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Testing / Performance
*Kodak markets its Kodak Color Science Chip almost as much as its large LCD screens and its EasyShare Software. The company prides itself in producing digital cameras that capture realistic colors. To test out the P880’s Color Science Chip, we took several shots of the GretagMacbeth color chart and uploaded it into Imatest Imaging Software. The software compares the colors produced by the P880 to those on the original GretagMacbeth chart, which is a chart used by the imaging industry to reference colors. Below is the composite image of the chart modified by Imatest. It shows the Kodak P880’s colors in the outer square. The inner vertical rectangle depicts the original color of the chart; this is what the colors should look like. The inner square contains a computer-corrected version of the ideal, adjusted for exposure.
The degree of error may be difficult to understand quantitatively from the Imatest chart, so the graph below depicts the variance more clearly. In this graph, the squares represent the 24 original colors from the GretagMacbeth chart and the circles represent the corresponding colors produced by the Kodak EasyShare P880. The line connecting the two shapes shows just how much error there is; the longer this line, the more inaccurate that particular color.
The marketing proved to be more than empty hype. The Kodak EasyShare P880 performed well with a strong 8.24 overall color score. Colors look decent, but still remain subtle. They aren’t pastel, but they certainly aren’t over-saturated like many digital cameras automatically make them. The saturation actually ranged from the slightly under-saturated 98 percent at ISO 50 to the slightly over-saturated 101 percent at ISO 100. The mean color error was 7.28, so overall the color palette was not exaggerated that much and should provide nice images with some brilliance.
**Still Life Scene **
Below is a shot of our pastoral still life scene photographed with the Kodak EasyShare P880.
Click on the image above to view a full resolution version (CAUTION: the linked file is very large!)](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=P880-StillLife-LG.jpg)
Resolution / Sharpness*(3.53)
This Kodak digital camera has a large 1/1.8-inch CCD that touts 8 megapixels. We tested it by shooting an ISO 12233 resolution chart, often used to measure the resolution and sharpness of cameras in the imaging industry. We tested the P880 with several different focal lengths and apertures to achieve the sharpest setting.***
Click on the chart above to view full size image](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=P880-ResCH-LG.jpg)
At 23.5mm, the P880 produced the strongest results at an aperture of f/4. This was evident in the results produced by Imatest Imaging Software, which assessed the P880’s ability to read shots and create crisp images. The sharpness results are expressed as line widths per picture height (LW/PH), which is a measurement of how many individual black and white alternating lines of equal thickness could be read by the camera in its frame before blurring them together. Traditional measurements are expressed as line pairs per picture height (LP/PH), but this does not allow for the many different sizes of digital image sensors. Thus, we report the resolution in LW/PH to standardize the findings.
The Kodak EasyShare P880 has 8 megapixels, but only provided a resolution of 1627 LW/PH horizontally and 1505 LW/PH vertically. To give some context for these figures, the compact 8 megapixel Olympus Stylus 800 read 1742 LW/PH horizontally and 1715 LW/PH vertically. We certainly expected more from the $599 Kodak P880. This digital camera received a poor 3.53 overall resolution score. The camera hardly over-sharpened at all with just 0.4 percent, which enables more post-capture sharpening to be applied while retaining image quality. The P880 in fact hardly exaggerates anything within the camera: saturation, sharpening, and noise reduction are all kept to a minimum.
**Noise - Auto ISO ***(2.79)
*The automatic ISO range on the Kodak EasyShare P880 is shortened to 50-200 as it is on many compact digital cameras. The P880 also performed like a point-and-shoot digital camera with an overall automatic ISO noise score of 2.79. This is extremely disappointing. While the camera selected an ISO of 150 for our well lit test, the camera’s lower ISOs unfortunately already have lots of noise – as seen in the manual ISO test.
Noise - Manual ISO* (4.36)
*With a 50-400 ISO range at full resolution, the Kodak EasyShare P880 has 800 and 1600 ISO extensions only at the 0.8 megapixel image size. That’s useful for making a nicely exposed index print, but not much else, so we tested the manual ISO options available in full resolution. Below is a chart showing the four ISO settings on the horizontal axis and the corresponding noise on the vertical axis.
