Cameras

Kodak EasyShare V610 Digital Camera Review

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Testing / Performance

Color* (5.77)

*Just from the live view and the recorded images, the naked eye can see that something is a little off about the colors; however, testing was necessary to determine whether this discrepancy was due to the camera's LCD or the image processor. To see just how accurate the V610's colors are, we took some pictures of the industry standard GretagMacbeth color chart and uploaded them into Imatest Imaging Software for analysis. The program output the chart below, which shows the original colors from the GretagMacbeth chart as the vertical rectangles within each color tile. Imatest software modified the chart so we could see the Kodak EasyShare V610’s produced colors as well. The camera’s colors are represented by the outer squares in each tile. The color on the inner square has been corrected for luminance by Imatest.

V610-TungstenWB-ColorCH.jpg

The chart confirms that V610's rendered colors are less than realistic; the chart below depicts this result a bit more quantitatively. It shows the ideal color as squares and the V610’s produced colors as circles. The line connecting the two shapes shows the degree of error – which ideally wouldn’t be seen at all.

Almost the entire left half of the chart is totally exaggerated, which is a bit strange. Most compact digital cameras exaggerate the red tones, but the Kodak V610 does so with the cooler, blues, greens and even yellows. For its disappointing performance, the Kodak V610 received an overall color score of just 5.77, which comes up short of the V570’s dismal 6.31 score. The Kodak EasyShare V610 produced a hefty mean color error of 10.7 and over-saturated its colors by 12.8 percent. The color error is the most alarming, while the saturation is still within normal range for a compact model. Overall, the produced colors of the Kodak V610 are unrealistic and very disappointing. The built-in Kodak Perfect Touch technology may remedy some of this problem, but the blue sky in the picture still won’t quite be the blue sky that was photographed.

Still Life Scene

Below is a shot of our still life scene, captured with the Kodak EasyShare V610.

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Click on the image above to view the full resolution image.](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=V610-StillLifeLG.jpg)

Resolution / Sharpness* (3.21)

*The Kodak V610 adds a megapixel to its predecessor's specifications, so the new model has 6.36 total megapixels on its image sensor. Of those, 6.1 megapixels are effective and the largest image size comes out to 2832 x 2128 pixels. With that resolution, Kodak claims that the V610 can print as large as 30 x 40 inches. To see if the V610 can walk the walk, we snapped several shots of an industry standard resolution chart and uploaded the files into Imatest Imaging Software. We report the sharpest shot, which is shown below.

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Click on the above chart for full res. image](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=KodakV610-ResCH-LG.jpg

The above picture was taken using a focal length of 21.5mm, which is the widest point in the camera’s top telephoto lens and is equivalent to 130mm. The camera chose an aperture of f/4.8 for this shot. Imatest expressed the resolution results in terms of line widths per picture height (lw/ph), which is a unit that describes how many alternating black and white lines could theoretically fit across a frame without blurring into oblivion. Vertically, the Kodak V610 resolved 1605 lw/ph and over-sharpened by 19.3 percent. In the horizontal direction, 1552 lw/ph were counted and the camera over-sharpened by 18.4 percent. 

The Kodak EasyShare V610 performed much better than its predecessor even when considering the extra megapixel included on the image sensor. However, the camera's resolution still isn’t up to par with its competitors, even with excessive in-camera sharpening imposed on JPEGs. The Nikon Coolpix S4, which also has 6 megapixels and a 10x optical zoom lens, read 1805 lw/ph vertically and 1363 lw/ph horizontally. For its average performance, the Kodak EasyShare V610 received an overall resolution score of 3.21.

Related content

Noise - Auto ISO* (4.38)

*The Kodak EasyShare V610 has an automatic ISO range that claims to be wider than most. The specs indicate a range from 64-400 when many compact models keep the entire automatic range under 200. We tested the camera using the automatic ISO setting in optimal lighting and came up with a noise level equivalent to what we found in the manual ISO 200 setting. The V610 performed a little better than its predecessor at this test. The original dual lens V570 received a score of 4.2, while the new V610 grabbed a 4.38 overall automatic ISO noise score.

Noise - Manual ISO* (7.64)

*The V610's manual ISO range is improved from the V570. Both cameras have the same 64-800 range, but the V570 could only capture tiny 1.8-megapixel images when using the ISO 800 setting. The Kodak EasyShare V610 utilizes the entire image sensor to produce pictures – even at the higher ISO setting. To see how the image sensor handled noise in optimal lighting, we tested the noise levels at each manual ISO setting. The following chart shows the ISO settings on the horizontal axis and the resultant noise on the vertical axis.

The Kodak V610 performed similarly to its dual lens sibling through the ISO 400 setting, then performed much better at the higher ISO 800 setting – even with the larger image size. The slope is steady, so there are no major jumps in noise, but images shot at the camera's ISO 400 and ISO 800 settings are reasonably noisy. For its consistent performance, the EasyShare V610 received an overall manual ISO noise score of 7.64 which is much improved on the V570’s respectable 6.29 score.

Low Light Performance*(4.5)*

The Kodak EasyShare V610 was tested in dim lighting using both the automatic and Night Landscape scene modes. In the preset mode, colors were even more unrealistic than usual and the camera had a difficult time focusing – even when the 10-second self-timer was used. The white balance could not be manually set either, so an orange hue plagued the tests. In both modes, the ISO could not be manually set. Normally, the automatic mode permits that setting but the camera defaults to the automatic ISO setting when the Long Time Exposure setting is utilized. We chose the lesser of two evils, the automatic mode, because it produced sharper and more realistic results.

We tested the V610 by taking pictures at diminishing light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. The first test of 60 lux is a common light level found at dim restaurants and bars. 30 lux is a bit darker and is approximately equivalent to the light from a 40-watt bulb. The last two tests at 15 and 5 lux are uncommonly dark; we tested these to look for limitations on the image sensor more than to critique the beauty of its pictures.

