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Not so very long ago, an 8.1-megapixel, 3x optical zoom camera with a 2.7-inch LCD monitor, an all-metal body and mechanical image stabilisation would have cost you around £300. However the digital camera market is a fast-moving place, and so here we have the Kodak EasyShare M893 IS, which offers all of the features listed above for just £79.99. But is it really the bargain it appears to be, or have corners been cut to save money?
The M893 IS is a fairly unremarkable looking camera. In overall shape and style it looks a lot like a Pentax Optio S model from about three years ago. The body is a plain rectangular box with rounded corners, with a metallic finish and chrome details. It is available in silver, black, red or the powder blue of my review sample. Although the design does look a bit dated it's not an unattractive camera, and measuring 92 × 56.5 × 22.7mm it is small enough to slip unobtrusively into a shirt pocket. The M893 is very light even for its small size, weighing just 117g minus card and battery, or about 135g ready to shoot.
The overall build quality isn't too bad, but the low weight does make the M893 feel a bit flimsy. The body is aluminium, but it feels very thin and the body does creak a bit if given a good squeeze. The control layout isn't too brilliant either. In order to make room for the big 2.7-inch monitor the rear panel controls are very small and fiddly and are squashed into a small space, leaving little room to grip the camera when shooting. The menu, playback and delete buttons are tiny, and all the controls are labelled in pale grey on a light blue background, which is unsurprisingly almost impossible to see. The D-pad is very stiff and clunky, the mode dial is too loose and easy to jog, and none of the controls feel particularly solidly mounted.
The LCD monitor is large, and with 230k dots it is sharp enough, but it has a slow refresh rate and its angle of view is somewhat restricted, at least in one direction. For some reason it seems to have been put on upside down, because if you hold the camera over your head to shoot over a crowd, the screen view fades to black, while if you hold it below your eye level you can see it just fine. The screen also isn't terribly bright, making it difficult to see in bright sunlight.
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