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DCRP Review: Kodak
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: November 1, 2007
Last Updated: February 25, 2008
The Kodak EasyShare M853 ($149) is a low-cost, basic point and shoot camera. It features an 8.2 Megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom lens, 2.5" LCD display, and the ease-of-use that you expect from a Kodak digital camera.
Kodak offers four cameras in their M-series, and they're all very similar. To help clear up any confusion, I created this comparison chart:
To be honest, the models in the M-series are a little redundant -- especially with the M853 and M873, where you're paying $50 more for a slower lens and 33% less battery life.
Needless to say, the EasyShare M853 that I'm reviewing here has its work cut out for it, with some really tough competition. Find out how it performs in our review!
What's in the Box?
The EasyShare M853 has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
As is the case with most cameras these days, the EasyShare M853 has built-in memory in lieu of a bundled memory card. The M853 has 16MB of built-in memory (of which only 11MB can be used for photo storage), which holds just nine photos at the highest quality setting. Therefore, you'll want to buy a memory card right away, and I'd recommend a 1GB card as a good place to start. The camera supports SD, SDHC, and MMC memory card formats. Spending extra money on a high speed memory card isn't necessary.
The EasyShare M853 uses the KLIC-7001 rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power. While this battery only holds 3.1 Wh of energy, Kodak has managed to squeeze some pretty good battery life numbers out of it. See for yourself:
The EasyShare M853 is one of the few Kodak cameras I've tested recently that has above average battery life numbers. While not quite the best-in-class, the M853's numbers are still 25% above the group average.
I should mention the downsides to owning a camera that uses proprietary batteries (such as the KLIC-7001). These batteries tend to be more expensive than AAs (an extra KLIC-7001 will set you back at least $18), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery in an emergency. Still, these proprietary batteries are standard features on compact cameras like the M853.
The EasyShare M853 is one of a very small group of cameras that use USB for battery charging. Thus, instead of removing the battery and putting it into an external charger, you just attach the USB cable to the camera, and plug it into your computer. It takes about three hours to fully charge the battery.
There are several other ways to charge the camera's battery, though they all require purchasing an accessory. The cheapest option is the USB AC adapter ($10), which is basically takes the AC power from your wall and sends it over the USB cable. A more expensive option is to just buy the camera's 5-volt AC adapter (priced from $26). Kodak's camera and printer docks can be used, as well.
If you want to charge the battery outside of the camera, then you can pick up the K7500-C external charger (priced from $31). I'm not sure what the charging time is for this charger, unfortunately.
As with all compact cameras, the M853 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no pesky lens cap to worry about.
One glaring omission from the M853's box is a video output cable. If you want one, you'll have to buy one (model AV-8, part number 8118390). Kodak sells it for $25 (!), but I was able to get one from Circuit City for $15.
I pretty much touched on all of the M853's accessories in the preceding paragraphs. Kodak does offer a number of camera bags for the M853, and you can see them on all on their website.
EasyShare 6.0 for Mac OS X
EasyShare 6.2 for Windows lets you view your Online Photo Gallery right in the software
The M853 comes with Kodak's EasyShare 6 software for both Mac and Windows. As is often the case, the Windows version (6.2) is superior to the Mac version (6.0) of the software, offering full integration with the EasyShare Gallery photo sharing website.
The main screen in EasyShare is where you'll organize your photos after they've been imported from the camera. You can view your photos by date taken, and you can create both regular and "smart" albums as well.
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. You can also e-mail them (directly or via a website) and print them in numerous ways.
EasyShare 6.0 for Mac OS X
EasyShare 6.2 for Windows
On the edit screen you've got a bunch of nice tools for fixing up your photos. 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 Windows version adds a few other "fun effects" as well.
EasyShare 6.2 for Windows
Something else that the Windows version lets you do is create greeting cards. The software includes templates, and Kodak sells packs of additional templates for around $10. Just plug in your photo and you're ready to print your card either yourself or via Kodak's EasyShare Gallery service.
All-in-all the EasyShare package is pretty darn good for bundled software, especially if you've seen the stuff that some other camera companies give you.
On their recent cameras, Kodak has taken a step backwards in the documentation department. In the "old days" (read: last year), you used to get a nice thick manual in the box with the camera. Now you get a "getting started" leaflet which has just 21 pages of actual content. Want the full manual? You'll have to go to Kodak's website and either view it there, or download it as a PDF. It seems to me that Kodak has taken a bit of the "easy" out of their EasyShare cameras with this dumb move.
Look and Feel
The EasyShare M853 is a compact camera made of a mix of plastic and metal. If you want a thinner, all-metal body, then you'll have to pony up for the M873 or M883. The camera is fairly well put together, though I'm not a fan of the tiny buttons on the top of the camera, the plastic tripod mount, and a battery/memory card compartment door that doesn't feel terribly sturdy. The worst ergonomic offenders have to be the flash and power buttons, which are the same size and right next to each other. On several occasions I found myself changing the flash setting instead of turning the camera off.
Now, here's how the M853 compares to other compact cameras in terms of size and weight: