- Review Price: £349.00
I have to admit to being something of a snob when it comes to cameras. While I have often recommended the likes of Canon, Nikon, Pentax and even the odd Sony to friends and colleagues that have asked me for advice, it would never have occurred to me to suggest a Kodak. I’m not 100 per cent sure why this is, since I can vividly remember testing the Kodak DC120 back in 1997 and raving about its performance – it was the first consumer digital camera to sport a megapixel resolution. More recently though, I haven’t given much thought to Kodak digital cameras, but that all changed when I got my paws on the new EasyShare V610.
Of course if I took any notice of my resident camera expert Cliff, I would realise that Kodak is producing very high quality digital cameras – Cliff’s review of the Kodak EasyShare V550 was glowing, with the camera grabbing a Recommended award. As the name would suggest, the V610 is a direct descendant of the V550, but it has evolved into a far more feature rich beast.
The V610 really does have features galore, but one of its best party pieces is the 10x optical zoom lens. Actually that’s not entirely accurate – the V610 doesn’t have a 10x optical zoom lens, it has two lenses that combine for a 10x zoom range. In 35mm terms you’re looking at a focal length from 38 – 380mm, which really is phenomenal for such a slim compact camera.
It is worth mentioning though that you don’t actually have that entire focal length at your disposal – the first lens has a focal length of 38 – 114mm, while the second lens sports a 130 – 380mm range. Therefore there’s a jump between 114 and 130mm. Whether this is an issue for you really depends on whether the exact shot you want lies in the missing area of focal length, and even if it does, you could always just take a couple of steps forward or backwards to compensate.
On the plus side, splitting the focal length across two lenses means that the V610 won’t suffer from some of the optical aberrations that can affect compact lenses with very long focal lengths. And looking at the test shots I took with this camera, I’d say that Kodak has made the right decision.
The V610 isn’t as small as some compacts, measuring 111 x 55.5 x 23.2mm (WxHxD) and weighing 160g. That said, it does look and feel great, with solid metal construction and an attractive two tone black and silver finish. There’s a round metal lens protector that slides aside as soon as the power button is pressed – you’re ready to shoot in under two seconds.
The solid construction continues all around the chassis, with a metal tripod mount on the base – many compact cameras will compromise here and go with a plastic mount, but using plastic means that it only takes one miss-thread to put an end to your tripod using days; a metal mount on the other hand will be strong enough to last the lifetime of the camera. The battery/memory card door is spring loaded and flips open when slid to one side. Under the flap both the memory card and the battery are secured, so even if the door did open accidentally, nothing can fall out by accident.
Most of the rear is taken up by the superb LCD display. This is without a doubt, the best LCD monitor that I have seen on a compact digital camera – at 2.8in it’s huge, but unlike most large LCD monitors, the resolution (230,000 pixels) is high enough to create a very fine image. Despite the large physical size, there’s no perceivable lag when framing images, even when you move the camera around fast – ideal for catching fast moving subjects; the V610 even offers a continuous AF mode specifically for this type of use. The monitor proved to be usable in pretty much any lighting condition – many of the test shots for this review were taken in very bright sunlight and the monitor was still easily viewable.
Auto focusing is fast and very accurate, while the AF illuminator means that you’ll have no trouble zeroing in on a target in low light conditions. The camera starts up in auto mode, which is fine for grabbing most photo opportunities, but if you hit the Scene button you’re presented with 22 different modes. Here you’ll find pretty much every scene mode you’re likely to need from landscape, to portrait, to party, to night portrait etc. The V610 is even kind enough to give you a brief explanation of what each mode means, rather than leaving you to guess what the icon represents like so many other cameras.
Another impressive party trick that the V610 has up its sleeve is the ability to create panoramic images by stitching multiple shots together into a single photo. Now, in some ways this isn’t anything new, since many digital cameras have been able to create panoramic shots over the years. However, most of those cameras require the user to stitch all the images together using a PC application, but it’s a very different story with the V610.
Under the Scene menu you can select two panoramic modes – either from left to right or right to left – and then take up to three images that the camera will then stitch together itself, with no need for any PC intervention. After taking the first shot, the camera gives you a small section of the previous photo so that you can line up the next one – even if you have shaky hands, the V610 does a very good job of working out exactly where the two images should be joined. The panoramic shots do look great and I couldn’t find a single person that wasn’t impressed with the results. It’s worth noting that the resolution drops down to 3.1-megapixel for the panoramic shots, but that doesn’t detract from the effect.
The V610’s final party trick is integrated Bluetooth. If you press the Share button you have the option of sending an image to another device via Bluetooth. This works really well and you even get the option of choosing what resolution you want to send the image over as – if you’re sending to a mobile phone for use as wallpaper or to import to an MMS, you can send the image over at QVGA resolution. You can also choose to send the image over at XGA or at the full resolution.
The great thing about the integrated Bluetooth is that it makes it easier than ever to share your photos with friends. Let’s say that you take the V610 with you for a night out and you take a bunch of pictures; at the end of the evening you could send those pictures to your friends’ mobile phones, thus letting everyone involved enjoy the photos.
