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Design and Handling

The C875 is surprisingly well-constructed for a budget model, with half of the exterior clad in metal and a fairly solid feel. The design may be more functional than funky, and it's not the slimmest kid on the block, but the control layout and ergonomics are actually pretty good. The days when 'budget' equated to 'hideous plastic brick' would, on the evidence of the C875, be far behind us. And the other good news is that Kodak hasn't scrimped on the level of external control either, with a user interface that doesn't rely too heavily on menus and places most of what you need at your fingertips.

Handling

The C875 feels very solid and is actually very well-balanced in the hand. The shallow hand grip on the front of the body helps handling but to be honest it's not substantial enough (and is too smooth) to allow the camera to feel totally safe held in one hand.

That said, the controls are very well laid out and - partly because Kodak hasn't gone for the smallest possible form factor - it's pretty easy to use all the advanced functions.

Key body elements

The top plate of the C875 is home to the main mode dial and flash, drive mode and self-timer buttons. In the center of the mode dial sits the shutter release. Note that a well as the full complement of scene and manual modes there is a Custom mode where you can save your favourite settings for instant recall. Nice in any camera but a real surprise on a budget model like this.
Perhaps the only place where the C875's 'budget' status really shows through is the screen, which isn't that bright, and - at 115,000 pixels - isn't that sharp either. We also found that the anti-glare coating wasn't particularly effective - in bright light the screen simply isn't bright enough to be seen. To the right of the screen are more buttons and the multi-directional joystick, used to control menus and most of the more advanced shooting functions.
The C875 has a 5x optical zoom covering a 37-185mm equivalent range (I'd prefer it to start a little wider, but you can't have everything). The maximum aperture drops from a perfectly respectable F2.8 at the wide end of the zoom to a less useful F4.4 at the long end, so you need to be careful when using in low light. The lens extends from the body by around an inch when powered up.
The camera is powered by two AA batteries (you can also use a CRV3 lithium or one of Kodak's own rechargeable packs if you so desire). With a decent pair of Ni-MH rechargeables you'll get 250-300 shots per charge (CIPA standard), but the C875 isn't so useful with non-rechargeable AA's (it hardly works at all with Alkalines, and even high power Ni-Mn cells only give you around 60 or 70 shots).
The C875 ships with 28MB of usable internal memory; enough for 11 or 12 8MP shots. There is also a card slot for SD/MMC but the C875 is not compatible with the newer, high capacity SDHC cards. Also hidden away under the card slot cover is the combined USB/AV port. As with all EasyShare models you can also buy an optional camera dock or printer dock.
The C875's small flash is located directly above the lens, but we didn't find red-eye to be too much of an issue thanks to a pretty effective anti-red-eye system.

Controls & Menus

The C875's user interface is as user friendly as you could ever hope for - despite the fairly hefty feature set. The menus are written in plain English with large, easily understood icons, meaning the manual is rarely needed when exploring the range of features. The main record mode screen is - when you're not in the fully automatic auto mode - rather cluttered, with a huge amount of information on display.

But there is a powerful benefit to the screen clutter; once you've mastered the controls, it gives you the ability to change a lot of settings without having to enter menus, simply by selecting and changing them using the joystick. This approach means that experienced photographers have virtually all the control they need at their fingertips without once seeing a menu or leaving record mode, something very rare indeed in a camera in this class.

As usual you can change the amount of information displayed on-screen in record mode, from nothing to the full works (shown here) with framing grid and a little histogram. Note that the amount of information shown in PASM mode (as here) is considerably more than you get in the full auto and scene modes. Half-press the shutter and the camera focuses, indicating the auto focus (AF) point and auto exposure (AE) settings chosen.
Pushing the joystick left or right highlights each of the available settings in turn (AE compensation, shutter speeds/apertures, ISO, focus mode); moving it up and down change the settings. Turn the mode dial to SCN and you'll get access to 22 scene modes covering just about every photographic eventuality (including stitched panoramas). Each has a brief explanation of what it does and how to use it.
Pressing the menu button in record mode brings up the menus shown above. You use the joystick to move up and down the list, and press it to select a setting to change. Here you'll find some pretty basic shooting options covering white balance, metering, focus, picture size and sharpening. Pressing the review button switches the camera to playback mode. Note that portrait images are rotated automatically (you can turn this option off). Pressing the info button toggles between three views, including a (tiny) histogram option (shown above). There is also a three color blur warning system (which also works in instant review after you've taken a shot), which gives a pretty reliable indication of whether camera shake and/or focus errors could result in a blurred image.
Pressing the info button a second time brings up a fairly comprehensive overlay of shooting information (shown above).

Push the left zoom button (wide) and you get a grid of 3x3 small thumbnail image. Push the zoom lever to the right and you can magnify the image up to 8x

Pressing the menu button in review mode brings up the usual array of options to protect (lock) images, watch slideshows and so on (deleting has its own button). You can also copy images to and from the internal memory/SD card and use albums (which have to be created when the camera is attached to the PC). One new option is 'Picture Perfect Technology' - something Kodak has transplanted from its printers. This is a sophisticated 'auto levels' that - amongst other things - helps lift the shadows in contrasty scenes. You have the option to save the modified image as a new file or to overwrite.
Pressing the 'Share' button allows you to tag images for printing or emailing, or designate them as 'favorites'. Add an image as a favorite and next time you transfer your pictures to the PC a small (screen resolution) version will be copied back to the camera's internal memory so you can carry it with you at all times. Not sure how useful this is, but it's very 'Kodak'.
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