The P880 bears a strong family resemblance to the P850, though it's considerably larger and - it must be said - nowhere near as pretty. As is now fairly standard on this type of camera the styling is distinctly 'SLR-like', even down to the mechanical zoom ring and 'focus by wire' rotating focusing ring on the lens barrel. As befits a camera at this end of the market the body positively bristles with buttons, switches and control wheels, meaning virtually every possible photographic control can be accessed without ever using a menu.
The P880 - like most of Kodak's big zoom cameras - is constructed almost entirely from plastic, which means it is very light for its size (about 500g). But it seems very solid, and more than capable of taking the knocks and scrapes of everyday use.
In your hand
The P880 is very well balanced, has a large (though rather narrow) grip, and sits very comfortably in the hand. Supporting the lens with your left hand makes the whole thing very stable too.
The large 1700mAh Li-ion 3.7v battery slips into a slot on the underside of the grip under a sturdy plastic hinged door. There's no catch to keep the battery in place, so be careful when opening the door or it'll end up on the floor. Battery life is pretty good- we regularly got over 250 shots on a single charge (though this is using the EVF some of the time as the LCD is a bit power-hungry). Recharging is either via the included charger or the optional docking station.
On the side of the grip sits the SD card slot, under a fairly solid (plastic-hinged) cover. The P880 has 32MB of internal memory - (enough for six 8MP/fine quality images) and you can copy images from the internal memory to an SD card or vice versa.
The large 2.5-inch LCD is bright and has a 30fps frame rate - and there is not a hint of video lag. Unsurprisingly it's not the sharpest display in the world (115,000 pixels is nowhere near enough for a screen this size), but it gains up well in low light, and is fairly usable in sunlight too. To the left of the screen are buttons for direct access to flash, metering, ISO and white balance modes.
The electronic viewfinder boasts 237,000 pixels and a wide dioptre adjustment range. It's pretty good too, though - and despite the lower resolution, is easier to use than the previous models (mainly due to the lack of video lag). It's not that bright (meaning it's not ideal in very sunny conditions), but it is very clear.
Hidden under a large flap on the left side of the P880 (viewed from the rear) are the DC-in port (for the optional mains adapter), and a combined USB / AV mini port. Of course, being a Kodak, there's also an EasyShare connector on the base of the camera for use with docks and printer docks.
One of the P880's biggest selling points is the lens, which is considerably wider (24mm equiv.) at the short end than any of its near competitors. The 5.8x zoom range takes you up to 140mm at the long end, giving a very useful range for most everyday photography. It's very refreshing to use a compact that actually gives the option of a real 'wide' angle of view without resorting to add-on lenses, and for shooting scenery or interiors its a godsend. Kodak supplies a small 'flower' lens hood in the box.
The P880 features a mechanical zoom (i.e. you turn the barrel to change the focal length), which not only makes fine tuning framing considerably easier, but also cuts down on battery usage. The lens extends by around an inch (25mm) when zoomed to the maximum 140mm equiv. position. Behind the zoom ring is a manual focusing ring, which alters focus electronically as you turn it ('focus by wire').
The top plate of the P880 is home to the mode dial, which has one custom mode position (there are three custom mode registers for saving your settings) and three subject modes (portrait, landscape and flower) - each of which has two or three 'sub modes'.
The grip is large, though it feels a little narrow if you've got big hands. The large shutter release is encircled by the main power switch, which has three positions; on, off and favorites mode. Alongside the mode dial are a button for drive mode and a 'program' button, which can have pretty much any function assigned to it.
The control wheel on the back of the grip is used - in conjunction with the 'SET' button to select and change exposure settings in record mode (and to magnify images in playback mode).
The pop-up flash isn't the most powerful in the world, but it does the job for most social situations, and exposure / color are excellent. In fact, our only complaint is that the flash refuses to fire if it's not fully charged, yet the camera will still take a (grossly underexposed) shot.
One welcome addition is a fully dedicated hot shoe for use with external flash. Kodak offers a fully TTL-dedicated bounce head flash (the P20 zoom flash) for around $150.