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DCRP Review: Kodak EasyShare V610  
   

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: June 26, 2006
Last Updated: February 25, 2008

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Do you want ultra zoom power but don't want to lug around a bulky camera? Then the Kodak EasyShare V610 ($450) might be for you. The V610 is Kodak's second dual lens camera, with the first being the EasyShare V570 (see our review), which was more focused on wide-angle shooting. The V610's two lenses give it a total focal range of 38 - 380 mm, though (as with the V570) there's a "jump" from 114 to 130 mm when the camera switches lenses.

Other features on this unique camera include a 6 Megapixel CCD, 2.8" LCD display, Bluetooth wireless networking support, numerous scene modes, and a VGA movie mode.

How does the one-of-a-kind V610 compare with the other ultra zooms on the market? Find out now in our review!

Since the cameras share much in common I will be reusing portions of the V570 review here.

What's in the Box?

The EasyShare V610 has a good bundle. Inside the box you'll find:

  • The 6.0 effective Megapixel Kodak EasyShare V610 camera
  • KLIC-7001 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • AC adapter / battery charger
  • Inserts for Photo Frame Dock 2 and Kodak camera/printer docks
  • Cloth camera case
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • Dock connector adapter (for above cables)
  • CD-ROM featuring Kodak EasyShare software
  • 80 page camera manual (printed)

As is the case with many cameras these days, the EasyShare V610 has built-in memory instead of a bundled memory card. The V610 has 32MB of built-in memory (of which only 28MB can be used for photo storage), which holds fourteen photos at the highest quality setting. Despite that, you'll still want to buy a memory card, and I suggest a 256MB or 512MB card as a good place to start. The V610 uses Secure Digital or MultiMedia cards, and a high speed memory card is not a required purchase.

The V610 uses the same KLIC-7001 lithium-ion battery as the V570, which isn't necessarily a good thing. This compact battery has just 2.7 Wh of energy, which leads to the worst battery life in the ultra zoom class. Here, have a look:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used for test
Canon PowerShot S3 IS 550 shots 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix S5200 500 shots 2500 mAh NiMH
Kodak EasyShare P712 250 shots KLIC-5001
Kodak EasyShare Z612 262 shots KLIC-8000
Kodak EasyShare V610 135 shots KLIC-7001
Nikon Coolpix S4 240 shots EN-EL7
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 320 shots CGR-S006
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 280 shots CGR-S006
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 250 shots CGA-S007
Samsung Digimax Pro815 450 shots SLB-1974
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H2 400 shots 2500 mAh NiMH
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5 340 shots 2500 mAh NiMH
Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

As you can see, the V610's battery life stinks compared to the other ultra zooms out there. With that it mind I'd buy at least one spare battery, maybe two. An extra KLIC-7001 will set you back $20 which, while more expensive than AA batteries, is still a bargain for a proprietary battery.

When it's time to charge the battery you just plug the included AC adapter into the camera. It takes about two hours to fully charge the KLIC-7001. Other options for charging include an external charger (model K3500, about $35) and the camera and printer docks I'll mention below.

The EasyShare V610 has a built-in lens cover so there's no clumsy lens cap to worry about. As you can see, this is one small ultra zoom!


Optional Photo Frame 2 dock; Image courtesy of Kodak

Let's talk accessories now. The one pictured above is the Photo Frame 2 ($60), which charges the battery inside the camera and connects you to a computer or television. If you don't mind owning a less stylish dock then the EasyShare Camera Dock 3 ($40) works just as well but for less money.

If you want an easy way to print your photos then it doesn't get much simpler than the EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3 ($140). This does all the stuff that the regular docks do, but it makes a lab quality 4 x 6 inch print in 90 seconds.

Other V610 accessories include a camera accessory kit ($50), which includes the Photo Frame dock, a camera case, and lens cleaner, as well as a camera case by itself ($25).

The EasyShare V610 comes with 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. They're not very technical, but I don't think that your typical Kodak buyer cares.

