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DCRP Review: Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS  

Front of the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: January 10, 2009
Last updated: January 11, 2009

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The Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS is an ultra-compact camera that packs a 10 Megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, 3-inch LCD, and a high definition movie mode. You might expect a camera with those specs to be on the expensive side, but the M1093 IS can be found for under $200. The EasyShare M1093 also features an auto scene selection feature (known as Smart Capture) and a simple interface that makes sharing your photos a snap.

The EasyShare M1093 is up against some tough competition. How does it perform? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The EasyShare M1093 IS has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:

  • The 10.1 effective Megapixel EasyShare M1093 IS digital camera
  • KLIC-7004 rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Wrist strap
  • USB power adapter
  • USB cable
  • Camera/printer dock adapter
  • CD-ROM featuring Kodak EasyShare software
  • 28 page Getting Started Guide

As is the case with most cameras these days, Kodak built memory right into the EasyShare M1093 IS, instead of bundling a memory card. The M1093 has 32MB of built-in memory, though only 21MB of that is available for photos. That holds about seven photos at the highest quality setting, so you'll want to pick up a large memory card right away. The EasyShare M1093 can use SD or SDHC media, and I'd suggest picking up a 2GB card to start with. While buying a high speed card is a good idea (especially if you'll be recording HD movies), you don't need to go overboard.

The EasyShare M1093 is powered by the KLIC-7004 rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This battery contains 3.7 Wh of energy, which is about average for a camera in this class. Here's how that translates into battery life:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Canon PowerShot SD790 IS */** 330 shots
Casio Exilim EX-Z300 */** 300 shots
Fuji FinePix Z200fd * 170 shots
Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS */** 220 shots
Nikon Coolpix S60 */** 140 shots
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20 */** 310 shots
Samsung TL9 * 240 shots
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 * 390 shots

* Has image stabilization
** Has a 3-inch LCD (or larger)

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers

Due to some tough competition, the EasyShare M1093's battery life turns out to be below average. It's not bad as ultra-compact cameras go, but do note that other cameras perform better in this area.

Like all of the cameras above, the EasyShare M1093 IS uses a proprietary battery. While batteries like this allow the cameras to be thin, they tend to be on the expensive side, with a spare KLIC-7004 costing at least $24. In addition, should that battery die, you can't buy something "off the shelf" to get you through the day.

The EasyShare M1093's battery can be charged in a number of ways. Straight out of the box, you can charge the battery while it's in the camera, using a USB cable connector to your PC, or plugged right into the wall via an included adapter. If you're using a Kodak camera or printer dock, that can charge the battery internally as well. Should you want an external charger, Kodak would be glad to sell you one.

Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS in the hand

As with all ultra-compact cameras, the EasyShare M1093 IS has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clumsy lens cap to deal with.

There are a number of accessories available for the M1093 IS. One of them is a video cable, which Kodak never seems to bundle with their cameras anymore (grrr). Here's what you can buy for the camera:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Video output cable AV-8 From $12 View photos and movies on your TV with this composite cable. Should be included with the camera!
EasyShare HDTV dock 8951956 From $57 View photos and videos on your HDTV, and charge your camera's battery too. Component and A/V cables, plus a remote control are included. Cannot be used for connecting to a PC.
Universal battery charger K7600-C $47 An external charger that works almost anywhere in the world (including in your car).
AC adapter 8766669 From $30 Not sure why you'd need this (as the included AC-to-USB adapter works just fine) but here you go
Fashion camera clutch Varies $20 I think this particular case (available in black, white, silver, and pink) is intended for the ladies
* Prices were accurate when review was posted

Not the world's most exciting list of accessories, and I'm still unhappy about the whole video cable thing, but there you go.

EasyShare 6.1 for Mac OS X

Kodak includes their very capable EasyShare software with the M1093 IS. As is often the case, the Windows version (7.0) is superior to the Mac version (6.1) of the software, with the former offering full integration with Kodak's 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, by whether they're tagged as favorites, 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 6.1 for Mac OS X

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 as the ability to create greeting cards.

