Product Type: Kodak digital cameras
Newest Review: ... the features, except for the self-timer and date stamp... and the shiny red "share" button on the back, which Kodak seem i... more
Not the finest Kodak moment
Kodak Easyshare C300
Member Name: davidbuttery
Kodak Easyshare C300
Date: 28/05/10, updated on 28/05/10 (77 review reads)
Advantages: Simple to use, plenty available cheap, takes SD and AA
Disadvantages: Uneven colour, flimsy feel, lack of control, dreadful movie mode
Time for me to dip once again into my Big Box O' Digicams. This time I've come up with the Kodak Easyshare C300, which is the bottom of their long-running C-series range and was first released about six years ago. It is still a pretty common sight on eBay, and its very simple nature makes it quite a popular choice as a cheap purchase; you shouldn't have to try too hard to get one in reasonable nick for £10-£15, even allowing for the postage. Its popularity is helped by its accepting standard SD cards and AA batteries; it even has 16 MB of internal memory for emergencies. The question is whether it's worth it, so let's have a look, shall we?
The first thing that strikes you is the slightly unusual styling, with one side rounded and the other straight. It also has quite a bulbous shape all round, being a bit thicker than you might expect from a non-zoom camera. I can't say that it strikes me as a particularly attractive design, but it's not actively awful, I suppose. Of rather more concern is the build quality: the C300, like many cheap Kodaks, feels as though it was built down to a price, and there's an alarming amount of creaking if you try flexing the body slightly. It's also very light, which is not always a good sign, though to be fair it does seem to be reasonably resistant to everyday scrapes and knocks. I do like the separate card and battery compartments, and though a mode dial is overkill for a camera with so few modes, it is satisfying to use.
The LCD is, unsurprisingly for 2004, of the then-standard 1.5-inch size, and it is averagely good: it's a bit dingy for my liking, and rather blocky in low light, but I've seen worse. The four-way controller is, unusually, on the left, which takes quite some getting used to. The on-screen menu system is a bit clingy and hand-holdingy (okay, so that's not really a word, but you know what I mean) and though I appreciate that the C300 is aimed at people without previous experience of digital photography - and there were still a lot of those in 2004 - it is a bit frustrating that you don't have the option of bypassing some of the more basic screens and adjusting settings directly. Still, if you're the sort of photographer who hankers after doing much more than pressing the shutter, then you should look elsewhere anyway.
Talking of settings, there aren't many at all. This camera really is not going to please you if you want even slight manual control over your photos: you can't set the ISO yourself, for example; and (unusually even for simple cameras) you have no control at all over white balance, so indoor shots, especially under tungsten lighting, are prone to coming out strangely. (Talking of indoor shots, the flash is surprisingly bright.) Perhaps surprisingly given the foregoing, you *do* have access to exposure compensation, which works adequately; you also have three photo quality settings - leave it on the top one all the time. There's no optical zoom, but there is a 5x digital zoom; as usual, you'd do better to ignore this and edit on a computer instead.
There is a movie mode, but it is truly, truly dreadful: the absolute limit of your ambitions should be 30 seconds of 320x240 resolution video at 15fps. Oh, and you can't record sound. At all. To be honest, the C300 would have been better off without this, since it may encourage some people to buy it on the strength of what is, frankly, a non-existent selling point. I've now pretty much exhausted the features, except for the self-timer and date stamp... and the shiny red "share" button on the back, which Kodak seem inordinately proud of (look at this camera's name!) and which allows you to send photos to print or email directly. Unfortunately the process is fiddly, and simply using a card reader to get your photos on to a computer, then handling the files from there, is a lot easier.
And so we come to photo quality. Clearly I wasn't expecting miracles from a camera with this specification, but you'd think that Kodak, the original snapshot company, would have learnt how to enable people to take attractive, colourful shots with little or no fuss. I was a bit disappointed, therefore, to discover that quality was uneven. Sharpness is acceptable for a fixed-focus 3mp camera, but the big problem is colour: most shades look fine, but red tones seem to be boosted much too far by the camera's processing and so appear unacceptably garish. It's a shame, since otherwise there wouldn't be too much to complain about at this level.
That colour problem is a serious one, and prevents what otherwise would probably have been an average rating, since this is a two-and-a-half star camera for the most part which could have been bumped up to three for its ease of use. The C300's hand-holding style and pared-down feature set might well not be a problem for many people, but producing photos that look distractingly unrealistic is likely to be one for almost everybody. As such, I would suggest that you look elsewhere for a camera in this class.
Summary: Bottom of its range - and it rather shows
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