So far so good, but unfortunately there are a couple of flies in the soup. The first is the performance. The V1233 takes just under three seconds to start up, which is a bit on the slow side, but if takes nearly five seconds to shut down again, which is very slow. The autofocus system is reasonably quick, and even works fairly well in low light thanks to an AF assist lamp. However the main performance bottleneck is the ludicrously slow speed at which the camera writes data to the memory card. It’s OK for the first three shots, but then it slows right down to a crawl. Even using a high-speed SanDisk Ultra II SD card, I found that it was taking eight seconds to write each file to the card, which is appallingly slow by modern standards. I normally find the shot-to-shot time by shooting a sequence of ten shots and then calculating an average, which normally takes around 30 seconds. In the case of the V1233 it took nearly a minute and a half. It does have a three-shot burst mode, but after shooting it takes 20 seconds to write these three files to the card, before it can shoot another burst. I have no idea why it should be so slow, since the JPEG picture files it produces are very small for a 12MP camera, averaging only around 2.4MB.
This leads me all too neatly to the other major problem, which is image quality. The whole point of a 12 megapixel camera is supposed to be superior picture quality, but the pictures produced by the V1233 are massively over-compressed, resulting in lots of JPEG artefacts which greatly reduce the level of fine detail and ruins the smoothness of any plain textures, such as the sky. The sensor is of the larger 1/1.8-inch type, as is the case in most of the current 12MP compacts, but as usual it suffers from extremely limited dynamic range, with very little shadow detail. It also has major noise problems, again in common with most other 12MP compacts, with noise clearly visible on 200 ISO shots. At 800 and 1600 ISO there were interference-like lines going right across the frame, completely ruining the picture, and the 3200 ISO maximum (available at 3MP only) was effectively useless. The V1233 has a Schneider-Kreuznach lens, which is usually a good thing, but in this case it produces significant barrel distortion at the 37mm-equivalent wide-angle end. The overall sharpness is pretty good, even in the corners of the frame, but this performance is wasted by the over-compression and image noise.
On the bright side, colour reproduction is very good, as is usually the case with Kodak’s Colour Science processing, but the exposure metering is not terribly accurate, producing significant under-exposure in many cases.
While the V1233 is a well-made, elegantly designed and easy-to-use camera with an attractive price tag for its specification, the woefully slow performance and inferior image quality make it a poor choice. If you really have to have a 12 megapixel compact (why?), then there are better ones on the market for not much more money.
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