Conclusion - Pros
- Superb styling, build and finish
- Uniquely compact 10x zoom camera
- Carry-anywhere model that is truly pocketable
- Decent resolution
- Easy to use, novices will appreciate the integration with EasyShare software
- Bluetooth file transfer
- Large, bright screen (however, see below)
- Bright, vivid color; typical 'Kodak' output
- Useful in-camera editing features
- Generally responsive (however, see below)
- Orientation sensor works in playback mode
- Very reliable auto white balance
- Bluetooth file transfer works well
Conclusion - Cons
- Wide zoom lens is soft in the corners
- More distortion in the center of the zoom range than with a single 10x zoom
- Zoom mechanism annoyingly slow
- Live preview resolution low
- Slow - and occasionally unreliable - focus at the long end of the zoom
- No indication of shutter speed
- Camera shake warning only visible after taking the shot
- Some pattern metering issues with 'none standard' scenes
- Noisy at higher ISOs, nasty noise reduction at ISO 200+
- Images are over-compressed with visible artefacts, no quality options
- Slow buffering (and slow clearing of instant review) makes it feel slower than it is
- Handling sacrificed for styling
- Poor maximum aperture, meaning camera shake unless you use a high ISO
- Could really do with image stabilization
- Quite pricey for what it offers, beyond styling
- Dismal battery life
People who buy iPods are often mocked for ignoring cheaper, more capable MP3 players because they like the shiny white box and 'no need for a manual' interface. It's easy to forget sometimes that some people also buy cameras based more on their looks than their photographic capabilities, and the the EasyShare V610 certainly falls into that sector of the market. It's by no means a bad camera, it's just a camera that promises a lot more than it delivers, and one that - if judged purely on its output - is outperformed by most of its competitors.
Unusually I'm not going to talk too much about image quality here; it's not great, but the color is excellent and at the lowest ISO settings it's perfectly good enough for small (up to, say, 5x7 inches) prints or for viewing on a typical 1024x768 screen. If you're more demanding, want to produce larger prints or shoot in low light I'd suggest you turn around and walk away now.
On paper the V610 is an impressive feat of clever design and engineering; a camera with a 10x optical zoom range that is genuinely pocketable and slimmer than a supermodel on a crash diet is something truly unique in the market at the moment. The nearest competitor (the Panasonic TZ1) is positively chunky by comparison, though of course you do get image stabilization and considerably sharper pictures.
So if we're going to briefly turn a blind eye to the pixel-level image quality we need to look at what matters to the typical user of this kind of 'style' camera; exposure, color and focus accuracy, speed, interface, battery life and so on. Unfortunately even here it's a bit of a mixed bag; the focus at the long end of the zoom is, at times, dire, and in low light it's not that hot at the wide end either. I struggled to get a single usable shot indoors (in the daytime) without flash, as the focus struggled and the small maximum aperture caused camera shake problems even at ISO 400. And this was using the wideangle lens. Yet walking about shooting in bright daylight it was like using a different camera; or at least it was until I'd tried to snap a quick shot at the long 10x end of the zoom; 5 seconds to get from the wide setting, then another three whilst the focus system struggled to lock onto the subject tended to lose the moment, somewhat.
I can forgive the noise and softness issues in a camera like this (given the typical user will produce small prints), but I personally found some aspects of use so frustrating it was hard to enjoy having that big zoom in such a small camera. It's no good in low light, it struggles at the long end of the zoom and it's optically at its worst at the wide end, which is where most casual shots will be taken.
The V610 is a beautifully designed camera that has instant appeal (everyone here loved it when it came out of the box), and the innovative twin lens/CCD system is a clever solution to the limitations of lens size that keeps most ultra compact cameras firmly in the 3x zoom range. As it stands, I'd say this; if you want a really compact camera that performs superbly in all conditions, forget about the 10x zoom; if you really want a big zoom in a compact package, look at the (cheaper and more capable, though bulkier) Panasonic TZ1. If you've fallen for the V610's good looks, you really, really need something this slim and don't find the issues mentioned here too much of a compromise I'm sure you'll love it. Me, I'd wait for the V610's successor, which will hopefully see Kodak iron out some of this promising but flawed camera's more annoying problems.
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||6.5|
There are 30 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.