Kodak V603 Review
Kodak EasyShare V603 Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slightly oversaturated color (especially reds and blues), very typical of consumer digital cameras. Generally good hue accuracy.
Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The Kodak V603 follows this trend, though it tends to overdo the strong red and blue tones a bit. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. The V603 did render skin tones a bit on the pink side in most cases, but our sense is that most consumers would find the V603's bright color very appealing.
The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. Here, the Kodak V603 did quite well. Like most digicams, it shifts cyan colors toward blue, to produce better-looking sky colors, but the rest of the hues were quite accurate.
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Warm casts with both Auto and Incandescent white balance settings. Less than average exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance +0.3 EV||Incandescent WB +0.3 EV|
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was just a bit warm and reddish in Auto white balance mode, and the Incandescent setting resulted in a more yellow color balance that looked more pleasing overall. The Kodak V603 only required a +0.3 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, much less than average for this shot. Overall color is a bit dark and yellow here, making the blue flowers very dark and purple. (A very common outcome for this shot.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulb, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Good color balance, very bright colors. Better than average exposure accuracy.
|Auto White Balance
|Auto White Balance
Outdoor shots generally showed accurate exposure with slightly blown out highlights. Shadow detail also tended to fall apart, but nothing that would raise an alarm for a consumer digicam. Exposure accuracy overall was better than average, the camera requiring less exposure compensation than we're accustomed to seeing with consumer digicams.
High resolution, 1,250 lines of strong detail.
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,250 lines per picture height, with extinction at around 1,600. (The camera did produce slight color artifacts at lower line frequencies though, visible in the full-sized res target shots.) Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail. Beware that while you might be able to make out what looks like distinct lines at numbers higher than those we've mentioned here, the camera is just doing its best to continue interpreting the lines. So the lines you see at 1,500 and higher are really only artifacts generated by the camera's imaging system.
|Strong detail to 1,250 lines horizontal||Strong detail to 1,250 lines vertical|
Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images, with some blurring of detail from noise suppression.
The Kodak V603's images are reasonably sharp, but with plenty of edge enhancement apparent. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone, quite noticeable in the line between the bricks and shaded white paint above.)
Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop at far right shows this, with darker areas of Marti's hair showing only limited detail, even though individual strands are quite visible against her cheek in the uncropped image. You can also see the effect in the bricks and shingles in the picture at left. (The level of detail loss shown here isn't all that obvious on prints 8x10 inches or smaller though.)
ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, very high noise that blurs detail at the higher settings.
(slight motion blur visible here due to a slow shutter speed)
|ISO 100||ISO 200|
|ISO 400||ISO 800|
The Kodak V603's lower ISO settings produced moderate noise, with only slightly blurred detail in the dark areas. As the ISO setting increases, so does the noise level and the amount of blurring that results. The V603 strikes a surprising balance here: it's not terribly sharp at ISO 80, but it doesn't get as bad as most at ISO 400, producing quite acceptable results in all situations. At ISO 800, noise is high, though still surprisingly better than most. ISO 800 is available only at 1.8 megapixel resolution, because the camera combines several sensor pixels for every output pixel, resulting in reduce noise levels.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with good overall detail, though high contrast and limited shadow detail. Pretty good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and slightly darker conditions.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
The Kodak V603 had a little trouble with the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, producing very high contrast with washed-out highlights and deep shadows. Noise suppression is visible in both shadows and highlights as well, contributing to the loss of detail, made more severe in these areas. Exposure at least did not wash out the highlights when exposure compensation was set to zero adjustment, but the +0.3EV image shows better skin tones. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)
The Kodak V603 had somewhat limited low-light shooting capabilities, with a maximum exposure time of eight seconds and that only at its lowest ISO setting of 80. However, the camera is sensitive enough for shooting under average city street-lighting at night, about one foot-candle. (The leftmost column of images in the table above.) Overall color was pretty good with the Auto white balance setting, and the camera's autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to the 1/4 foot-candle light level unassisted (about 1/4 as bright as typical street lighting). With the AF assist lamp enabled, the camera focused accurately down to the lowest light level we test at.
Coverage and Range
The V603's small flash has a limited range, produces a slight blue cast in combination with typical incandescent room lighting. Our standard shots required more exposure compensation than average.
|36mm equivalent||108mm equivalent|
|Normal Flash +1.3EV|
Flash coverage was rather uneven at wide angle but very good at telephoto. In the Indoor test, the flash on the V603 underexposed our subject at its default setting, requiring a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get reasonably bright results. Even here, the exposure is a little dim, with a strong pink cast.
Even at eight feet, our closest test range, the flash did not quite illuminate the DaveBox target adequately. This agrees with Kodak's own spec of 7.9 feet for flash range, a bit on the short side, although not uncommon for a compact camera model.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Good print quality, great color, very usable 11x14 inch prints. ISO 800 images are very soft at 8x10, acceptable at 5x7, great at 4x6.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)
With the Kodak EasyShare V603, we found that it had enough resolution to make very crisp 8x10 inch prints. At 13x19, its low ISO prints were a bit softer looking, but more than adequate for wall or table display. At high ISO, image noise levels are held in check quite well, such that ISO 400 images were quite usable at 8x10 and 11x14, despite slightly more noticeable noise at the latter size. ISO 800 photos were quite usable at 5x7 and 4x6, with slight chroma noise in the shadows. Color-wise, the Kodak V603's images looked excellent when printed on the iP5200, with bright, vibrant color.
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Kodak EasyShare V603 Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Kodak EasyShare V603 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.