The biggest surprise with the M893 is that in terms of overall performance it’s actually pretty good. It starts up surprisingly quickly, although it seems slower because of its annoying habit of telling you what mode you’re in and what it’s supposed to be used for. Fortunately tapping the shutter button makes this go away and the camera is actually ready to shoot in just 2.5 seconds, which isn’t bad at all. It shuts down again in about the same time.
The shot-to-shot time in single shot mode is also surprisingly good, since it is able to maintain a shot every two seconds apparently until the card is full. Strangely, given this impressive performance, the M893 doesn’t have a full continuous shooting mode, but in the three-shot burst mode it can take three frames in four seconds.
Naturally with such a cheap camera there are a few rough spots, and unfortunately the autofocus system is one of them. It is quite slow even in good light, and in even slightly low light it won’t focus at all. I’m talking about light you can read by here, so there’s no real excuse. There’s also no AF assist lamp. The auto exposure system also has a problem with low light, mainly because the slowest shutter speed in normal shooting is only 1/8th of a second. There is a long-exposure mode that manually set shutter speeds of up to four seconds, but this disables any manual ISO setting, and also takes several seconds to take the picture for some reason.
Picture quality has its good and bad points. The overall level of detail from the 8.1MP sensor is actually pretty good, but the image quality is reduced by over-compression, inconsistent auto white balance and very poor lens quality. Despite its restricted focal length range the lens produces significant barrel distortion, the edges of the frame are badly blurred, and it suffers from a lot of chromatic aberration.
Noise control is also very poor, with visible image noise even at the minimum setting of 80 ISO. By the key milestone of 400 ISO the image quality is so poor as to be virtually unusable, and higher settings are of course even worse. About the only things the M893 has going for it are good colour reproduction in daylight, and reasonably good dynamic range in high contrast shots.
Priced at just £80 the Kodak M893 IS stands out among other very cheap digital cameras because of its mechanical image stabilisation, but in most other respects you get what you pay for. Overall build quality and design are of a rather low standard, and while start-up and single-shot speeds are adequate, other aspects of the performance are quite poor, especially autofocus and low light capability. Poor image quality and serious noise problems are the final nails in the coffin. When you can get much better cameras for only £20-30 more, why spend £80 on something you won’t enjoy using?