Documentation is really a mixed bag. Kodak's writes very easy-to-read product manuals, but they only include a short "User Guide" in the box with the camera, which has just 24 pages of actual content. If you want the full manual, you have to go to Kodak's website and download it [PDF link]. While the extended manual reveals more about the M1093, it's still not terribly detailed. Documentation for the EasyShare software is installed onto your computer.

Look and Feel

The EasyShare M1093 IS is an ultra-compact camera made of a mixture of metal and plastic. It's well put together for an entry-level camera, though I'm never a fan of plastic tripod mounts. Ergonomics are a mixed bag. The camera doesn't have many buttons, which means that you'll have to go to the menu frequently to change settings -- that can be frustrating. The buttons are also on the small side -- especially the four-way controller -- and the ones on the top can be hard to locate, since they're flush with the body and all feel the same.

Kodak knows that a compact camera in just one color would be boring. Therefore, they've produced the EasyShare M1093 in three colors: red, silver, and black.

Now, here's a look at how the EasyShare M1093 IS compares to other cameras in its class in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot SD790 IS 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.8 in. 6.3 cu in. 155 g
Casio Exilim EX-Z300 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.9 cu in. 131 g
Fujifilm FinePix Z200fd 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.8 in. 6.3 cu in. 134 g
Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 in. 6.8 cu in. 135 g
Nikon Coolpix S60 3.8 x 2.4 x 0.9 in. 8.2 cu in. 145 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.7 cu in. 132 g
Samsung TL9 3.7 x 2.4 x 0.8 in. 7.1 cu in. 140 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.7 cu in. 142 g

While it's not the smallest and lightest camera in the group, the EasyShare M1093 is close. It's small enough to fit into your jeans pocket, and go anywhere you do.

Alright, let's begin our tour of the camera now, beginning with the front!

Front of the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS

The EasyShare M1093 IS has a standard-issue 3X optical zoom lens. The lens is on the slow side, which a maximum aperture range of F3.1 - F5.7. In layman's terms, this means that the lens doesn't let in a whole lot of light, especially at the telephoto end. The focal range of the lens is 6.3 - 18.8 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 105 mm. The lens is not threaded (which isn't a surprise), so conversion lenses are not supported.

The M1093 uses a sensor-shift image stabilization system to reduce the risk of blurry photos. Sensors inside the camera detect the tiny movements of your hands that can blur your photos. The camera shifts the CCD sensor (which is on a movable plate) to compensate for this motion. Image stabilization won't freeze a moving subject, and it won't work miracles either, but it will allow you to use slower shutter speeds than you could otherwise. Here's an example of the M1093's IS system in action:

Image stabilization off

Image stabilization on

Both of the above photos were taken at a shutter speed of 1/13th of a second. As you can see, the camera's image stabilizer produced a sharper photo in the second shot. There aren't any image stabilization "modes" on the M1093 -- it's on or off. For some reason, you cannot use image stabilization in movie mode, though a digital stabilization effect is available at certain resolutions.

Immediately to the left of the M1093's lens is its AF-assist lamp. The camera uses this lamp as a focusing aid in low light situations, and it also serves as a visual countdown for the self-timer.

Just above the Kodak logo is the camera's sliver-like flash. Kodak doesn't provide the flash range at Auto ISO like everyone else, but I figure that its range at ISO 400 is close enough. The range at that sensitivity is 0.6 - 3.0 m at wide-angle and 0.6 - 2.0 m at telephoto. Those numbers aren't great, and in real world use, I found that you really had to crank up the ISO to get a properly exposed flash photo. You cannot attach an external flash to the EasyShare M1093.

The last thing to see on the front of the camera is the microphone, located just to the left of the flash.

