Kodak EasyShare P880 Digital Camera Review
*The electronic viewfinder is clear and bright, though it sits behind a small window with an enormous rubber eye cup. The eye cup is comfortable, but it is so much larger than the tiny viewfinder. The viewfinder display is listed as a 237,000 pixel display, and it’s sharp and usable. The view is certainly better than that provided by the 115,000 pixel LCD screen, and using the viewfinder saves battery power as well. The diopter adjustment is worth playing with as it has 16 steps. This will be great for those photographers who wear eyeglasses; those glasses won’t fit between the eye and the enormous eye cup. Unfortunately, the diopter adjustment itself is small and smooth on the sides, making it difficult to rotate. Hopefully photographers will only need to battle this dial once.
*The EasyShare P880 has a 2.5-inch, 115,000-pixel LCD monitor. It should really have better resolution, as some models now offer the same sized screen with 230,000 pixels. Still, the LCD has a very good anti-reflection coating and is visible over a wide angle of view from side to side. When the Kodak EasyShare P880 is tilted vertically, it’s a different story. The screen solarizes even at the slightest angle and is hard to view – even with brightness adjustments and such. The LCD’s brightness adjustment is the first option in the setup menu and offers users five steps. There is no live view, so users must guess and select before viewing the final product. The five options provide enough range for a variety of situations, from bright beaches to dimly lit streets. In tough lighting, the electronic viewfinder is still the best option: it has better resolution and is shaded by the eye cup. Users can switch the view from the LCD to the viewfinder with the designated EVF/LCD button to the left of the viewfinder. And as far as accuracy is concerned, the viewfinder and LCD both achieve a 100 percent view of the field.
*The EasyShare P880’s built-in flash must be manually opened even when the camera is in the fully automatic mode. There is no button to open it; there are only small tabs at each side of the flash so it can be pried upward. The flash itself is centered directly above the lens, which is great. However, when I photographed a blank wall to test how evenly the flash lights subjects I got horrible results. There is a bright horizontal band about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom of the frame. I realize no one will be photographing blank walls, but that bright band will look strange when it’s not on your subject’s face.
The built-in flash reaches from 1.6-13 feet when the lens is at its 24mm setting. When the lens is at its most telephoto, the flash is limited to 10 feet. This is still better than most compact digital cameras’ built-in flashes. The flash showed some falloff in the corners when the lens was set to 24mm, but the shots were usable.
The flash mode can be changed only when the flash is open. The following modes are available: Auto, Slow Sync, Fill, and Red-Eye Reduction. Not all of the modes are available in every exposure mode though. In the manual mode, only Off and Slow Front Sync are available. In the custom menu, front and rear curtain modes are there for the choosing. There is a flash compensation range of +/- 1 in 1/3 increments; this is accessed with the jog dial and Set button. I tried to test the flash to see how long it took to recycle and take its next picture, but the P880 is so slow at recording images to the memory that this test was irrelevant.
The P880’s hot shoe accepts a dedicated flash. Kodak supplied a preproduction P20 Zoom Flash with the P880 that we tested. Though Kodak says that the item we tested may not meet the specs of the final retail product, the unit has some excellent features. It picks up data for focal length and through the lens exposure. It pivots 90 degrees for bounce flash, and with its 35 ft range it is much more powerful than the built-in flash. We got good results bouncing the P20, with the camera lens set to 24 mm. The P20 flash is easy to use with its power switch and two dedicated buttons: Mode and Zoom. The mode button switches the flash from Auto to Manual PR 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, or 1/16. The Zoom button switches from Auto to Manual 24, 28, 35, 50, or 80 mm. The Kodak P20 flash accessory retails for $149. The EasyShare P880 also has a PC terminal to sync with non-hot shoe flashes, so even studio flashes could work with this model.
*The Kodak EasyShare P880 sports a Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon zoom lens that looks detachable but is not. The 5.8x optical zoom lens reaches from a very wide 24 mm (equivalent) to a longer 140 mm. The broad lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at its widest and f/4.1 at its most telephoto. The f/8 minimum aperture is available throughout the entire focal length. Surrounding the lens itself is a large ribbed rubber zoom ring and a smaller plastic focus ring behind it. Both rings move quite smoothly, but the focus ring feels rather cheap. The zoom ring’s rubber surface and much broader size make it easier to move. And by the way, the zoom lens works in the movie mode, making the Kodak P880 a contender as a hybrid imaging device.
The end of the lens has a thread for optional conversion lenses. Because the P880 has a wide 24mm lens, it is compatible with only telephoto conversion lenses. Kodak is introducing a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1.4x telephoto lens in November 2005 for $150. Included with the P880 is a sun hood for the end of the lens and a cap complete with an attaching strap. The Kodak EasyShare P880 also has 2x digital zoom activated by the magnifying glass button, but it only degrades the quality of the image.
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