Product Type: Kodak digital cameras
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Kodak Easyshare M320
Member Name: Lools_24
Kodak Easyshare M320
Advantages: Looks good, easy to use, generally takes good quality images,
Disadvantages: Photo quality in night time shots, often blurs close up shots
I must admit that when it comes to technology I hate buying new products as I find myself overwhelmed by jargon, and baffled by extensive lists of product features. So when it came to buying a new digital camera in December 2009 after I managed to drop and smash my previous digital camera (from the top of the stairs to the bottom) I must admit my purchasing decision was probably not based on the best rationale!
There was quite a rush to purchase a new digital camera as Mr Lools and I were soon to become parents to twin boys so wanted a camera to capture all of those special moments so we did not have vast amounts of time to shop around for the best product. We did want a high quality camera that would last so purchased a high pixel model which at the time 9 pixels was a "decent" camera but also wanted ease of use. We somehow came to the decision to purchase the Kodak M320 easy Share Digital Camera swayed by the fact we had previously owned a Kodak camera so felt a sense of familiarity by replacing with a product from the same brand.
The Kodak M320 Digital Camera is a 9.2 megapixel digital camera which has 3x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom and has a 2.7 inch LCD display screen to view the photos you have taken on. The camera also benefits from face detection. The M320 is part of the Kodak EasyShare range which means you can link up the camera to a range of other Kodak products with docks to print and edit your images. This includes simple editing, creating slideshows and even adding music and sound effects to photos when you view them in a slideshow.
The Kodak M320 has a 16MB memory capacity and the compatible memory format is SD and SDHC. The camera has a Li-ion battery.
The camera can also record continuous VGA video with Quicktime motion JPEF and auto recording during capture and playback.
When you purchase the Kodak M320 new included in the box is the camera battery, AC charger, USB cable, a wrist strap to put onto the camera, Kodak EasyShare software disc and an instructions manual.
The camera is 97mm wide, 59.7mm high and 21mm deep so is reasonably compact. The camera is also very light weighing 125g. The camera looks very neat and compact and is available in different colours which include silver, black, red and dark blue. I own the camera in black therefore my review will be based on this model in black.
***Price and Availability***
The Kodak M£20 Digital Camera is available from a number of retailers including Asda Direct, Tesco, Argos and a variety of online electrical retailers including Amazon and Currys. We purchased this camera in December 2009 from Asda who was at the time selling this model for the lowest price and I paid £99.99.
The current selling price of this camera is £79.99 at time of writing from Amazon (February 2012) which I feel is reasonable for a digital camera. Obviously this camera is an older model now but at the time of purchase at the end of 2009 this was a slightly higher than average priced digital camera because of the features and it had quite a high mega pixel spec compared with other models of camera available at that time.
***Using the Camera***
We purchased the camera in black and for those interested in aesthetics; this is a very smart looking camera. It is compact in size however the matt black casing of the camera, mixed with the shiny stainless steel detailing on the lens and side casing definitely makes this look like an expensive piece of technology.
The camera comes in a box along a User Guide, USB connector, Li-ion battery and AC Charger. The camera does not come with an SD memory card however we purchased this separately ready to use alongside the camera. I firstly referred to the User Guide to set up the camera. This included finding out where the battery and emery card fitted and then how to use/ charge the camera for the first time. Inserting the battery is a simple case of pulling down a slot on the side of the camera, and slotting the memory card and battery in then pulling down the casing clip over this section. This is secure so does not accidentally fall open but not too difficult for those with limited dexterity to get into. To charge up using the mains charger a full charge takes around 2 hours. When charging the camera displays a battery charging light which then goes off when the battery is fully charged. During use and when you turn the camera on there is a battery indicator on the main screen which informs you how much charge is left.
Turning the camera on/ off is done by pressing a small button on the top of the camera. The camera makes a bleeping sound and the lens on the front of the camera pops out. Once the camera is turned on it automatically sets to "record" mode so you are ready to take images. Depending on the type of image that you want to take will depend on the setting you use. However the M320 camera settings are operated by a dial on top of the camera which has the following features:
--Auto- a setting for taking general photos and the flash setting is on auto so the camera decides if it needs a flash on or not.
