Kodak EasyShare V610
In contrast to the EasyShare V570, which had a fixed-focus wide-angle lens mounted above an all-purpose zoom lens, the V610 stacks a 130mm-to-380mm telephoto zoom atop a more standard 38mm-to-114mm one. Both lenses zoom internally and hide, along with the focus-assist lamp, behind the sliding cover, when you turn off the camera. Like the V570, each lens feeds its own 1/2.5-inch CCD.
Unlike the V570, the V610 doesn't fill the small but noticeable 16mm gap between the lenses, even when digital zoom is turned on. Also, you can't just hold down the rocker and zoom from 38mm to 380mm. Instead, you have to release the rocker when you reach the limit of one lens and press it again to switch to the next lens.
Scene, delete, menu, review, and share buttons line up vertically to the left of the big 2.8-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD. Buttons to switch between video and still mode, or to access the favorites mode during playback, sit on the camera top. As can be expected, the shutter button is also up top, just to the right of the flash control and the power button. A four-way rocker, with an enter button in the center, provides menu control. When not in the menu, the rocker lets you apply exposure compensation in 1/3-stop increments (up to plus or minus 2EV), select landscape or macro modes, or change display modes, which include a tic-tac-toe-like rule-of-thirds grid as well as live histogram options. As with most of its cameras, Kodak targets the EasyShare V610 at snapshooters. As such, it eschews most manual controls for a plethora of scene modes, including Portrait, Panorama Stitch, Sport, Landscape, Close-Up, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Snow, Beach, Text, Fireworks, Flower, Museum, Self-Portrait, Party, Children, Backlight, Panning, Candlelight, and Sunset. There's also a custom option, which is the only way to save your current settings when you turn the camera off. All other modes reset any preferences to defaults each time you power up.
Metering options include multipattern, center-weighted, and center-spot. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 64 to ISO 800, though it tops out at ISO 400 in Auto mode. Shutter speeds span 8 seconds to 1/2,000 second, though you must manually select speeds from 1/2 second to 8 seconds in the camera's menu, and they aren't available in all shooting modes. The 38mm-to-144mm lens features a maximum aperture range of f/3.9 to f/4.4, while the 130mm-to-380mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/4.8 across its range: a little slow but not unusual for this class.
Focus options include a pair of autofocus modes, each of which can be set to continuous or single shot and that focus and lock when you hold the shutter halfway down. Multizone uses five zones to determine proper focus, while center-zone focuses on the middle of the image. At 38mm, the camera can focus as close as 2.4 inches in macro mode.
Movie mode maxes out at 640x480, 30 frames per second, and can record clips as long as 80 minutes; it includes digital image stabilization to compensate for your coffee-addled nerves. The MPEG-4 clips can be trimmed in-camera. Plus, you can extract individual frames as low-res stills or print them in 4-, 9-, or 16-up composites.
Breaking with the usual EasyShare tradition, the V610 doesn't ship with a dock, though the ImageLink connector on the camera bottom lets you use it with one of Kodak's printer docks. Of course the built-in Bluetooth means you don't have to place the camera on the dock to communicate with Kodak's EasyShare Printer Dock Plus Series 3. You can also use Bluetooth to transfer photos to or from a slew of Bluetooth-enabled devices, including cell phones and computers.
Since there's no dock, the camera charges via a small wall plug that connects to a small jack on V610's left side. The camera also ships with an ImageLink-to-USB adapter, so you can connect it directly to a computer if needed. A very short, class-leading shutter lag of 0.2 second in high-contrast light seems to be the performance highlight for the Kodak EasyShare V610. That drops to a less impressive 1 second under low-contrast light. Time to first shot runs just 1.3 seconds, while the shot-to-shot time clocks in at a decent 1.8 seconds regardless of flash. The V610 also captures up to 8 frames at about 2.2 frames per second (fps) in both 6- and 1.1-megapixel modes. As with the V570, the screen does not black out between shots in burst mode, which can be useful for panning bursts.
The big 2.8-inch LCD gains up effectively for low-light shooting, and while it loses some of its verve in bright sunlight, it's still usable for framing. That's a good thing, considering it lacks an optical viewfinder. At 38mm, the flash covers out to about 11 feet at ISO 200, while at full telephoto, it covers about 10 feet at ISO 400--average for a small camera that runs on a 720mAh lithium-ion battery. The camera's red-eye-reduction function successfully eliminated most of the ominous crimson glow from our subjects' eyes.
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
Overall, the camera tends to either overexpose highlights or underexpose shadows. Noise creeps in even at lower ISO settings. Images shot at ISO 64 are, of course, the cleanest but still show traces of colored specs, especially in darker colors. The camera keeps this under control at ISO 100, but by ISO 200, noise is noticeable and becomes obvious at ISO 400. Images shot at ISO 800 are generally not fit to print.
Auto white balance produces a slightly warm cast, while the tungsten setting turns out a touch too cool under our tungsten test lights. On the plus side, colors are fully saturated. Reds, oranges, purples, and greens look convincing and natural.