Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cheap and cheerful digital camera

dpreview reports: [edited]

Announced in August 2006 the C875 is the new flagship model in the entry-level Kodak EasyShare 'C' range. Where most previous C series cameras have offered basic, beginnner-friendly 'point and shoot' operation at very low prices, the C875 transplants the functionality of Kodak's higher-end Z and P series cameras into an inexpensive, compact body.

This - plus the 5x optical zoom and 8MP resolution - puts the C875 in direct competition with Canon's A series and some of the higher-end models in the Olympus FE range, yet the price (£129 inc. p&p from Amazon.co.uk) is incredibly low for the features and specification on offer.

Of course there are some compromises to be made; the C875 isn't the fastest camera in the world, and there are plenty that offer slightly better image quality, but the truth is that the typical user won't find a great deal to complain about. The screen isn't a patch on more expensive models, and can be pretty hard to see in direct sunlight, but the build quality is anything but 'budget' and ultimately there is only so much you can expect at this price point.

If you're on a budget and looking for a camera that allows you to experiment with the more creative side of photography as you learn more about shutter speeds, apertures and so on, then the C875 is well worth considering. Like the best cameras in Canon's A series it offers a wealth of controls, but - crucially - it also offers very reliable 'point and shoot' operation, rarely failing to get a shot even in fairly challenging conditions. That famous Kodak color - if it's to your taste - produces great looking prints 'straight out of the camera', and unless you're looking very closely at the output on-screen and stick to lower ISO settings where possible, the output is surprisingly good.

The C875 may not be very glamorous, but Kodak could teach some manufacturers of much more expensive cameras a trick or two about user interface design. Kodak's system, once you've mastered it, of putting pretty much all the controls on-screen (using the joystick to change everything) is a much rarer thing; a compact camera control system that not only makes experimenting with settings easy; it positively encourages it.

If you can live with the slightly sluggish focus, over-the-top noise reduction at higher ISO settings, and a rather lame screen, the C875 offers an awful lot of bang for your buck.

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