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DCRP Review: Kodak
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: January 2, 2006
Last Updated: February 20, 2006
As soon as you see the Kodak EasyShare V570 ($399) with its lens cover opened you know that this is not just another compact camera. Yes, this camera has two lenses! There's a fixed focal length 23 mm lens on the top, and a more traditional 39 - 117 mm zoom lens on the bottom. In addition to having two lenses, the V570 has two 5 Megapixel CCD sensors, as well -- one for each lens. Thus, the V570 gives you both super wide-angle and telephoto power, all in an ultra compact body (reminiscent of the V530/V550).
So why would you want a super wide-angle lens? Here's what the local train station looks like on your typical ultra compact camera:
Okay, not too bad... but there's a lot of the building that's not missing. One option has always been to just keep backing up until you can fit your whole subject in the frame. With the EasyShare V570, you don't have to: just use the 23mm lens. Here's how the same shot looks like that lens:
Well that's a whole lot better, isn't it? As someone who takes a lot of pictures of buildings and landscapes, I think that having this kind of wide-angle lens in a pocket camera is a great thing.
Other features on the V570 include a large 2.5" LCD display, numerous scene modes, a VGA movie mode, and Kodak's trademark EasyShare system.
Ready to learn more about this one-of-a-kind camera? Our review of the V570 starts right now!
What's in the Box?
The EasyShare V570 has a very good bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
As is the case with many cameras these days, the EasyShare V570 has built-in memory instead of a bundled memory card. The V570 has 32MB of built-in memory, which is a decent amount for a camera with this resolution, but you'll want to buy a larger memory card anyway. The V570 uses Secure Digital or MultiMedia cards, and I recommend a 256MB or 512MB card as a good place to start. A high speed memory card is not a required purchase.
The V570 uses the same KLIC-7001 lithium-ion battery as the V550. This compact battery has just 2.7 Wh of energy, which translates into fairly poor battery life. Here's how the camera compares to other ultra compacts in this area:
While it's not the worst camera in the group (that award goes to another Kodak camera), you'll definitely want to pick up a second battery with this camera.
Long-time readers know that I'm not a huge fan of proprietary batteries like the KLIC-7001. Unfortunately they're pretty standard on compact cameras like this. At least Kodak doesn't charge an arm and a leg for them unlike some companies -- they're $20 a pop.
On the cool-looking dock you'll find a battery meter and buttons for TV viewing and photo transfer
Ports here include DC-in, USB 2.0 (Full Speed, the slow one), and AV out
The V570 includes the snazzy Photo Frame 2 camera dock, which can be used for several things, including charging the battery, transferring photos to your computer, or viewing them on a television. In fact, unless you can hunt down a mysterious adapter shown in the manual, this is the only way you can transfer photos or view them on a TV. The battery can be charged either with the dock, or with the included AC adapter. Either way it takes three hours to fully charge the battery.
The camera can also display a slideshow on its LCD while it's on the dock.
The EasyShare V570 has a built-in lens cover so there's no clumsy lens cap to worry about. The camera is pretty small, though it's wider than most ultra compacts.
Since this is the only time that you'll see the lens cover I wanted to slip in some grumbling about the label on it. Yes, I suppose that it's a 5X zoom, but it's not a continuous zoom like on most other cameras. When you zoom in, you start at 23 mm, then suddenly jump to 39 mm -- there's nothing in between, except some digital zoom if you desire. I'd rather thing of it as a standard 39 - 117 mm lens with a little bonus wide-angle lens on the side. But the V570 is most definitely NOT a 23 - 117 mm camera!
Optional Kodak Printer Dock; image courtesy of Kodak
Let's talk about accessories now. As with their other cameras, the EasyShare V570 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. Kodak includes a dock adapter to mate the camera to the dock.
One accessory that I think a lot of people would buy is the USB + A/V adapter which lets you use the USB and A/V cables instead of the dock. Apparently you can get it by calling the parts department at Kodak (1-800-431-7278 in the US) and asking for part number 3F6455. Thanks to David Goldwasser for the tip!
The only other accessories I could locate are an external battery charger ($35) and various camera cases.
The EasyShare V570 includes version 5.2 of Kodak's excellent EasyShare software.
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 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.
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. It's not very technical, but I don't think most buyers of Kodak cameras are looking for that.
Look and Feel
The V570 is a compact metal camera that really looks "out of this world" with its two lenses. Build quality is quite good, with even the battery cover feeling sturdy. It's "wide" shape makes it larger than some cameras in this class, but it'll still fit into most pockets with ease. Controls were generally well laid out, though the four-way controller could be larger.
