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Kodak Easyshare C1013
10.3MP | 34-102mm (3X) ZOOM | $129 US, £70 UK

Kodak currently lists five 'C' series compacts in its range (from the C613 to the C1013), all of which appear to be physically identical and which range in resolution from 6.2 megapixels to the 10.3 megapixel model we have here (the only one Kodak could actually supply us with). All feature the same 2.4 inch screen and 34-102mm (equiv.) 3x zoom and a decent feature set. The styling is typical of most of Kodak's compact digital cameras - slightly chunky and somewhat dated, and the emphasis is very much on point and shoot ease of use.

  • 10.3 effective Megapixels
  • 34-102mm equiv lens with 3x optical zoom
  • 2.4 inch LCD with 115,000 dots resolution
  • ISO sensitivity up to 1000
  • 6 shooting modes, 17 Scene Modes including Blur Reduction mode
  • In-camera Image editing
  • Movie mode: 640 x 480 pixels @ 20 fps
  • Optional accessories available, including EasyShare Printer Dock

Click here to view the full specification (opens in new window)

Overview

Despite its slightly 'toy like' appearance and almost entirely plastic construction the C1013 is actually pretty solid and in fact seems more likely to survive the rough and tumble of family life than some of the other cameras here (I've often recommended Kodak compacts to friends wanting a first camera for a pre-teen). Unfortunately the 'common platform' approach to the C series means that whilst the rather cheap looking body is perfectly fine for the models lower down the range (which sell in some cases for under $70), the C1013 faces competition from a wide range of slimmer, cuter (and often more feature laden) models, and though at 10 megapixels it's one of the highest resolution cameras here, we seriously doubt it's worth the money.

The no-expense-spent feel continues to the menu system. It's pretty well designed but is the only one here not to overlay on top of the camera's preview image. This sudden jump from seeing what you're about to shoot to a blue options screen has a surprisingly powerful 'distancing' effect, constantly reminding you that you're using configuring a piece of electronics, not just shooting pictures. In its favor, there are plenty of on-screen instructions to help beginners and it also explains why certain features aren't available (which very few cameras have the sense to do).

Key Features

The C1013 might not be the cheapest camera here, but it feels like it is. The whole thing looks and feels slightly less polished than the competition. It's well shaped though, fitting well in the hand and aiding stable holding.
An odd mode dial/switch sits atop the camera. The tab on the corner of the dial makes it easy to knock between positions (intentionally or not), but doesn't help when trying to move more than one or two positions.
The C1013 is not short of buttons, though having a four way controller with no functions assigned to it seems like a missed opportunity. And being a Kodak, there's a 'Share' button that takes you through to a print order/email menu. The buttons aren't very clearly marked, making it hard to tell them apart in poor light.
The Kodak has the smallest screen in the test (although its 2.4" screen is not recognizably smaller than the 2.5" ones in most of the competition). It's a low-resolution 115,000 dot display and one of the worst in the group (low refresh rate, low brightness, unusable in bright light). The menus look a little primitive because they all appear on opaque backgrounds (it's amazing how much better a little transparency would make things look).

Image quality and performance

Refusing to judge a book by its cover, we were hoping that the C1013's rather uninspiring design wouldn't be reflected in the pictures it took. Unfortunately we were to be disappointed. At base ISO the results aren't terrible (though they are fairly soft), but they weren't great either. On the plus side the colors are typical Kodak, bright and highly saturated (perfect for the beginner) and when the camera gets everything right the output is vivid, sharp and ready to print. The problem is that the camera doesn't get it right that often, with exposure and white balance problems occurring far too often (virtually every shot we took in daylight was overexposed, meaning AE compensation was in constant use). And once you get over base ISO strong watercolor-like noise reduction kicks in, with lots of noise visible at ISO 400 and above. The problem is obviously the sensor as noise is visible if you look closely even at ISO 80.

The C1013 is also relatively slow compared to the other cameras in this group; autofocus is sluggish even at the wide end of the zoom and gets worse as you zoom in further. In very low light the AF system often gives up altogether. It's not all bad news; shutter lag, menu operation and playback aren't significantly below the par for the cameras tested here, but taking pictures can be a frustrating affair, made all the worse by the fact that the results often don't justify the effort.

The biggest problem with the C1013 is exposure accuracy, though we also experienced some white balance inaccuracy, with the metering far too easily tricked by unusual framing or bright contrasty conditions. For a point and shoot camera the results are remarkably hit and miss. When it gets things right the results are actually very good, but it doesn't get it right often enough for us.

Summary

An uninspiring camera that struggles to produce anything but uninspiring results, it's hard to see how you would recommend the C1013 over similarly priced competitors that offer better styling and more reliable results. Kodak is capable of making great budget cameras, but unfortunately the C1013 simply isn't one of them. At its best, in the right conditions, the C1013 can produce appealing photos, but it's frustrating to use and is far too likely to mess up the exposure or color to be considered a reliable point and shoot camera. On balance the least impressive model in this entire group test.

  • We like: User-friendly, decent range of features and functions
  • We don't like: Sluggish performance, image quality problems, screen
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