With the white balance at the tungsten setting for our studio, the Kodak V610 produced off-color pictures at its best – although pictures still remained illuminated for the most part. At 60 lux, we used a 1-second exposure that resulted in a mean color error of 9.43 and 11.1 percent over-saturated colors. The camera selected a low ISO of 64 and kept noise relatively low. Surprisingly, the camera automatically selected the ISO 64 setting for every low light test – even in the 5 lux test when the shutter opened for 8 seconds. From 60 to 5 lux, the noise increased quite a bit, but not as badly as some other compact models. Saturation levels remained fairly constant and the luminance darkened only slightly. Colors suffered quite a bit, as the mean color error went from 9.43 in 60 lux to 10.8 in 30 lux to 15 in 15 lux to 16.3 at the darkest 5 lux.

KodakV610-LowLightNoiseGR.jpg

It wasn’t hard to outperform the V570 in the low light testing, as it performed so horribly. With the Kodak V570, pictures were totally discolored in all tests and completely black in the darkest two light settings. Overall, getting decent low light shots with the Kodak EasyShare V610 was like pulling teeth. The Night Landscape preset was almost unusable and the Automatic mode was hard to tweak. Still, it did better than the original dual lens camera. For usable low light shots, V610 users will need a tripod – which isn’t exactly what most users will carry around with their slim pocket cam.

**Dynamic Range ***(6.0)*

All pictures combine light and dark elements, and dynamic range describes how well a camera records details in both light and dark areas. A picture with good dynamic range shows detail and texture in both light and dark areas, rather than just pure white and pure black.

We test dynamic range by photographing a target that shows a range of rectangles that run from very bright to almost black. Using Imatest software, we measure the range of tones a camera can record at two different quality standards.

The Kodak V610 delivers very competitive performance for a compact camera, starting out with a few good score at ISO 64, and maintaining good results at ISO 200. Its results at ISO 400 and 800 fall off considerably. Most users will notice the falloff in quality at 400 and 800, but in comparison with other compact cameras, the V610 performance is good.

Kodak V610 Dynamic Range - ISO 64

Kodak V610 Dynamic Range - ISO 400*

Kodak V610 Dynamic Range - ISO 800*

**Speed / Timing

***Start-up to First Shot (7.98)*

The Kodak V610 takes about 2 seconds to start up and take a picture. That's a bit slow, even for compact cameras that typically have to activate both mechanical and electronic components. We recommend turning the camera on before a key moment is likely to happen – while they're lighting the candles on the birthday cake, for instance, not when it's placed before the guest of honor. Two seconds can be a long time in situations like that.

*Shot to Shot (9.43)

*The V610 shot 8 frames in 4.3 seconds, for a rate just shy of 2 frames per second. We shot this burst with a charged battery and a 128 MB Sandisk SD card, so we expect our trial reflects typical performance. 2 fps is not quick enough for sports, and other compacts do up to 3 fps at full resolution, so the V610 does not compete well on this front. Still, 2 fps could be useful for portraits, and an 8-shot burst is longer than many cameras can muster.

Shutter to Shot (5.62)

No digital camera takes an image the instant its shutter is pressed. Professional-level cameras reduce the delay to hundredths of a second, but compacts like the V610 usually take a noticeable interval to get the shot. Our shortest delay for an in-focus shot was 0.43 seconds, and we had delays up to 1.69 seconds – much too long for moving subjects. By punching the shutter twice in succession, we were able to get off shots in 0.2 seconds, but the camera didn't focus, and the images were not useable.

Physical Tour

V610_Front.jpg
Front*(8.0)*

When the lens door is shut, the front of the Kodak V610 looks quite unassuming. The body is completely flat with beveled edges. A chrome bar on the left side, with a tiny blue highlight that might allude to the Bluetooth wireless technology within, acts as an eyelet. In the upper right corner are five holes that make up the microphone, as well as a skinny rectangular flash. Just right of center, a brushed-silver-colored lens cover contrasts with the matte black body and displays text which reads "Dual Lens, 10X Optical Zoom."

Opening the lens cover changes the front’s entire appearance. The lenses itself are two small glass windows, one atop the other, with two small LEDs between them. To the left of the lens is a "Dual Lens" reminder, and the Kodak logo sits to the right. The right curve of the brushed silver lens area flaunts the specs: "38-380 mm, Equivalent 10x, Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon." While the camera front is generally inviting, revealing the lenses makes it far more interesting.

Back*(8.0)*

The backs of the Kodak V-series of digital cameras have a unique design that is more similar to handheld video gaming devices than to other compact models. Most cameras squash all the controls to one side of the LCD, but the Kodak V610 distributes them along both sides of the screen. Indeed, the 2.8-inch LCD screen sits in the center of the V610’s back with the camera sloped upwards around it. Its model name runs vertically down its right side; to the right of the words is a chrome teeter-totter-like zoom toggle, with thumb gripping bumps below it.

At the bottom of the right side is a chrome multi-selector, which has a relatively strange square-shape and marks showing the four directions. Icons above and below the multi-selector show its functionality. The center of the multi-selector has a small button with a blue jewel-like highlight in its center. Directly to the left side of the LCD screen is a set of holes that works as a speaker. The camera slopes downward to the speaker’s left, where a series of five square buttons sits in a perfectly organized and linear column. From the top, these buttons are labeled Scene, Delete, Menu, Review, and Share. All of the buttons are chrome except for the bottom one, which has the trademark ruby-colored center. Although the Kodak V610’s setup is different than most other compact models’ backs, it looks much more organized.

Left Side*(7.5)*

The left side is quite boring, with only an open port to a power adaptor at the top. This port is located on the central silver band which connects the matte black front and rear panels.

Right Side*(7.5)*

The right side is even more bland than the left. It looks identical, with the chrome central band separating the two black panels, but it has a tiny eyelet extending from the front of the camera and a Bluetooth logo engraved into the top of this side.

Top*(8.0)*

All the top’s features are located on the chrome band connecting the black front and rear panels. "6.1 Megapixels" is engraved into the left side of the band and three buttons with LEDs on them are to the text’s right. Icons below indicate that the buttons, from left to right, control the Favorites, Movie, and Still image recording modes. Two similar circular buttons, though without LEDs, are to the right of that set. The On/Off button is on the left and the flash mode button is on the right. On the far right side of the camera is the oval-shaped shutter release button. The top itself is quite flat, with beveled edges and a view that shows the slight slope towards to the back’s LCD screen.

