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DCRP Review: Kodak
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: November 17, 2004
Last Updated: November 18, 2005
The Kodak EasyShare One ($599) is more than just another digital camera. When it was introduced in early 2005 it was the world's first consumer camera with Wi-Fi connectivity (Canon and Nikon have since introduced their own Wi-Fi cameras). The EasyShare One tries to be a camera and Internet-connected photo viewer at the same time, and for the most part it succeeds. The EasyShare can wirelessly transfer photos to your Mac or PC, upload them to Kodak EasyShare Gallery (formerly Ofoto), send them to a wireless printer, or e-mail them to friends (sort of). On the camera side it has a 3X Schneider-Kreuznach zoom lens, huge 3-inch touchscreen LCD display, and a 4 Megapixel CCD.
Is the EasyShare One a revolution in digital photography, or should we wait for the EasyShare Two? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The EasyShare One has an excellent bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
The camera bundle changed considerably since the time the EasyShare One was announced way back in February. Originally Kodak was going to sell the Wi-Fi card for $99 extra, bringing to total price of the camera to a whopping $698 if you wanted it to work as intended. Since then Kodak wised up and made the bundle much more appealing. You now get the Wi-Fi card for free, two batteries, and a leather carrying case. In addition, Kodak doubled the warranty to two years and includes coupons for a free photo book and 30 days of wireless access through T-Mobile. EasyShare One owners also get priority technical support should you need it.
There's no memory card included with the EasyShare One but that's okay, as it has an unbelievable 256MB of memory built into the camera (though only 185MB are available for image storage). That holds a whopping 150 photos at the highest quality setting, so you may not even need to buy an extra memory card for the camera. Should you want to buy one, the camera supports both Secure Digital and MultiMediaCard formats, with the former being the best choice. A high speed memory card is not needed.
The camera uses the familiar KLIC-5000 rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Since the camera's battery life is a bit... lacking, Kodak includes two of them in the box. Much to my surprise the EasyShare One does not support the higher capacity KLIC-5001 battery, so this is as good as you'll get:
As you can see the EasyShare One fares poorly in the battery life department. It's not too surprising since the camera has a huge LCD and a Wi-Fi card to power. Even though the camera comes with an extra battery buying a third isn't a bad idea. Kodak prices their batteries more reasonably than other camera companies, with the KLIC-5000 selling for under $20.
The EasyShare One has a built-in lens cover so there's no clumsy lens cap to worry about. While it looks pretty small in this picture, in reality the "EO" is much larger than the typical ultra-thin camera that you're used to.
Let's talk about accessories now. As with their other cameras, the EasyShare One supports Kodak's camera and printer docks. Just pop the camera onto either dock and you can charge the battery, transfer photos to your Mac or PC, view photos on a television, and in the case of the printer dock, print your photos.
If you spring for the EasyShare Printer Dock Plus Series 3 ($179) and an Kodak Wi-Fi card ($99) you can print wirelessly from your camera or wireless-equipped computer. It's all perfectly integrated so you just hit "print" on the camera and about 90 seconds later the print is coming out of the printer dock! Very slick.
The only other accessories to speak of are extra styluses and camera bags.
The EasyShare One includes version 5.1 of Kodak's excellent EasyShare software. As of this writing, a newer version (5.2) was available (the software will update automatically), so that's what I'm covering here.
The main screen lets you import and organize your photos. You can view your photos by date taken, or you can create "smart albums" which are totally customizable (just like a smart playlist in iTunes).
On this screen you can also view your photos in a slideshow, edit or rotate them (see below), get exposure data, burn them to a CD or DVD, or even upload them to the Kodak EasyShare Gallery for printing and sharing.
If your computer is Wi-Fi-enabled you can also wirelessly transfer your photos right into the software. You can also sync the address book, favorites, and album data without ever touching a USB cable. Cool!
If you want to edit your photo, there are some basic tools included. They include rotation, cropping, "instant enhancement", redeye reduction, brightness and contrast, color, exposure, and instant black & white or sepia conversion. For some edits, you can split the screen (see above) so you can see a "before and after" view of your proposed changes.
The Print at Home tab will help you print the images you select (either by marking them on the camera or in the software). There are many choices available, including the two 4 x 6 inch per page print layout you see above.
The e-mail tab works in the same way. You can compose messages to be sent along with pictures. You can send the full size picture, or have it reduced automatically to a smaller size. The e-mail system is nicely integrated with OS X's built-in address book system.