Back of the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS

It's hard to miss the M1093's large 3-inch LCD display, as it takes up most of the real estate on the back of the camera. The screen has 230,000 pixels, which is pretty standard these days. As you'd expect, images and menus on the screen are quite sharp. The screen wasn't very easy to see in bright outdoor light. It did better in low light situations, where the screen "gains up" automatically, so you can still see your subject.

You won't find a compact camera with both a 3-inch LCD and an optical viewfinder, and that includes the EasyShare M1093. Some people might miss it, but I figure that most won't even notice.

Now let's talk buttons. The one at the top-right of the photo controls the camera's zoom lens, and you can cover the 3X range in 2.1 seconds (that's quite slow). There are just six steps in the 3X zoom range.

Next up we have the speaker, followed by the playback and menu buttons. Below that is the small four-way controller that you'll use for navigating menus, viewing photos, and also:

  • Up - Display (toggles what's shown on LCD)
  • Down - Drive (Single-shot, 2 or 10 sec self-timer, 2x self-timer, burst)

The 2x self-timer option takes the first photo after 10 seconds, with another following 8 seconds later. The EasyShare M1093's burst mode is pretty basic. The camera takes three photos in a row at 1.4 frames/second. The LCD doesn't black out between each shot, which is nice.

Share Menu

The final set of buttons on the back of the camera are for deleting and sharing photos. Pressing the Share button brings up the menu you see above. Here you can "tag" photos for e-mailing and printing. You can select recipients for e-mails using the bundled EasyShare software. When you connect the camera to your PC, your tagged photos are e-mailed and printed. The print feature works with PictBridge-enabled photo printers, as well.

Top of the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS

The only thing you'll find on the top of the EasyShare M1093 are buttons, all of which are flush with the body and hard to differentiate between. From left to right, we have:

  • Power (on/off)
  • Flash (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash off)
  • Mode (Smart Capture, videos, program, scenes)
  • Shutter release

There are no manual exposure modes on the EasyShare M1093 IS. Your fully automatic mode is called Smart Capture. In this mode, the M1093 will automatically select a scene for you and automatically apply Kodak's PerfectTouch auto-enhancement to your photos (more on that later). There are essentially no options that you can adjust in this mode. For that, you'll want to switch over to Program mode. One annoying thing on the M1093 is that it always starts up in Smart Capture mode. That means that if you prefer shooting in Program mode (as I do), you have to change modes each and every time you turn on the camera.

Scene Menu

In scene mode, you'll be able to select from the following scenarios:

  • Portrait
  • Panorama
  • Blur reduction
  • Sport
  • Landscape
  • Close-up
  • Night portrait
  • Night landscape
  • Snow
  • Beach
  • Text
  • Fireworks
  • Flower
  • Manner/museum
  • Self-portrait
  • High ISO
  • Children
  • Backlight
  • Panning shot
  • Candle light
  • Sunset

Well that's quite a collection, if I do say so myself. I want to mention a few of those before we continue the tour.

The panorama mode helps you line up 2 or 3 photos side-by-side, and once they're taken, the camera stitches them into a single photo automatically. The results can be impressive, though I've never liked how the camera discards the individual images -- you're basically stuck with whatever the camera comes up with. You can see a sample above, complete with a chunk missing from one of the buildings toward the right. I'll let that one slide since I was standing on a boat when I took the sequence.

Blur reduction mode combines the camera's image stabilization system with ISO boosting, in order to product a sharp photo. I'd be careful with this one, along with the High ISO scene mode, as both can lead to pretty low quality images.

There's also a panning scene mode, which you'd use to make your moving subject stay sharp, while the background is blurred. I'm not sure if the image stabilizer settings are modified here, as they are on some other cameras -- Kodak doesn't say.

I'll cover the M1093's movie mode later in the review. On with the tour!

Left Side of the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS

Nothing to see here.