There is a steady incline in the noise level on the above chart, which is nice only because of its consistency. But there is a big jump between the 200 and 400 settings. The tradeoff however is that the noise level at ISO 50 is higher than that on most digital cameras. This resulted in a disappointing 4.36 overall manual ISO noise score.
Low Light Performance* (5.5)
*If you intend on taking the Kodak EasyShare P880 out to capture moments from a meteor shower, you should be aware of its low light performance. We photographed the GretagMacbeth color chart at diminishing light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. 60 lux is a common light level that can be found in a living room after dusk with the curtains drawn and two soft lamps illuminating the room. The 30 lux level shows what the light from a 40-watt bulb would be. The 15 and 5 lux tests show us how sensitive the Kodak P880’s CCD is and how it reacts to longer exposures.
Below is a chart showing the noise levels garnered from each of the four lux tests. The exposure time in seconds is displayed along the horizontal axis and the noise level is shown on the vertical axis.
A short exposure is used at 60 lux and while it is noisy, it is nothing compared to what is to come. There is a big jump between the quality of the image at that point and the quality resulting from exposures longer by about another half second, where the 30 lux picture was taken. The noise steadily rises and overtakes the picture as well as diminishing color vibrancy and decreasing color balance. The Kodak P880 used a 6-second shutter speed at its longest exposure.
**Speed / Timing **
Start-up to First Shot (7.46)
With a start-up time of 2.54 seconds, the Kodak EasyShare P880 is more reminiscent of less expensive point-and-shoot models in terms of speed. If the P880 wants to compete in the high-end compact segment, a faster start-up time is imperative.
*Shot to Shot (9.54)
*Using a Kodak branded SD card (made by Lexar), we tested the many facets of the continuous shooting mode. The First Burst mode took 7 shots at an average rate of a shot every 0.46 seconds. After those 7 shots, it took a full 30 seconds to write to the card. The Last Burst mode was much slower at 1.5 fps and saved only the last six images. The Exposure Bracketing 3 mode took a shot every 0.55 seconds, while the Exposure Bracketing 5 mode took a shot every 0.66 seconds. At its fastest, the Kodak EasyShare P880 shoots about 2 frames per second – decent for an average compact but not head-turning for an SLR-like camera.
*Shutter to Shot (6.48)
*The shutter lag is barely there if the exposure and focus are locked. However, if you’re shooting on the fly you could be in trouble. The auto focus system is so ridiculously slow that it takes about 1.3 seconds to focus.
*The large, squat Schneider-Kreuznach zoom lens dominates the front of the EasyShare P880. It’s an "SLR-like" lens, with two large rings for focus and zoom. The zoom ring is more forward, and covered with rubber. The focus ring is hard plastic, and narrower than the zoom ring. In general, the P880 seems to take its styling cues from Canon's EOS series of SLRs, with very streamlined curves and not many corners or edges.
The EasyShare P880 features a viewfinder hump that includes a pop-up flash on top and a pair of small lenses looking forward. They're part of the auto focus system. The lenses are part of an external system, which works with the more standard through-the-lens system. A small auto focus assist light sits flush with the surface of the camera, between the lens and the handgrip. Toward the bottom of the camera, between the grip and the lens, there's a prominent badge noting the P880’s 8 megapixel resolution.
The grip is accented with a strip of gray metal and rubber running down its front, from the beveled control surrounding the shutter release. The Kodak nameplate appears on the viewfinder hump, but in general, the camera’s styling is quite restrained.
*The 2.5-inch LCD dominates the back of the P880, though the electronic viewfinder duplicates its functions. High on the upper left of the camera is a button to switch between the LCD and the viewfinder display. A viewfinder diopter adjustment dial is on the side of the viewfinder. Below that, along the left side of the LCD, is a column of buttons for direct access to shooting controls. They control, from top to bottom: flash mode, metering pattern, ISO, and white balance. Each brings up a menu on the LCD.
