Kodak might not be the force it once was in photography, but it's still plugging away with its own range of digital cameras. The EasyShare M580 is one of its newest models. If you're expecting a cheap, plastic throwback, you might be surprised. This is a compact camera with one of the latest 14-megapixel sensors and an 8x optical zoom, and it sells for around £160.
Keeps it simple
That's a pretty good start, so what else has the M580 got? There's a 720p movie mode, 'smart capture' automation and 'perfect touch' image processing. You can tag content for uploading to YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and the Kodak Gallery, and... and... um, well that's it, really.
But, to be fair, the M580 never sets out to be anything more than a simple snapper, and its photos are very interesting. They're bright, crisp and colourful, and the 8x zoom lens is much better than you might expect, especially at longer zoom settings, where it maintains pretty good sharpness and contrast compared to most.
The detail rendition from the perfect-touch processing is also... interesting. It applies positively brutal sharpening, but this does create detail with real bite. Things start to go pear-shaped past about ISO 200, however, at which point noise takes over and the perfect-touch processing struggles to keep up. Up until that point, though, the M580 delivers unusually crisp, clear and vivid pictures.
Kodak's approach to image processing here is clearly different to every other manufacturer's. Today's high-resolution compact-camera sensors often deliver soft, low-contrast images in which subtler details dissolve into a feeble haze, especially with lower-quality lenses. The M580 attacks the problem with a sledgehammer, and, even though the processing is overt and verging on lurid, it works. If you stand back and admire the prints, you'll be okay -- just don't look too closely at the pixels.
The dynamic-range-expansion feature has a good stab at coping with bright skies and dark shadows, too. It certainly seems more effective than the simple shadow-enhancement options on other cameras.