While Kodak’s latest model in the LS range boasts a large 2.2 OLED screen, it only offers 3 megapixels - in steps its slightly older brother - the LS443, a more compact 4 megapixel version for you to play with.
Styled on the EasyShare range, anyone familiar with the Kodak cameras will feel at home straight away. The camera is fairly light - 260g - and sits comfortably in the hand. The rear of the camera offers a 1.8” LCD screen along side the usual array of zoom toggles, share and review buttons and the picture format jog wheel. For those not wanting to rely on the LCD screen, there is an optical viewfinder, however do expect some parallaxing when taking close up shots or using the macro mode. The display isn’t the crispest we have seen and takes a section to refresh when reviewing images and unfortunately it does have trouble coping on sunny days.
Power is provided via a Kodak Lithium-Ion battery, which is charged via an EasyShare docking station. Rather than make you buy this separately, Kodak has been kind enough to include one in the box - something that is very welcomed. It not only allows you to charge your camera, but also transfer images quickly and easily to the PC all at the touch of the share button. As with other Kodak cameras in the EasyShare range, you can do just that, and this like others offers the chance to set whether you would like to print, email or add to favourites the moment you dock.
Once you dock the camera, the software (supplied in the box) springs to life and for any one who is new to the world of digital imaging, the whole process makes life a lot easier.
Inside and the camera offers 4 megapixels and the Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens offers 3x optical and 3.3x digital zoom capabilities. This is the equivalent of 35 - 105mm in a 35mm.
The LS443 has an internal memory of 16Mb and while on a three megapixel this is more than enough to get you going, with a 4 megapixel camera you find yourself running out of space fast. To combat this, the LS443 has three different picture modes: Best 2448 x 1632 (4mp), Better 1800 x 1200 (2.2mp) and Good 1224 x 816 (1mp) This in real terms relates to 13 images for best, 23 images for better and 48 images for good. It doesn’t take long for you to work out that at the highest settings you don’t even have enough space for a 24 exposure film and investing in an additional MMC/SD memory card would be money well spent from the beginning.
With six pre-set picture modes (night, sport, macro, landscape, movie and auto) the camera doesn’t go out of its way to impress but still offers enough to get you going. Most of the modes allow you control over further settings such as white balance, flash and ISO settings and the movie mode captures about 70 seconds of footage at 309x206 (15fps).
While the sports mode purports to offer you the chance to capture those sporting moments, in reality you have to anticipate when those moments are going to be as taking quick actions shots is virtually impossible due to the camera’s relatively slow reaction time. What makes it worst is the time that it takes to save the image to the internal memory. This usually results in you missing the chance of a quick follow-up shot as well.
Complaints aside, the image quality is very good with detail being captured well (see wood grain on the fence in the flower basket shot right) The colours were crisp and balanced, however the cameras inability to take a quick picture meant you have to have rock steady hands for a sharp picture. Quite a few of our test shots were blurry at first as we got used to the shutter reaction time (see flower pots shot right).
The LS443 also performed well with portrait shots. Detail such as wrinkles and blemishes were captured with clarity and the camera did well to sharpen up the subject while dropping out the background. The digital zoom like most, is good for getting you out of trouble but nothing more and even dipping into it at a setting of 4.2x overall zoom (that's only 1.2x digital zoom) shows (see mini and mechanics shot right).
While the images that the camera produces are fairly good, getting there is a bit of a bind. The time it takes for the image to be captured, the poorly lit LCD display and the lack of memory all makes this camera a bit awkward to use.
However, get past these foibles and the results the camera produces are very good. Images hold plenty of detail and the colours are right on the money allowing you to produce large 13x19 photographs. Reduce those prints to 10x8 and you'll have a very good picture with plenty of information. What's more is that at £300 price mark, this makes for a very affordable 4mp camera for the beginner or new enthusiast.