Here you can customize the e-mail addresses stored in the camera -- more on how this works later in the review. This feature is also integrated with the OS X address book (for you Mac users out there). Similarly, you can also set up albums on your camera by using EasyShare. You can then tag photos on the camera, and they'll end up in the proper album when you transfer your photos to your computer.
All-in-all the EasyShare package is pretty darn good for bundled software, especially if you've seen the stuff that some other companies give you.
Kodak does a nice job with their camera manuals, with long descriptions and not a lot of fine print. Other camera manufacturers could learn a thing or two from them.
Look and Feel
While it looks small in photos, in reality the EasyShare One is a midsize and somewhat awkward camera. Build quality is very good, with a metal exterior and sturdy hinge where the LCD meets the body. The one weak spot is the door over the memory card and battery slots, which is flimsy and needs a locking mechanism. Control placement is decent, and the camera can be operated with just one hand.
Here's a look at the dimensions and weight of the EasyShare One versus some of the compact competition:
While it's not quite the biggest camera in the group, the EasyShare One is close. It's easily the heaviest of the bunch, as you can see.
Okay, enough numbers for now, let's start our tour of the camera now!
The EasyShare One features an F2.8-4.8, 3X optical zoom Schneider-Kreuznach lens, which, if I'm not mistaken, is the same lens that's found on the EasyShare V550. The focal range of this lens is 6.2 - 18.6 mm, which is equivalent to 36 - 108 mm. The lens is not threaded.
The microphone can be found just to the upper-left of the lens, while the two holes above the lens are for the self-timer lamp and the light sensor. The camera lacks an AF-assist lamp, which is pretty surprising given the EasyShare One's hefty price tag.
Above the microphone is the camera's built-in flash. This flash isn't terribly powerful, with a working range of 0.6 - 3.2 m at wide-angle and 0.6 - 2.3 at telephoto. You cannot attach an external flash to the EasyShare One.
The EasyShare One has an enormous 3.0" LCD display that flips to the side and rotates -- a little. You can swing the LCD out all the way (180 degrees) but once it's there the screen doesn't rotate as much as some other screens of this type. The LCD can rotate downward until it faces your subject, but it doesn't go the other way so you can shoot with the camera below you. In addition, the controls are all upside-down when the screen is flipped, which seemed awkward.
There aren't too many buttons on the camera: most features are controlled via the LCD's touchscreen interface. While you can use your fingers, it's a lot easier to use the included stylus (which fits into a slot on the side of the camera), as some of the icons on the screen too small for fingers.
Sticking out of the top of the camera is the Kodak Wi-Fi card, which closely resembles a Secure Digital flash memory card. When you're not using it the card goes all the way into the camera body so it's not poking out like that. When you're ready to get online just push the card down and it pops into position.
Although the LCD screen has 230,000 pixels, I think the resolution could've been a little better, as images weren't as sharp as I would've expected. Outdoor visibility was this screen is very good, as is the case with most of Kodak's LCDs. On the other hand, I wasn't thrilled with the screen's low light performance -- it doesn't "gain up" as much as I'd like.
As you can see, there's no optical viewfinder on the EasyShare One. In fact, its design makes such a thing impossible. Some people like having an optical viewfinder (including yours truly), while others never use them. In other words, it's a subjective thing.
To the upper-right of the LCD is the camera's zoom controller, which moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 2.7 seconds. I counted just six steps throughout the 3X zoom range.
Below the zoom controller is the Menu button, which doesn't act as you'd expect. In record mode it shows the Capture menu, while in playback mode the View menu is displayed. More on all this later.
That red-colored Share button activates Kodak's famous EasyShare system, which is quite a bit different than what's found on Kodak's other cameras. When pressed the camera enters playback mode and the following screen is displayed:
Here you can do the following:
The first four of those items can be done wirelessly (as well as over a USB cable). Each of these features can be used one photo at a time or by putting a bunch of photos into a virtual "drawer". Here's more on each of the EasyShare features:
E-mailing: Before you can e-mail you must first set up your address book either on the camera or by using the EasyShare software on your computer. Once that information is in the camera you're ready to go. A "wizard" leads you through the e-mailing process, first asking for recipients, then an e-mail subject, then the e-mail body. After that the e-mail is either sent (if you're online) or put into the outbox (if you're not). You do all the typing using a tiny keyboard on the LCD, which I'll show you later in the review. One thing that I really don't like about the e-mailing system is that it doesn't actually e-mail photos to people. Rather, it uploads them to EasyShare Gallery and sends the link to your recipients.