Now let's take a look at the dimensions and weight of the EasyShare V570 versus some of the ultra compact competition:
It's not the smallest or lightest camera in its class, but when you're talking ultra compacts it doesn't really matter -- they're all small!
Okay, enough numbers for now, let's start our tour of the camera now!
When you first see the front of the V570 your eyes are immediately drawn to the two lenses. The lens on the top is the wide one: it's F2.8 with a fixed focal length of 3.8 mm (equivalent to 23 mm). Below that is your more standard zoom lens, which is on the slow side, with a maximum aperture of just F3.9 - F4.4. The focal length of this lens is 6.4 - 19.2 mm, which is equivalent to 39 - 117 mm. The lenses use the same folded optics design as other ultra-thin cameras, which means that most of the lens elements can be found to the right of where the light hits the front lens element. Neither of them extend out of the body, and they don't support conversion lenses either (obviously).
Behind each of those lenses is a 5.36 Megapixel CCD (with an effective resolution of 5.0MP). When you switch lenses the camera switches sensors without delay. Pretty neat!
One thing you really need to watch out for one the V570 is your fingers. It is very (and I mean very) easy to put your fingers in the photo when using the wide-angle lens, giving you photos like this:
My fingers kind of ruined this postcard shot
I can't tell you how many nice photos I ruined by having my finger in the way, so watch your hands! And now, back to our tour.
That thing with three holes just to the left of the lenses is the microphone. Below that is the AF-assist lamp, which is also the self-timer and video recording lamps as well.
At the top-right of the photo you'll find the camera's built-in flash. The working range of the flash at ISO 200 (Kodak doesn't give you numbers at the automatic setting) is 0.8 - 3.1 meters at the 23 mm setting, 0.6 - 2.2 meters at 39 mm, and 0.6 - 2.0 meters at 117 mm. None of those numbers are terribly impressive. You cannot attach an external flash to this camera.
On the back of the V570 you'll find a large 2.5" LCD display. Ironically the little V570 has a sharper LCD than Kodak's "performance" series cameras that I just reviewed. The screen here has a whopping 230,000 pixels, so everything is nice and sharp. As is usually the case with Kodak LCDs, outdoor visibility is very good. In low light situations the LCD "gains up" so you can still see your subject, which is always handy.
As you can see, there's no optical viewfinder on the camera. Some people like having an optical viewfinder (including yours truly), while others never use them. In other words, the importance of this is a subjective matter.
To the left of the LCD you'll find five buttons plus the speaker. The five buttons are as follows:
The sharing features deserve some further discussion:
The screen above is what you'll see when you press that Share button. From this screen you can do the following:
Let's say you want to mark an image for e-mail. Here's what you'll see:
You can select a person or persons to whom you want to e-mail this picture. Once you connect to your computer, the EasyShare software will send the pictures to the chosen recipients.
Selecting photos to print later is just as easy. Just select the photo and the number of copies, and the next time you dock with a printer, it'll prompt you to make those prints. This works with both the Kodak Printer Dock as well as the scores of PictBridge-enabled photo printers on the market.
Continuing our tour now, let's move to the right side of the LCD, where we'll find the zoom and four-way controllers. The zoom controller moves the lens from ultra wide-angle to telephoto in 3.2 seconds. To go from "regular" wide-angle to telephoto it takes about 2.4 seconds.
The camera will pause while switching lenses when you have the zoom button held out. A digital zoom feature to fill in the gap between the two lenses, but that just reduces image quality.
The four-way controller, which is on the small side, is used for menu navigation as well as:
Well that's all for the back of the camera!
On top of the camera you'll find nothing but buttons. The three ones on the left are for switching between the various modes on the camera: favorite photos, movie recording, and still recording.
That still recording button also opens the scene menu which, as you can see, is chock full of options. They include:
The custom option is the only setting that will remember your favorite settings for you. Too bad there's no way to have the camera start up in that mode!
Panoramic shot taken with V570
View Full Size Image
The panorama features are pretty neat. With the lens at the ultra wide position you can get an impressive panorama in just three shots. Even better, the camera stitches the shot together right after you're done shooting! The only downside is that the camera doesn't save the separate frames, something that I hope a firmware upgrade will address in the near future.
The other buttons on the top of the V570 are for power and shutter release.
Nothing to see here.
On this side of the camera you'll find memory card slot and DC-in port (for included AC adapter). The memory card slot is protected by a plastic cover. As I stated at the beginning of the review, the V570 can take SD or MMC memory cards.
On the bottom of the camera you'll find the battery compartment, metal tripod mount, and dock connector. The door over the battery slot is pretty sturdy.
Somewhere out there Kodak makes an adapter that attaches to the dock connector and provides USB and A/V ports. If you don't have the adapter that I mentioned earlier then you're stuck with the dock for photo transfers and TV viewing.
