither can you hear the shutter open and close. This makes it tricky to shoot low-light images in hand-held mode. You need to hold the camera really steady and after pressing the shutter button, wait till the preview image appears on the LCD.
- The zoom function does not work during video recording. The camera allows the digital zoom function though. You can however set the optical zoom level prior to shooting. The camera also auto-focuses during the video recording. This works great for normal video recording sessions, but can be a nightmare if you want to get creative with video-recording or shift the focusing from far objects to very near objects rapidly.
- The camera uses Contrast-Detection method to achieve focus. This means that the camera looks for high-contrast areas in the images. When shooting images that have flat colors, such as totally green leaves, objects against a white background, the camera tends to get confused and takes a long time to focus. Since the camera does not feature an additional Auto-Focus Beam, the situation is further aggravated. If shooting in low light situations, activate the flash (keep it on Auto if possible). The resulting image will look like a typical flash image but at-least it will be in focus.
- The camera eats through batteries. No sooner that I have plugged in fully charged 2000 mAH NiMH batteries in the camera, a few shots later the camera displays battery status as being just half. The camera continues to shoot video and images continuously though. I shot 1 hour of video on a battery that was at low mark. The camera is rated to shoot around 200 images on a pair of Alkaline High Power batteries. Using rechargeable batteries, you are likely to get substantially less.
- The macro distance of the camera is almost 2 feet. You can forget about shooting extreme close-ups of insects and flowers by placing the camera against the subject. Since the camera features a 8 MP images, you can simulate a macro image by subsequent cropping.
- The Camera does not display much shooting information. You don’t get a ‘Rule of Thirds’ grid. Neither do you get a easy read-out of the Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, White Balance etc. You get a few icons, a framing grid, but nothing obvious.
- The camera features Auto-ISO, Auto-White Balance, Auto-Shutter. You may pretty much forget about any manual tweaking of shooting parameters. Some scene modes and shoot modes allow you to change the shutter speed to 4 sec. or Auto. Lack of manual control can be a bad thing as well as a good thing. Personally, I would at-least like some decent info to be flashed on the screen.
- The camera’s image viewer does not display image shooting parameters such as Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO, Histogram etc. Perhaps I am asking for too much, but such information is already recorded in the JPEG images at the time of shooting.
- The buttons on the back of the camera are a little stiff and require a firm click. The Direction buttons set in a circular fashion around an OK button are a little recessed. Combined with the groove on the buttons, this makes it a little painful to press them.
I have been searching this camera on Flickr’s Camera Finder without any luck. A quick examination of the EXIF information found in the JPEG images saved by the camera revealed a surprise. The images are actually tagged as being shot by a Kodak C140. Considering that this camera looks identical to the older C140 and has the same features, the CD14 is probably a low-cost minimalistic package of the C140 being sold in India.
Overall, the image quality of the camera was a wonderful surprise and I highly recommend this camera to folks wanting to buy / gift a simple-no-frills camera.
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