To the right of the viewfinder, the EasyShare P880 sports an "i" (for "information") button, which brings up the histogram and indicators about various settings in shooting or review mode.
The review button is below that, to the right of the LCD. The four-way controller is below that. The four-way controller is an odd thing – rather than a ring that can be pressed in four different spots, this controller is a whole button that can be nudged side-to-side or up and down. It can also be pressed straight in.
Below that, the delete button, the menu button, and Kodak’s distinctive "Share" button are spread near the bottom of the camera.
At the top right of the P880’s back, there’s a control dial that’s set up for the thumb to turn. Below the dial, there’s a set button, and the two work in conjunction. Below that, there’s an auto focus and exposure lock button.
Left Side* (7.0)
*There’s a wide strap lug on the left side of the EasyShare P880, with a PC flash sync terminal below. The terminal is protected by a rubber cap. There’s a speaker grill below that, and a red badge advertising the P880's zoom range. A door below that reveals an A/V-USB terminal and a socket for an external power supply.
Right Side* (7.0)
*The right side of the EasyShare P880 makes up the greater part of the right-hand grip, so it’s smooth. It’s also flat, which is too bad – a nice bulge would have made it a more comfortable grip. The strap lug protrudes very high on the side, but it still gets in the way of my grip. Grip styles and sizes are personal however, so your mileage may vary. Lower down and toward the back, the SD media card door sits flush with the camera's surface.
*Two buttons, one to actuate auto focus and the other to control the digital zoom, are to the left of the viewfinder hump. There's a hot shoe for Kodak’s dedicated flash on top of the hump. The mode dial is next, just to the right of the viewfinder. The microphone is close by, between the mode dial and the drive button. The program button, which can be set to directly access a menu function, is far to the right. The shutter release, which is a large chrome disk, is set forward on the grip. The P880’s on/off switch encircles the shutter release on a beveled slant. The switch has a third position to switch the camera to Favorites mode, which allows the P880 to act as a digital photo album.
*The EasyShare P880’s tripod socket is to the left on the bottom of the camera, and not centered under the lens. That is too bad for those who use tripods frequently; having the socket off-center means that the camera shifts more as it’s pivoted. The center of the camera, where the tripod socket should be, is taken up by Kodak’s dock connector, a small, multi-pin terminal which connects with both printers and docks, and via USB to PCs. The battery compartment is inside the grip, and a door with a strong, positive latch reveals it via the camera bottom. The lithium-ion cell is small, and easy to load into the camera.
*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.
Design / Layout
Model Design / Appearance*(6.0)
*This Kodak is designed to look like a SLR but still have the ease of use that the manufacturer is known for. The result is a compact SLR-like camera that attempts to offer all the handling features of a single lens reflex digital camera in a baby size. In fact, my first impression of the camera’s design was, "Oh how cute. It’s a wittle baby SLR." I’m not sure that’s the reaction serious photographers want.
There is a large right-hand grip and a zoom lens that protrudes outward from the camera and looks like it could detach. There are lots of dedicated buttons on the body of the EasyShare P880. There are buttons down the left side of the LCD screen and more on the right side. There are buttons atop the camera on both sides of the flash. They’re everywhere! This design choice means that users spend less time digging through menus, but there are so many buttons that it looks overly complicated for a compact and may intimidate novices.
Size / Portability*(5.5)
*The Kodak EasyShare P880 looks like a tiny SLR with its compact 4.5 x 3.8 x 3.6-inch measurements. It is smaller than any DSLR but definitely taller than most compact digital cameras. The P880 has a boxy look – as do many DSLRs – and weighs in accordingly at 17.6 ounces without the card or battery. The Kodak EasyShare P880 feels just right with its boxy size and heft; if it weighed any more, it would be a strain on the wrists; if it weighed any less, it would feel cheap. There are eyelets on each side of the camera and an included neck strap for longer photo sessions, and the user should definitely purchase a camera bag of some sort.