Right Side of the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS

On the opposite side of the camera you'll find the DC-in and USB ports, both of which are exposed to the elements. You'll plug the optional AC adapter into the port at the top, while the USB cable goes into the one at the bottom. The USB port is also where you can plug in the optional video output cable. The EasyShare M1093 IS supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard, for fast data transfer to your Mac or PC.

The lens is at the full telephoto position here.

Bottom of the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS

We conclude our tour with a look at the bottom of the EasyShare M1093 IS. Here you'll find the battery and memory card compartment, the dock connector (partially hidden here), and a plastic tripod mount. The door over the battery/memory card slot is slightly flimsy, but I've seen (much) worse. As you can see, you won't be able to get at that memory card slot while the camera is on a tripod.

The dock connector mates the camera with the optional HDTV or classic EasyShare camera docks. You may need to attach the included insert to the dock before you do so.

The included KLIC-7004 battery is shown at right.

Using the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS

Record Mode

It takes 1.2 seconds for the EasyShare M1093 to extend its lens and prepare for shooting. That's pretty snappy for a camera in this class.

No histogram is available in record mode on the M1093 IS

Autofocus speeds were generally very good. At the wide-angle setting (and in good light), the M1093 took between 0.2 and 0.4 seconds to lock focus. For shots at the telephoto end, expect to wait for roughly 0.6 - 0.9 seconds for focus lock. Low light focusing performance was mixed. While the camera focused quickly in those situations, it did sometimes indicate focus lock, but the resulting photo clearly was not in focus.

I didn't find shutter lag to be a problem on the EasyShare M1093 IS, even at the slower shutter speeds where it sometimes occurs.

Shot-to-shot delays are minimal (just over a second) until you fill up the buffer memory. That happens after three photos, so if you're shooting quickly, don't be surprised if you have to wait while a "Processing..." message is displayed on the LCD. Bringing the flash into the equation did not make the shot-to-shot delays any longer, which is nice.

You can delete a photo right after you take it by pressing the Delete button on the back of the camera.

There are many resolutions to choose from on the EasyShare M1093 IS, though you can't adjust the quality (amount of compression) applied to each of those. The list below shows the resolutions available in all modes except for Smart Capture, where there are a few more.

Resolution # images on 32MB
on-board memory **
# images on 2GB memory card (optional)
10.0 MP
3648 x 2736
6 658
8.9 MP (3:2)
3648 x 2432
7 732
7.5 MP (16:9)
3648 x 2064
8 849
5.0 MP
2592 x 1944
12 1203
3.1 MP
2048 x 1536
18 1764
2.2 MP (3:2)
1800 x 1200
24 2328
2.1 MP (16:9)
1920 x 1080
25 2397
1.2 MP
1280 x 960
35 3338
** Only 21MB is actually used for image storage

And now you see why I always recommend buying a memory card right away -- that built-in memory doesn't store many photos!

The EasyShare M1093 doesn't support the RAW or TIFF image formats, nor would I expect it to. The camera names files as 100_####.JPG (where # = 0001 - 9999), and remembers the numbering even if you switch cards or delete photos.

Record menu Help screens are available here

The camera's menu system is attractive and easy to navigate, and you'll be spending a lot of time there, due to the lack of direct buttons on the camera. If you're confused about any of the menu options, you can press the zoom-in button to see a help screen. Keeping in mind that most of these options are unavailable in the auto shooting modes, here's the full list of items in the record menu:

  • Capture
    • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
    • Picture size (see above chart)
    • Long-time exposure (Off, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8 seconds) - the only remotely manual control on the camera
    • Color mode (High color, natural color, low color, black & white, sepia)
    • AF control (Continuous, single AF) - whether the camera is always focusing, or only when you halfway-press the shutter release
    • Focus mode (Auto, macro, infinity)
  • Capture+
    • White balance (Auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, open shade) - no manual option here
    • Face detect capture (on/off) - for Program mode, as this feature is always on in Smart Capture mode
    • Exposure metering (Multi-pattern, center-weighted, center-spot)
    • AF zone (Multi-zone, center-zone) - the former is 5-point
    • ISO speed (Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400) - the last option is available at resolutions of 3.1MP or below
    • Sharpness (Low, normal, high)
  • Video (only displayed in video mode)
    • Video size (1280 x 720 HQ, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 HQ, 640 x 480, 320 x 240)
    • AF control (Continuous, single) - same as earlier; do note that the focus motor may be picked up in your videos if you're using continuous AF
    • Focus mode (Auto, macro, infinity)
    • Video blur reduction (on/off) - a digital stabilization effect; not available in the HQ modes
  • Setup
    • LCD brightness (Power save, high power)
    • LCD dimmer (Off, 10, 20, 30 secs)
    • Image storage (Auto, internal memory) - basically, the priority of a memory card over the internal memory
    • Set tag (Add tag, delete tag, clear all) - add keyword tags that can be attached to photos
    • Date stamp (on/off)
    • Redeye reduction (Preflash, digital correction) - which method is used; discussed in more detail later
    • Image stabilizer (on/off) - only available for still shots; it's a good idea to turn this off when the camera is on a tripod
    • Orientation sensor (on/off) - whether portrait photos are automatically rotated
    • Camera sounds (Theme, individual) - customize the blips and bleeps the camera makes
    • Sound volume (Off, low, medium, high)
    • Date & time
    • Digital zoom (on/off) - always a good idea to keep this off
    • Auto power off (1, 3, 5, 10 mins)
    • Video out (NTSC, PAL)
    • Language
    • Reset camera
    • Format (Memory card, internal memory)
    • About - shows firmware version

The camera found five of the six faces in our test scene

There's just one thing up there that I want to mention, and it's the face detection feature. This feature is on by default in Smart Capture mode, and it can be turned on or off in Program mode. Kodak doesn't say how many faces the camera can find, but it had no trouble locking onto five of the six faces in our test scene. The camera selects a primary face and highlights it in yellow, though you can switch to another face by using the four-way controller. At times the face detection seemed a little too sensitive, with the camera sometimes thinking that completely random objects were faces.

Okay, enough menus, let's move onto photo quality now!

The EasyShare M1093 IS did a fairly good job with our macro test subject. There is a color cast here, as the camera lacks a manual white balance option. Auto white balance came out a little yellow, while tungsten was blue (I chose to use the former). If you don't shoot under mixed or unusual lighting, then this shouldn't be an issue for you. The figurine is very sharp -- almost artificially so. Plenty of detail is captured, though you can see hints of noise reduction here and there.

The minimum focus to your subject ranges from 7 cm at wide-angle to 40 cm at telephoto -- neither of which are terribly close. The camera will automatically detect when you're in macro range in Smart Capture mode, but if you're in Program mode you'll need to head to the record menu and turn macro on there.

The night shot turned out pretty well also. For long exposures like this you'll want to use either the night landscape scene mode, or jump into Program mode and use the Long Time Exposure feature. I used the latter, and I should point out that the camera locks the ISO at 64 when you do so (thankfully). The camera brought in a good amount of light, and purple fringing is minimal. The buildings are on the soft side, and you can spot details that have been smudged by noise reduction. Even so, this photo would make a nice 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 inch print.

Since I can't control the ISO and shutter speed at the same time, I cannot perform our low light ISO test. I'll have the studio ISO test for you in a bit.

There's fairly mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the EasyShare M1093's 3X zoom lens. In the real world, barrel distortion can make things like buildings appear to curve inward toward the center of the frame. The test chart shows some vignetting (dark corners), and I saw that in some of my sample photos as well. Ultra-compact cameras often have problems with corner blurriness, but it's not an issue here (though the images are quite soft overall).