Printing: This one's a lot simpler. Select how many copies and the photos are either printed (if connected via wireless or USB/PictBridge) or queued (if not). This is really slick when you're using the Kodak Printer Dock Plus Series 3 with the Wi-Fi card.
Upload photos to EasyShare Gallery: Does just as it sounds: your photos are wirelessly transmitted to Kodak's EasyShare Gallery. You must have an account there first, of course (they're free).
Transfer photos to your computer: It took some fiddling for me to get this to work, but once you do, it's slick. Move photos one at a time or in a batch to your Mac or PC running the latest version of the EasyShare software.
So those are the main wireless functions of the EasyShare One. Sure, they could be better (how about being able to FTP them?) but it's still pretty amazing for a first-of-its-kind product.
Let's get back to our tour now. Below that Share button is the four-way controller, which is used for menu navigation. You can also use it instead of the touchscreen in many instances. Under that you'll find the "back" and delete photo buttons.
On top of the EasyShare One you'll find the speaker plus buttons for power, flash setting, and shutter release. The flash options on the camera are flash off, auto flash, auto w/redeye reduction, and fill flash.
Just below the "4.0 Megapixels" marking is the Wi-Fi card, which is in the down position here. On the far right of the picture is the stylus, resting comfortably its compartment.
On this side of the camera are the I/O ports, which are kept under a rubber cover. The ports include DC-in and USB / video out (one port for both). Despite its high price, the EasyShare One does not support the USB 2.0 High Speed protocol.
On this side of the camera you'll find the mode switch, which moves the camera between record and playback mode. Just to the right of that is the stylus holder. At the lower right of the photo is the Info button, which toggles the information shown on the LCD display.
On the bottom of the camera you'll find the memory card and battery compartment, a metal tripod mount, and the dock connector (partially hidden here). The plastic cover over the memory card / battery slot is on the flimsy side, and it really needs a lock, as I opened it accidentally many times.
Using the Kodak EasyShare One
The EasyShare One has the slowest startup time of any camera that I've tested this year. It takes a whopping 7.3 seconds for the camera to "boot up" and extend its lens before you can start taking pictures.
Many of the icons on screen capture about are "active", meaning that you can use click on them to adjust certain settings. The flash and exposure compensation are at the top, though I found it much easier to use the buttons on the camera for those. The square (which looks like it should for burst mode) at the lower-right is for selecting an album, while the icon to the right of that is for the self-timer. When you select the self-timer you can choose how many seconds you want before the photo is taken. While I like this, I found that having to select the delay with the stylus each and every time I wanted to use the self-timer to be annoying. This really should be in the menu system instead.
Touch the camera icon at the top-left and you can select one of the two burst modes on the camera. The "first burst" feature will take five photos in a row at 2.4 frames/second, which is pretty good. The "last burst" feature keeps taking pictures for as long as the shutter release is held down (also at 2.4 fps), saving the last five photos taken before the button was released. The LCD does not "black out" between shots in either mode.
Focus speeds on the EasyShare One were average. In good lighting it took about 0.3 - 0.5 seconds to lock focus, with longer delays if the subject is lacking contrast. Low light focusing was poor due in part to the lack of an AF-assist lamp.
I did not find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds where it sometimes crops up.
Shot-to-shot speeds were excellent, with a delay of just over a second before you can take another shot. The post-shot review feature apparently cannot be turned off, but you can interrupt that to another shot quickly by halfway pressing the shutter release button.
You can delete a photo immediately after taking it by pressing the delete button.
There are just a few image quality choices on the EasyShare One. There's no "fine" or "normal" quality here -- just these options:
It's so nice to see numbers like "150" instead of "7". Thank you Kodak for putting so much memory into this camera!
There's no support for the RAW or TIFF formats on the EasyShare One, nor would I expect there to be.
The camera names files as 100_####.JPG (where # = 0001 - 9999), and remembers the numbering even if you switch cards or delete photos.
