on November 30, 2011
(This review will be updated) I bought the camera bundle at Amazon because the price was so good (229). The included SD card is the Kodak "High-speed 100x" 8gb card, which is a class 6. It does pretty decent on photos, but on burst, I will probably try and buy a class 10 card. Also, while 8gb will give you 1,000 photos at fine jpeg compression (and less in RAW), it only affords you about 29 minutes in HD 1080 video. So, keep these things in mind of your needs and what card you'll want to use.
The camera body is plastic, with a strip of smooth non-slip rubber on the grip. Some peopele say it feels cheap, but no more so than their previous incarnations. I was shocked at how *light* this camera is! Even with the batteries, the size of this camera seems to justify a much heavier weight, but it isn't! I call this a plus, with a small minus. The minus being that the place where you attach a tripod is just plastic; no metal. That could suck in the long run :(. I had no issue with the battery door at all, and I have extremely small hands. I like that it has a 2-step process to make sure the battery compartment never accidentally opens.
Make sure you format the card before use, and after you do a firmware update. For some reason, burst mode photos were taking *forever* to process, and it was locking up the camera. After a format of the card on my computer (as suggested by Kodak help), and reinserting, it was about 30 seconds of processing after burst modes. Much better. Again, I'll be looking into a higher class of SDHC card, though. Overall, though, I've never really had much use for it, and it seems rather unimpressive on this camera. If you're buying to use burst mode ALOT and with large amounts of photos, this is not your camera, and you probably have to find something more expensive.
The kit comes with the 4 batteries that comes with the camera, as well as a retail pack of 4 more rechargeable AA's. They're 2100mah, 1.2v. The suckiness is: they must have been half dead by the time they got here. Pre-charged my patooty! Initially the camera recognized they had some charge, but quickly showed them in the red. Both sets. Sucky.
Luckily, the camera comes with a charger, which says it can take 11.5 hours to fully recharge these batteries. Ugh. I see Sanyo Eneloops are in my future (they're good batteries with a shorter charge time with their included charger). I will update on performance once the Kodaks are charged.
I immediately upgraded the firmware from the 1.01 to kodak's latest: 1.12. It was a single update, on the Kodak website, and took all of 2 minutes. Super easy.
I ran through the functions, and particuarly enjoyed playing with the super macro.. it's so awesome to get tiny, tiny things (my keyboard keys are alot dirtier than I ever realized! LOL). Sports mode does not seem overly faster than the smart picture mode, and was a little bit of a dissapoint. I was hoping for better than my old Kodak, an 812 IS. The photos are, of course, beautiful, and do seem to pick up the warmer hues well, just like every kodak digital I've owned. Video seemed smoother than my old one (better frame rate?) but about the same visual quality.
The big suprise was low-light situations. Pictures indoors with crappy lighting look really good! Even without flash, so long as your subject and your hands are still, it's like mid-day! Good plus, Kodak! Red eye also seems to be down quite a bit.
I will update once I get a chance to test night scenes, and see if the low-light situations are consistently better there than previous generations of kodak cameras.
The continuous autofocus has a neat feature where if a person or child moves, it follows them! Very cool. Not always correct the first time though, and you can change it. Picture taking speed is super fast if you half-click the shutter button and get your target in frame first. Good results, every time that way. Honestly, in most situations, you can just use the "red camera" option on the wheel, which is Kodak's Auto. It does really good in adjusting for light, situations, etc. It's pretty impressive, and I could see a basic family or around-the-house user never having to leave this option, and getting great photos. Back-to-back photos aren't too bad either. They may be a tad bit slower than my older camera, but not enough for me to really say for sure. Probably the same speed, it's just the review of the photo you just took isn't an option; you must look at it. You can press the shutter button half way to keep moving tho.
HDR will need a tripod. Seriously. There is no way you can be still enough with your hands to do this function. Just the vibrations from my small child running past the heavy table the camera was sitting on was enough for the camera to balk and refuse to take the pic, using HDR on a super macro.
I'm really interested in all of the manual features (PASM modes) for future photography learning, but was upset that there was no histogram! WTH! I followed the extended guide instructions.. no histogram showing! I used the Kodak website's chat help feature, and found out why: it's automatically turned off in the settings under UI. You have to turn that on before a histogram will show for you. Hmm... you'd think the manual would tell you that, and save the company some time with people contacting help. Ah well. At least it's there now.
Another con is the lens cap. No, the lens cap is not bad. It doesn't pop off randomly like on my 812 (but I wish they'd make one that screws on already!). But the camera throws a hissy if you turn on the camera while the cap is on, and you cannot review photos or video unless it's off. So much so, that if you dont act within like a minute, it just turns the camera off. This is probably an energy saving feature in case of accidental bumps.