No, it's not the Terminator -- it's just me. The EasyShare M1093 lets you select from two different approaches to redeye removal. You can have it reduce the risk of redeye by using the flash to shrink the pupils, which generally doesn't help very much on ultra-compact cameras. The other option is to fire the flash normally, and then digitally remove any redeye that I found. As I guessed, using the preflash method didn't help -- and to my surprise, the digital method wasn't very effective either. At best, the camera removed redeye from one eye, but usually it didn't do anything at all. There's no tool in playback mode to remove this annoyance, so you'll have to edit out any remaining red on your PC.

Now it's time for our studio ISO test, which can be compared with other cameras that I've reviewed over the years. I did not include the ISO 6400 photo since it's taken at a low resolution, but if you really want to see it, click here. While the crops below give you a quick idea as to the redeye at each setting, I highly recommend viewing the full size images to get the whole picture (no pun intended). Here we go:

ISO 64

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

Things start off pretty well, with sharp subjects, no noise, and just a little bit of detail smudging from noise reduction. You can use ISO 64 to 200 without worry, at least in good lighting. At ISO 400 you can see a drop in color saturation, and a sharp increase in detail loss. This is as high as I'd take the camera, unless you're absolutely desperate. The best cameras in this class certainly do a better job than the M1093 at holding onto detail at this point. Detail smudging gets worse and worse after that, with photos starting to look like impressionist paintings as the sensitivity climbs.

Overall, the EasyShare M1093's photo quality was good, but not great. Exposure was generally accurate, with only occasional highlight clipping. Colors on Kodak cameras have always been way too saturated in my opinion, and that's the case on this camera as well. Some people will like the vibrant color, but it's usually quite far off from reality (especially the sky). Images are on the soft side, and it's probably due to a combination of noise reduction and JPEG compression. Noise reduction is obvious in every photo you take with the EasyShare M1093, even at ISO 64. If you look at any solid area of color, especially the sky (which appears mottled), you can see detail loss. For the typical point-and-shoot, 4 x 6 camera user, this shouldn't be an issue, as you won't see any evidence of this loss in detail. However, if you're making large prints or viewing images at 100% on your computer screen, you'll certainly see that the M1093 could do a lot better. Something the camera didn't have any trouble with was purple fringing, which is always good news.

I invite you now to take a look at our photo gallery. View the full size images, print a few if you can, and then you should be able to decide if the EasyShare M1093's photo quality meets your needs.

Movie Mode

One of the most impressive features on this sub-$200 camera is its high definition movie mode. The EasyShare M1093 can record video at 1280 x 720 (also known as 720p), at 30 frames per second, with sound. Kodak isn't clear about how long you can record for, but my educated guess is right around 30 minutes. There are actually two 720p modes to choose from -- regular and HQ -- with the difference being the bit rate. The HQ setting has a bit rate of roughly 12.5 Mb/sec, with the regular setting down at 7 Mb/sec. The HQ movies will look better, but they'll fill up your memory card a lot quicker.

If you don't need HD video, then you can also select from three other quality settings: 640 x 480 HQ, 640 x 480, and 320 x 240. All three of those have a 30 frame/second frame rate.

The M1093 is somewhat unique in that it lets you use the zoom lens while you're recording. The lens moves slowly to reduce the amount of motor noise picked up by the microphone, but you'll still hear it. One thing you cannot use is the optical image stabilizer, for some mysterious reason. There's a digital IS feature available, but you can't use it at the HD resolutions.

Movies are saved in QuickTime format, using the MPEG-4 codec.

Here's a sample movie for you, taken at the 720p HQ setting. I was disappointed by the video quality -- the resolution may be 1280 x 720, but it's not what I'd call high definition. Here, have a look (warning: large file):

Click to play movie (26.6 MB, 1280 x 720, 30 fps, QuickTime format)
Can't view them? Download QuickTime

Playback Mode

You'll find plenty of features inside the EasyShare M1093's playback mode. The basic ones include slideshows (with music and transitions), DPOF print marking, voice captions, thumbnail view, and zoom and scroll. This last feature lets you enlarge the image by as much as 8X, and then move around it. This is great for checking focus or making sure that your subject had their eyes open. There are also the Sharing features that I described earlier in the review.