*This digital camera was not designed for one-handed shooting at all. In fact, it may be designed for three-handed shooting. There are buttons all over the camera body so every finger will be used to access a different mode or control. The right-hand grip is comfortable; it is the perfect size for my hands (I realize not everyone has hands my size, but if you have an apple-sized palm and 3-3 1/2-inch fingers the P880 is as comfy as the bucket seats in your college ride). Holding this camera is like holding a SLR because of its dimensions. The right hand will be on the grip and the left hand will support the bottom of the body and lens. However, handling is complicated a bit by the many buttons on the camera body. The right thumb will be able to access the set button and the jog dial to change exposure settings. The right index finger will be on the shutter release button and will be able to access the two buttons closest on the top. Still, there are several buttons that are out of easy reach including all of the buttons on the left side of the LCD and the buttons to the left of the pop-up flash. So while shooting is simple, changing the exposure settings and menu options isn’t quite as easy.
Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(6.25)
*There are more buttons on the Kodak P880 than most other EasyShare digital cameras. The Kodak EasyShare P880 has lots of dedicated buttons; to the left of the LCD are flash, metering, ISO and white balance buttons. These are not easily accessed by the left hand, which is busy supporting the weight of the lens and camera body. The right hand is kept busy too. The thumb supports the back of the camera and switches from the jog dial to the Set button to change the aperture and shutter speed. Unfortunately, this is complicated by the stiffness of the jog dial and the recessed nature of the Set button. The power switch is wrapped around the shutter release button, which the right index finger rests upon. Not only does the switch turn from On to Off, but the Favorites album selection is on there as well. The Off switch rests in between the On and Favorites positions. It must take awhile to get the hang of switching the camera On because I kept accidentally accessing the Favorites when I wanted to power the camera on and shoot. Then when I went to turn the camera off, I’d turn the switch too far to the Favorites position. Oops. To further complicate things, the navigation isn’t as smooth as it should be. The multi-selector consists of a single toggle that can be pushed in every direction to scroll through menus and pressed inward to make selections. Unfortunately, this cannot be operated as quickly as other more traditional multi-selectors. The toggle is easily pushed in unwanted directions, making accidental selections a common incidence. Pressing the toggle inward many times resulted in a push up or down instead. Overall, the control buttons are adequately sized but strangely placed and are even somewhat difficult to use.
*With an excellent layout and an easily readable font, the Kodak EasyShare P880 has great menus. It is a bit difficult to navigate them because of the joystick-like toggle, but with all of the dedicated buttons on the body users shouldn’t have to access the menus all that often. Across the top of the menus are folder tabs with icons of cameras. The plain camera icon signifies a simple menu that’s available in every mode including the full auto mode; it consists of Picture Size, File Type, Color Mode, and Date Stamp options.
An icon of a camera with a plus sign next to it signifies the advanced menu available in the priority and manual modes. The following options are available in the advanced shooting menu: Custom White Balance, AF Control, AF Zone, Sharpness, Contrast, and Slow Flash Sync. The final tab of the menu shows a camera with a wrench next to it.
The setup menu of the Kodak P880 is quite lengthy with this list of options: LCD Brightness, Image Storage, Set Album, Low Light AF LED, MF Assist AF, Redeye Reduction, AE/AF Button Set, Program Button Capture, Program Button Review, Orientation Sensor, Quickview, Camera Sounds, Sound Volume, Mode Description, Accessory Lens, Date & Time, Video Out, EVF/LCD Standby, Auto Power Off, Language, Reset Camera, Format, and About. Plenty of options abound in the Playback mode’s menu as well: View, Album, Protect, Edit, Redeye Reduction, Slideshow, Copy, and Multi-up. Still image editing options include cropping and resizing.
Overall, the menus are easy on the eyes and navigation is intuitive, but physically pointing the joystick to where it should go is another matter altogether.