The included KLIC-7001 battery is shown at right.
Using the Kodak EasyShare V570
It takes about 1.7 seconds for the V570 to slide open its lens cover and "warm up" before you start taking pictures.
Unfortunately, the only way to get a live histogram is to turn on the grid you see above
Focus speeds on the V570 were very good. At the ultra wide-angle position focusing is instantaneous -- I think this may be a fixed focus lens. Things are still pretty snappy on the other lens, though, with focus times of 0.2 - 0.4 seconds in most situations. Even at the telephoto end of the lens the camera still focused quickly. Despite its AF-assist lamp, I wasn't terribly thrilled with the low light focusing abilities of the V570.
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 about 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 on the back of the camera.
There are just a few image quality choices on the EasyShare V570. There's no "fine" or "normal" quality here -- just these options:
The built-in memory holds a decent amount of photos (relatively speaking), but you should still pick up that memory card right away.
There's no support for the RAW or TIFF formats on the EasyShare V570, 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 EasyShare V570 has as pretty simple menu system. Keep in mind that many of these options will be unavailable in the scene modes. And with that, here's the full record menu:
The V570 has a pretty standard burst mode. The camera will take four shots in a row at 2 frames/second. The LCD does a nice job of keeping up with the action.
While the camera can crank the ISO up as high as 800, that setting is only available at the lowest (1.8MP) resolution. Combine the low resolution and high levels of noise at that sensitivity and you'll probably end up not being able to do much with images taken at ISO 800.
There are two AF control modes on the camera. The first, single, is the normal "push the button halfway to lock focus" mode that everyone's used to. The continuous mode is always trying to focus, which can reduce focus times at the expense of battery life.
The long time exposure feature is the only real manual control on the camera. If you want to take night photos like the ones I feature in my reviews, this option is a must.
Now, here's a look at the setup menu, which you can get to from the record or playback menus.
I want to mention two things that are in the setup menu: distortion compensation and blur warning.
As you'd expect, there is a lot of distortion on a 23 mm lens. The folks at Kodak know that, so they added a distortion compensation feature which helps reduce that. Here's an example of how well it works:
Taken without distortion compensation
Taken with distortion compensation
At first glance you may not see any difference between the two shots, but if you take a closer look at some of the straight edges in the room you'll see what's changing. In the top shot, notice how the column on the left, the brown beam at the top, and the alcove on the right aren't straight lines -- they curve. The distortion compensation feature (bottom shot) straightens out those edges so they look more like they do in real life. This feature is either on or off -- and not something you can use in playback mode.
The blur detection feature quietly tells you if your photo is sharp enough for a 4 x 6 inch print. When you're viewing a photo (either in playback mode or during the post-shot review) the camera will display a little hand icon at the top-left of the LCD display. Green means that the photo can print well, yellow is questionable, and red is "delete it and try again".
Okay, enough about menus, let's talk about photo quality now. There's no distortion test in this review, since the 23mm lens is actually too wide for my chart!
The V570 did a fair job with our macro test scene. My main complaint should be obvious by looking at the above thumbnail: the shot is underexposed. I tried everything, from cranking up the ISO and exposure compensation to even using the long time shutter speed mode and I still couldn't get the right exposure. That's too bad, since the subject is sharp and the camera really nailed the white balance, which is unusual for a point-and-shoot camera.
Macro mode can only be used with the zoom lens, and not the ultra wide. At the wide end of the 3X lens the minimum distance to the subject is 5 cm, while that number rises to 30 cm at the telephoto end.
The night shot is pretty good, though things are on the soft and noisy side. That's because when you use the long time exposure mode (which lets you use slow shutter speeds) the ISO is set to "Auto", which "noises things up" a bit. The camera did take in enough light, though, and purple fringing levels were fairly low.
Since I can't control the shutter speed and ISO at the same time, I am unable to do the night ISO tests.
There's quite a bit of redeye in our flash photo test, which is to be expected on a camera. The crop is grainy as well, since I set the ISO to Auto in order to compensate for the weak flash.
Overall, the EasyShare V570's photo quality is good, but not great. Images were generally well-exposed, with saturated color and low purple fringing levels. I did find photos to be on the soft side, which is similar to what you'll find on other ultra compact cameras like this. Noise levels were above average as well. In some situations you will find noticeable corner blurriness, especially when using the zoom lens.
Don't just take my word for all this, though. Have a look at our photo gallery, print the photos if you'd like, and then decide if the quality meets your expectations.
