Even if you're fairly skint, there are still plenty of options to choose from when it comes to buying a new compact camera. With a price tag of around £90 and built-in social-networking features, Kodak's EasyShare M575 certainly seems like a good choice for beginners or casual users looking for a cheap camera. But does the M575 have what it takes to stand out from the crowd?
The shape of things
Available in three metallic colours (red, black or green), the M575 has that classic point-and-shoot look. It's small, slim and has a large, 3-inch screen on its rear, with no viewfinder in sight. On the front, the 5x optical zoom lens retracts into the body of the unit when not in use.
A conservative selection of buttons adorns the rear and top edges of the device, indicating that manual controls play second fiddle to the hands-off auto modes. Indeed the M575's default mode is called 'Smart Capture', which is basically Kodak-speak for 'just press the shutter button and we'll handle everything else'.
Tap the mode button on the top of the device, however, and you can select a specific scene preset from 21 different options, from portrait to panoramic. There's also a video mode that will let you film high-definition clips at up to 720p. Cameras that can record in 1080p are becoming increasingly numerous, but 720p recording is good for the M575's price range and is probably more than sufficient for the average YouTube user's purposes. The main disappointments in the video department are poor-quality sound and the fact that you can't make use of the camera's zoom while filming movies.
The M575 has a program mode too, which serves to reinstate many of the manual options that the Smart Capture mode keeps hidden. This means that you can, should you be so inclined, play around with settings such as white balance, exposure compensation and sensitivity. Doing so involves opening menus and scrolling through settings, so it's not a particularly intuitive process, but then manual control is unlikely to be at the top of many casual users' wishlists.
Features like face detection and image stabilisation are likely to be of more value to Kodak's target market. Thankfully, both are present. You can set the M575 to recognise and automatically tag up to 20 different people, and the camera can cope with up to five faces in any single shot.