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The Kodak EasyShare M381 combines a twelve megapixel 1/2.3"-type CCD imager and a Kodak-branded 5x optical zoom lens with a 35 - 175mm equivalent focal range, a moderate wide angle to a useful telephoto. There's no true mechanical image stabilization to help fight camera shake at the longer focal lengths, with Kodak instead opting only for software-based blur reduction. For framing images, there's a 3.0-inch LCD display with 230,000 dots of resolution, but no optical viewfinder. They're an increasingly rare option these days, but one that adds a good degree of versatility, letting you get the shot when you can't make out the LCD in bright sunlight, or save battery life by disabling the LCD when accurate framing isn't vital. Images are stored on Secure Digital cards including SDHC types, or in 32MB of internal memory.

The Kodak M381 offers a generous 18 scene modes to help beginners achieve the results they're looking for without the need to understand subtleties like shutter speeds, apertures and the like. The M381 includes Kodak's face detection technology, which locates your subjects' faces and automatically adjusts the exposure variables. The M381 determines exposures with a multi-pattern, center-weighted, or center spot TTL metering system, and offers 2.0EV of exposure compensation in 1/3EV increments. Five white balance settings are available including an auto mode, and ISO sensitivity is controlled automatically or manually from 64 to 1600. The EasyShare M381 also offers a movie mode, capturing VGA (640x480) or QVGA (320x240) clips at 30 frames-per-second, in QuickTime Motion JPEG format.

The M381 offers standard-definition NTSC / PAL video output. Images and movies captured on the Kodak M381 are transferred to your computer over a USB 2.0 High Speed connection. Power comes from a proprietary KLIC-7003 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack, and an AC adapter for in-camera charging is included in the bundle.

Pricing for the Kodak EasyShare M381 is approximately US$180, and the camera is available in body colors including black, blue-grey, and red.