Bottom*(3.0)*

Just below where the right hand grips the camera is the tripod socket, with the required legal garb to its right. Beneath the lens is a terminal that connects to Kodak EasyShare system products like printers and docks. A battery door beneath the left side of the camera opens by sliding toward the edge while being pushed inward; bumps on it aid the user’s grip.

Components

Viewfinder*(0.0)*

Kodak completely left the traditional optical viewfinder off of this model, perhaps to distinguish it as a modern Bluetooth-enabled device. Instead of an optical finder, the V610 uses the live view on the 2.8-inch LCD screen. The screen has great resolution, but the colors look darker and the image a little noisier in the recorded picture than in the live view. For more on the view, see the next section.

LCD Screen*(8.75)*

The Kodak EasyShare V610 has a 2.8-inch LCD screen, just slightly larger than the 2.5-inch screen on the V570. Both cameras have 230,000 pixel resolution, though, and excellent viewing angles. Users can view the V610 from just about any angle, whether indoors or outdoors. A setting deep within the setup menu also allows them to select either High Power or Power Save; the latter is slightly dimmer, but should work fine in most situations and preserve the already stretched battery. Users can still be efficient with the battery in High Power mode by activating the LCD Dimmer mode in the setup menu. This dims the camera into the power save mode after 10, 20, or 30 seconds; this option can also be turned off completely.

Viewing pictures in the Favorites or Playback modes is fantastic, but the live view is garbled with noise and looks darker than the recorded image. This will make users remember that good feeling from the old film days: "Did I really get the shot?" Also disappointing is the black-out time after a shot. Sometimes the screen blacks out for a half-second; other times, it takes several seconds and even displays a "Processing…" message. Once again, the V610’s LCD screen has some hits and misses.

Flash*(6.0)*

A skinny rectangular flash is built into the top right corner of the Kodak V610. The good news is that the flash is relatively powerful for its size and genre of camera; it can reach from 2-11.2 ft in wide with the ISO 280 setting and 2-10.8 ft at telephoto with the ISO 400 setting. The bad news is that it’s placed where the left fingers can block it. Users must be wary of their fingertips, or pictures may turn out half illuminated or completely dark.

When fingers aren’t blocking the flash, it is sometimes too powerful. If subjects are closer than 2-3 ft, they turn into blown-out ghosts with darkened backgrounds. Even when subjects are a little farther back, the flash tends to highlight the grease on foreheads and noses. Bluntly, the flash doesn’t look natural or flattering. Unfortunately, there is not much choice but to use it. Even with the top ISO setting activated, many pictures without the flash turned out blurry; the shutter speed just couldn’t flip fast enough to capture my one-year-old.

The built-in flash has a few modes that can be selected with the designated button atop the camera: Auto, Off, Fill, and Digital Red-Eye Reduction. In the setup menu, users can also choose whether or not a single pre-flash fires to reduce the chances of red-eye. This seems to achieve its purpose well, as most pictures kept that phenomena under control. Despite the flash’s off-center placement, coverage is still quite even – although there is some darkening around the corners of the image. Overall, the Kodak V610’s flash is powerful, but won’t make portraits look very flattering.

**Zoom Lens ***(8.0)* 

This section could be more accurately titled "Zoom Lenses," as the Kodak V610 has two. They work together in what Kodak calls its Retina technology. The bottom lens has specs of 38-114mm with maximum apertures of f/3.9-f/4.4; the top has focal lengths from 130-380mm and a maximum aperture of f/4.8. Together, they produce 10x optical zooming power.

When users push the zoom toggle on the top right of the camera’s back, they can roam within a segmented range. The top left of the LCD shows a vertical bar with three different segments: the widest end of the zoom range at the bottom, the top telephoto lens in the middle, and the digital zoom usage uppermost. Traveling through this zoom range is obnoxious. Each time users reach the end of a segment, they have to sort of "step" over the barrier by pushing the zoom toggle again. There is no way to move smoothly through the range; there is always a pause in the middle. This motion is annoying, but perhaps that is the price that must be paid to own the world’s smallest 10x optical zoom digital camera?

The dual lens technology remains within the camera body at all times and allows the users to stop at 11 different focal lengths. As for the lenses’ quality, it is a bit questionable. Despite the Schneider-Kreuznach brand name, the lenses show significant barrel distortion at the wide angle and are quite blurry at the outer edges compared to the sharp center of the image. Of note is the available 4x digital zoom that can be turned on and off in the setup menu; this feature is better deactivated, though, as it only degrades picture quality. As the first of its kind, the 10x optical zoom lens leaves much room for improvement; the glass isn’t of the best quality, its zoom controls are annoying, and its maximum apertures are disappointingly small.

Design / Layout

Model Design / Appearance*(8.5)*

Considering that it packs 10x optical zoom power, the Kodak EasyShare V610 looks good. Real good. The surfaces of the camera remain fairly flat, with beveled edges and a slight slope toward the LCD monitor on the back of the camera. An interesting circular-grooved texture surrounds the lens barrel and radiates outward onto the black camera body, which is highlighted with chrome and a few fancy buttons and lights. The front plate is constructed of metal, as is a sturdy lens cover that snaps open and closed as fast as a guillotine, while the back plate is composed of a tough plastic material that perhaps makes the camera a little less hefty.

All the buttons on the Kodak V610 are perfectly lined up and equally sized, making it look very fashionable and organized. The three mode buttons atop the camera have blue LEDs that light up when in use and dance when the battery is charging. Two practical buttons on the back also contribute some style to the overall design: the Share button has a ruby-colored center and the selection button of the multi-selector has a blue jewel-like center. Overall, the Kodak EasyShare V610 is extremely attractive with its compact form, organized layout, interesting lights and buttons, and sleek lines.

