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Kodak EasyShare C743
Back in May this year Kodak announced that it was going to stop making budget cameras. Personally I think this is a terrific idea. Kodak's higher-specification models, such as the EasyShare Z712 IS, or the V803 are outstanding cameras offering performance and quality as good as anything else on the market, and excellent value for money. However historically its lower end budget cameras, by which I mean most of the C-series models, have always had a reputation for inferior build quality, slow and clumsy performance and disappointing picture quality. There have been a couple of exceptions, but for the majority of the C-series cameras, the most charitable description would probably be "cheap and cheerful". Budget cameras don't have to be rubbish, as Nikon has proved with its L-series, but there are plenty of nameless Chinese and Taiwanese companies turning out anonymous cheap low-grade cameras, and we don't need one of the world's largest photographic companies doing it as well.
What that means is that this EasyShare C743 may well be among the last of its kind. Its specification is fairly unremarkable; it has a 7.1 megapixel CCD, a 3x zoom (37-111mm equiv.) f/2.7–4.8 lens, a 2.4-in LCD monitor and auto-only operation. It runs on two AA batteries, and has a silver-coloured plastic body. About the only sensible comparison would be with another Kodak C-series camera, or possibly something from Fujifilm's A-series, such as the unspectacular A700, or the rather better Nikon L10. The C743 is priced at £99.99 if bought directly from Kodak via the company's website, but can be found for under £90 from some other retailers. While this may sound like a bargain, you don't get a lot of camera for your money.
It's not all bad though. The C743 is quite large by modern compact camera standards, but at least that means it's fairly chunky and easy to hold. At 145g it's also heavier than most compacts, but it feels very light for its size. Build quality at least is fair, with only a few creaks and squeaks emerging from the plastic shell when squeezed. The main mode dial is large and easy to use, and turns with a nice positive click, and most of the other very simple controls are sensibly located, although the fit and finish leaves something to be desired. Some of the buttons are a bit wobbly to say the least, and the zoom control is pretty horrible. The zoom is stepped, with only five increments between the widest and longest settings. The digital zoom cannot be switched off, but at least there is a pause before it starts.
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