Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent color, good resolution
- Generally very good exposure
- Very useful - and pretty much unique - 24-140mm zoom range
- Manual (mechanical) zooming
- Manual focus ring
- Sharp lens, good edge-to-edge consistency even at 24mm
- Lens thread for optional filters and lenses
- Lots of customization options
- Comprehensive manual white balance options
- Good handling and easy access to most controls
- Superb range of photographic control
- RAW and TIFF modes
- Fairly low noise across the range
- Good flash performance & hot shoe for external flash
- Nice big screen (not enough resolution, though)
- Sharp, fast electronic viewfinder
- Lots of features, easy point-and-shoot use
- Good range of scene modes and simple explanations of features/functions
- Simple, automated picture sharing with supplied software suite
- In-camera RAW developing
- Good movie mode - with zooming
- Good battery life
- Well priced
Conclusion - Cons
- Focus slow in low light and at long end of zoom
- Flash won't fire when battery is low, but picture still taken
- Occasional focus errors at long end of zoom
- ISO 400 JPEGs quite soft due to noise reduction
- ISO 800 and 1600 only available at 0.8MP resolution
- Very slow TIFF and raw writing
- Macro mode confusing and restrictive
- Quick review slows down shot-to-shot time too much
- Doesn't remember JPEG quality setting (defaults to 'standard') when you change shooting modes, which gets really, really annoying.
The two cameras in the new EasyShare 'P' range are superficially very similar, yet in many respects they are like chalk and cheese. Where the inherent problems of a soft lens and noisy sensor meant Kodak had to process the P850 images to within an inch of their lives, the P880 has what appears to be a very good lens and a perfectly decent sensor. This is important; the images are cleaner and sharper to start with, so the in-camera processing is much lighter (though still a little too strong at the default setting for our liking), and the end results far superior. I was impressed from the start by the excellent color, good edge-to-edge sharpness and (relatively) low level of artefacts in the P880's JPEG output. If you can live with the very slow raw file writing you can wring even better results out of the lens / sensor combo.
Of course it's not all good news; the P880 feels - to me - a little on the flimsy side (though this is simply because it's made of plastic, and to be fair it seems fairly solid), the focus in low light hunts so much it needs a red jacket and a bugle and the macro mode is over complex and too restrictive.
But overall there is much more to like here than to dislike, especially when you consider the unique zoom range. I'm a big wideangle fan, and having a 24mm wideangle on a zoom after being restricted to 35mm or even longer with most 'big zoom' cameras really lifts the creative shackles.
Kodak has been quite clever with the P880, identifying a niche in the 'prosumer' market that isn't filled by the likes of the Panasonic FZ30, and filling it. Taken as an overall package the P880 offers little to differentiate it from its main competitors, but for those who like to 'shoot wide' it is almost in a class of its own. Looking at the three nearest competitors (the Fuji S9000, Samsung Pro815 and Konica Minolta A200), none has a 24mm equiv. lens (all start at 28mm equiv.) - though all have longer tele ends, and all are considerably pricier. The KM A200 - perhaps the nearest competitor - has a longer zoom range and the undeniable benefit of image stabilization, but the P880 produces sharper results with more appealing color.
In conclusion then, the P880 is well worth consideration if you want a true wide angle zoom built into your camera, and though it's not going to replace a digital SLR (despite the implication in Kodak's publicity materials), and it only just falls short of a highly recommended.