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Buying a digital camera for between £100 and £150 is a tricky business. Below £100 you know you're not going to get much in the way of advanced features and can expect fairly ropey build quality, and above £150 is where you can expect to find features such as image stabilisation, wide angle lenses and HD video. However in the middle ground you have to tread carefully because while there are some excellent bargains to be found they are greatly outnumbered by mediocre or genuinely bad cameras. Cameras such as the Fujifilm F60d, Casio EX-Z85, Nikon S225 and especially the Pentax M60 may lack some of the bells and whistles found on more expensive cameras, but they offer good value for money.
Today's review camera falls pretty much in the middle of that difficult price bracket. The EasyShare M380 is a mid-range model of Kodak's mainstream consumer M-series, and as such it's about as average as a digital camera can get. It has a 10.2 megapixel CCD, a 3.0-inch LCD monitor and a 5x zoom lens, but lack image stabilisation, a wide angle lens and advanced video recording. You can buy it direct from Kodak's website for £129.98 or from a few online retailers for around £125. It's available in red or black here in the UK, but other territories also have teal or purple options.
I have to admit that for the price it's a pretty decent looking camera. The body is mostly aluminium, although with some plastic parts, and the anodised metallic red finish of my review sample is quite attractive. However on closer inspection it's easy to see where money has been saved. The poorly labelled controls look and feel cheap, the tripod bush is a soft and easily-stripped plastic, and the non-latching battery/card hatch cover is extremely flimsy. The LCD monitor is large and reasonably sharp, but it's not terribly bright and has a shiny reflective surface that attracts finger marks and is almost impossible to see in bright daylight. Also the menu appears to have designed for a screen with a different resolution, because the text is very blocky.
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