High-resolution digital cameras are becoming increasingly affordable. The Kodak EasyShare M550, for example, crams in 12.3 megapixels for just £80 or thereabouts. But pixel power isn't everything, so does the M550 have what it takes to stand out from the crowd?
The M550 certainly doesn't stand out in terms of its appearance. It's not ugly, but we've seen its brushed-metal effect and chrome trim a hundred times before. Its straight edges and diagonal lines make it look slightly unfashionable too.
The camera is conveniently small and light. A glossy, 2.7-inch LCD display occupies much of the rear, and the camera's ports and slots are covered by hatches to keep out dust and debris. Around a dozen buttons pepper the surface of camera, including the 'share' button, which allows you to distribute your photos on your social networks of choice.
The share button is a simple feature that's just shy of being a gimmick. You have to connect the camera to a PC, install some software and configure your social-networking or email settings before you can upload photos online. After that, uploading images is pretty much a one-button process.
Show us your specs
The M550's specs are roughly on a par with what we'd expect at this price. Disappointingly, however, the camera can't make use of its sensor's high pixel count when it comes to shooting video. There's a movie mode but the top resolution is only 640x480 pixels, compared with the high-definition video offered by many of the M550's competitors.
On the other hand, the M550's 5x optical zoom length is slightly above average. The wide (28mm equivalent) lens is good for group shots too.
The camera's features all lean towards ease of use and automatic shooting. The default 'smart capture' mode does everything it can to identify and adjust the camera to various shooting environments, without you having to lift a finger. Face-recognition and face-detection features are also present, and you can pre-tag up to 20 friends and family members.