In order to keep the price down it’s inevitable that some corners have been cut, and in this case most of the money has been saved on the internal electronics. As a result the C180’s overall performance is rather disappointing. It starts up very slowly, taking almost 4.5 seconds from power-on to being ready to take a picture, and it takes over three seconds to shut down again. In single-shot mode however it produces a big surprise, with a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.7 seconds, which is actually pretty quick. The C180 has no continuous shooting option, instead it has a three-shot burst mode that takes just under two seconds, but there is no focusing between shots, and the monitor is blank while shooting, which doesn’t help.
As with the Kodak Z915 that I reviewed last week, the C180 could be faster if only it had a better autofocus system. In good light it takes nearly a second to lock on to even high-contrast targets, and it slows down in low light. What’s even worse is that once the light falls below certain level it just gives up and doesn’t even attempt to focus. I’m not talking about pitch darkness here; this is in light you can still read by. Don’t buy the C180 if you like taking photos in the evening.
The C180’s tiny flash is rather underpowered, failing to live up to even its claimed three metre maximum range, and not really covering the whole frame either. It is well metered at close range though, and doesn’t burn out highlights on close-up portraits.
Overall image quality is about what we’ve come to expect from budget cameras. In good daylight with normal subjects it will turn in a perfectly reasonable average image, but as soon as light levels fall or contrast levels rise it starts to have problems. Dynamic range is extremely limited, and image noise is visible on shots from 100 ISO upwards. Colour rendition lacks saturation, and the low quality of the cheap lens means poor overall detail, extensive corner blurring and chromatic aberration. Add to this the same over-compression problems suffered by the Z915 and it’s not looking too rosy for the C180.
The Kodak EasyShare C180 is about average for a current low-cost 3x zoom compact. It’s fairly well made, very easy to use and comfortable to handle, but it lacks many of the useful features of models costing not much more. However the very poor picture quality and non-existent low light performance are the real deciding factors.
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