Look and Feel

The EasyShare V610 looks a larger version of the V570. The matte black body is made of metal, and it feels very solid in your hands. Controls are fairly well positioned, though the power button is hard to find and the four-way controller is too small. The camera can be used with just one hand.

Want to see just how small the V610 is compared to other ultra zooms? Then have a look at this:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot S3 IS 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.0 in. 42.8 cu in. 410 g
Fujifilm FinePix S5200 4.5 x 3.3 x 4.4 in. 65.3 cu in. 371 g
Kodak EasyShare P712 4.3 x 3.3 x 2.8 in. 39.7 cu in. 403 g
Kodak EasyShare V610 4.4 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 8.7 cu in. 160 g
Kodak EasyShare Z612 4.1 x 2.9 x 2.7 in. 32.1 cu in. 300 g
Nikon Coolpix S4 4.4 x 2.7 x 1.4 in. 16.6 cu in. 205 g
Olympus SP-500 Ultra Zoom 4.2 x 2.9 x 2.8 in. 34.1 cu in. 285 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 5.5 x 3.4 x 5.4 in. 101 cu in. 674 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 4.4 x 2.8 x 3.1 in. 38.2 cu in. 310 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 4.4 x 2.3 x 1.6 in. 16.2 cu in. 234 g
Samsung Digimax Pro815 5.2 x 3.4 x 2.1 in. 37.1 cu in. 850 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H2 4.5 x 3.3 x 3.7 in. 54.9 cu in. 389 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5 4.5 x 3.3 x 3.7 in. 54.9 cu in. 406 g

The EasyShare V610 is easily the smallest ultra zoom on the market. In fact, the V610 is closer in size to ultra compacts rather than ultra zooms. This is the only ultra zoom that can fit in your jeans pocket, and that's cool.

Alright, enough with that let's tour the V610 now!

The V610 has the same looking (almost bizarre) dual lens setup as the V570, except here Kodak's using it for telephoto instead of wide-angle. Each lens has its own CCD behind it, and the camera switches between the two instantly. Since the two lenses don't "meet up" in the middle, the focal length jumps from 114 to 130 mm when you switch lenses. Both lenses use the "folded optics" design, which sends most of the lens elements along the width of the body, instead of straight back from the front element. This is what allows the camera to be so thin.

The lens on the bottom is an F3.9-4.4 model with a focal length (35mm equivalent) of 38 - 114 mm. That's a very "slow" lens! The telephoto lens on the top goes from 130 - 380 mm, with a maximum aperture of F4.8. Neither lens is threaded, so conversion lenses are not supported (not surprisingly).

In between the two lenses you'll find the AF-assist lamp (which is also the visual countdown for the self-timer) plus the light sensor. The AF-assist lamp is used by the camera as a focusing aid in low light situations.

At the top-right of the photo you'll find the camera's built-in flash. Kodak gives out some really bizarre flash power numbers, saying that at wide-angle, ISO 280 the working range is 0.6 - 3.4 m, while at telephoto, ISO 400 it's 0.6 - 3.3 m. Even with the strength boost from the high ISO settings those numbers are still on the low side. You cannot attach an external flash to the V610.

On the opposite side of the camera sits the microphone.

The big thing to see on the back of the V610 is its large 2.8" LCD display. Not only is the screen large, but the resolution is too: the LCD has 230,000 pixels. Strangely enough, the screen didn't seem as sharp as I would've expected. The LCD is always easy to see, whether in bright outdoor light or dimly lit rooms.

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. What I'm getting at here is that you need to decide whether not having the viewfinder is a good or bad thing.

To the left of the LCD you'll find five buttons plus the speaker. The five buttons are as follows:

  • Scene mode (Portrait, panorama, sport, landscape, close-up, night portrait, night landscape, snow, beach, text, fireworks, flower, manner/museum, self-portrait, party, children, backlight, panning shot, candle light, sunset, custom)
  • Delete photo
  • Menu
  • Review - enters playback mode
  • Share - see below

As you can see, the V610 has a ton of scene modes. The panorama mode helps you line up your photos, and it even stitches them together automatically. Unfortunately the original images aren't saved, so if the camera doesn't do a good job stitching then you're out of luck. The custom option stores your favorite camera settings in memory, so you don't need to re-select them each time you turn on the camera.