The EasyShare V570 has an excellent movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 (30 frames/second) with sound until the memory card is full. Since the camera uses the efficient MPEG-4 format you can fit 54 seconds of video onto the internal memory, or 16.5 minutes onto a 512MB SD card.
There are two other quality modes available. The "640 x 480 long" mode has the same frame rate as the nice mode, but it's just compressed more so your videos about twice as long. There's also a 320 x 240 (30 fps) mode available.
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. In addition, zooming is awkward if you start with the ultra wide lens, as there's a "jump" as the camera switches lenses.
The camera can focus before the movie starts, or continuously while filming.
Here's a sample movie for you:
Click to play movie (5.9 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, MPEG-4 format)
Can't view them? Download QuickTime.
The EasyShare V570 has a very nice playback mode. Basic features are all here, like slideshows, image protection, DPOF print marking, thumbnail view, and zoom and scroll. This last feature lets you enlarge your image and then move around in the zoomed-in area. As you'd expect, the camera is PictBridge-enabled.
While you can't rotate or downsize images, you can crop them right on the camera. Photos can be viewed normally, by album, or by date.
There are quite a few movie editing features. You can split movies in two, turn a movie frame into a still photo, or create a still photo collage from a clip.
By default the camera doesn't tell you much about your photo. Press the info button and you get a little more information, but it's still not terribly helpful. You can see the blur detection "hand" that I described earlier at the top left of the above screens.
The EasyShare V570 moves from one photo to another instantly.
How Does it Compare?
The Kodak EasyShare V570 is a one-of-a-kind ultra compact camera with two lenses: one is a fixed 23 mm ultra wide, while the other is a more traditional 39 - 117 mm zoom. While Kodak's "5X zoom" claim is misleading, the camera more or less gives you the best of both worlds: a regular zoom lens for normal shooting, and an ultra-wide lens that you can call on for interior and landscape shooting. While the camera is far from perfect, it does earn my recommendation.
The V570 is an ultra compact (but not tiny) camera with two lenses and two CCD sensors. As I mentioned, you've got lenses covering 23 mm and 39 - 117 mm, with a hole in the middle. You can bridge that gap by using digital zoom, though this will reduce the quality of your photos. When zooming in movie mode, there's a noticeable "jump" as it switches lenses/CCDs. When using the ultra wide-angle lens you'll need to watch where you put your fingers, as they can very easily end up in your photo.
The V570's body is made of metal, and it feels quite solid in the hand. The camera has a large 2.5" LCD display on the back, and I found it to be quite visible in both bright outdoor lighting and dimly lit rooms.
The V570 is a 100% point-and-shoot camera, with no real manual control, save for a limited slow shutter speed mode. Beginners will appreciate the scene modes on the camera, which cover virtually all possible scenarios. The built-in panorama stitching tool is nice, and it would be nicer if Kodak gave you the option to keep the original photos. The V570's VGA movie mode is quite nice (you can zoom during filming), and the MPEG-4 codec lets you record longer movies than on most other cameras. Like all Kodak cameras, the built-in EasyShare system makes e-mailing and printing photos a snap.
Camera performance was generally very good. While the camera won't win any awards for its startup speeds, it does focus and shoot quickly, with minimal delays between photos. The two areas in terms of performance where the V570 falls short are low light focusing (not great) and battery life (poor).
Photo quality on the EasyShare V570 was good, but not great -- and fairly typical of what you'll find on most ultra compact cameras. Images were well-exposed and colorful, but on the soft and noisy side. You may encounter some blurriness in the corners, as well. As you'd expect on this ultra compact camera, redeye is a problem.
There are a few other negatives worth mentioning. The V570's tiny flash not only produces redeye, but it's pretty weak as well. Straight out of the box, you cannot connect to a computer or television without using the included camera dock -- though Kodak (and only Kodak) sells an adapter that gets around this. In addition, the camera and dock only support the slow USB 2.0 Full Speed standard (High Speed is the one that we want).
The EasyShare V570 is the only compact digital camera in the world that has both a traditional 3X zoom and an ultra wide-angle lens. The camera has more than its share of negatives (listed below), but if you're after a compact camera that can do wide and telephoto shots, the V570 is the only game in town. If you take a lot of low light or flash photos, or if you desire manual controls, then I'd suggest looking elsewhere -- but for everyone else, the V570 is definitely worth a look.
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
Though none of them offer the same wide-angle capabilities as the V570, some other ultra compacts worth considering include the Canon PowerShot SD450 Digital ELPH, Casio Exilim EX-S600, Fuji FinePix Z1, Nikon Coolpix S3, Olympus Stylus 710, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9, Pentax Optio S6, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T9.
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the EasyShare V570 and its competitors before you buy!
Want to see how the photo quality looks? Check out our gallery!
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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