Kodak Easyshare V610 Review
Review Date: May 10th 2006
(out of 5 stars)
The Kodak Easyshare V610 is a tremendously innovative digital camera that brings a lot of new, exciting and effective features to the consumer. Most obvious is the amazing 10x, 38-380mm focal range in such a slim body, making the V610 one of the most versatile cameras available today. Using such a small camera with such a large zoom range opens up lots of photographic opportunities that you just won't get with similar sized models. Everything from mild wide-angle scenics to distant close-ups is possible, all from a camera that you can fit into a trouser pocket. The large 2.8 inch LCD screen is one of the best that I have ever seen, with a high resolution giving plenty of detail and also being visible even in bright sunlight. Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly send and receive photos with other Bluetooth-enbabled devices, such as laptops or mobile phones, and it is very straight-forward to configure and use. The advanced video and panorama modes are similarly well-implemented - the V610 is generally an excellent camera for the beginner and more advanced photographer alike.
The Kodak V610 is not perfect, however, with image quality and the lack of image stabilisation being the main problems. The 1/2.5 inch, 6 megapixel sensor used in the Kodak Easyshare V610 produced noisy images at ISO 200 and 400, with the fastest speed of ISO 800 best avoided at all costs. With no optical image stabilisation system available, this make the V610 something of an outdoors, good-light camera. If you set the camera to Auto ISO the V610 generally sets the ISO speed to 200 or 400 when using the longer focal lengths to help avoid camera shake. In the absence of image stabilisation, this is completely correct behaviour, but because the images are noisy and lack detail at these speeds, you will find that photos taken at the long end of the zoom will invariably be of poorer quality than wider-angle shots (where the camera can set a slower ISO speed). Finally, the corners of images taken at the wide-angle lens settings were slightly out-of-focus when compared with the centre of the image. There is also a quirk with the dual-lens zooming mechanism that is pretty annoying at first. On the V610 you have to release the zoom button when it reaches the end of the first lens' focal length, and then press it again to zoom the second lens, otherwise nothing actually happens. It's a strange sensation as the camera "pauses" in what is effectively the middle of the zoom range, and definitely takes a while to get used to.
Ultimately all this doesn't stop me from strongly recommending the V610. A 10x zoom lens in a stylish pocket camera, together with great ease-of use, a brilliant LCD screen, wireless support and a wealth of playback and sharing options is a combination that is hard to ignore. The V610 may be just a simple point and shoot camera in terms of creativity, with no control over aperture or shutter speeds, but you will find that the focal range is simply too liberating to ignore.
Compared to the Panasonic DMC-TZ1
The Kodak V610's obvious competitor is the similarly priced Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1, which held the title of smallest camera with a 10x zoom lens for a few months until the V610 came along. The Kodak V610 is smaller, fitting into a trouser pocket, whereas the DMC-TZ1 requires a small camera bag. On the other hand, the 10x zoom on the TZ1 is via a single lens and covers the full, wider focal length of 35-350mm, whereas the Kodak's dual lens system has a gap in the middle and that annoying pause whilst switching from one lens to the other. The Kodak camera has one more megapixel than the 5 megapixel Panasonic, but I preferred the image quality on the TZ1, and it also offers that important optical image stabilisation system which makes it a better camera for low-light situations. The V610 offers a number of features not found on the TZ1 - Bluetooth support, a great panorama mode, advanced video, much better LCD screen and more stylish design. The choice is not at all clear cut, with both cameras having their advantages and disadvantages. I'll leave you to decide which is best for you...
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Kodak Easyshare V610 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.