Ease of Use*(6.5)
*For a digital camera that carries the word "easy" in its name, the P880 sure is complicated. The ease of use is mainly hindered by the awful navigation joystick and the stiff and oddly placed buttons. This model is definitely not as easy as the other Kodak EasyShare digital cameras. That said, it is not designed for the same audience that covets ease of use. The EasyShare P880 is the flagship of Kodak’s Performance Series – not the point-and-shoot series. To its credit, the P880 does have lots of dedicated buttons so avoiding the menu altogether is possible. Also, there is a fully automatic mode that lets users completely ignore all other controls when they’ve reached the end of their ropes. And as on all Kodak digital cameras, there is a ruby red Share button that does simplify transferring and printing images directly from the camera.
Auto Mode* (7.0)
*The Auto mode is found in plain green text on the mode dial and is easy to find as it is the only mode on the dial given a color. The options are limited in the Auto mode – as they should be. A truncated menu lets users choose only the picture size, file type, color mode, and whether to include a date stamp on the image. Other settings are automatically controlled. The auto focus system is set to work continuously, which focuses faster but makes a heck of a lot of noise doing it. If shooting in a quiet place, avoid using the Auto mode.
Movie Mode* (8.0)
*The Kodak EasyShare P880 has an excellent movie mode that shoots at great resolution, but the colors look strangely flatter than they do in still images. Resolution can be chosen at 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels; both sizes shoot 30 frames per second. The recording is limited only by the size of the memory card, although users can set the camera to record shorter 5, 10, or 30 second clips. The 5.8x optical zoom lens works in the movie mode as does the auto focus system. The continuous auto focus makes quite a noise, so it is best to avoid using it so it’s not picked up on the video. The audio works well and zooming can be done without audible disruption. Video clips look great except for a slight loss of color vibrancy.
If users wish to extract still images from VGA video, it is possible in the playback mode. The pictures can only be printed at a 2 x 3-inch size; making them any larger would result in serious degradation of the image. The playback mode also yields welcome editing features such as Trim, Cut, Split, Merge, Fast Forward, and Rewind. All in all, the movie mode on the Kodak EasyShare P880 is one of its best features.
Drive / Burst Mode*(6.25)
*The Kodak EasyShare P880 has more burst modes than most comparable models. The specs indicate that the P880 can shoot 2 frames per second for up to 12 images (standard JPEG at full resolution) in the First Burst mode. The Last Burst mode shoots at the same rate, but shoots for as long as the shutter release button is held down and saves only the last 6 images. There are two exposure bracketing modes. Some models take one picture and save it at different exposure levels, but the Kodak EasyShare P880 actually takes different pictures at different exposure levels. Exposure Bracketing 3 takes three shots at intervals of 1/3, 2/3, or 1 exposure value. The Exposure Bracketing 5 mode shoots five shots at the same intervals but takes just a bit longer.
The final burst mode option is the Time Lapse Burst Mode. Users can select intervals from 10 seconds to 24 hours and set the camera to shoot at those intervals for 2-99 images. This can be used to capture long-term projects like building construction or the slow motion of clouds or tides. This mode is also useful for spying on siblings who sit unawares in front of the Kodak P880. During long intervals, the P880 turns on by itself, grabs the shot, and turns off within a space of only a few seconds.
*Reviewing images on the Kodak EasyShare P880 is easier than recording them. There are several ways to view pictures: by pressing the Review button, sneaking a peek in the Quickview mode, and accessing the Favorites position on the power switch.
The Review mode is the camera’s full playback station. Holding the navigational toggle to one side or another scrolls through thumbnails of the pictures quickly. Full frames can be viewed as well and even magnified up to 10x. Shooting data, histograms, and highlight clipping can also be seen when individual pictures are viewed. In the playback mode, users can sort photos into albums (although you have to connect to a computer to import album names for some reason), protect selected images, copy pictures, reduce the red-eye effect, crop, and resize images. Users can also create JPEGs and TIFFs from RAW files. Slide shows can be viewed in the Review mode as well.
The Quickview option can be set to display the latest recorded image for five seconds or the mode can be disabled entirely in the setup menu. When an image is displayed for five seconds, users have just that long to delete it or tag it as a picture to email later or file as a Favorite.
