Kodak V610 Review

 
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Kodak V610 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Vibrant, somewhat oversaturated color (especially blues and purples), often a slight warm cast.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

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 V610 oversaturates blue tones quite a bit, reds to a lesser extent, though many consumers may be pleased with such bright color. 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. Here, the V610 tended to produce slightly pinkish skin tones in some cases, but they were probably within an acceptable range for most consumers.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. The Kodak V610 performed pretty well in this regard, though there was often a slight warm cast to its images, and the cyan-to-blue color shift most cameras employ (for better sky colors?) was somewhat greater than average in the V610.

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Very good color with the Incandescent white balance setting, but warmer results with Auto. About average exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance +1.0 EV Incandescent WB +1.0 EV

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was warm and reddish in Auto white balance mode, though the Incandescent setting resulted in very pleasing results with only minor color casts. The Kodak V610 required a +1.0 EV exposure compensation boost for a good exposure, about average for this shot. Overall color is a bit dark and a hint red here, making the blue flowers very dark and purplish, and Marti's skin tone a little too pink. 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 US.

Outdoors, daylight
Pretty good color balance, with bright colors, though slightly reddish overall. very high contrast under harsh lighting.

Click to see Y100_0778.JPG Click to see V610FAR2832.JPG
Auto White Balance,
+0.3 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto exposure
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoor shots showed a slight tendency toward overexposure with rather high contrast when confronted with harsh lighting. Shadow and highlight detail were both somewhat limited, and midtones quite dark unless you exposed so as to totally blow out the highlights. The camera typically required less exposure compensation than average, as the default exposure was usually best outdoors.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
Moderately high resolution, 1,200 - 1,300 lines of strong detail.

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,200 lines per picture height, with extinction at around 1,500, although you could argue for strong detail out to 1,300 lines in the horizontal direction. (Slight color artifacts were visible in the full-sized res target shots, beginning with the lower line frequencies.) 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. If you zoom in and follow them from the wider portions, you'll see the lines converge and reappear several times, so the lines you see at 1,500 and higher are really only artifacts generated by the camera's imaging system.

Wide Angle Zoom
Strong detail to 1,300 lines horizontal Strong detail to 1,200 lines vertical

Telephoto Zoom
Strong detail to 1,300 lines horizontal Strong detail to 1,300 lines vertical

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Slightly soft images overall, with some noticeable blurring from noise suppression, though no strong over-sharpening from the camera.

Moderate definition of high-contrast elements. Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, as in the darker parts of Marti's hair here.

The Kodak V610's images are slightly soft overall. Even under high contrast lighting, the camera doesn't attempt any strong edge enhancement or over-sharpening. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.)

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 blurred details. Only highlighted individual strands are visible here.

ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate noise, even at the normal sensitivity settings. Very high noise that blurs detail at the higher settings.

ISO 64 ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800

The Kodak V610's lower ISO settings produced moderate image noise, with noticeable blurring even at ISO 200. At ISO 400, blurring was much stronger, and the noise pixels brighter. ISO 800 is available only at the lowest resolution setting, and noise pixels are much brighter and more distracting here. High-ISO shooting appears to be the V610's weakest suit, it unfortunately falls short of much of its competition in this area.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
Moderately high resolution with good overall detail, though high contrast and limited shadow detail in response to harsh lighting. Limited low-light performance, though capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and slightly darker conditions.

Normal +0.3EV +0.7EV

Sunlight:
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 V610 had some difficulty with the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, producing very high contrast with dark midtones and very deep shadows at the default exposure setting. When the exposure was boosted to lighten the midtones, the highlights quickly blew out. Lower midtones and shadows were still dark at +0.3 EV of exposure boost, but the +0.7 EV settting lost too much highlight detail to be used. Noise suppression is strong in the shadows, contributing to the loss of detail. (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.)

  1 fc
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1/2 fc
5.5 lux
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1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
64
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ISO
100
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ISO
200
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ISO
400
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ISO
800
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Night
Mode
(ISO
64)
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6 sec
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Low light:
Our low light testing revealed some limitations in the lens and sensor's ability to gather and process light, as the Kodak EasyShare V610 captured bright images only to about 1/2 foot-candle, about half as bright as average city street lighting at night, and then only in the Night Scene mode. In normal exposure modes, the V610 permits only a 1/8 second maximum exposure time, too short to capture a usable image at 1 foot-candle even at ISO 800.

Color balance was slightly warm from the Auto white balance setting, but still pretty good. The camera's autofocus system functioned quite well to just about the lowest light level we test at with the AF assist lamp, but the exposure was much too dark for use there. Do keep in mind though, that the very long shutter times associated with camera's night mode absolutely demand the use of a tripod or other camera support to get sharp photos. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Flash

Coverage and Range
The V610's small flash has a limited range, though it produced good results at the default exposure setting.

38mm equivalent 380mm equivalent
Click to see V610INNP.JPG
Normal Flash +1.0 EV Night Portrait, default exposure

Flash coverage was rather uneven at wide angle, although pretty good at telephoto. In the Indoor test, the flash on the V610 underexposed our subject at its default setting, requiring an exposure adjustment of +1.0 EV to produce a bright image. (This is a very typical exposure adjustment for this shot.) The background incandescent lighting results in a slight pink cast, but overall color is still pretty good. In Night Portrait mode, the V610 produced a very even exposure at the default exposure setting (no exposure adjustment is provided in the Night Portrait scene mode.), but the reddish cast from the room lighting was much more pronounced.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
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Flash power is a little dim, holding the fort out to about 11 feet. Intensity continues to decrease with each foot of distance thereafter, resulting in very low power at 14 feet. Not bad for such a compact camera though.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, bright color, sharp 8x10 inch prints. ISO 400 images are very soft at 8x10, marginal at 5x7, good at 4x6. ISO 800 images are marginal even at 4x6 inches.

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 iP5000 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

With the Kodak EasyShare V610, we found that it had enough resolution to make very crisp 8x10 inch prints at low ISO, and acceptable ones up to ISO 200. At 11x14, its prints were softer looking, but probably adequate for wall or table display. ISO 400 images were OK marginal at 5x7 inches, and looked just fine at 4x6. ISO 800 images were marginal at 5x7, OK (but not great) at 4x6. Color-wise, the Kodak V610's images looked great when printed on the i9900, with very bright, vibrant color. Users who prefer more subdued, technically accurate color saturation levels may find the reds and blues in the V610's images a little too bright, but most consumers will probably find the V610's bright, snappy images very appealing.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Kodak EasyShare V610 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 V610 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.

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