The menu system on the EasyShare One is quite a bit different than what you'll find on most other cameras. When you press the Menu button you'll be presented with the screen to the upper-left, which is known as the Capture Menu. The options here include:
So, the menu button doesn't really enter the menus right away -- that's still another button-press away. Here's what's in the "real" menu, the setup menu:
Finding wireless networks
Entering a WEP key
I want to explain some of those items in further detail. First, let me tell you about how you'll set up a wireless network. This ranges from really easy to frustrating, depending on what of wireless network you have. First the camera will scan for available networks, which takes about twenty seconds. Networks are sorted by signal strength (the wireless security system used is also shown). If the network has no WEP or WPA-PSK encryption you can just choose it and go. If a login is required (like from some pay-for-access Wi-Fi hotspots) then most likely you're out of luck -- only T-Mobile's system is supported. Finally, if you must enter a WEP or WPA key, be prepared for some fun: not only must you use the tiny on-screen keyboard, but the actual key is hidden so you don't know what you're typing. If you've ever typed in a WEP key before, you know why this is no fun. Note to Kodak: Let's put this in the EasyShare software and send it to the camera over the USB cable instead. Anyhow, after all that's done you can now use the online features on the camera.
One annoying flaw on the EasyShare One is that the camera forgets the capture settings as soon as it's turned off. That means that you need to set things like the ISO and flash settings every time you turn the camera on.
Okay, let's move on to our photo tests now!
If you're thinking "wow, that looks awful", you're right: the EasyShare One will not let you adjust any settings, including exposure compensation or white balance, while the camera is in close-up (macro) mode. That's too bad, since automatic white balance never works with my studio lamps. If you take most of your macro shots in outdoor light it's probably not a big deal. Under artificial lighting you may have similar problems.
If the color cast wasn't there the photo probably would've been okay, as the subject is nice and sharp.
The focus range in close-up mode is 4 - 28 cm at wide-angle and 17 - 28 cm at telephoto. (For the record, you can't get any closer than 24 mm in auto mode.)
The night shot didn't turn out very well, either. The EasyShare One cannot take exposures any longer than 2 seconds, and that's only available in the fireworks scene mode. Two seconds isn't nearly long enough for this photo, which is why it's under-exposed. Some of Kodak's other point-and-shoots have a long shutter speed mode, and that would've been very handy here.
Even with a preflash and in-camera redeye reduction, there's still plenty of red to be found in our flash photo test. While the camera couldn't stop it, I found the tool in the EasyShare software to be good at getting rid of this annoyance.
There's fairly mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the EasyShare One's lens. There's a tiny bit of corner softness, but nothing to be concerned about.
Overall the EasyShare One's photo quality is good. As with most Kodak cameras, color saturation is a little over-the-top, with unnatural dark blue skies. Sharpness is also cranked all the way up, which may be a little too sharp in some cases. Noise levels were reasonable, and purple fringing wasn't too bad.
In the end you must evaluate the photo quality with your own eyes. Have a look at our photo gallery, print the photos if you'd like, and then decide if the EasyShare One's pictures meet your expectations.
The EasyShare One has a very good movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 (24 frames/second) with sound until the memory card is full. That takes about six minutes if you're using the built-in memory, so you'll need a larger card for longer movies. No lower resolution options are available on the camera.
Believe it or not, you can actually use the optical zoom during filming. The catch is that the noise from the zoom motor will be picked up by the microphone. The camera can focus once (at the beginning of the movie) or continuously if you'd like (which also adds noise to the scene).
Just like with photos, you can e-mail your photos or transfer them wirelessly to your computer.
Movies are saved in QuickTime format using the MPEG4 codec.
Here's a sample movie for you, taken at the highest quality setting. Enjoy!
Click to play movie (5.2 MB, 640 x 480, 24 fps, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
Main playback view
Full-size photo viewing
The EasyShare One's playback mode works a bit differently that what you're used to. When you first enter playback mode you'll see your photos in a thumbnail view. You can "touch" one of them to see it full size, and then you can move from photo to photo by touching the left or right side of the screen. A zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge your photo and then move around in the zoomed-in area. Those little icons below the thumbnails are used for putting photos in albums, starting a slideshow, marking a photo as a favorite, or tagging a photo to be printed later (via a wired or wireless connection).
At the lower-right of the above screen is what Kodak calls the "tray". You can put a bunch of photos into the tray and then perform any of the various sharing operations (printing, e-mailing, uploading, etc).
Photos can be also copied from the internal memory to a memory card and vice versa.