The Favorites are stored on the camera’s internal memory and can be viewed by turning the power switch to the icon of the photo album with a heart in it. This is basically a designated spot for slide shows. It is certainly easier to access this way. Instead of turning the camera on, pressing the Review button, pressing the Menu button, scrolling though the menu to the Slideshow option, and then scrolling to the play option, users can simply switch to the Favorites mode and play directly from its menu. Users can view pictures individually, in the multi-up thumbnail mode, and in slide shows.
Overall, the Kodak P880’s playback mode is very thorough and provides more editing options than most digital cameras – compact and SLR alike.
Custom Image Presets*(7.0)
*A few of the Kodak EasyShare P880’s scene modes are located directly on the mode dial, but most are located within the Scene position on the mode dial. Portrait, Landscape, and Flower modes are located directly on the dial with icons. These icons also access sub-modes. For instance, the Portrait mode can also access the Night Portrait and Anti-Shake Night Portrait modes. The Landscape and Night Landscape modes are selectable when the dial is turned to an icon of a mountain. Flower and Super Close-up modes are available via the third scene icon. The other eight scenes can only be found in the Scene menu. Sports, Sunset, Backlight, Candlelight, Text/Document, Manner/Museum, Snow, and Beach are available. As users scroll through these modes in the custom image preset menu, there is a live view that shows how the exposure changes as the selection is changed. This is handy for picking just the right mode.
**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.
Picture Quality / Size Options*(7.5)
*The Kodak EasyShare P880 has several size options accessible in the most basic shooting menu. This 8 megapixel digital camera has five image sizes: 3264 x 2448, 3264 x 2176 (3:2), 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, and 1024 x 768. Images can be shot in Fine, Standard, or Basic JPEG files or as TIFF or RAW files. RAW images can be transformed into TIFF or JPEG files within the camera’s playback menu. While every compact digital camera can shoot in the JPEG format, the TIFF and RAW formats are more standard in DSLRs. Macintosh users should be warned that the RAW files cannot be edited on their computer’s operating system.
Picture Effects Mode*(7.0)
*There are several in-camera effects that many compacts use to increase the appeal of their direct print ability, the logic being that making emendations in-camera will negate the need for editing software. While I don’t think this is Kodak’s main intent, the P880 still has color modes typical of compact models. Natural colors can be switched to High or Low; this is similar to a saturation control. Contrast and Sharpness selections each have High, Normal, and Low options as well. Sepia and Black & White modes are available too. Unfortunately, there are no live views of all these color modes and options, but it would be better to add these effects later in the included software anyway.
Connectivity / Extras
*The P880 comes with a CD-ROM that includes Kodak EasyShare software version 5.2. This version comes with all the viewing and editing features of earlier versions and enhances the printing and projects portions of the program. The software syncs with the Kodak EasyShare Gallery online so users can order prints, photo cards, and calendars. Great marketing idea by Kodak. Users can tag photos as Favorites in the software if they haven’t done so already in the camera. Another new feature in the 5.2 software is the Quick Print function, which lets users print from any view in the software: thumbnail, list, full screen, or even slide show. The parameters of the Quick Print function can be changed so that the printer always produces 4 x 6-inch prints, 8 ½ x 11-inch prints, or whatever the preference may be. EasyShare Software 5.2 also has a feature that detects duplicate images and alerts the user; this prevents users from accidentally downloading the same picture over and over.
Images can be uploaded and organized, then edited with Kodak’s many tools. Users can tweak everything from the color balance and the crop to the use of less important functions like the coloring book effect. Pictures can be emailed straight from the program if Internet access is available. In fact, many of this program’s features require Internet access. The Creative Projects tab is what links the software to the EasyShare Gallery and lets users build photo books and calendars. The only catch is that purchases can only be made from the Kodak Gallery and nowhere else.
All in all, the version 5.2 Kodak EasyShare Software is easy to use. It makes it simple to email, print, and otherwise play with pictures. But a warning to Macintosh users: the RAW files from the P880 will cannot be edited in the software program – or anywhere on a Mac for that matter.