Size / Portability*(7.5)*

The V610 has a very rectangular shape but is still extremely portable. It measures 4.4 x 2.2 x 0.9 inches, 0.4 inches longer and 0.1-inch thicker than the Kodak V570. Still, the V610 is 0.2 inches shorter, making it a prime candidate for stashing in a pocket. Its dimensions are similar to those of a cell phone, and it is just as portable: flat surfaces and sturdy lens cover make it easy – and safe - to slide into small spaces. The rectangular Kodak EasyShare V610 will weigh a pocket down at 5.6 oz without the battery. It is heavier than one would think when looking at it, but carrying it around won’t cause wrist damage .Considering that the V610 has a 10x optical zoom system inside, its compact size is quite impressive and definitely appealing.

Handling Ability*(5.5)*

There is always some give and take between fashion and function. On this model, fashion won. The V610 is quite trendy with its sleek lines and compact form, which increase its portability. Flat surfaces help as well, but don’t make handling comfortable. Still, some subtle features help in this regard. The edge of the wrist strap eyelet, on the front of the camera, acts as a right finger grip. The right thumb can rest either on the curved zoom toggle or on a series of bumps set within a slope that curves, in a convenient bowl shape, up to the LCD screen. Supporting the bottom of the camera or holding the top will keep the left hand busy, as will a number of buttons running down the left side. There aren’t any great handling features on this side, which is unfortunate, as lazy left fingers can easily wander in front of the built-in flash on the front. No camera this size is incredibly comfortable, and the V610 is no exception; it won’t cramp hands, though, and thus outdoes a number of its peers.

V610_handle3.jpg

Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(4.75)*

All of the camera’s control buttons are neatly organized into rows and columns that neat freaks will appreciate. Across the top of the camera are three circular mode buttons with blue LEDs in the middle. To their right are the Power and Flash mode buttons, which are the same shape and size but don’t have lights. The oval-shaped shutter release button protrudes slightly to their right. On the top, the only button that seems out of place is the Flash button, which is more traditionally found on the back of the camera.

The back of the V610 leaves tradition behind by placing the LCD in the center and surrounding it with buttons. A neat column of five square buttons sits left of the monitor. These buttons are small and close together, so pressing one could really activate two. On the right side of the LCD, at the top and bottom respectively, are the zoom toggle and the multi-selector. The toggle is large and curved enough, but only pushing at its very outer edges will trigger its zoom functions; the stiff multi-selector will require some serious thumb dancing and will almost certainly ruin that French manicure. Two buttons on the back of the camera are highlighted by jewel-like centers: the red Share button and the blue selection button. These add a little pizzazz to the otherwise black and silver camera back.

A lack of space hinders most of the buttons on the Kodak V610. Most are small and too close together and the multi-selector makes cruising through menus quite difficult.

Menu*(8.0)*

Menu surfing on the Kodak EasyShare V610 will require strong fingers and a lot of patience. Users must push the Menu button, which is the third button down in the column on the back left side. Once in the system, they can only scroll up and down with the terribly stiff multi-selector. The menu system isn’t as good-looking as the buttons; there are no folders to group similar features or cram options onto a single screen. The following recording menu is from the Auto mode and includes the most options.

The scene modes eliminate some of the choices like White balance, ISO, Sharpness, Exposure Metering, Focus Zone, and Long Time Exposure. While the recording menu overlays the live view, no live views appear when scrolling through choices. For instance, when users scroll from the Black & White to the Sepia option, nothing in the background changes. This is unfortunate, as many compact models offer this simple feature to help beginners pick correct settings.

The menu in the movie mode varies a bit from the still image modes. It is as follows:

The setup menu can be accessed from all recording menus, but is found at the very bottom of the list. Because there are no organizational features in the menu system, users must remember to scroll up and access the setup menu from the "bottom" of the list or they must scroll and scroll and scroll downward to get there. The following is the setup menu:

The setup menu is also displayed as an overlay, but, of course, doesn’t show any live views. It is an incredibly long list, so it is frustrating to try to find, for example, the Bluetooth or Video Out options. The playback menu leaves options equally buried.

This menu also overlays the view without completely blocking it, which is nice. Like all the menus in the Kodak V610, however, it’s lengthy and annoying to scroll through with the stiff multi-selector.

Ease of Use*(8.0)*

Avoiding the menu system will make the V610 a little easier to use. The digital camera certainly isn’t hard to figure out otherwise. Users need only to select the mode and push the shutter release button; the V610 does the rest. This Kodak, like many EasyShare models is very easy to use because of its automatic settings and intuitive layout.

Modes

Auto Mode*(7.0)*

The auto mode is the default mode when the camera is initially turned on. From it, users can choose scene modes by pushing the top square button at left or return to the auto mode with the camera-icon button atop the V610. Ironically, most manual settings included on the V610 are available in the auto mode. When the menu button is pushed, users can access the white balance, ISO, metering, and auto focus control settings, among others. While the auto mode is easy to use, its location is nonintuitive, and some people may search the scene mode selection for it.

Movie Mode*(7.5)*

Kodak’s web site plays up the V610’s "advanced video features" because this camera does offer more than the average compact. The headline 10x optical zoom lens system can be used within the movie mode, but switching between the dual lenses interrupts its movement. Zoom control is the same as in the still modes: users must push the toggle twice to "jump" over the pause in the middle. The zoom works with the built-in digital image stabilization system, which can be turned on or off in the recording menu. The system doesn’t work as well as an optical image stabilization system would, but is still better than having none at all. With the image stabilizer turned off, the V610’s movies are incredibly shaky when it’s zoomed in on subjects.

Another advanced video feature is the auto focus control, which can work continuously or only when recording. Unfortunately, the auto focus itself is a little slow in the movie mode. It takes a half-second or so to catch up with the zoom.

Video can be recorded in MPEG-4 with 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, both with a 30 frame-per-second frame rate. There is also a 640 x 480 + option, but it is described as "medium quality; medium file size" in the user manual. The "+" is a little misleading. Videos can be recorded continuously for up to 80 minutes or limited to 5 seconds in the recording menu. Audio is recorded simultaneously and can be played back within the camera with three sound levels.

