- Review Price: £70.85
One company that has always specialised in cut-priced cameras is Kodak, which has been popularising photography for the masses for over a century. One of the cheapest cameras in Kodak’s current line-up is this EasyShare M530, a very simple ultra-compact currently selling for around £70. It features a 1/2.3-inch 12.2-megapixel sensor, a 3x zoom lens equivalent to 36 – 108mm and a 2.7-inch LCD monitor.
Despite its ultra-low price the M530 is a well-made and reasonably stylish camera. The body is mostly plastic with an aluminium front panel, and comes in a wide range of colours including red, carbon grey, blue, green and the metallic orange shown here. It is a slim and very lightweight camera, measuring just 93.7 x 56.7 x 22.7mm and weighing 127g including battery and memory card. Oddly the official specifications on the Kodak website has the weight listed at 130g body-only.
The body design is quite attractive but still functional and practical. The overall shape is a thin wedge with the thicker end on the right, with a slight flare to the rear panel that makes the camera very easy and comfortable to grip.
It has only the most basic controls, and these are laid out more for aesthetic appeal than ease of use. Like the Kodak M580 that I reviewed last week the top panel controls are integrated into the detailing and flush with the camera body, making them hard to locate by touch and fiddly to use especially in dim light. The rear panel controls are labelled with symbols rather than words, but their function is fairly obvious.
The external hardware is, as you might expect, fairly cheap. The LCD monitor is a basic 2.7-inch 230k unit with a rather restricted field of view, no more than about 45 degrees in any direction. It is quite bright though, and works well enough in bright sunlight.
The M530 has only the most basic functions. Like the M580 it defaults to the all-automatic Smart Capture mode every time it’s turned on, but it does also have a Program Auto mode which does offer slightly more on the menu, such as adjustable white balance and ISO setting, a limited range of colour options and a few autofocus options too. Also like the M580 it has Kodak’s pre-set keywords feature, so you can automatically tag photos with searchable keywords such as “birthday”, holiday”, “wedding” etcetera.
Rather than the usual software CD, the Kodak EasyShare software supplied with the M530 is stored on the camera’s internal memory and can be installed when the camera is connected to a PC via USB. Photos can be tagged in the camera for sharing on social networking websites, and the EasyShare software can automatically upload them for you.
The M530 does have a video recording mode, but it’s rather primitive, shooting at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 at 30fps with mono audio.
The M530’s overall performance is pretty slow, but not disastrously so. It starts up in approximately four seconds, and shuts down again in just under three, which isn’t too bad. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time which averages approximately two and a half seconds, but it does slow down to about three seconds after the first five frames as the buffer fills up. It has no continuous shooting mode as such, but it does have a burst mode that shoots three shots in just over two seconds.
The autofocus system is unfortunately where some of the cost-cutting corners have been cut. It is very slow and clunky even in good light, and in dim light it slows down even more, and fails to either focus or measure exposure at twilight levels of darkness.
Image quality is never going to be stellar in a camera at this sort of price level, but the M530 isn’t as bad as some of its contemporaries. The overall level of detail is excellent, and the dynamic range is better than some more expensive models. The lens quality isn’t brilliant, with a slight overall softness and distinct chromatic aberration around the edges. The exposure meter does have a tendency to over-expose in response to backlighting, and colour reproduction is a bit pale. Image noise is also a bit of a problem, with colour distortions and visible noise even at the minimum 80 ISO, and getting progressively worse up to the maximum of 1000 ISO.
The Kodak EasyShare M530 is a reasonably stylish camera and well made considering its low cost. It lacks many of the features found on more expensive models, but image quality is no worse than expected for the price.
”Over the next few pages we show a range of test shots. On this page the full size image at the minimum and maximum ISO settings have been reduced to let you see the full image, and a series of full resolution crops have taken from original images at a range of ISO settings to show the overall image quality. These pictures were taken indoors using reflected natural light ”
this is the full frame at minimum ISO.
Even at 80 ISO there is some sign of image noise.
Not much difference at 100 ISO.
Noise is more noticeable at 200 ISO.
Noise reduction has blurred detail at 400 ISO.
Image quality is pretty poor at 800 ISO.
Image quality is even worse at the maximum 1000 ISO.
This is the full frame at 1000 ISO.
”A range of general test shots are shown over the next two pages. In some cases, the full size image has been reduced for bandwidth purposes, and a crop taken from the original full resolution image has been placed below it to show the overall image quality. Some other pictures may be clicked to view the original full-size image. ”
Here’s the usual detail test shot of the West Window of Exeter Cathedral, for you to compare with other cameras. See below for a full res crop, or click to see the whole picture. File size 2.3MB
The level of detail is good, but the compression level is pretty harsh.
The wide angle produces very little barrel distortion.
Centre sharpness is a little soft but not too bad for the price.
Distinct chromatic aberration at the edges of the frame.
”Here are some general test shots to help evaluate the camera’s overall image quality, including dynamic range, colour rendition and the zoom range of the lens. Some pictures may be clicked to download the full size original image. ”
The wide angle is equivalent to 36mm.
The telephoto end is equivalent to 108mm.
The exposure meter overexposes in strong backlighting, but dynamic range is better than some.
Colour rendition is a bit pale.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6
Build Quality 8
|Camera type||Ultra Compact|
|Megapixels (Megapixel)||12 Megapixel|
|Optical Zoom (Times)||3x|
|Image Sensor||1/2.3-inch CCD|
|Optical focal length||36 to 108mm equivalent|
|Shutter speed||1/8 to 1/4000|
|Auto focus||TTL-AF, selectable|
|Max output resolution||4026x3026|
|Other resolutions||4000x3000, 4000x2664, 4000x2248, 2880x2160, 2048x1536, 1920x1088, 1280x960|
|Focus range||Wide: 0.5m to infinity, Tele: 1m to infinity, macro: 0.05m to 0.8m|
|Exposure control||Smart auto, Program auto, 20 scene programs|
|Exposure metering||TTL auto|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2EV with 1/3 EV steps|
|ISO settings||Auto, 80-1000|
|LCD Monitor||2.7-in, 230k dots|
|Flash range||0.6 to 3.0m at wide, 0.7 to 1.7m at tele|
|Flash modes||Auto, red-eye reduction, fill, off|
|White balance modes||Auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, open shade|
|Drive modes||Single shot, burst|
|Image formats||JPEG, EXIF 2.21|
|Picture adjustments||Colour modes, 5 settings|
|Video (max res/format)||640x480, 30fps|
|Self timer||2/10 secs|
|Memory card slot||SD/SDHC|
|Batteries supplied||740mAh Li-ion rechargeable|
|A/V output||PAL, NTSC|
|Charging/Computer Connection||USB 2.0|
|Manual||Multilingual printed manual, 26 pages in English|
|Dimensions Width (Millimeter)||93.7mm|
|Weight (body only) (Kilogram)||127g including battery and memory cardkg|
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