Kodak’s trials and tribulations in its transition from film to digital have filled business press pages for years. We won’t comment on the problems in the executive suite (they’re too legion and would bore you to tears). Cameras are what we’re all about and Kodak has its share of decent models such as the P880 and the new Z712 IS. The EasyShare V1003 is in the middle of the company’s line-up. It has 10MP resolution, a 3x optical zoom, a 2.5-inch LCD and the true ease of use that’s endeared Kodak to moms everywhere for the last century. We’re reviewing this model because of that and for the fact you can get a name brand 10-megapixel camera for $199 USD in stores–a pretty incredible price when you think back a year or two. Now is it worth spending two century notes on a Kodak? There’s only one way to find out…
Features and Design
Remember those moms we just mentioned? Well, the EasyShare V1003 comes in nine colors to match a dress, purse, shoes—whatever your heart desires. Kodak has a load of colorful accessories to bling the outfits even more. The camera we tested was Cosmic Blue but Pink Bliss or White Glaze look pretty cool. For the less adventurous, there’s basic silver and black.
The camera has a very clean look with rounded edges and a silver-colored pop-out lens. It measures 4.1 x 2.1 x 1 (WHD, in inches) and weighs 5.6 ounces with battery and card. On the front you’ll find a 3x Kodak Retinar lens that’s equivalent to 36-108mm, the basic point-and-shoot focal length. Other than the flash, AF Assist lamp/video light, mic and some subtle decals, that’s it.
The top has the shutter button, a large on/off switch and three keys for Favorites, Movie and another for the main mode settings (auto and your choice of 22 scenes modes including custom and panorama). The camera has 32MB of internal memory so you can save favorite shots and show them off by hitting the Favorites key. Pretty simple, eh? In keeping with Kodak’s easy-to-use philosophy there are brief text descriptions of the various settings so you can figure out if you want to make any changes or scoot back to Auto. And when you’re charging the battery, the three main keys display blue lights, indicating the charge level. When all three are lit, the battery is fully charged, another nice touch.
The rear of the V1003 has a centered 2.5-inch LCD rated a so-so 154K pixels. To the left of the screen are five buttons for adjusting the flash, deleting images, engaging the menu, reviewing your snaps and the share button. The share button lets you tag a shot so when you download it and launch the EasyShare software, it will be emailed or printed—assuming your computer is set up properly. To the right is the wide/tele toggle switch and a small joystick that lets you move through the menus or make on the fly adjustments for macro/landscape, change the display (handy grid lines and a histogram are only a flick away) or adjust exposure compensation. The system works very well.
On the right is the A/V output, the left has a DC input while the bottom has the compartment for the battery and SD card. There’s also a connection so you use one of Kodak’s very handy printer docks such as the G610 to crank out 4×6 prints.
The EasyShare V1003 comes with a pretty threadbare package: camera, battery, AC adaptor, strap, USB cable and a plastic insert to snap the camera into a compatible dock. There’s also EasyShare Ver. 6.2 software—and a good little free program but one that hijacks your computer and becomes the default setting for viewing images. There’s a Getting Started guide but no printed manual. Granted, there’s nothing too sophisticated about this digicam but I prefer booklets to online versions. Also there’s no cable for watching videos on your TV—you need an optional dock for that. And, of course, no SD card but it’s the rare camera maker than includes one these days since most have internal memory to get you on your way. Recently I saw a 2GB SD card for $19 USD so this in no big deal.
After charging the battery and loading a card, it was time to take some photographs.
Image Courtesy of Kodak
Testing and Use
The V1003 is a 10-megapixel camera so it takes 3676 x 2764 pixel images at the highest resolution. One of the more annoying things about the vast majority of Kodak cameras is the fact they do not offer compression options—no Fine, Normal or Basic here. You can only choose resolution such as 10MP, 8.9, 4.9 and so on. And RAW isn’t in the same universe. I imagine this doesn’t mean anything for the target buyer but it bothers me since I like to have as many options as possible. That off my chest, I set the camera to auto at 10MP and started off from there. Once done, I downloaded the images and made my usual 8.5×11 full-bleed prints.
One thing that strikes you right away is the poor quality LCD screen. When you’re out shooting in bright light, it’s really a crapshoot trying to frame your subject. Unfortunately, Kodak doesn’t tell you how to adjust the brightness in the Getting Started brochure. Phooey. It goes downhill from there. There’s a big-time lag from the time you press the shutter to the point you can take another shot—even in bright daylight. You might expect this with the flash (it’s bad here as well) but surprising without. After shooting in Auto, I switched to the Flower setting to shoot some blue hydrangeas that popped up in the yard. Although the color was fairly accurate, the focus wasn’t sharp. Yet in the macro setting I did get a tack-sharp image of furry cat. Go figure.
In Auto I took some photos of trees and the overall exposure was bad—it dealt with the sky but the green trees below had very little detail. Phooey again. The camera has a burst mode and given the prior issues with response, I didn’t hold out much hope. I was right as the poor thing gave it up after four images with the screen blacking out between each shot. Another bummer: the camera uses digital electronic image stabilization rather than the much preferred optical image stabilization. That probably hurt image sharpness in some cases. And although the camera has a high ISO setting of 1600, it’s practically useless—unless you like Pointilist-style paintings.
It’s really hard for me to recommend this camera, even if it costs only $199 USD. Comparing this to the 8MP Sony DSC-W90 in terms of processing power and speed is a joke. And that camera only costs another $60 USD in the real world, a very worthwhile investment. Perhaps this camera is a good one for its intended audience of people who want a fashion accessory rather than a “real” digicam. It works all right for casual snapshots (4×6) but that’s about it. You can do much, much better.
• Pretty in pink
• Good menu system
• Slow saving files
• Low-quality LCD
• Uneven focusing