Kodak EasyShare P880 Digital Camera Review
**Manual Control Options **
As the flagship in the Performance Series, the Kodak EasyShare P880 offers full manual control in its manual mode and has semi-manual aperture and shutter priority modes. Users can manually adjust the shutter speed and aperture using the jog dial and the set button located where the right thumb rests. Three custom modes can be created and saved in the P880 as well. Users can manually set the white balance and then fine tune it by scrolling around a colorful spectrum in a tiny square. The ISO can be selected as can the auto focus area and mode, the flash mode, the color mode, and the sharpness and contrast parameters. Manual control is a key aspect of the Kodak EasyShare P880.
*Auto Focus (5.5)
*There are two auto focus systems that work together on the Kodak EasyShare P880. The hybrid system uses an external passive sensor to estimate the distance between the camera and the subject and to roughly focus on it. The through-the-lens system then takes over and fine tunes the image so that the subject is crisp and clear. The auto focus can be set to activate only when the shutter release button is pressed or can be set to work continuously. When set to continuous, the auto focus system makes an unfortunately audible sound. There is an AE/AF button below the Set button, so the thumb can push this to lock the exposure settings. The auto focus eventually works well in good lighting, but still takes a bit too long to really focus on a subject. In low contrast situations and low light situations, the P880 took even more time to focus – and sometimes couldn’t focus at all. This Kodak EasyShare has an AF assist lamp, but it doesn’t seem to be very effective. Many of my low light pictures were still out of focus. There are four auto focus modes that can be selected by pushing the Focus button on the top of the camera and left of the protruding flash. Macro, Infinity, Manual, and Normal auto focus modes are available.
*Manual Focus (2.0) *
Manual focus on the EasyShare P880 is present but limited. When manual focus is attempted, a smaller frame appears within the live image and shows the live view of the center magnified. This is meant to make focusing easier because in theory, a larger view is easier to see. However, the LCD display has such poor resolution and the live view is so noisy that I couldn’t tell whether the camera was focused or not. The problem with pixilation can be remedied by using the viewfinder instead of the LCD, but the noise remains an issue.
*Above the lens and below the flash is an odd looking window; this is where the camera meters the scene from and determines parameters accordingly. Users have some control in how the Kodak P880 meters the scene with the center-weighted, center spot, multi-pattern, and selectable zone metering modes. The center-weighted metering mode measures the light in the picture from the center and the center spot mode narrows the field to a smaller point. These settings are best used for backlit subjects. The multi-pattern metering mode is the camera’s default mode that takes the average of the entire frame. The selectable zone mode lets users move a box around the frame in 25 different positions to meter from a very specific point. In terms of functionality, the Kodak EasyShare P880’s metering system was quite accurate and produced nicely exposed images when used correctly.
*The exposure settings can be manually controlled, but there are also other ways to ensure that the exposure is good and even. There are the 3 and 5-shot bracketing modes in the burst settings. These can be set to grab images at 1/3, 2/3, or 1 EV stops apart. Live histograms can be viewed and the live image can also show highlight and shadow clipping. The P880 also offers exposure compensation of +/- 2 EV in 1/3 increments.
*The white balance options are much more extensive than the ISO selections. There is an automatic white balance mode as well as the following presets: Daylight, Cloudy, Open Shade, Sunset, Tungsten, and Fluorescent. The best thing about the Kodak P880’s white balance mode is that three custom settings can be saved. Users can also adjust the white balance compensation, a process which superimposes a tiny colorful box in the corner of the screen. This box is a 2-D graph with axis of blue-amber and magenta-green. The navigational toggle can be used to scroll around within this little box to adjust tint and a live view shows users what tones they are leaning toward. This white balance mode shows more of an SLR-like side of the Kodak EasyShare P880.
*The EasyShare P880 offers ISO settings from 50 to 400 in full-stop increments. This is disappointing on a $600 digital camera. The ISO range can be extended to include 800 and 1600 settings, but only in the 0.8 megapixel image size, which is quite useless. I guess emailing pictures with those ISO settings could work, but don’t plan on printing any of those low light, high ISO shots. The selection in the automatic mode is truncated to 50-200, which is quite typical of digital cameras.
Shutter Speed* (7.0)
*The Kodak EasyShare P880 has shutter speeds ranging from 16 seconds to 1/4000th of a second in the manual and shutter priority modes. The automatic range is quite a bit shorter at 1/2-1/4000th of a second. Many compact digital cameras that offer a manual shutter speed setting extend up to 30 or even 60 seconds. While the Kodak doesn’t do this, it does offer a bulb setting.
*The wide lens has a average-sized maximum aperture of f/2.8. When the Schneider-Kreuznach lens is at its most telephoto setting, the aperture narrows considerably to a smaller f/4.1 opening. Throughout the 24-140mm range, f/8 is the minimum aperture. The aperture is controlled by a jog dial and set button near where the right thumb rests.
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