Playback mode has VCR-like functionality, with slow motion, fast forward, and rewind options, and even has a trimming function that allows users to snip the clip into two pieces. Users can save the snipped video as a new file or replace the original file with the shorter version. Editing also lets users select "action prints," or images from a movie: the camera can automatically select 4 or 9 images – or users can manually select 4, 9, or 16 images for the index print. Movies cannot be edited in the included Kodak EasyShare software, so any trimming must be done within the camera body.

Drive / Burst Mode*(5.5)*

The Kodak V610 seems to take a little longer than most digital cameras to do just about everything. Its burst mode is 1.6 frames per second, more in line with a cheap plastic camera than one that costs $449. The 1.6 fps burst, which can be accessed in the recording menu, doesn’t last incredibly long either; it maxes out at 8 images in any image size.

Also of note is the self-timer, which has several options available in the recording menu. The standard 10-second self-timer flashes the green LED out front to indicate when the camera is going to snap its shot. There is also a shorter 2-second timer, as well as a 2-picture mode. The latter function takes 10 seconds to snap its first shot, then automatically starts another 10-second wait before grabbing the second picture. All of the self-timer modes turn off after the picture (or pictures, as in the 2-shot mode) is taken; this could be an annoyance to users who want to snap self-timed shots over and over again. However, most consumers will appreciate the self-timer automatically turning off so they can resume normal shooting immediately.

Playback Mode*(7.75)*

Playback mode, accessed via the Review button on the bottom left of the camera, offers the user a variety of ways to review pictures. A few predetermined albums, such as Birthday, Holiday, and Wedding, come with the V610, and more are available when the camera is connected to a computer running EasyShare Software. Otherwise, users can sort photos by date. Within these groups, scrolling left and right with the stiff multi-selector brings up single images. Pushing the multi-selector’s top control displays limited file information, such as image size, date, time, and a histogram. A 1-8x zoom feature and panning also lets users check out the polish on their fingernails or wrinkles in their shirts.

Individual pictures can also be cropped, protected, copied to the memory card from the internal memory, and enhanced with Kodak’s Perfect Touch technology. This is what Kodak uses at its photo kiosks for printing. It automatically brightens up dark backgrounds and fixes some colors. Finally, an option in the setup menu automatically rotates images, making sure that sideways portraits don’t sneak into slide shows.

The playback menu has a number of options for slide shows. Pictures can display from 3-60 seconds and the camera can play the show as a loop or with a single pass. Transitions include Off, Block, Horizontal Blind, Center to L/R, Left to Right, Right to Left, Center to T/B, Top to Bottom, and Bottom to Top. Slide shows can also be played from the Favorites mode, which is the Kodak V610’s on-camera storage system. Users mark pictures as "favorites" with the Share button, but the pictures don’t transfer to the Favorites mode until the camera is hooked up to a computer with the Kodak EasyShare Software. The Share menu also lets users tag images to email to certain people or create print orders.

If users want to view more than one picture at a time, they can check out nine images at once by pushing the telephoto end of the zoom toggle or selecting the Multi-Up option in the playback menu. Pictures can be deleted one by one or all at once by pushing the designated Delete button.

Custom Image Presets*(8.25)*

Twenty-two scene modes can be found by pushing the Scene button at the top of the V610’s left side. The following options appear as icons in a grid-like format: Portrait, Panorama Left to Right, Panorama Right to Left, Sport, Landscape, Close-up, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Snow, Beach, Text, Fireworks, Flower, Manner/Museum, Self-Portrait, Party, Children, Backlight, Panning Shot, Candlelight, Sunset, and Custom. Although this camera lacks a "high sensitivity" scene mode that is becoming more and more popular this year, its selection is good.

Panoramic modes are particularly impressive: they let users snap three shots, then the camera stitches the pictures together within the camera for a super-wide shot. In-camera stitching makes a nice change from other models, which require included software for the process. The camera also displays the edge of the previous frame as an overlay so that it’s easier to line up an accurate shot.

The portrait mode works well, but sometimes the flash looks a little too unnatural. The Sport scene mode works best in the bright outdoors, as do the Snow, Beach, Children and Panning Shot modes. Landscape and Close-up are optimized with different focus modes. The Night Portrait mode adds a flash and results in a very contrasted composition. Night Landscape mode honestly doesn’t work very well; the colors looked awfully orange in low light. The Text mode is designed to photograph documents, but the lenses’ barrel distortion interfered with this.

Fireworks, Sunset, and Candlelight use slower shutter speeds without the flash. Manner/Museum is also designed to be used sans flash, but its pictures are still susceptible to blur. The Custom scene mode has access to all of the camera’s settings – white balance, ISO, metering, auto focus control, etc. – and can be set to "remember" the settings.

When the scene modes are scrolled through, a red box surrounds the scene icon and a guide appears at the top to define it. For example, when users scroll over the snowflake icon, the following explanation appears: "Snow: Use for bright snow scene." The guide is helpful, especially for users who don’t want to memorize icons for 22 different scene modes.

Control Options

Manual Control Options

The Kodak EasyShare V610 isn’t really designed for enthusiasts or those who appreciate manual control; it is built for point-and-shooters who want to easily snap pictures with 10x zooming capability. Still, there are a few manual selections: white balance, ISO, auto focus control, metering, and color mode.

Focus

Auto Focus*(6.5)*

A through-the-lens (or more accurately, lenses) auto focus system on the V610 can be activated continuously or only when the shutter release button is pressed. The single control will save battery power, but increases the shutter lag slightly. Despite the continuous control’s appealing lack of noise, however, it still causes shutter lag, so users might as well just save power.

The camera focuses from 2 ft at its widest and 5.2 ft from telephoto. When in the macro mode, the auto focus system captures pictures from 2 inches to 2.3 ft in wide and 2.3-5.6 ft in telephoto. In the recording mode, the focus zone can be selected to Multi or Center, with the latter option saving only a hair of time. As slow as the auto focus system is in the still image modes, it is even slower in the movie mode. Unfortunately, both good and bad are recorded onto a video clip. The auto focus system can’t seem to keep up with the 10x zoom lens. Users can zoom in on a subject’s face, but it won’t come into focus for another half-second or so. While a blur warning can be turned on and off in the menu, but it only tells users what they already know: yet another blurred picture is on its way.