Here's a look at the View menu on the camera. Here you can do the following:
Not only can you upload photos to the EasyShare Gallery, but you can also view and manage your photos there as well. That includes deleting photos and even albums right from the camera. Before you get any ideas, you can't delete photos out of your friends' albums. As you can imagine, viewing photos online isn't nearly as fast as it is with locally stored photos. It takes some time to load up the thumbnails, and each photo takes a second or two to load as you move from one to the other.
When viewing a full-size image you can press the Info button on the side of the camera to add a caption to your photo, assign it to an album or albums, and to view the exposure information.
The EasyShare One moves from one photo to another in about a half second.
How Does it Compare?
The Kodak EasyShare One is a very interesting camera with fantastic wireless capabilities but poor camera features and usability. While it's a great concept, it needs a lot of refinement (not to mention a price cut) before I can recommend it.
The EasyShare One is a midsized metal camera with a large touchscreen LCD that flips out to the side and rotates (though not as much as I'd like). While the camera looks small in photos, it's actually quite thick. Build quality is very good, save for the battery/memory card compartment which has a flimsy cover and no locking mechanism. The screen, which is a whopping 3 inches in size, didn't impress with its sharpness or low light visibility. The camera doesn't have a lot of buttons, so you'll be using that LCD and the included stylus for the majority of the camera operations. The EasyShare One features a fairly standard 4 Megapixel CCD and 3X optical zoom lens.
The biggest selling point for the EasyShare One is its wireless abilities and in that area the camera delivers. While the interface is clunky (and entering WEP keys is a major pain), the camera makes it quite easy to share photos via e-mail or prints. Photos and movies can also be transferred wirelessly to your Mac or PC. You an also send photos and movies to Kodak's EasyShare Gallery, where you can view your online galleries (as well as those of your friends) and you can delete photos and albums if you'd like. Printing photos wirelessly is very cool, especially if you're using Kodak's optional Printer Dock.
There are a few issues with the wireless features, though most people won't be bothered by them. One thing I don't like about the e-mail a photo feature is that it doesn't actually send the photo directly to your recipient; rather, it uploads the photo to Kodak's EasyShare Gallery and e-mails the link to the recipient instead. Right now the only "protected" (meaning that a username and password are required) hotspots that you can use are through T-mobile -- so if you're at a place that requires you to log in, you're out of luck. It would also be nice to be able to upload photos via FTP.
In terms of camera-related features the EasyShare One is lacking. The three exceptions are with regard to its large LCD, a very good movie mode, and the enormous amount of built-in memory (256MB, of which 185MB are used for image storage). The camera is totally point-and-shoot, which is fine, but many important features are locked up when they shouldn't be (like in macro mode). The slow shutter speed isn't really that slow, and the camera forgets your settings as soon as you turn it off. The menu system is unusual and awkward, with some items in places that you would not expect (it takes ten button-presses just to adjust the white balance). I also don't like how the self-timer must be reset each time -- and doing that is more difficult than it should be. The EasyShare One's movie mode is quite good, with unlimited recording at 640 x 480, 24 fps. The zoom lens can be used during filming, though you'll hear it in your videos.
Camera performance was a mixed bag. The EasyShare One is very slow at starting up, making you wait over seven seconds before you can start taking pictures. Autofocus performance was average in good light, and poor in low light (no AF-assist lamp on a $600 camera?). Shot-to-shot and playback speeds were both very good. Battery life is below average, but at least Kodak gives you two batteries.
Photo quality results were also mixed. While the EasyShare takes good quality photos in most conditions, colors are often oversaturated and things are a little too sharp for my taste. You can't adjust any settings when using the scene modes, which affected the results of the macro test in this review. Long exposures aren't great either, as the camera's slowest shutter speed is just two seconds. Despite two redeye reduction features, the EasyShare One still performed poorly in that area.
The EasyShare One is a great concept, but Kodak needs to work on the execution a bit more before I can recommend this camera. Kodak obviously spent a lot of time on this camera (it was delayed six months) and it's neat for a first-of-its-kind product, but you're paying a lot of money for the wireless features on an otherwise clunky camera. While I haven't tried them yet, both Canon and Nikon have Wi-Fi-enabled cameras as well, and they sell for between $100 and $200 less than the EasyShare One. I like the idea of a wireless camera, so let's hope that Kodak gets things right the second time around.
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
The only other Wi-Fi-equipped cameras on the market (that aren't thousands of dollars) are the Canon PowerShot SD430 Digital ELPH and the Nikon Coolpix P1 and P2.
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the EasyShare One and it's competitors before you buy!
Want a second opinion?
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.
To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.
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