--Landscape (displayed as an image of mountains) - best used for distant scenery
--Close Up- advised to use for close up shots of subjects closer than 70cm
--Blur reduction- advised to use for taking shots of moving subjects
--High ISO- Use to capture images in very low light conditions
--Scene- For various scenes. When selected you have the option to then select the type of shot you are taking from 17 different options which include photos on the beach, snow, on the beach, sport, children and text.
--Video- this records video image and audio footage.
There is then a button in between the power button and the settings dial on the top of the camera to control the flash. There are four different flash options to scroll through these and choose the option you require you simply press the flash button until it displays the icon of the setting you require. The flash settings are:
--Auto- based upon the light conditions the camera decides if the flash is needed when the image is captured. This is the default flash setting and when you turn the camera on this is the flash setting that you find is used if you do not change the flash setting.
--Full- The flash is always used when you capture the photo no matter what light conditions are
--Red Eye- to automatically correct red eye in photos caused by the flash
--Off- this turns the flash off completely
To actually capture images and video the largest button on the furthest right needs to be pressed. What I like about this is that it is very easy to actually press and take the image. On my parents camera I find it quite difficult to take an image as you have to press the shoot button hard which often results in the camera being held at a tilted angle. With the M320 you know the image has been taken as there is a clicking shutter sound effect as you snap although you can turn off this option. After each image has been taken the shot you have taken automatically displays on the LCD screen for 5 seconds and then resumes to "record" mode.
The back of the camera is where the LCD screen to view photos that you have taken is located. This is a relatively large screen. To the right hand side of this screen are the Menu and control buttons which you use to view, select, scroll through, delete photos and use various functions on the camera. There is also the zoom in control buttons which are located at very top on the back of the camera. The zoom in buttons again are very simply to use and zoom to the correct amount when taking a photo and viewing a photo.
In addition to the zoom, the buttons on the back of the camera are very self-explanatory even for those that are not too familiar with technology and digital cameras. There is a play button, a menu button a round scroll button and a menu button to access additional camera features. I think the simplicity of the buttons makes this very easy to use for someone who simply wants to have a digital camera to take general shots but also has the option of more advanced features if required.
Kodak sells and promotes the M320 digital camera as an easy to use camera and I really feel that it is. I previously had owned a Kodak digital camera which I managed to smash so I did have some experience with Kodak digital cameras however Mr Lools very rarely used the old digital camera so when purchasing the M320 camera he was very much a novice. Within 5 minutes (and in his usual fashion) he had not read the instructions but had very easily worked out how to turn the camera on and off, capture images, and then view these images on the LCD screen which included zooming in.
I definitely think that this is a very easy to use camera although I do not feel I probably use all of the settings and features to their full benefit as I use the camera for general family use and 90% of the time just pointing and clicking at scenes. The has features like a framing grid, framing marks, date stamp, panorama function, ISO speed, white balance and a self-timer and I must admit out of all of these features I only really use the self-timer occasionally. With all of these features they are very easy to use and set up using the buttons on the back of the camera and I find even on the first few uses I did not refer to the User Guide for how to use the self-timer I simply spent 30 seconds or so figuring this out myself.
With most images I take I use the Auto setting on the dial on the top of the camera. I also use the auto setting on the flash. Both of which are default settings but these settings are perfect for the shots I tend to take. I also find the video function very helpful if I want to take a short clip or footage Usually this footage is of my children but I feel the image quality of the video and the sound quality is very good. I do find when you playback video on the camera itself the audio quality of the footage often sounds crackly but when uploaded to a PC there are no issues. In fact I prefer to use the Kodak M320 as opposed to the Sony Bloggie we purchased for taking video footage as I feel it is easier to use.
I do not have any other Kodak products therefore do not use the "share" and Easyshare function. This is not an issue as you can upload photos to PC or other memory devices by connecting the Kodak M320 to your PC using the USB cable provided with the camera or you can remove the SD memory card (providing your photos are stored on here and not the internal camera memory) and take the photos off this way too.