Press the Share button and the camera enters playback mode and shows the screen you see above. Here you can:

  • Tag a picture for printing
  • Tag a picture for e-mailing
  • Tag a picture as a "favorite" for easy reviewing later on the camera or computer
  • Transfer a photo via Bluetooth

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.

Bluetooth Menu Bluetooth Devices (apparently Bluetooth doesn't like apostrophes)

You can also transfer photos to your Mac or PC by using the built-in Bluetooth wireless feature. First you must "pair" the camera with your compatible device, which is very simple. Once your device is paired you can choose to either send or receive images from it (movies can't be transferred either way). You can choose from three image sizes to send, including the original image. It all works very simply, and it sure beats lugging around that silly USB cable. Do note that the image transfers are handled by your computer's operating system and not the EasyShare software -- at least on the Mac.

Back to the tour now. To the upper-right of the LCD you'll find the zoom controller. When you start zooming in, the camera pauses when you hit the "end" of the first lens. You must release the controller and then press it again to switch to the other lens and continue zooming in. If you're quick with the button mashing you can go through the entire 10X zoom range in under five seconds. I counted just twelve steps throughout the entire 10X zoom range.

The V610 has the same stiff, too-small four-way controller as the V570. It's way too easy to accidentally push the button in a direction other than the one you intended. Anyhow, in addition to navigating the menus, the controller is also used for:

  • Up - Info (toggles what's shown on LCD)
  • Down - Focus mode (Normal, macro, landscape)
  • Left/Right - Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments)

Let's head to the top of the camera now.

On the top of the camera you'll find six buttons, with one of them being the hard-to-find power button. Here's the complete list from left-to-right:

  • Favorites - shows photos tagged as such
  • Movie mode
  • Record mode
  • Power
  • Flash setting (Auto, fill, redeye reduction, off)
  • Shutter release

The V610 has a two-stage redeye reduction system, using both preflashes and a software-based tool to reduce this annoyance. We'll see if it works later in the review.

On this side of the camera you'll find the DC-in port, which is where you'll plug in the included AC adapter.

Nothing to see on this side of the camera. I apologize for some of these product shots -- taking pictures of mirror-plated cameras is never easy.

On the bottom of the V610 you'll find a metal tripod mount, the dock connector (not seen here), and the battery/memory card compartment. The battery and memory card slots are protected by a plastic door of average quality. You will be able to swap memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.

Kodak includes a special adapter that you plug into the dock connector for when you want to attach the USB or A/V cable. The V610 does not support the USB 2.0 High Speed standard, so file transfers will be sluggish.

The included KLIC-7001 battery is shown at right.

Using the Kodak EasyShare V610

Record Mode

Press the power button and the V610 is ready to shoot about 1.2 seconds later. That's pretty snappy, especially for an ultra zoom.


If you turn on the composition grid (by pressing up on the four-way controller) you'll also get a live histogram

Focus speeds were generally very good on the V610. When the subject was easy to focus on, the camera typically took between 0.2 and 0.5 seconds to lock focus. If the camera had to "hunt" a bit, which mostly happens in the telephoto half of the zoom range, focus times can exceed one second. Low light focusing was very good thanks to the V610's green-colored 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 about a second before you can take another shot. The post-shot review feature cannot be turned off, but you can exit that to take 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 V610. There's no "fine" or "normal" quality here -- just these options:

Resolution # images on 32MB*
on-board memory
# images on 512MB memory card (optional)
6.0 MP
2832 x 2128
14 266
5.3 MP (3:2)
2832 x 1888
16 298
4.0 MP
2304 x 1728
21 392
3.1 MP
2048 x 1536
26 485
1.1 MP
1200 x 900
64 1176
* Only 28MB is actually used for image storage

The built-in memory holds a decent amount of photos (relatively speaking), but picking up that memory card is definitely a good idea.

There's no support for the RAW or TIFF formats on the EasyShare V610.

