Timing & Performance
Overall performance is excellent; the V610 has a fast startup thanks to the lack of an extending lens, and as the timings below show, it's as fast as - or faster than - most big zoom cameras in most respects (shot to shot times in particular are excellent). But there are a couple of areas that let the V610 down. First is focus speed in anything but perfect conditions, particularly when using the longer zoom, where (in low light) focusing - particularly at the tele end - can take anything up to three seconds. To be fair in good light it's not that bad (if the subject is right it's often under a second), but I often found myself cursing the focus system as it failed to lock on to a distant subject for so long that I simply gave up. We were also surprised to find that even in good light with a strong edge to focus on the V610 still sometimes got confused when focusing at the long end of the zoom, hunting wildly before giving up with an AF error (or even worse, indicating it was in focus when it clearly wasn't). Thankfully these occasions were pretty rare.
Focusing aside I personally would love a slightly faster zoom. When I'm out shooting I tend to flip from one end of the zoom to the other, and the slow zoom (around 5 secs) - and the fact you can't hold the zoom button down to zoom all the way through the range (there's a pause as the V610 swaps lenses, and you have to take your thumb off the button and press it again) got annoying. I'd be walking along shooting scenes, spot something I wanted to zoom in on, but by the time I'd got to the other end of the zoom - and waited for the focus - the moment would be gone. What I'd like would be if Kodak could put an option to flip between lenses (without using the zoom control), so I could choose to leave the tele zoom at its longest setting, and the wide zoom at its widest.
Finally there's the very slow card writing (something common to pretty much all Kodaks we've ever reviewed), which you'll only notice if you shoot a lot of burst sequences as the buffering is excellent. It does have a side effect of making the V610 seem a lot slower than it is; the 'instant review' stays on screen for up to four seconds after you take a shot, as it's written to the card, and you have to half-press the shutter again to return to live view.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2832 x 2128 JPEG image (approx. 1,100 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB Sandisk Extreme III card.
|Power: Off to Record||1.6|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.6|
|Power: Play to Off||1.7|
|Record Review||Image displayed||0.7|
|Mode: Play to Record||0.5|
|Mode: Record to Play||0.5|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (8x)||~2.1|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||~0.2|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||~0.2|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||38 to 380 mm (10x)||~4.9 *1|
|Half-press Lag (Focus time)||Wide angle||~0.3-0.7 *2|
|Half-press Lag (Focus time)||Telephoto||~0.6-3.0 *2|
|Pre-focus Lag (S1>S2)||LCD live view||~0.15|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.4|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~2.5|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||~1.0 *3|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on ( red eye reduction on / off)||1.4 / 2.2 *3|
|*1||This includes the pause when switching from one lens to the other.|
|*2||In good light focus is very fast, but when light levels drop, or immediately after zooming, the focus time can stretch (up to 3.0 seconds at the long 10x end of the zoom).|
|*3||Shot to shot times are very fast but as the V610 will take a picture without focus being locked you have to be careful. Flash shot to shot times are higher at greater distances and when the battery is low.|
Continuous drive mode
The V610 has a single burst mode that we measured at just over 1.6 frames per second. You can shoot up to 8 frames in a single burst (though sometimes it's only 7), after which there is a delay of around ten seconds before you can take another picture (whilst the images are written to the card).
File writing / playback performance
As mentioned above the V610 is sluggish when it comes to writing the card (it takes around 4.1 seconds to save a 1.1MB file, a pedestrian 0.3 MB /s), though the large, fast buffer means you'll rarely notice. Playback performance is much better, with 6MP images taking no more than 0.2 seconds to display.
The V610's slim 720 mAh battery is woefully inadequate for a camera with a large screen and no optical viewfinder. The quoted life is 135 shots (CIPA standard), but we found this dropped to under a hundred shots if we spent too long using the live preview or flash. If you like to shoot lots of pictures we'd heartily suggest buying a spare battery.