Kodak V803 Review

 
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Kodak EasyShare V803 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Vibrant, slightly oversaturated reds and blues, but fairly hue-accurate. Typical "Kodak" color.

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 V803 oversaturates red and blue tones quite a bit, though most consumers are pleased with such bright color, and have come to expect it from Kodak.

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 V803 struggled a bit, producing slightly pinkish skin tones in many cases.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. The Kodak V803 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 V803

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

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color with the Auto white balance setting, though a hint warm with Incandescent setting. Less than average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto WB +0.7 EV Incandescent WB +0.7 EV

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was quite accurate with the Auto white balance setting, a much better-than-average performance. The Incandescent option produced a slightly warmer result with more accurate skin tones, which some may find more pleasing, but I actually preferred the Auto setting. It's a good thing the Auto setting works so well (at least for incandescent lighting), as the V803 doesn't have a manual (custom) white balance setting. The Kodak V803 required slightly less than average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +0.7 EV. Despite the slight warm cast, overall color is excellent, but there is a purple tint in the blue flowers. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Good color and exposure, though slightly high contrast with the default setting.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Kodak EasyShare V803 performed pretty well, with good exposure in the outdoor far shot. The camera required less than the average amount of positive exposure compensation on the portrait. Default contrast is on the high side, though the camera's contrast adjustment did a pretty good job of taming the exposure without strongly affecting the color. The V803 captured good color outdoors, without too strong of a warm cast. Overall, pretty good results here.

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

Resolution
High resolution, 1,400 ~ 1,600 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
1,600 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
1,400 lines vertical

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,600 lines per picture height horizontally, and to about 1,400 lines vertically. Extinction didn't really occur horizontally, though lines began to merge around 1,900-2,000 vertically. 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.

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

Sharpness & Detail
Sharp images overall, with only minor edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Moderate noise suppression limits detail in the shadows.

Good definition of high-contrast elements, with only minor edge enhancement. Subtle detail: Hair: Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, as in the darker parts of Marti's hair here, though this is a pretty good result.

The Kodak EasyShare V803 captures sharp images with good detail definition, with just slight enhancement artifacts visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. (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 above right shows this, as the darker areas of Marti's hair show limited detail. This is a little better than average, however.

ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, though a big jump in noise with strong blurring at the higher settings.

ISO 80 ISO 100 ISO 200
 
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1,600

Noise levels are low to moderate at the Kodak V803's lower sensitivity settings, with much higher noise at ISO 800 and 1,600 (as you'd expect). Noise pixels are bright at the higher settings, which throws off the color balance a bit, and the grain pattern eliminates some of the finer details. There's a surprising amount of detail up to ISO 400, but there's a dramatic increase in noise and blurring due to noise reduction at ISO 800 and 1,600.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but slightly high contrast and limited shadow detail. Excellent low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +0.1 EV

Sunlight:

The Kodak EasyShare V803 produced fairly high contrast with deep shadows under the harsh lighting of the test above. Detail is limited in the shadow areas, with plenty of noise suppression visible. There's a bit of a tradeoff between the two images that are closest to the correct exposure. The +0.7 EV exposure's skin tones are too dark, but the shirt still has detail. The +1.0 EV image had better skin tones, but too many blown highlights. We lean toward better skin tones, but the bottom line is that the V803's contrast is too strong to settle on either image. In "real life," be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.

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.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
160
Click to see V803LL03LT.jpg
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see V803LL04LT.jpg
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see V803LL05LT.jpg
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see V803LL06LT.jpg
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see V803LL07LT.jpg
8 sec
f2.8
ISO
1600
Click to see V803LL16003.jpg
1/8 sec
f2.8
Click to see V803LL16004.jpg
1/8 sec
f2.8
Click to see V803LL16005.jpg
1/8 sec
f2.8
Click to see V803LL16006.jpg
1/8 sec
f2.8
Click to see V803LL16007.jpg
1/8 sec
f2.8

Low light:
The Kodak EasyShare V803 has somewhat limited low light capabilities. In order to get longer than 1/8 second shutter speeds, the "Long Time Exposure" mode is required, which disables manual ISO selection. In the above table, the camera selected ISO 160. Using this mode, the V803 captured bright images down to the 1/4 foot-candle light level (about 1/4 as bright as average city street lighting at night). At ISO 1,600, the slowest shutter speed available was 1/8 second, and although the image taken at one foot-candle is quite bright, it's too noisy to be of any use. The V803 has no option to turn the AF assist light off, and was able to focus in total darkness. Do keep in mind though, that the very long shutter times necessary here 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
Slightly dim exposures at the default exposure setting; the camera required less-than-average exposure compensation for flash exposures. Typical range.

36mm equivalent 108mm equivalent
Normal Flash +0.7 EV Slow-Sync Flash
(Night Portrait scene mode)

Flash coverage was uneven at wide angle; and though it was more even at telephoto, the intensity decreased. Indoors, under incandescent background lighting, the Kodak V803's flash underexposed our subject a little at its default setting, requiring a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get bright results. Slow-Sync flash is only available using Night scene modes. Exposure compensation is not supported in these modes.

Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see V803FL06W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL07W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL08W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL09W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL10W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL11W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see V803FL12W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL13W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL14W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL15W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL16W.jpg
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see V803FL06T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL07T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL08T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL09T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL10T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL11T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see V803FL12T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL13T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL14T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL15T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100
Click to see V803FL16T.jpg
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 100

At wide angle, flash shots at ISO 100 started out dim at our minimum distance of 6 feet, but then brightened and remained bright out to a distance of about 10 feet, decreasing in brightness again from that point on. At full telephoto and ISO 100, even the 6-foot shot is a little dim, and the images darken from there. The V803 is pretty smart when choosing shutter speeds with the flash however, increasing shutter speed to 1/100s when at full telephoto. This is presumably done to reduce the effect of camera shake which becomes more critical with longer focal lengths. This behavior can result in darker backgrounds, but will help ensure subjects within flash range will remain sharp.



Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide Angle Telephoto
Click to see V803FL_MFR098WA0160.jpg
9.8 feet
Auto ISO 160
Click to see V803FL_MFR066TA0200.jpg
6.6 feet
Auto ISO 200

In the shots above, the V803 seems to perform exactly as Kodak says it will, producing good exposures at the rated distances with its ISO set to Auto. The telephoto shot, however, has a blue cast. Note: Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, great color, good 13x19 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are good at 5x7.

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 Kodak i9900 studio printer, and on the Kodak iP5200 here in the office. (See the Kodak i9900 review for details on that model.)

The Kodak EasyShare V803 had enough resolution to make good looking 13x19 inch prints. ISO 200 images are still good at 11x14 inches, and ISO 400 images look good at 8x10. ISO 800 images are a little rough at 8x10, but good at 5x7. ISO 1,600 images are just okay at 5x7, and are still a little rough at 4x6.

Color is maintained quite well throughout the ISO range, from 80 to 1,600.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Kodak EasyShare V803 Photo Gallery.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Kodak EasyShare V803 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!

Kodak V803

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