*Jacks, Ports, Plugs (6.0)
*The Kodak P880 has a rubber cover on its left side that houses a USB / A/V port and a port for an optional power adapter. There is also a circular cover on that side that protects the flash port. A hot shoe atop the digital camera accepts Kodak flash units, namely the P20. There is a door on the right side of the camera that protects the slot for the SD card; this door is difficult to open. The Kodak EasyShare P880 comes with a plastic adapter so it can fit on a Kodak EasyShare Series 3 camera dock or printer.
*Direct Print Options (8.0)
*The majority of P880 users will want to download and edit pictures before printing them, but in case a few instant prints are needed the Kodak P880 is compatible with PictBridge and ImageLink printers. Kodak recommends its own EasyShare printers of course and includes an adapter that rests the P880 directly on the EasyShare Series 3 printers. The Kodak P880 is DPOF compatible and lets users select prints by tagging them. Users can also make an index print and print all photos at once. Kodak simplified direct printing long ago with its designated ruby red Share button that transfers images to the printer.
*The P880 uses a Kodak KLIC-5001 lithium-ion battery. The rechargeable battery fits into the included wall-mount charger and takes three hours to fully charge. Kodak didn’t release battery life stats on its battery, but it performed well in testing, lasting for most of the day before it needed a recharge.
*The Kodak EasyShare P880 has 32 MB of internal memory, 31 of which are available for image storage. The Favorites album is kept on the internal memory unless otherwise specified. 8 megapixel RAW files will use up the internal memory quickly, so purchasing a SD card will be necessary.
Other Features* (2.0)
**Live Histogram –* One advantage of the P880 over a DSLR is the ability to view a live histogram. This provides users with an accurate assessment of the tonal values within the composition of the shot and is far more accurate than the LCD view.
*Self-Timer – *Available with the Drive button, users can select the self-timer and activate it after 2 or 10 seconds.
*The Kodak EasyShare P880 has some expensive features on it: 8 megapixels, a 2.5-inch LCD screen, a wide Schneider-Kreuznach optical zoom lens, and RAW file shooting. However, even these expensive features have their downsides. Kodak advertises 8 megapixels, but the P880 still didn’t fare well in our resolution testing. The 2.5-inch LCD screen is nicely sized but has inadequate resolution with only 115,000 pixels. The 24-140mm equivalent zoom lens has a great wide angle, but its maximum f/4.1 telephoto aperture is sub-par. It seems like with every positive aspect of the P880, there is a negative aspect to counterbalance it – which in the end leaves the Kodak EasyShare P880 an average digital camera. Well, not quite. Its above average price of $599 is what ultimately pushes the P880 from an average value to a poor one.
*Kodak EasyShare P850 –*The other digital camera in Kodak’s relatively new Performance Series is the 5.1 megapixel EasyShare P850. This model has less resolution and more zoom with its 12x optical zoom lens. The Kodak P850 has an optical image stabilization system that nicely complements the movie mode and keeps pictures from blurring. The bodies of the Performance Series cameras look very similar, but there are less dedicated buttons on the P850. Still, both the P880 and P850 have the same 2.5-inch LCD screen, hot shoe, and SLR shape. The Kodak EasyShare P850 also shares the same manual and priority modes as well as auto focus and movie modes. The P850 can shoot RAW files and like the P880 they cannot be edited on Macintosh systems. The Kodak EasyShare P850 has 32 MB of internal memory and retails for $499.