The camera names files as 100_####.JPG (where # = 0001 - 9999), and remembers the numbering even if you switch cards or delete photos.

The EasyShare V610 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:

  • Self-timer (Off, 2 or 10 secs, 2 shot)
  • Burst (on/off) - see below
  • Picture size (see chart)
  • Video size (640 x 480, 640 x 480 long, 320 x 240)
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, open shade) - no custom white balance to be found
  • ISO (Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800) - discussed later
  • Color mode (High color, natural color, low color, black & white, sepia)
  • Sharpness (Low, normal, high)
  • Metering (Multi-pattern, center-weighted, center-spot)
  • AF control (Single, continuous) - see below
  • Focus zone (Multi-zone, center-zone)
  • Long time exposure (None, 0.5 - 8 secs) - see below
  • Reset to Default
  • Set Album (Choose, clear all) - pre-select an album for your photos to be put into
  • Video length (Continuous, 5, 15, 30 secs)
  • Image stabilizer (on/off) - an electronic function that reduces camera shake in movies
  • Image Storage (Auto, internal memory) - where photos are stored
  • Setup menu - see below

The V610's burst mode is good, but not great. You can take up to eight photos in a row at about 1.8 frames/second. The LCD does a great job of keeping up with the action, so tracking a moving subject should be no problem.

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, then this is what you'll need to use.

Now, here's a look at the setup menu, which you can get to from the record or playback menus.

  • Camera Sounds (Theme, individual) - choose all the blips and beeps that the camera makes
  • Sound volume (Off, low, medium, high)
  • Bluetooth
    • Set passcode - this will be 4 digits
    • Security (on/off) - requires a passcode
    • Camera name - what the camera is known as to other devices
    • Transfer size (Ask every time, QVGA, XGA, full size) - what image size is transferred by default
  • Digital zoom (on/off) - best to keep this off
  • LCD brightness (High power, power save)
  • LCD dimmer (Off, 10, 20, 30 secs)
  • Auto power off (1, 3, 5, 10 mins)
  • Date & Time
  • Video out (NTSC, PAL)
  • Photo Frame - slideshow settings when you're using the optional dock
    • Interval
    • Loop (on/off)
    • Transition
    • Source (Auto, internal, favorites)
    • Run time
  • Auto picture rotation (on/off) - the image on the LCD rotates when you turn the camera
  • Orientation sensor (On, off, on transfer) - automatically rotates images when they're sent to your computer
  • Redeye preflash (on/off) - this is an addition to the software-based redeye reduction system that's always on
  • Date stamp (Off, YYYY MM DD, MM DD YYYY, DD MM YYYY) - print the date on your photos
  • Video date display (None, YYYY MM DD, MM DD YYYY, DD MM YYYY, YYYY MM DD HH:MM, MM DD YYYY HH:MM, DD MM YYYY HH:MM) - date format when using video out
  • Blur warning (on/off) - see below
  • Language
  • Format (Memory card, internal memory)
  • About

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".

Enough about menus, let's talk photo quality now.

The V610 did a so-so job with our usual macro test subject. The main problem here is the greenish color cast that comes from the camera's white balance system being unable to deal with my studio lamps. Since there's no "custom" white balance setting, you have to use presets, and that wasn't good enough. Click here to see what the subject is supposed to look like -- I ran the image through the Auto Color function Photoshop to get this result. Most people shouldn't have to worry about this issue, as they shoot under more "normal" lighting. But if you use studio lamps or shoot in unusual lighting then you may want to pass on the V610.

Aside from the color cast issue, the subject looks pretty good, with smooth details and minimal noise.

In macro mode you can get as close to your subject as 5 cm at wide-angle and 70 cm at telephoto.

The V610 fared a bit better in the night photo test. You can take long exposure by either using a scene mode or the long time exposure feature that I described earlier. The camera took in plenty of light, as you can see. Noise levels are a little bit above average, but nothing horrible. Purple fringing wasn't too bad.

Since I can't control the ISO and shutter speed at the same time, I am unable to supply a low light ISO test. I do, however, have an ISO test that I took in the studio a few paragraphs down.