The package did not include a cd of software, and I was kind of wondering why not... until I tested out the usb cord. As soon as I hook up the camera, it immediately wants me to load the kodak software, which is apparently imbedded into the camera itself! Which is pretty cool: as long as you have the camera, you have the easyshare software. However, for those of us who hate that slow software, it is annoying that you cannot see the SD card unless you load the software. So, the only way to avoid the easyshare software is to take out the sd card (which is sharing space in the battery compartment) and load the pics via card reader. Not a big deal, but it's an annoyance.
Also.. no DC power input anymore; it's all usb. Supposedly, it has a function to charge batteries using usb, but I don't know for certain. Regardless, it'd probably take forever to do that via usb anyway. Stick with rechargeables.
Other reviewers mentioned the strap quality and difficulty in attaching to the camera. The attachment is explained in a picture on the extended manual (online). It even has it's own section in the index! :) The strap quality is not professional, but a tad bit better than my old Kodaks had. Not bad, not great, and it's free. Fine with me!
So, overall.. I say this is a good addition to the Kodak family, but has a few initial quirks, and for those of us who are used to older models, it will take a little more adjustment, with new buttons and a different zoom function. But overall? I am already digging it, even with the dissapointing burst mode, and the so-so sports mode. There are some awesome new toys built in (HDR, ability to light paint at night, super macro, etc). I can't wait to try it out tomorrow out in the outdoors and get a feel for what it can really do. Updates to come, and hopefully pictures!!
Btw.. Amazon: awesome as usual. Bought this camera bundle direct from Amazon.com on Cyber Monday, delivered on Wednesday using Standard shipping! Woohoo!
*update: dec 01, 2011* - As I'm taking photos, I'm really annoyed by how yellowy they look, even changing color settings. However, upon loading to my pc, the colors are just as I see them with my naked eye, so if you notice this too, look at them again on your pc before you consider deleting in camera. I think the display, during photo review, is showing yellows and reds a little strongly. Also, after some time trying to get photos of my daughter running around on a sugar high: sports mode is working pretty good! Sometimes the auto mode doesnt get fast enough to keep up with her, *especially* using zoom. I've also noticed a little sluggishness after taking and deleting alot of photos. Again, I wonder if a faster card helps. I do notice, however, that battery power seems directly related to camera performance; it really, really preferrs full batteries. So far, it is sucking battery power, but the charger that came with it is a "dumb charger", so I dont really know how full my batteries are getting, and I don't dare leave them on a charger overnight not knowing. So, I cannot fault the batteries just yet until I can get a charger that tells me they're fully charged. I played around with the HDR and macro functions last night, and got some really pretty pics of my christmas tree lights and an ornament. HDR is tricky, because it balks with any movement. And HDR+ super macro?? Not worth the fight. I have only gotten this camera to do it twice out of probably 50+ tries. I think I can deal tho ;) (I uploaded some pics using HDR on my christmas tree lights)
*Dec 4th* I finally got some outdoor time with the camera, in adverse weather to boot! I was impressed how I got such beautiful pics of my daughter playing in rain/snow, and you could see her clearly as well as the snow and rain drops! Very impressed. Some looked as good as pro. I also did some video, and was very happy with that, except at the end of one, the focus went out for no apparent reason. Admittedly, it was trying to follow a fast toddler zooming all over the yard, with rain and snow, so I could see how autofocus could get confused. I even accidentally took a couple pics during the video, and was suprised at how good they looked. I would have never figured pics during video would come out nice and clear like that (they're certainly not 12mp, but they could probably get you a good 4x6 print okay).
I am a little annoyed at how slow the cameras software runs at times, tho. I really hope they continue releasing updates until it's as solid as it should be. Sometimes, it gets hung up and I have to change settings to get zoom functions back. Not a deal killer, but annoying. The lens, the colors, and the photos are still awesome quality, but it does feel like maybe they ran the camera out a little too quickly, and they still have a few quirks to get out of the system. This will be my 3rd or 4th generation Kodak, tho, and I know from my history with them that they usually do good work with updates and issues, so my 4 stars stand: great camera, but a few annoying quirks with the on board software/processing.
I hope to upload more pics later on.
*Dec 15th* Highly impressed by the low-light photo taking ability. Took photos at an indoor event, and was able to zoom 60ft+, without flash, and got fantastic photos. I dont believe I used the flash for the entire evening, and every photo came out clear! Software still glitchy at times, but is becoming second nature to work around the blips. Low-light abilities are so good, flash is sometimes detrimental, and creates washed out photos. Which is fine.. better battery life without it anyway, and no loss in indoor photo quality. Speaking of battery life.. I discovered my batteries are fine. The warning system just jumps the gun. I took photos and video and whatnots *hours* after the battery symbol went red, and still had battery to spare (one set the whole event, 160+ photos, in camera deletes, and 2 or 3 HD videos). I have a La Crosse BC-500 charger now, and it works much better and much more reliably than the included kodak charger.
*dec 19th* The new class 10 card seems to help. I took a couple videos, and the processing time was significantly faster!