Manual Focus*(0.0)*

The Kodak EasyShare V610 does not have manual focus control for its 10x optical zooming system.

Exposure*(6.5)*

The Kodak V610 doesn’t have any live views except its exposure compensation scale. This won’t be found in any menus, but is available on the live view with the right and left arrows on the multi-selector. Scrolling left and right quickly adjusts the exposure in steps of 1/3 within a +/- 2 range. By pushing the top of the multi-selector, users can also access a live histogram to help judge lighting and exposure.

Metering*(7.0)*

The Kodak EasyShare V610 has the standard fare for its metering mode options: Multi-pattern, center-weighted, and center-spot. The metering system works through the lens and its effects show up immediately. The default, multi-pattern option samples from several areas around the frame and averages them, the center-weighted option shows blue brackets around the middle of the frame, and the spot option adds a circle in the very center to show exactly where it’s metering from.

White Balance*(4.0)*

Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, and Open Shade white balance options are all available from the recording menu. The automatic white balance mode seems to work okay, but surely isn’t a replacement for a true manual mode. White balance presets don’t cover many situations, like the flash lighting that fires from the camera so frequently. A manual mode will be missed on the Kodak V610, as its colors could really use help under mixed lighting.

ISO*(7.5)*

The V610 has a more useful ISO range than its predecessor: the EasyShare V570 had the same range from 64-800, but its top ISO rating was only available in a reduced image size. The Kodak V610’s ISO 800 setting can be used with all 6 megapixels. Here is the full list of options: Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, and 800. The automatic setting shortens the range to 64-400, which is a wider range than most compact models’ automatic offerings. Overall, the ISO range is good. To see how it handled noise, check out the testing sections of this review.

Shutter Speed*(2.0)*

Although some manual control is available for the V610’s shutter speed, the speed itself isn’t particularly impressive. Shutter speeds range from 8 seconds to 1/1200th of a second; most compact models can go as fast as 1/2000th of a second. Most don’t let users control the slower shutter speeds like the Kodak V610 does, though. In the recording menu, users can select the Long Time Exposure option and choose from the following: None, 0.5, 0.6, 0.8, 1.0, 1.3, 1.6, 2.0, 2.5, 3.2, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0, and 8.0. These slower shutter speeds will need to be accompanied by a tripod or equally stable surface. It is nice to have the option to slow shutter speeds down for night scenes and such, when the V610’s scene mode just doesn’t seem to be cutting it.

Aperture*(0.0)*

This Kodak EasyShare’s dual lens system has disappointingly small available apertures. At the very widest focal length, the camera can eke out a f/3.9. The bottom lens has apertures from f/3.9-f/7.1; the top ranges from f/4.8-f/8.0. These are automatically controlled by the camera.

Image Parameters

Picture Quality / Size Options*(6.5)*

With 6.1 effective megapixels on its image sensor, the Kodak V610 has five size settings that can be selected in the recording mode. The top resolution measures 2832 x 2128 pixels, but is displayed on the camera menu as 6.0 MP. A 5.3-megapixel option is formatted to print perfectly cropped 4 x 6-inch prints with 2832 x 1888 pixels. Pictures can also be saved in the following image sizes: 2304 x 1728 (4.0 MP), 2048 x 1536 (3.1 MP), and 1200 x 900 (1.1 MP). The JPEG images save EXIF version 2.21 information in the files. Picture compression cannot be adjusted.

Picture Effects Mode*(6.0)*

Five color modes are available in the V610’s recording menu: High Color, Natural Color, Low Color, Sepia, and Black & White. The three color options have different levels of saturation; the High Color option will make blue eyes sparkle and the Low Color option will make them blend with the background. The Sepia mode has a flat, brown look to it. The Black & White mode has decent contrast. None of these color modes are available in playback; they must be set before recording.

Connectivity / Extras

Connectivity

Software*(6.5)*

It takes only a few minutes for the Kodak EasyShare Software to download and infest a computer. Pop-ups will then appear when the computer is turned on, showing everything from photography tips to updates and more. The V610 comes with a software CD-ROM , but the latest version is available from the Kodak web site for free. The Kodak V610 comes with version 5.2.1.0 software, which is necessary to add and edit on-camera albums and to add pictures to the on-camera Favorites mode.

EasyShare Software automatically loads pictures taken by Kodak cameras, but the "Add Pictures" button at the top of the browser window lets users include others as well. From the top menu, users can also create new albums, edit and rotate pictures, play slide shows, and burn CDs/DVDs.

The following editing features are available: Crop, Rotate, Red-Eye, Enhance, Scene Balance, Color Balance, Scene Effects, and Fun Effects. There is also an ever-present Help button for lost users. The Crop function lets users crop within set dimensions or produce a free form. Red-Eye and Enhance features are automatic quick fixes, similar to the Kodak Perfect Touch technology included on the camera itself. The Scene Balance feature provides three editing tools that brighten and darken the image as well as provide more or less shadow and highlight, giving users a way to save pictures with improper white balance. With the Color Balance feature, users grab a dropper and select a gray area within the frame. The program samples this and automatically fixes the color, showing users the image before and after the fix.

"Scene Effects mode" is another name for color modes. Black & White, Sepia Tone, Forest, Scenic, Portrait, and Sunset are available. These cast different hues of light and almost depict the white balance settings within the V610.

The Fun Effects mode has several funky tools that aren’t incredibly professional but should be fun for teenagers who want to make interesting locker signs. With this, pictures can look like a spotlight is on them or a seriously exaggerated fish-eye lens was used. The picture can also be transformed to look like a coloring book or cartoon.

