Summary

Our Score

6/10

Review Price free/subscription

Kodak EasyShare M380 - Kodak EasyShare M380

The M380's overall performance is about average for a cheap compact. It takes almost three seconds to start up, but the shot-to-shot time in single-shot mode is approximately 1.8 seconds, which actually seems reasonably quick until you realise that the camera doesn't wait for the AF system to focus before taking a picture, it just goes ahead a shoots as soon as you press the button. If you wait for the autofocus to finish the shot-to-shot time is a much more likely 2.3 seconds. The M380 has no continuous shooting mode, just a three-shot burst mode that shoots in just under three seconds, but needless to say doesn't focus between shots.
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The autofocus system is reasonably quick in good light, but fails dismally in even a room lit by a 60W bulb, in other words light in which you can read a newspaper. It has no AF assist light, so it's useless in the dark, however it will happily take a photo anyway even though it will come out as a dark burry mess. I had more disappointing low light shots from the M380 than from any other camera that I can recall.

The camera's overall image quality is pretty poor even for a camera in this price range. The lens is very soft right across the frame, and although it avoids excessive wide-angle distortion the corners of the frame suffer from visible chromatic aberration. Exposure metering and automatic white balance are both erratic, and colour rendition, something for which Kodak once had a good reputation, is terrible. Darker saturated colours are blotchy, brighter ones are over-exposed and both lack detail.
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The M380's biggest problem is one that has plagued other recent Kodak cameras. Most 10MP cameras produce image files of between 3MB and 4.5MB, a compression ratio of around 7:1 to 10:1. The M380 produces shots averaging around 1.5MB, a compression rate of around 20:1, and as a result fine detail is lost, images are riddled with compression artefacts, and overall image quality suffers. Sure, it can fit over 300 shots on a 1GB card, but really what's the point of putting a 10MP sensor in a camera if you then cripple it with tiny file sizes? It's not like multi-gigabyte SD cards are particularly expensive.

Verdict
The Kodak EasyShare M380 is a reasonably cheap camera considering its specification, but it's far from being good value. Indifferent build quality, a very limited range of poorly implemented features, non-existent low light performance and shoddy image quality make it one to avoid.

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