Editing still images

An edit menu lets you crop a photo (there's no rotation or resizing options available), add a voice caption, or apply Kodak's PerfectTouch technology to a photo you've taken. My only question is, where's the redeye removal tool? PerfectTouch brightens the dark areas of your photos, which can certainly come in handy at times. You can't use PerfectTouch on a photo taken in Smart Capture mode, as it's run automatically in that mode. Here's an example:

Original image
View Full Size
Image after PerfectTouch
View Full Size

Since the original photo came out a little dark, the PerfectTouch version is a nice improvement. Do note that PerfectTouch may increase noise levels, especially in low light situations.

Editing movies

If you have a movie loaded up on the screen, you have a whole other set of editing options at your disposal. You can grab a frame from a movie, trim unwanted footage off the beginning or the end of it, or create an "Action Print", which is basically a collage made up of frames from the video. You can also place "bookmarks" in a video, which allow you to jump to sections of the clip that you find particularly interesting.

The top level of the Search screen Browsing the month of August

The camera allows you to "tag" photos, either as favorites or with a tag that you've created. You can use tags to help organize your photos both on the camera, and in the Easyshare software on your PC. The M1093's Search feature lets you locate photos by the date(s) they were taken, or by their tag (favorite or custom).

If you've ever accidentally deleted a photo, then you'll appreciate the Undo Delete feature on the M1093 IS. This lets you bring the last photo or video you deleted back from the grave, as long as you didn't leave playback mode or power off the camera first.

By default, the camera doesn't tell you anything about the photos you've taken. However, if you press the Info button you'll get a lot more, including a histogram.

The EasyShare M1093 moves from one photo to another almost instantly.

How Does it Compare?

The Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS offers a lot of bang for the buck. It's compact and stylish, it has image stabilization, a large LCD, and an HD movie mode. It's also one of the easiest cameras to use that you'll find. Unfortunately, it also has a lot going against it, including mediocre photo and video quality, a weak flash, below average battery life, and more. In the ultra-compact camera world, the EasyShare M1093 is "just okay" -- you can do better.

The EasyShare M1093 is a stylish, ultra-compact made mostly of metal. It's well put together for its price, though I'm never a fan of plastic tripod mounts. Like most cameras in its class, the M1093 is available in multiple colors -- silver, red, and black in this case. While the M1093 has a fairly simple control layout, the lack of direct buttons mean a lot of trips to the menu system, and it can be hard to differentiate between the buttons on the top of the camera, as they all feel the same. The EasyShare M1093 has a run-of-the-mill 3X optical zoom lens, with a focal range of 35 - 105 mm. That's a bit disappointing, as much of the competition has more zoom power, a wider starting point, or both. One nice thing the camera does have is a sensor-shift image stabilization system, which reduces the risk of blurry photos. On the back of the camera you'll find a large 3-inch LCD display with 230,000 pixels. The screen is sharp and bright, though outdoor visibility isn't great (low light viewing is better). There's no optical viewfinder on the M1093, which is normal for a camera with a large LCD. I found the EasyShare M1093's flash to be quite anemic, so indoor shooters beware.

The M1093 is a 100% point-and-shoot camera. The only manual control is the Long Time Exposure option, which allows you to pick from a few slow shutter speeds. If you want to let the camera do all of the work, you can use Smart Capture mode. It'll pick a scene for you, detect any faces, and run Kodak's PerfectTouch image enhancement function, all automatically. If you want more control you'll need to switch into Program mode (which you must do each time you turn on the camera, since it doesn't remember what mode you last used). Here you'll have full menu access, and Kodak was nice enough to have detailed help screens for each menu option. Some other notable shooting features include in-camera panorama stitching, numerous scene modes, and an effective face detection system. One of the big selling points on the EasyShare M1093 IS is its high definition movie mode, but I found it to be anything but. While the video may be 1280 x 720 in size, the quality is lacking. While you can use the optical zoom during video recording, the image stabilizer is unavailable, though a digital IS feature is available at certain resolutions.

