With the EasyShare V610, Kodak takes its innovative dual-lens camera design to its logical conclusion. The company pairs a typical compact-camera 38mm-to-114mm zoom lens with a second 130mm-to-380mm lens, for an effective 10X optical zoom range; a gap remains between 114mm and 130mm. Unlike most big zoom cameras, the 6-megapixel Kodak EasyShare V610 is small and made mostly for snapshooters, so it doesn't include manual exposure controls. Unfortunately, it also lacks image stabilization, which would've made that long zoom much more useful, and its image quality doesn't match its snazzy design. The sleek, classic design of Kodak's V-series cameras has definitely taken a step in the right direction compared to the homely models of yesteryear. The V610's black-and-silver casing keeps with the series' classy look, while the round sliding lens cover adds a touch of gadgety sizzle to the package. Compared to other cameras in the line, the V610 is noticeably wider and deeper, though it also sports a bigger LCD screen and a longer (and larger) telephoto lens. While the comfortable zoom rocker makes one-handed shooting possible, you'll need two hands at full telephoto.
In contrast to the EasyShare V570, which had a fixed-focus wide-angle lens mounted above an all-purpose zoom lens, the V610 stacks a 130mm-to-380mm telephoto zoom atop a more standard 38mm-to-114mm one. Both lenses zoom internally and hide, along with the focus-assist lamp, behind the sliding cover, when you turn off the camera. Like the V570, each lens feeds its own 1/2.5-inch CCD.
Unlike the V570, the V610 doesn't fill the small but noticeable 16mm gap between the lenses, even when digital zoom is turned on. Also, you can't just hold down the rocker and zoom from 38mm to 380mm. Instead, you have to release the rocker when you reach the limit of one lens and press it again to switch to the next lens.
Scene, delete, menu, review, and share buttons line up vertically to the left of the big 2.8-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD. Buttons to switch between video and still mode, or to access the favorites mode during playback, sit on the camera top. As can be expected, the shutter button is also up top, just to the right of the flash control and the power button. A four-way rocker, with an enter button in the center, provides menu control. When not in the menu, the rocker lets you apply exposure compensation in 1/3-stop increments (up to plus or minus 2EV), select landscape or macro modes, or change display modes, which include a tic-tac-toe-like rule-of-thirds grid as well as live histogram options. As with most of its cameras, Kodak targets the EasyShare V610 at snapshooters. As such, it eschews most manual controls for a plethora of scene modes, including Portrait, Panorama Stitch, Sport, Landscape, Close-Up, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Snow, Beach, Text, Fireworks, Flower, Museum, Self-Portrait, Party, Children, Backlight, Panning, Candlelight, and Sunset. There's also a custom option, which is the only way to save your current settings when you turn the camera off. All other modes reset any preferences to defaults each time you power up.
Metering options include multipattern, center-weighted, and center-spot. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 64 to ISO 800, though it tops out at ISO 400 in Auto mode. Shutter speeds span 8 seconds to 1/2,000 second, though you must manually select speeds from 1/2 second to 8 seconds in the camera's menu, and they aren't available in all shooting modes. The 38mm-to-144mm lens features a maximum aperture range of f/3.9 to f/4.4, while the 130mm-to-380mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/4.8 across its range: a little slow but not unusual for this class.
Focus options include a pair of autofocus modes, each of which can be set to continuous or single shot and that focus and lock when you hold the shutter halfway down. Multizone uses five zones to determine proper focus, while center-zone focuses on the middle of the image. At 38mm, the camera can focus as close as 2.4 inches in macro mode.
Movie mode maxes out at 640x480, 30 frames per second, and can record clips as long as 80 minutes; it includes digital image stabilization to compensate for your coffee-addled nerves. The MPEG-4 clips can be trimmed in-camera. Plus, you can extract individual frames as low-res stills or print them in 4-, 9-, or 16-up composites.