If you follow the development of computer technology you'll know that we are beginning to reach the point of diminishing returns for a single CPU. The solution? Place multiple cores on a single chip! Multiple components are the way of the future, and Kodak seems to agree, recently introducing the world's first dual-lens camera, the V570, at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. When it finally arrived on our doorstep it was just about everything we'd hoped for and more; an incredibly stylish, incredibly intuitive camera with a few very nice features and above average picture quality.
- Wide angled shooting, Panorama stitching made easy, Great design
- Image quality not quite as good as we'd like
A great, compact camera with a stunning design. Perfect for people who want to try their hand at wide angled shooting.
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
Kodak's design team have really outdone themselves with the V570. Whilst many of their models are a touch on the comely side, the V series has been the shining star in an otherwise rather dull collection. The V570 follows this trend, sporting a sleek black and silver chassis constructed entirely of metal. It has enough weight behind it to take steady shots, yet it is less than two centimetres in thickness and slips easily into a pocket or bag. Take a look at the product images above because it is hard to convey in words exactly how great this camera looks. It is definitely one of the most aesthetically pleasing models we've ever seen.
This stems partially from the minimalist button layout. There is no function wheel, instead three simple buttons along the top switch between video, photograph and favourites modes, and a second strip on the back gives access to image review, sharing, menu and flash. The camera is so simple and intuitive even people with no photography experience shouldn't have trouble picking it up.
Aside from its stunning exterior, what will really attract people to this model is the new dual lens system. The benefits of this are twofold. Most importantly, it offers a massive wide angle for such a small camera, going all the way down to 23mm. Combine this with the panorama stitching mode programmed into the camera and you can have a 180 degree photograph in just three shots. Fantastic! Stitching photos together is a breeze - the software does it automatically.
Secondly, Kodak claims a 5X optical zoom as a result of the additional lens, but it is not a true 5X. The two lenses span a range of 23mm to 117m but there is a spot in the middle that is not covered by either lens. Digital zoom fills in the gap here and so we found the only way to make proper use of this function was to disable the zoom.
Whilst the design and wide angled shooting will be big selling points for this model, we were slightly disappointed with the image quality overall. Kodak has been infamous around the office for producing consistently brilliant pictures and while those taken by the V570 were above average, they were not up to the usual Kodak standard.
Colour balance was very solid under the right lighting conditions, but was let down by the unit's poor flash. It is simply too weak to properly illuminate a lot of targets. This resulted in photographs having a murky, dark look to them that completely skewed the colour representation.
In darker conditions the higher ISO levels kicked in, and noticeable image noise followed. It was worst on black and very dark areas, but was evident almost everywhere and it really degraded the quality of our test shots. It is worth noting that the camera offers an extra ISO setting of 800 (above the regular level of 400), but this is only useable when shooting at 1.8 megapixels, and the term useable barely applies because the resulting noise was extremely problematic.
That said the V570's images were considerably better in the sharpness department, which boosted our impression quite a bit. It only sports a 5 megapixel rating, so we weren't expecting D-SLR-like quality, but in general the clarity was quite impressive. Edges weren't as crisp as some higher models, but they compared favourably to similar models. We did encounter a little purple fringing in our outdoors shots, but probably not enough to cause a problem.
We found the V570 to be a little slow in with regards to shutter lag as well, measuring roughly .12 of a second, which is slightly above average but nothing too problematic. Power-up and image write times were considerably better, at just under two seconds each.
We were pleasantly surprised by the camera's feature set. It includes all the normal options we've come to expect from a standard point and shoot - ISO values up to 400, white balance presets, a stack of scene shooting modes (22 of them!) and exposure options. It also has a burst shooting mode and best of all, an extremely primitive shutter speed option. It is really just a long exposure setting, but it allows you to expose shots for up to eight seconds, which gives the V570 an advantage over other compact models in certain situations. Whilst this feature-set won't blow away those present on most advanced models, it was more than satisfying for a compact model.
It is important to note however, the camera require a cradle for both charging and transferring photographs. The advantage of this is that the camera it is easily accessible from your PC, but at the same time you cannot easily carry around a cable and plug your camera into any PC you need. You've got to lug a large and unwieldy cradle around just to be able to transfer photos. This should be an option, not a requirement.
Battery life was about average for a camera of this size. We managed just over 200 shots, which isn't blowing away any of the competition, but it is more than enough for a day at the beach or some landscape shots whilst bush walking.
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