This is the camera for the macho man. Whilst other cameras will short-circuit in the rain, and crumble when dropped on the floor, the Kodak is designed to take practically everything that nature, and the heavy-handed user, can throw at it.
With its rubber casing and weatherproof seals, the DC5000 is going to appeal to the same sort of people that buy diving watches, Muddy Fox bikes and Land Cruisers 4WDs. Equally, the camera has been designed to appeal to surveyors, architects, builders and farmers - and anyone who works in a more hazardous environment than an air-conditioned office. For those who lead an outdoor life it is all very well trying your very best to keep delicate electronic gear protected in bags and pockets - but accidents do happen.
Last month, we put the DC5000's durability to the test - burying it in the garden, throwing it and asking the dog to fetching it, and giving it a cold shower. Much to our surprise the camera passed with flying colours - and with all its innards intact. It was not that we mistrusted the camera from its look - it appears and feels extremely solid. It is just that at 530 Kodak do not to be charging much for camera's protective coating. Those who have bought water-protected phones and silver-halide cameras will know that this security doesn't usually come cheap. And for this price, Kodak even through in USB and Serial connectors for both Macs and PCs
So this issue it is the picture taking capabilities and the usability of the DC5000 that come under scrutiny. One of the first things that you can't help but notice about the camera is that its solid, yet attractive, design, makes it a large beast to get your hands around. But the butch nature of the camera means the handling difficulties don't end here. The control buttons around the screen are rubberised - and demand a certain amount of strength. On the plus side, however, they are big enough to be used even when you have thick gloves on.
The user interface itself is one of the most elaborate and colourful that we have ever seen. It is more like playing with a kid's educational CD-Rom than using a camera. Despite the fancy graphics, however, the menu is easy to follow - with a good mix of text and icons to show you the way. One small quibble was that the button needed to turn the main screen on (and to access the menu system and pictures) is unmarked - and although a different shape to the other four soft-keys, this arrangement would fool anyone unfamiliar with its workings.
The camera comes with an 8Mb Compact flash card, which allowed us to store 18 shots at the maximum 1760x1168 resolution, using JPEG compression. Two other resolutions, and three quality settings are available - allowing you to fit more pictures on the card if you want, or can make do, with less detail.
The lens is a simple 2x zoom, offering the equivalent of a 30-60mm focal length range. Note that this means the camera has a wider angle of view at its most wideangle setting than most other cameras available - which may be of particular interest to those who photograph buildings, and interiors, frequently. The lens also has a filter thread which could be used to add creative effects to your pictures even before they are; a clear filter is supplied, adding another layer of defence against nature.
Although the camera does not have manual focus, there is a handy infinity lock - which comes in handy when shooting through windows or in low light conditions, where the AF system might otherwise struggle. Exposure similarly is fully automatic, but you can dial in compensation, and choose from two metering patterns, to help tackle tricky lighting conditions.
The quality of the pictures is pretty good; the colour rendition is very good, but the sharpness of the image is not quite as crisp as we would like to see.
All in all, this is a unique camera which will tap into a new market, thanks to its sturdy design. But at such an excellent price, it will not just appeal to those who really need a bouncing, wet-suited camera - it will also sell to nervous types who fear their camera could come to grief around the home and office.
- Weatherproof, shock-resistant design
- Value for money
Test by Chris George