There’s 32MB of memory built into the V610, which can obviously be augmented by an SD card. You can set the camera to default to the memory card, but having built in memory is handy on those occasions when you leave your SD card in your PC card reader. With the V610 you can shoot decent quality video in MPEG 4 format in 640 x 480 resolution at 30fps. You can shoot for up to 80 minutes assuming that you have a large enough memory card installed, and given the bargain price of memory cards these days you should be able to create some decent length movies. Also, unlike many other cameras, you can use the full zoom focal length while shooting video.
Although you’re not going to have full manual control on a compact camera, the V610 does offer a reasonable amount of creative control. You can set a long exposure up to eight seconds, so there will be no problem capturing night scenes. There’s also a live histogram function, and ISO ratings from 64 up to 800. There’s also two steps of exposure compensation either way in 0.3 EV steps. Even the burst mode is pretty good for a compact camera with a total of eight frames fired off at 1.6fps.
Even the self timer does everything you could want it to, offering a 10 second clock so that you can get into the picture, or a two second clock allowing you to take long exposure shots without fear of introducing camera shake by pressing the shutter release button. You can even set the self timer to take two consecutive pictures automatically.
Image quality is surprisingly good for a compact camera with such a long lens (or more accurately lenses). With a focal length of 38 – 380mm I thought I’d compare it to my Canon EOS 350D and a 28 – 200mm lens; with the 350D’s 1.6x multiplier the effective focal length is 44 – 360mm, pretty close to the V610. Taking both sets of shots on full auto, the V610 managed to put in a good performance compared to a digital SLR equipped with a lens that cost more this entire camera. Obviously with the 350D I could have spent some time composing the pictures manually, but as far as point and shoot duties go, the V610 is a more than capable tool.
Image noise is also kept under control at 64 and 100 ISO settings, with 200 ISO shots usable in the right conditions. Pushing up to 400 and 800 ISO is a bit too much for the V610 though, and I wouldn’t really suggest using these settings. Flash coverage is good and the red eye reduction works better than in some cameras I’ve used. You can even achieve some decent depth of field effects with the V610, although it falls short of a true aperture priority feature.
The V610 also has Kodak’s Perfect Touch post processing built in, so you can touch up your pictures without using a computer – ideal considering that you have the ability to share images direct from the camera. You can even crop images and resave them as new files.
If there’s one thing missing from the V610 it’s a mini-USB connector. Of course you can connect the camera up to a USB port via the supplied cable, but I always prefer to see standard connection options rather than proprietary ones. That said, I never connect any of my cameras directly to my PC, I just whip the memory card out and transfer my images directly from it.
The EasyShare V610 doesn’t come cheap though, with Kodak quoting an RRP of £349 including VAT. This puts it at the very top end of the compact digital camera market, but it is also the most feature rich compact digital camera you can buy. This camera is so new that I can’t find a street price for it yet, but I would expect it to be available for around the £300 mark when stock arrives with online retailers. Even if my estimated street price is correct, this is still an expensive compact camera, but in my opinion, it’s worth every penny.
Never again will Kodak not be in my short list when people ask me to suggest what digital camera to buy. The EasyShare V610 is a superb compact digital camera with an amazing amount of features squeezed into a slim body. The dual lens system gives you an amazing focal length without the usual problems associated with a very long lens.
The panoramic feature is more than just a gimmick and works brilliantly, while the integrated Bluetooth makes sharing your pictures a breeze. Image quality is also well above average as long as you don’t push the ISO too high. If you’re looking for a feature rich, do it all camera but don’t want a digital SLR, the V610 is definitely worth considering.
A range of test shots are shown over the next few pages. Here, 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 in order for you to gain an appreciation of the overall quality. The following pages consist of resized images so that you can evaluate the overall exposure. For those with a dial-up connection, please be patient while the pages download.
As you would expect at 64 ISO, there’s no noise corrupting the image.
At 100 ISO things are still looking pretty good.
At 200 ISO the image starts to look a little over-processed on close inspection, perhaps due to over zealous noise reduction.
At 400 ISO CCD noise becomes aparant, showing the V610’s limitations compared to a good digital SLR.
At 800 ISO the result is pretty much unusable, but then few compact cameras can get away with an ISO setting this high.
This page consists of resized images so that you can evaluate the overall exposure.
The images on this page highlight the V610’s panoramic mode.
Taken at White Hart Lane from the upper stands – you’d pay a lot of money for a wide angle lens to give you this effect on an SLR.
A shot of the grounds surrounding the TrustedReviews offices highlighting the beautiful landscapes you can create with the panoramic mode.
This page consists of resized images so that you can evaluate the overall exposure.
This shot is taken at full zoom through the glass window behind my desk, cute isn’t he?
An indoor shot using the built-in flash showing good, even coverage – that’s my Technical Editor by the way.
With a little experimenting you can create some nice depth of field effects.
The shots on this page compare the V610 to a Canon EOS 350D with a 28 – 200mm lens. All the shots were taken from the same position at full wide and full zoom.
The V610 at its full wide setting – that’s the TrustedReviews office in the background.
The same shot with an EOS 350D taken on full auto – the V610 compares well.
Take from exactly the same position as the pictures above, the focal range of the V610 is staggering.
With a maximum effective zoom of 360mm, the 350D just can’t get as close as the pocket size Kodak, although the image is definitely sharper.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9
|Camera type||Digital Compact|
|Megapixels (Megapixel)||6.36 Megapixel|
|Optical Zoom (Times)||10x|