Kodak’s EasyShare Software is one of the more thorough programs included with a compact digital camera. Most models come with extremely basic software. While this is certainly nowhere near Photoshop, it still provides a decent medium for casual photographers to tweak the lighting and colors a bit – and have some fun. There are quick tabs to access home and online printing resources, email pictures, and visit the online Kodak EasyShare Center web site to buy more stuff.

Jacks, ports, plugs*(6.5)*

The Kodak V610 has an open port on its left side for the power adaptor. This cable comes with the camera and plugs in to charge the battery, which will need to be done frequently. A USB 2.0 cable, which hooks up to the bottom, exports pictures and video, sensing orientation as it does so and rotating the files properly. It cannot, however, plug directly into the camera: the jack is designed for use with an optional Kodak EasyShare photo frame or printer. Also in the package is an adaptor that hooks up to the USB port. This adaptor is about the size of a chicken nugget photographers who lose lens caps every other week will want to avoid this system. Without the tiny adaptor, users can’t transfer pictures unless their computers are Bluetooth enabled. Also connecting to the bottom port with the adaptor is the AV-out cable, whichcan be selected to NTSC or PAL standards. All of these wires can be a pain, which makes the wireless Bluetooth capability of the V610 even more attractive.

Direct Print Options*(8.0)*

A plastic insert included with the V610 fits onto a Kodak-brand printer and lets the user securely dock this camera. Once this is done, the Share button transfers pictures. Manufacturers suggest the Kodak EasyShare Photo Printer 500 and Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock Plus Series 3, which are directly compatible with the V610; users can set the camera atop them and watch slide shows while printing.

Otherwise, the V610 can use the USB cable and adaptor to print directly to PictBridge and ImageLink enabled printers as well as printing devices equipped with a Bluetooth chip.. To create print orders, users must be in the playback mode and push the Share button. A menu will prompt them to select images to print and select the number of copies of each print, from 1-99. There is also an option to select all of the images for printing and to cancel the print order. The Kodak EasyShare V610 has great compatibility and it is easy to directly print from it.

Battery (3.75)

V610_Battery.jpg
The included KLIC-7001 lithium-ion battery is slim and light. It must not pack much power either. The Kodak EasyShare V610’s specifications claim it can only get 135 shots per charge. Believe it:. the battery life indicator on the screen hardly ever shows a completely full battery even when it has been freshly charged. An included power adaptor cable hooks into the open port on the left side and charges the battery within the camera.

Users can turn off the continuous auto focus mode and the digital image stabilization system to lengthen the battery life. They can also dim the LCD screen, as the 2.8 inches of pixels sure eat up a lot of power. The battery itself only costs $15-20, so it would be a worthwhile investment to purchase an extra for a day trip. Otherwise, the V610 and its snazzy 10x zoom might be sitting in a pocket with a dead battery.

Memory (5.0)

V610_MemoryCard.jpg
The Kodak EasyShare V610 comes with 32 MB of internal memory, 28 of which are available for picture storage. The Favorites mode defaults to take up space on the internal memory, while recorded pictures are supposed to be saved on an optional SD or MMC memory card. Users can copy pictures from the internal memory to the memory card, but not vice versa. A decent sized memory card will be quite necessary, as the camera can only save 14 full-resolution shots on the internal memory.

Other Features*(8.0)*

Bluetooth Wireless Technology - The Kodak V610 is the first digital camera to be fitted with Bluetooth wireless technology. It does so without a hitch too; consumers can use this feature right out of the box. Pushing the Share button in the playback menu brings up the Bluetooth option, which lets users search for other Bluetooth devices and send and receive files from them. From here, users can also view up to four profiled devices and send files to any Bluetooth device within about 30-40 ft.

When pictures are sent to a Bluetooth-enabled computer, the picture files automatically pop up on the screen – although they can only be properly viewed with the Kodak EasyShare Software. Pictures can be sent in full resolution, at QVGA size for fast transfer, or at XGA size for 4 x 6-inch optimized prints. The Bluetooth 2.0 EDR wireless transfer protocol sends file info at a speed of 3 MB per second, while the blue lights atop the camera dance.

Setting up a four-digit password can prevent other users from sending pictures to your camera. You can also name your V610, using an on-screen keyboard. These security features are optional, but useful and, like the rest of the Bluetooth technology, surprisingly easy to use.

Optional Photo Frame - The Kodak V610 is compatible with Kodak EasyShare Series 3 camera docks and photo frames. When the camera sits atop one of these optional docks, it can play fancy slide shows using options in the setup menu. Pictures can be shown from 3-60 seconds and a loop can be turned on and off. Transitions can include the following: Block, Horizontal Blind, Center to L/R, Left to Right, Right to Left, Center to T/B, Top to Bottom, and Bottom to Top. Slide shows, which can last from a half hour to 12 hours, can be played from the Favorites folder, the internal memory, or all of the stored images. Best of all: when the V610 is docked to one of these frames, its wimpy battery charges up.

Overall Impressions

Value*(6.0)*

The Kodak EasyShare V610 may fit comfortably in a pocket, especially when there is no money to pack in with it. It retails for $449 – and that isn’t including the necessary spare battery and the optional memory card that will allow users to take more than 14 pictures. $449 is much too expensive for a digital camera that has only automatic functionality and doesn’t take totally gorgeous pictures. Still, the Kodak EasyShare V610 does provide a unique set of features, including 10x optical zoom and Bluetooth functionality.

