Kodak succeeds in this respect with the EasyShare C875, the high-end member of the EasyShare C series of snapshot cameras. This solid 8-megapixel point-and-shoot doesn't have any outrageous gimmicks, but it produces good pictures and offers plenty of advanced controls.
The C875 is a fairly chunky little camera, measuring 1.5 inches wide and weighing just over 6 ounces. It's really too big to fit in most pants pockets, but it makes a great jacket or purse camera. The right side of the camera sticks out a bit to hold two AA batteries and offer a nice grip.
The camera's controls are pretty standard: a mode dial on top, a joystick on the back, and various buttons for other functions. Unfortunately, the buttons feel awkward; they're too small and shallow to press comfortably. Also, large-thumbed users will find the tiny zoom rocker difficult to manipulate, and the joystick's occasional sticking and slipping may make you wish for a more conventional directional pad.
Beyond its 8-megapixel sensor and 37-to-180mm-equivalent 5X optical zoom lens, the C875 is a fairly nondescript camera. It sports a broad variety of shooting modes, including Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, and Manual modes for advanced users and a handful of scene presets for casual users. Though it lacks an image stabilization feature, the sensor can be cranked up to ISO 800 for low-light and zoom shots.
The C875 demonstrated impressive performance, though its quick autofocus was hindered slightly by an occasional lag when writing to a memory card. After powering up and capturing its first image, which took 2 seconds, we managed to fire off a shot every 1.4 seconds in bright light and every 1.7 seconds in dim light. Shutter lag was surprisingly low, taking just 0.2 second to lock and shoot against our high-contrast target, and just 0.4 second to shoot our low-contrast target. Unfortunately, we experienced an occasional pause after taking a few shots, when the camera had to catch up on writing to the SD card.
The C875 produced nice pictures that were generally clear and free of noise. At lower ISOs, we saw mostly accurate, vivid colors and plenty of fine details. While noise was barely noticeable even at ISO 800, thanks to the camera's effective noise-reduction algorithm, that algorithm also blurs and obscures fine details. For example, from ISO 200 through ISO 800, the markings on the measuring tape in our test scene gradually disintegrated into a blurry mess. That means users shooting text or highly textured subjects should stay under ISO 200, the lowest setting at which the camera engages noise reduction.
Auto white balance produced slightly warm, though still acceptable, images with our lab's tungsten lights. The camera's tungsten preset slightly overcompensated, yielding images with a slight greenish cast. Though a bit more neutral than the auto setting, many users will likely find the auto setting more pleasing. Lens distortion was minimal at the telephoto end, but wide-angle shots brought out some barrel distortion--a noticeable outward bowing of what should be straight lines. For a compact point-and-shoot camera, though, the C875's distortion issues were few and far between.
The Kodak EasyShare C875 offers high-end features for a comparably low price. It doesn't have any extreme gimmicks besides its 5X zoom lens and manual exposure controls, but it produces very good photos and shows good performance. The C875 is a solid choice for any user seeking a balance between features, image quality, and price.