The other controls are more conventional in shape and function. I was unsure about the rather ornamental square D-pad at first, but it works just fine. The position of the viewfinder does lead to nose-prints on the monitor screen, but that may be because I have a big nose.
In common with most Kodak compacts, the V550 has a ‘Share’ button. The camera is supplied with a very stylish USB charger/docking cradle which connects to a PC, and when the camera is inserted the Share button automatically starts the Kodak EasyShare software and downloads the pictures. The EasyShare software system has been rightly praised as one of the simplest and most effective digital photo programs available, and some other manufacturers have started using it under license. Using this software, even a computer novice can sort, edit print and share digital photos with ease. It’s not Photoshop, but for the home user it’s superb.
In terms of performance the V550 does not disappoint and fully lives up to its high-tech style. Despite its 3x optical zoom lens it starts up in around two seconds, which is nice and quick. The autofocus system is possibly the fastest that Kodak has ever made, and thanks to a bright AF illuminator it can focus in total darkness.
Shot-to-shot times are good, with a burst mode that can take five frames in just under two seconds at full resolution, which is ideal for capturing fast-moving action, although you do have to wait several seconds for the images to be saved to the memory card before you can continue shooting.
In playback mode, images can be cropped and copied, and presented as a slide show. This isn’t much, but with the options available in the EasyShare software it is enough.
The camera also has a very good movie mode, shooting at full VGA resolution of 640 x 480 at 30 frames per second with mono audio and a duration limited only by available memory card space.
Many other stylish design-oriented compact cameras fall down on image quality, but happily this is not the case with the V550, in fact its still image quality is excellent. As one might expect from a company with Kodak’s reputation, colour reproduction is among the best I have ever seen from a compact camera. Whether in bright sunlight, overcast shade or lit by the built-in flash it returned utterly faithful colour fidelity at all times, which is impressive to say the least.