The distortion test shows fairly mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the first lens. Some mild vignetting (dark corners) is present, and you may see a little bit of this in your real world photos as well. You will definitely encounter some blurry corners, which is a common issue with folded optics lenses.

I have to hand it to the Kodak engineers: they did a great job eliminating redeye on this compact camera. As I mentioned earlier, the V610 has a two-stage redeye reduction system that involves both preflashes and software. My flash test shot shows basically zero redeye, which surprised and impressed me.

Here's the other ISO test that I promised. This one is taken in my studio (the green cast is here too), and is comparable between cameras. While the crops below give you a quick idea about the noise levels at each ISO setting, viewing the full size images is always a good idea.


ISO 64

ISO 100

ISO 200


ISO 400


ISO 800

There's not much of a difference between the first three crops, with details looking just a bit "smudged" at ISO 200. Things are more dramatic at ISO 400, where this smudging gets worse, and things start to get soft. You should be able to get a 4 x 6 inch print at that setting, especially if you use noise reduction software. The ISO 800 shot is very soft and muddy, and I don't think you can do much with it.

Overall the image quality on the V610 was good, but not spectacular. Photos were generally well exposed, and colors were saturated -- too saturated sometimes. Noise levels were just okay, with details looking soft and muddy at times. The sky seemed awfully blotchy, as well. As I mentioned a bit earlier, you will encounter some blurriness around the edges of the photo. Purple fringing was not a problem, thankfully.

Don't just take my word for all this, though. Have a look at our photo gallery, printing the photos if you can. Then decide if the V610's photo quality meets your expectations!

Movie Mode

The EasyShare V610 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.

The V610 is one of a small group of cameras that lets you use the optical zoom during movie recording (the V570 could do this as well). The only "gotcha" is that there's a sudden jump in focal length when you switch lenses, which looks awkward. The camera also has an electronic image stabilizer to help smooth out your videos.

Here's a sample movie for you, complete with zooming:


Click to play movie (5.2 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, MPEG-4 format)
Can't view them? Download QuickTime
.

Playback Mode

The EasyShare V610 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 sequentially, by album, or by date.


Perfect Touch

The V610 is the first Kodak camera to include their Perfect Touch technology, which you may have seen when you've had your film (gasp!) developed. At the push of a button, the camera makes your photos sharper and brighter, and you can see the results right on the LCD. Here's how it improved one of my photos:


Before Perfect Touch


After Perfect Touch

As you can see, the shadows have been brightened up, and it's a much more attractive photo now -- not that Zoe needed much help in the first place.. You have the option to keep the original photo, in case the new one doesn't do it for you.

The V610 has some neat movie editing features as well. You can trim off unwanted footage, grab a frame and save it as a still image, or you can make an "Action Print", which grabs a bunch of frames and puts them into one collage-style photo.

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. Like some Canon cameras, when you rotate the V610 90 degrees the image on the screen rotates as well.

The EasyShare V610 moves from one photo to another instantly.

How Does it Compare?

Writing the conclusion for the Kodak EasyShare V610 isn't as easy as I thought. There's definitely much to like about the camera, like its slim design, MPEG-4 movie mode, Perfect Touch technology, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. At the same time, it has more than its share of annoyances, including a non-continuous zoom (due to its dual lens design), so-so picture quality, and miserable battery life. And did I mention that it's expensive?

The EasyShare V610 is the big brother to the V570, which was the world's first dual lens digital camera. While that camera focused on wide-angle shooting, the V610 is an ultra zoom. The first lens covers 38 - 114 mm, while the second one has a range of 130 - 380 mm. As you can see, there's a gap between the two lenses, so the lens "jumps" 16 mm when you're zooming, which is especially jarring in movie mode. The wider of the two lenses is very "slow" (F3.9 max aperture), so this isn't the best camera for low light situations. The V610's design is impressive, with a stylish black metal finish and good build quality. On the back of the camera you'll find a large 2.8" LCD, though the screen didn't seem as sharp as the specs would imply. The camera won't win any awards for ergonomics (at least not from this reviewer), with its too stiff/too small four-way controller and hidden power button.