Comparisons

*Kodak EasyShare V570 - *This digital camera, introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2006, was the first dual lens model. Its innovative Retina technology included two Schneider-Kreuznach lenses for a 5x optical zoom, with one being a 23mm wide angle prime lens. The 5-megapixel V570 has very similar dimensions to the newer V610 and a slightly smaller 2.5-inch LCD screen which nonetheless has the same 230,000-pixel resolution. Both digital cameras have the same scene modes and ISO ranges, but the V570’s top ISO of 800 only worked in the 1.8-megapixel image size. Movie modes on both record 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixels, but the V570’s movie mode allows only 3x optical zoom, while the V610 grants users full access to the lengthy zoom – although with an unpleasant pause in the middle of the range. The Kodak EasyShare V570 can shoot 2.3 frames per second, while the V610’s burst mode slouches along at 1.6 fps. Like the V610, the V570 has significant shutter lag and unrealistic colors but keeps noise levels relatively low. The camera also doesn’t do well in low light. The Kodak EasyShare V570 retails for $399.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 - The TZ1 was also introduced at CES in January and, at the time, was the world’s smallest 10x optical zoom camera. The 5-megapixel Panasonic TZ1 is much thicker with a 1.5-inch body, and its 10x optical zoom lens extends from the body instead of remaining within like the V610’s system. A slight right-hand grip makes the TZ1 a little easier to handle, and the built-in flash is also nicely positioned away from wandering fingers. The Lumix has a slightly smaller 2.5-inch LCD screen with 207,000 pixels. A "High Angle Mode" gives users a better view of the LCD screen when they push a button, but the Kodak V610’s view is still superior; it can be viewed indoors and outdoors, at almost any angle, without pushing a button to enhance the view. The Panasonic has some lucrative features: its Leica 10x optical zoom lens has an optical image stabilization system that works much better than the Kodak’s. It can record movies in widescreen format with a functional 10x zoom, and its 19 scene modes include interesting options like High Sensitivity and Aerial Photo. The ISO range is similar to the V610’s with 80-800 offerings, and its burst mode is just as disappointing as the Kodak’s too; the TZ1 can only shoot 2 fps for a total of three shots. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 retails for $349.

Nikon Coolpix S4 - In terms of attraction, the Nikon is very different from the Kodak. The Nikon Coolpix S4 is designed more with function in mind, while the Kodak V610 aims for style. Still, both cameras are compact and share 10x optical zooming capabilities. While the V610 uses two lenses to achieve 10x zoom in a compact space, the Nikon S4 uses a rotating segment of its camera to house the 38-380 mm lens. The 6-megapixel S4 measures 4.4 x 2.7 x 1.4 inches. A 2.5-inch LCD screen on the back has only 110,000 pixels, which provide a poor quality picture, and the limited viewing angle sure doesn’t help. The Nikon Coolpix S4 has 15 scene modes and a movie mode that records choppy videos at 15 frames per second. Optical zoom is not available in the movie mode, but a 2x digital zoom is. There is no image stabilization on this camera and its significant barrel distortion is especially noticeable in macro shots. The Nikon Coolpix S4 is plagued by problems, including inaccurate colors, huge shutter lag, a pedestrian burst mode, and noisy pictures when the automatic ISO option in used. Still, the S4 performed decently in low light and is quite the budget model. It originally retailed for $399, but can be found online for less than $300.

Who It’s For

Point-and-Shooters  - The 610 is stocked with 22 scene modes, perfect for point-and-shooters who don’t want to mess with manual settings. It is also compact enough to travel in a pocket and even has Bluetooth wireless capabilities so pictures can be sent to enabled devices like cell phones and laptops. To top it off, the V610 has Kodak Perfect Touch technology built in to the playback mode, so users can beautify pictures before Bluetooth-ing them to the printer.

Budget Consumers - This audience will be sorely disappointed at the price tag of $449, which is quite overpriced for a camera that takes way too many blurry pictures and produces inaccurate colors. Budget consumers looking for a long zoom on a digital camera may have to give up the trendy, compact design for a chunkier and more traditional ultra-zoom digital camera that has a smaller price tag.

Gadget Freaks - The Kodak EasyShare V610 is the first digital camera to be enabled with Bluetooth wireless technology. With this, gadget freaks can snap shots and send them to Bluetooth-capable cell phones, printers, laptops, and other electronic devices. This is a gadget freak’s dream.

Manual Control Freaks - The V610 is more like a nightmare for these consumers, who will be quite disappointed with the slim white balance pickings and the lack of a manual mode altogether. An auto mode and 22 scene modes will please the point-and-shooters; those searching for manual control will need to look elsewhere.

Pros/ Serious Hobbyists - This group will totally ignore the V610, mainly because of its inaccurate colors, frustrating shutter lag, and slow burst mode. With its disappointing performance, the Kodak V610 won’t even make the Top Ten for a pro’s vacation digital camera.

Conclusion

Conclusion

The Kodak EasyShare V610 follows the dual lens V570, but still creates a new genre of digital cameras. Features such as 6 megapixels, a 2.8-inch LCD screen with 230,000 pixels, and a 10x optical zoom lens set it apart. This digital camera is also the first to include Bluetooth wireless technology so it can communicate with other Bluetooth enabled printers, cell phones, laptops, and other devices. Kodak keeps the wireless transfer simple, too, so even the most technologically crippled people can figure it out. The V610 has some very enticing features: its 10x optical zoom, available in both still and video modes, provides a long focal length in a skinny 0.9-inch thick body, making the V610 the slimmest 10x camera on the market.

This trendy EasyShare also has 22 scene modes, with a text guide that helps beginners distinguish between them. All users will appreciate the Kodak Perfect Touch technology that is built in to the playback mode, which brightens pictures and saves them as separate files or overwrites the originals. Unfortunately, this feature cannot fix blurred pictures. That would be helpful, as the V610 can’t focus too well unless the flash is used—and the flash makes already unnatural colors look even worse. The camera’s biggest performance issues are substantial shutter lag, terribly slow processing time, and a very short battery life. Its other major downfall is the zoom control on the 10x lens system: when going from the wide lens to the telephoto lens, users have to jump from 114mm to 130mm. This not only causes a break in the picture but is obnoxious: users have to push the zoom control over and over again to get the camera to zoom in on a subject. This is the price that must be paid for a skinny 10x camera.

Kodak also expects consumers to pay a hefty price in dollars. $449 to be exact. This retail price tag is way too expensive for a camera that doesn’t take absolutely beautiful pictures, lacks optical image stabilization, and only comes fitted with 22 scene modes, an auto mode, and a movie mode. The Kodak EasyShare V610 is a great concept with its 6 megapixels, 10x dual lens system, and Bluetooth compatibility, but it just doesn’t deliver.

Specs / Ratings

Specs / Ratings

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