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White Balance

The P880 has very comprehensive white balance controls. In addition to the default auto WB there are six presets; Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Open Shade and Sunset, one click manual white balance and no less than three custom white balance settings. Finally a neat white balance compensation function lets you fine tune color using the on-screen preview. In our tests the auto WB generally worked very well, representing colors pretty much as we saw them, though scenes with a predominance of a single color fooled the AWB system on occasion. Indoors the AWB coped well with incandescent light (better, in fact, than the tungsten preset), though fluorescents did produce a noticeable cast - something not helped by switching to the preset. In these cases the only way to ensure a neutral tone is to use the one-click manual setting.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 2.9%, Blue -1.4%
Good
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red 3.7%, Blue -6.4%
Average
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 3.0%, Blue -10.3%
Average
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red 2.8%, Blue -3.8%
Average

Flash Performance

There's little to complain about here apart from the increasingly extended flash recycle times as the battery starts to run out. Even worse, if the flash isn't fully charged by the time you press the shutter it will take the picture anyway, without firing the flash, resulting in a totally underexposed shot (a problem we also saw with the P850). This means you have to be very careful when using flash with a half-empty battery.

Otherwise, exposures are excellent and color almost perfect (unusually for a built-in flash it's slightly warm, which is no bad thing most of the time). Fill flash is well balanced and the slow-sync works very well.

Skin tone
Good color, good exposure
Color chart
Good color, good exposure

Macro Focus

The P880's macro function gets you down to about 25cm (10 inches) at both ends of the zoom, which makes it all but useless at the wide end (you're capturing an area over 12 inches across), slightly better at the long end, where you're capturing an area around 10cm across with little or no distortion. To get really close you need to switch to the 'flower' scene mode and choose the 'super close up' sub-mode. Using this setting you can get as close as 2 inches (5cm) and capture an area around 5cm across, though there is fairly strong distortion. The biggest problem with the flower mode is that - being a scene mode - you can't change anything; exposure, white balance, ISO and so on. This seriously limits the P880's usefulness as a tool for close ups.

I've never used a camera with a more confusing macro feature - there are three different options, two of which can only be used with fully automatic exposure. Choosing 'macro focus' from the focus menu gets you down to 25cm, flower mode is about 10cm and super close up mode 5cm. Why make close focusing so complicated?

Super Close up Mode
52 mm x 39 mm coverage
62 px/mm (1571 px/in)
Distortion: Average
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 24 mm
Tele macro
105 mm x 79 mm coverage
31 px/mm (786 px/in)
Distortion: Low
Corner softness: Low
Equiv. focal length: 140 mm

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

There is noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom - understandable given the 24mm focal length, but it's not significantly worse than most competitors with zooms starting at 35mm equiv. or even higher. There is no measurable pincushion distortion at the tele end of the zoom.

Barrel distortion - 1.3% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 24 mm
Barrel distortion - 0.0% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 140 mm

Specific image quality issues

I wasn't expecting much from the P880 after the soft, over-processed images produced by the P850, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that generally speaking there is more to like than to complain about, thought the default setting is still slightly over-sharpened. Color is, as we'd expect from a Kodak camera, excellent, and the images are surprisingly sharp and detailed. As usual with this type of camera there are some problems with dynamic range in very contrasty situations, not helped by the fairly high default contrast, but generally exposure and white balance are very reliable. Our biggest concern was focus, which as well as hunting at the long end of the zoom sometimes misses altogether, though thankfully this affects only a small proportion of the shots we took during the entire 3 month review process. There is little - if any - chromatic aberration, only the mildest blooming at the edge of very overexposed areas and only a slight corner softness at the wide end (impressive given the much wider than normal field of view).

Vignetting and dynamic range issues

Being hyper-critical you can just about see some mild vignetting (darkening of corners) in most images shot at the widest zoom setting, but it's not very strong. Both the examples below also show the P880 struggling to capture the full range of brightness levels on a bright winter's day when the scene contrast is high. It's no worse than any of its competitors in this respect, and a lot better than many 5MP big zoom models.

24 mm equiv., F2.8 24 mm equiv., F2.8

Flare

Even with the supplied flower hood the P880 occasionally produces some mild flare - especially if the sun is in the frame - or very near, but only when you're using the 24mm wide end of the zoom.

100% crop. 24 mm equiv., F2.8
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