Camera performance was good in most respects. The camera takes just 1.2 seconds to extend its lens and prepare for shooting, which is pretty quick. Focusing speeds were good for an ultra-compact camera, though the camera didn't always focus accurately in low light situations. Shutter lag wasn't an issue, and shot-to-shot delays were brief (even with the flash), though the buffer fills quickly. Speaking of which, the M1093 won't win many awards for its continuous shooting mode. The camera takes just three shots in a row, at 1.4 frames/second. The M1093's battery life numbers were below average in the ultra-compact group.

Ultimately, photo quality is the most important feature on a camera, and it is here where the EasyShare M1093 IS disappoints a bit. While exposure was generally accurate, I found the hyper-saturated colors to be a turn-off (though many folks may like it). Images are quite soft, due to heavy noise reduction and aggressive JPEG compression. The M1093 is about one full stop behind the best-in-class cameras in terms of ISO performance, with a noticeable degradation in quality at ISO 400, instead of ISO 800 like on the best of its competition. Once you get above ISO 800, you might as well forget about it, as images start to resemble an Impressionist painting. Now, this won't matter very much if you're making small prints, but if you make large prints or view the images on your computer screen, you'll certainly notice. Ultra-compact cameras have big redeye problems, and the M1093 lets you select one of two ways in which to address it (preflashes or digital removal). Unfortunately, neither method eliminated redeye in the numerous test shots that I took, so you may end up removing it with the capable EasyShare software that comes bundled with the camera. While you won't see much in the line of purple fringing on the M1093, you will encounter some vignetting (dark corners) here and there.

There are a few more general complaints I want to fit in before I wrap things up. First, the documentation. Kodak includes a printed manual in the box, but it ends after just 23 pages, and covers JUST the basics. If you want to read the full manual, you'll have to log-on to Kodak's website and download it. While that manuals are well-written and easy to understand, they're very short on technical detail. Something typically found in the box with a digital camera is a video output cable, but not here -- though Kodak would be happy to sell you one. Finally, you won't be able to access the memory card slot while the camera is on a tripod, which is a common issue on ultra-compact cameras.

While the EasyShare M1093 IS gives you a lot of features for under $200, it falls behind the competition in too many areas for me to recommend it.

What I liked:

  • Decent photo quality, if you stick to small prints and low ISO sensitivities
  • Good value for the money
  • Ultra-compact, well built body; comes in three colors
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Large, sharp 3-inch LCD display (though see issues below)
  • Smart Capture mode picks a scene mode for you, detects faces, and brightens the scene -- automatically
  • Easy to use, with help screens for menu items; tons of scene modes
  • Handy PerfectTouch, Undo Delete, and Panorama Stitch features
  • HD (720p) movie mode, with optical zoom available during recording (though see issues below)
  • Good bundled software

What I didn't care for:

  • Noise reduction smudges fine details, mottles the sky, and gives images an overall soft look; colors tend to be oversaturated
  • Redeye a big problem; countermeasures did not work in my tests
  • Poor HD video quality
  • Low light focusing not always accurate
  • Weak flash
  • Image stabilizer not available in movie mode
  • LCD can be hard to see outdoors
  • Below average battery life
  • Lack of direct buttons means lots of trips to the menu; camera doesn't store shooting mode used when powered off
  • No manual controls
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Can't access memory card while camera is on a tripod
  • Video cable not included
  • Full manual only on Kodak's website; even then, it's not very detailed

Some other cameras in the entry-level, ultra-compact class include the Canon PowerShot SD790 IS, Casio Exilim EX-Z300, Fuji FinePix Z200fd, Nikon Coolpix S60, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20, Samsung TL9, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local camera or electronics store to try out the EasyShare M1093 IS and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

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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 or technical support.