My greatest issue when taking photos on the Kodak M320 is its ability or inability to take high quality images at night of landscapes. The particular frustration came when we visited London and had a late night ride on the London Eye and attempted to take photos of London at night. The images taken were by no means completely obscured but there was quite a strong element of blurring in these images which caused a lot of disappointment. I was not particularly rushed taking shots so could scroll through all of the functions and settings aimed at capturing this type of scene but unfortunately even using the night time scenery mode on the camera the images were not up to a standard I expected. Therefore I feel for those who want to take lots of landscape shots with detail at night this would not be a camera for them even though it claims to have settings to capture these types of shots.
The only other issue I have had with image quality is when taking close up shots of documents. Mr Lools often has to submit work expenses electronically and he has used the camera to take a photo of receipts to submit. Even on the close up document setting (specifically aimed at this purpose) the text has looked distorted and blurred. This has not occurred on every occasion but on a number which is very frustrating that you have had to shoot the image 5 or 6 times before you get a perfect shot.
Otherwise the quality of the images we have taken have all been fantastic and to a quality as novice photographers we are perfectly content with. I feel the quality of the images and clear definition compared with other digital cameras is extremely good. My parents have a Canon digital camera which is 1 year newer than our Kodak M320 and also cost around £150 and I still feel the images taken on our digital camera are superior to those I have taken on their camera. This became apparent when we visited the park and there were a number of images of my boys take on the swings on both cameras. The images on my camera were taken on a general setting and had no blurring yet on my parents Canon camera even on the "movement" setting the photos looked blurred. This became especially apparent when we uploaded the images onto Facebook and then later had the photos printed via Snapfish you could automatically see the difference between the cameras.
Durability wise the Kodak M320 camera in my experience has been quite robust over these last two years. I would not advise dropping this camera and I do not feel this camera is not "smash proof" in fact dropping a previous camera was why I needed to buy this one in the first place. However it has survived being knocked off side tables onto laminate flooring on a number of occasions (by my children) and has also once been dropped from my hands onto the floor and survived. I would say that the matt black colour does show up a number of scuffs and scratches more so than brushed steel silver model of this camera would do therefore this may be worth bearing in mind when choosing the colour of the camera. I sometimes use a camera case but the casing of the black M320 has picked up some light scratches as I would imagine the red and blue versions of this camera, whereas the silver model these types of marks would not be so apparent.
I would definitely recommend this camera to others and feel that for the price that we paid in 2009 (£99.99) this has been an excellent value for money camera.
As a mum of two I tend to take a lot of shots of my children and take the camera on lots of days out. As a result we get a lot of shots of our children moving and the images are rarely blurry or of a poor quality. The video capture feature is also very helpful for those that do not want to purchase a digital video camera but do want to take some video footage. This is probably not the best digital camera for someone who is a keen photographer and wants a camera with top spec features but at this price I do not think this can be expected.
I think one of the strongest points of this camera is that it is very easy to use. It is the type of camera you can give to a friend and ask them to take a photo of you and they can simply point and click. The design of the camera also makes it very easy to press the play button so you can view the images you have taken on the LCD screen and it is also very easy to upload photos onto a PC. The quality of the images I have taken all look very good and when uploaded to Facebook or when I have printed digital images off through photo printing services the images I have taken often look superior to those images I have taken on my parents (more expensive) digital camera.
I think the picture quality is good but at times not the best and probably would not recommend this camera to those looking to take lots of landscape shots at night time when you want to pick up detail. We have some good quality shots that have been taken in darker settings or with limited light but I feel these are slightly more blurry and not to the same quality as the images taken on this camera in full day light or in better light conditions. I have also encountered some problems when taking close up images of receipts when using to submit work expenses. This does not happen every time I have tried to take this type of image but has quite frequently.
Aside from these issues this has been a fantastic camera and aside from a few scrapes and scuffs on the casing after dropping the camera it is still in fantastic condition and full working order. A great camera which we will continue to use as our family grows.
Summary: An easy to use digital camera from Kodak, great for general family use
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