Kodak was once the biggest name in photos, pioneering mainstream color photography with Kodachrome. Now, at least with some models, the company focuses more on the colors and shapes of their cameras than the pictures they produce. This unfortunate reality rears its head with the EasyShare V1003, the 10-megapixel brother to the disappointing EasyShare V803.
Despite its fat, candy bar shape, the V1003's smooth curves and array of colors make it quite comely. Unfortunately, the camera's sleek design makes for an uncomfortable control scheme. A handful of tiny rectangular buttons strewn across the top and left side of the camera back access the V1003's different modes and menus. The buttons feel unresponsive and are placed so that you have to use two hands while operating the camera, and we had a hard time trying to distinguish between them by touch. Also, you have to use a small, awkward-to-manipulate joystick to navigate the camera's various settings and menus. In our field tests, it often mistranslated directional taps and button pushes for each other.
Besides its colorful, curvy body and high resolution, the V1003 doesn't have any unique or notable features. The 10-megapixel camera uses a 36mm to 108mm-equivalent 3X optical zoom lens, and features a 2.5-inch LCD screen. Besides those main features, the camera has onboard image editing features with Kodak's "Perfect Touch Technology," as well as the standard array of scene presets and modes. We were pleased to see what Kodak calls the Maintain Settings mode, which saves your preferences for settings such as ISO, white balance, flash, and pixel resolution, so you don't have to reset them each time you turn your camera on, as you had to with some previous Kodak models.
The V1003 performed reasonably well in our lab tests. After a 2.7-second wait from power-on to first shot, we managed to take new photos every 1.6 seconds thereafter. With the onboard flash enabled, that wait increased to 3.7 seconds. The shutter was acceptably responsive, lagging 0.6 seconds with our high-contrast target and 1.6 seconds with our low-contrast target. The camera's burst mode only takes four shots at a time. In our tests it snapped them over 2.1 seconds for a decent rate of 1.9 frames per second.
Like its little brother, the EasyShare V803, noise and artifacts plagued the V1003's images, softening and obscuring fine details. Photos shot at settings as low as ISO 400 displayed notable amounts of grain, which only grew worse at higher ISO settings. At ISO 1600, static-like speckles completely covered the image, softening all but the largest and most prominent details and rendering it almost completely unusable.
It's telling that the second paragraph of Kodak's press release for the V1003 starts with a quote from chief marketing officer Pierre Schaeffer rather than a product manager or engineer. "As consumers look for more ways to expand their picture taking experience, the Kodak EasyShare 10- and 8-megapixel digital cameras make it fun to personalize the camera look and feel," said Schaeffer. Unfortunately, the same company that brought us Kodachrome now seems more interested in the color of the cameras than the technology inside them and the usability of their design. If you want good-looking, high-resolution images, then choose substance over style, spend a little more, and consider the less stylish but much more reliable Canon PowerShot A640 or SD1000 cameras. They're not as colorful as the V1003, and the SD1000 has 7.1 rather than 10 megapixels, but they're much better designed and offer better image quality.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)