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Exposure and focusing were also spot-on almost every time, and the few times when they were not were under extremely difficult circumstances. The Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon lens performs exceptionally well with none of the edge distortion that plagues many compact zoom lenses, most noticeably the Sliding Lens System optics found on the Pentax Optio S5z. It does have some noticeable barrel distortion at the wide angle end, but this is common to most wide-angle lenses.
The V550 does a particularly good job of coping with high-ISO image noise. The camera offers an ISO range from 80-800, although the highest setting is only available at a resolution of 1.8MP. The camera employs a noise reduction system that trades detail for noise, so high ISO shots are slightly soft, but on the whole the system works very well and 400 ISO shots are still quite usable. The smaller 800 ISO results are not as impressive, with noticeable speckling and colour artefacts right across the image, but as an emergency measure it works passably well.
One other thing I have to mention. The V550 is the only compact digital camera I’ve ever seen that has the tripod mount where it’s supposed to be, directly under the centre line of the lens. A little thing, but then it’s the little things that count.
The Kodak EasyShare V550 is a stylish, well made and technically impressive camera, with excellent performance and exceptionally good image quality. Both the camera and the supplied software are very easy to use, making this a good choice for a demanding first-time buyer, or as a second camera for an experienced user. It is a little more expensive than some of its competition, but hopefully the price will drop over the next few weeks. This could be the camera that gives Kodak the market share it’s been waiting for.