While the external features may leave a lot to be desired, internally at least the M893 offers some sophistication. The key feature is of course its image stabilisation system. Unlike a lot of budget cameras which offer only electronic stabilisation or a high-ISO mode, this is a genuine mechanical sensor-shift stabilisation system. You can tell it’s mechanical because you can hear it buzzing away whenever you go to take a shot. In fact if you leave it set on the default continuous mode it sounds like there’s a small but angry wasp trapped inside the camera. The IS system works reasonably well, providing about two stops of extra low-speed stability, not a world-beating performance, but it’s not bad for £80.
In terms of shooting features the M893 is about average. It offers a fully automatic setting, 18 scene modes, a high-ISO setting that is best avoided and a movie mode. It’s worth noting that although the official website prominently displays the ‘HD’ logo, that doesn’t refer to video shooting. All it means is that the camera can play back still images in the 16:9 ratio 1920 x 1080 high-def screen format. Since this is only about 2.1 megapixels anyway it’s really nothing that special. The camera also requires the optional EasyShare HDTV dock in order to connect to a HD television, an accessory which costs around £60.
The M893’s actual video mode is rather lacklustre. It can shoot in 640 x 480 VGA format, but only at 15fps, or in 320 x 240 format at 30fps, both with mono audio, but at least the video clip length is limited only by memory card size.
The M893 also offers a few other features that would have been called “advanced” last year, including face detection, which unfortunately works like last year’s model too. It only detects faces reliably in good light and won’t detect any that aren’t looking straight at the camera. It is also stumped by beards, sunglasses or strong shadows. The camera also has Kodak’s trademark Share button, which allows quick tagging of images for printing, emailing or adding to the Favourites folder. It’s not massively useful unless you also have an EasyShare printer dock, and even then it’s no different to any other playback mode menu.
Talking of menus, this is one of the M893’s other weak spots. The main menu is confusingly laid out with essentials like ISO setting and metering mode relegated to the second page while little-used functions such as date stamp and long exposure are on the first page. It is also very slow to operate and the menu navigation D-pad is stiff and unresponsive. It just feels generally cheap and nasty.