Fujifilm FinePix S9000 – This digital camera has a similar SLR-like shape and a Fujinon lens that does not detach. The 10.7x optical zoom lens has zoom and focus rings on it and functions like the one on the Kodak P880. The Fujifilm S9000 has 9 megapixels on a 1/1.6-inch CCD. This digital camera performed well during testing and offered images that looked great in low light, producing little noise. The S9000 has similar manual and priority modes and also has a movie mode that allows the optical zoom lens to be used. Unfortunately, there is no image stabilization. One of the more distinguishing features of this FinePix is its LCD monitor. The screen is only 1.8 inches, but it folds out from the camera body and tilts up and down for better viewing with a tripod. This camera also accepts both CompactFlash and xD-Picture cards. The Fujifilm FinePix S9000 runs on AA batteries and retails for $699.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 – This 8 megapixel digital camera also has a compact SLR shape with a 12x optical zoom lens. The Panasonic has a similarly sized 1/1.8-inch CCD and a smaller 2-inch screen, but has 235,000 pixels on that screen. This LCD monitor is like the Fujifilm S9000’s; it folds outward from the camera body and tilts upward and downward. The Leica zoom lens on the FZ30 extends much farther than that of the Kodak, and also offers focus and zoom rings. The zoom lens can be used in the movie mode, but it makes an audible noise. Optical image stabilization is also available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30. The FZ30 shoots in JPEG, TIFF, and RAW like the Kodak, and produces a lot of noise like the Kodak. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 retails for $699.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1 – This digital camera is SLR-shaped but borrows many components from compact models, much like the Kodak EasyShare P880 does. The Sony H1 has less resolution at 5.1 megapixels on a smaller 1/2.4-inch CCD, but has a much longer 12x optical zoom lens. The H1 has manual and priority modes and includes 7 scene modes in its palette. As the lead camera in Sony’s Enthusiast line of digital cameras, the Cyber-shot H1 combines great color performance with manual functionality. The resultant pictures have fairly low noise – much less than the Kodak P880's pictures. The Sony H1 has a 30-1/1000th shutter speed and similar apertures of f/2.8 - f/8. It has a similarly disappointing 2.5-inch LCD screen with 115,000 pixels. Optical image stabilization and 32 MB of internal memory sweeten the deal. This easy to use digital camera runs on AA batteries and uses Sony Memory Stick Media. It retails for $499.
**Who It’s For **
*Point-and-Shooters – *The Kodak P880 could be a great gift for previous EasyShare users looking to upgrade to a more capable camera. The strong auto and scene modes and impressive video capture make the P880 a versatile option for beginners who really want to build their skills with one digital camera.
Budget Consumers – For consumers who don’t quite have the cash for a bigger DSLR but still get the urge to shoot in RAW format with 8 megapixels, the Kodak EasyShare P880 provides the option just below the low-end DSLRs and just above the high-end compacts at its $599 retail price.
*Gadget Freaks – *This type of consumer will be attracted by the gadgets the P880 can come with. There are all kinds of optional gadgets to hook onto this camera, but unfortunately for the true gadget lover, they all revolve quite literally around still image capture. No WiFi or touch screen here.
Manual Control Freaks – With a fully manual mode as well as priority modes, these consumers will be satisfied. Custom menus and manual white balance are the icing on the cake for manual control freaks.
Pros / Serious Hobbyists – With manual functionality, conversion lens compatibility, and plenty of features in a compact DSLR-shaped body, the Kodak P880 could be the tool the budding serious hobbyist needs.
**The Kodak EasyShare P880 is perhaps the most difficult to use of the EasyShares. It isn’t incredibly difficult to figure out, but its buttons are scattered and some are stiff and hard to move. The 8 megapixel digital camera is shaped like an SLR, but has many characteristics typical of a compact model. It has a large 2.5-inch LCD screen but viewing is hindered by the low 115,000 pixel resolution. The P880 supports RAW files, but Macintosh users cannot edit them. Navigation in menus is tricky with the finicky toggle. Its burst mode is more typical of a compact than an SLR and its start-up time is definitely reminiscent of slim, less expensive EasyShare models.
Still, the Kodak EasyShare P880 has some nice features. It has a wide 24-140mm Schneider-Kreuznach zoom lens that accepts telephoto conversion lenses. This versatile digital camera also has a four-pin hot shoe for flash attachments. The Kodak P880 offers the gamut of user control, a fully manual mode, a fully automatic mode, and two priority and plenty of scene modes in between. There are even three custom modes. The Kodak EasyShare P880 is meant to compete with top of the line digital cameras and low-end DSLRs, but with its $599 retail price and collection of drawbacks it falls short of its potential.
Specs / Ratings
**Specs Table **
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