The V610 is a point-and-shoot camera with no manual controls whatsoever. What you will find is a plethora of scene modes, including a handy panorama mode that actually stitches the images right on the camera. The camera takes Kodak's EasyShare system (which lets you "tag" photos for e-mailing and printing on the camera) a step further by offering support for Bluetooth wireless file transfers, which worked well. The V610 has a two-stage redeye removal system which was surprisingly effective on this compact camera. A new Perfect Touch feature quickly improves photos that may be a little dark, as my example above showed. The V610 has a very nice movie mode, allowing for unlimited recording of VGA quality video with sound using the MPEG-4 codec. You can use the optical zoom during filming, and a digital image stabilizer will help smooth out the "shake" in your movies.

Camera performance was good in most respects. The V610 starts up quickly, focus times are decent, and shutter lag wasn't a problem. There wasn't much of a delay between shots, either. The continuous shooting mode was fair (eight shots at 1.8 fps), but most of the competition does a better job these days. The two areas in which the V610 didn't perform well are battery life and zoom speed. The V610's battery life numbers are by far the worst of any ultra zoom camera, with a CIPA score of just 135 shots per charge. The camera also takes almost five seconds to go from wide-angle to telephoto -- and the zoom stops when you hit the "end" of one of the lenses, and you have to push the button again to continue zooming.

Photo quality was a mixed bag. On the positive side, photos were well-exposed with saturated colors (maybe a little too much so) and minimal purple fringing. The downsides include above average noise (which smudges the details of the photos) and lots of blurring around the corners of the frame. The camera's white balance system also had some trouble with my studio lights, though the typical V610 buyer probably won't be taking studio shots.

There are a few other negatives that are worth mentioning. A big one is the lack of image stabilization: it's awfully hard to get a sharp photo on an ultra zoom camera without it. Sure, you can turn up the ISO sensitivity to compensate for that, but that increases the noise significantly. While the V610's flash is comparable to other ultra compact cameras, it's not comparable to what a "regular" ultra zoom offers. And finally, I wish the camera had a few manual controls -- give me white balance at least.

Overall I have mixed feelings about the EasyShare V610. I like the idea of having a compact ultra zoom camera, but I'd prefer one with better photo quality and battery life (to name a few things). With a retail price of $450, the V610 is expensive. For $100 less you can buy the vastly superior Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1, which is a little bigger, but offers a continuous zoom lens and optical image stabilization.

What I liked:

  • Ultra zoom power in a compact body
  • Generally good photo quality and performance (though see issues below)
  • Stylish metal body, well put together
  • Large 2.8" LCD has good visibility indoors and out
  • AF-assist lamp; good low light focusing
  • Bluetooth wireless support
  • Redeye not a problem
  • Built-in panorama stitching (though see issue below)
  • Perfect Touch feature improves photo quality at the push of a button
  • EasyShare system makes it easy to "tag" photos for e-mailing and printing
  • Tons of scene modes
  • Great movie mode; zoom lens can be used during filming; electronic image stabilizer
  • Very good software bundle

What I didn't care for:

  • Above average noise and corner blurriness; white balance system didn't impress in the studio
  • Pricey
  • 10X zoom range is not continuous: there's a gap between 114 and 130 mm (most noticeable when zooming in movie mode); takes forever to zoom through the full range
  • Lens is slow at the wide-angle end compared to other ultra zooms
  • Miserable battery life
  • No image stabilization
  • Four-way controller is too small and stiff; power button is hard to find
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Flash is on the weak side
  • Original images not saved when using panorama scene mode
  • Some manual controls would've been nice
  • No USB 2.0 High Speed support

Some other ultra zooms worth considering include the Canon PowerShot S3, Fuji FinePix S5200, Kodak EasyShare P712 and Z612, Nikon Coolpix S4, Olympus SP-500UZ, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 and DMC-TZ1 (the closest in size to the V610), and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H2.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the EasyShare V610 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

Want to see how the photo quality looks? Check out our gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Read other reviews at CNET and PC Magazine.

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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.

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