Kodak EasyShare M320 digital compact camera
A budget 9.2-megapixel compact camera with average features
- Good picture quality for the asking price, compact & attractive design
- Horrific mode dial, poor noise-reduction, scant feature set
Kodak EasyShare M320 is a reliable budget camera that performs ably in most areas. While its picture quality and control scheme aren't perfect, its target audience of novice users will remain satisfied.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
The Kodak EasyShare M320 is an entry-level compact camera that has been designed for basic point-and-shoot situations. It comes equipped with a 9.2-megapixel CCD sensor, a 3x optical zoom lens and a small handful of consumer-friendly features.
There’s nothing remotely remarkable about the Kodak EasyShare M320 digital camera: it’s reasonably stylish, takes reasonable looking photos and is reasonably priced. Despite suffering from an off-putting control scheme — including the mode dial from hell — it remains an acceptable proposition for cash-strapped shoppers.
The Kodak EasyShare M320 isn’t a bad looking digital camera for the asking price. Its design is reminiscent of the Kodak EasyShare M1033, including the same el-cheapo sticker with marketing highlights in the left-hand corner (thankfully, this can be removed). Its dimensions of 97.2×59.7×21mm are around average for a camera in this price bracket — while it won’t make strangers coo excitedly in the street, it will still fit comfortably into your pocket. The black-and-silver colour scheme may be a bit predictable, but it remains attractive enough. For $199, there isn’t much to complain about.
Much the same thing can be said of the Kodak EasyShare M320’s image quality. While its output was far from perfect, it remains perfectly acceptable for a sub-$200 compact camera. Incidentally, don’t let the 9.2-megapixel sensor put you off — when it comes to cheap point-and-shoot cameras, a higher pixel count isn’t always the boon it appears to be (don't be fooled by marketing buzz).
The key to taking good pictures with the Kodak EasyShare M320 is — surprise, surprise — to shoot in well-lit environments. This will help keep the ISO sensitivity down and the shutter speed up, resulting in cleaner, blur-free photos. We found that noise became problematic at ISO 400 and above, which pretty much rules the M320 out as a nocturnal shooter. Colours were a little on the warm side, but the effect is not displeasing, with photos looking more vibrant as a result. Although there was noticeable feathering around the edges of images, this really only stood out when our photos were blown out to full size. If you stick to small-to-medium sized prints and social networking sites, the Kodak EasyShare M320 will be an reliable performer.
Like most budget-level cameras, the Kodak EasyShare M320 suffers from so-so build quality and a shoddy user-interface. By far the worst offender is the mode dial on top of the camera — it’s simply too small and narrow to operate effectively. Our fingers continually slipped off its surface during operation, leading to much frustration (if your mits are sweaty or overly large, you can basically forget about it). To make matters worse, the dial cannot be rotated 360 degrees, which means you’re forced to backtrack through every mode if you want to get from movie mode to ISO, or vice versa. This swiftly becomes a grim undertaking, but if you rarely venture beyond the auto mode it probably won't affect you.
Despite benefiting from a large and responsive directional pad, the menu interface also had its fair share of problems. The opaque menu tables were difficult to read in sunny environments, and we often found ourselves in the wrong subsection. Admittedly, these issues are easily overcome with a bit of shade and practice, but it remains a sticking point nonetheless. Considering how sparse the menu is, you’d think it would be much easier to navigate.
Curiously, the Kodak EasyShare M320’s battery compartment and SD-card slot are located in the side of the camera, instead of underneath as is more typical. If you’re an avid tripod user, this could come in handy, as it means you can swap over batteries and memory cards without detaching the camera from its perch.
The Kodak EasyShare M320 digital camera doesn't have any dedicated manual features to play around with. Instead, it relies on 17 scene presets that run the gamut from beach to fireworks settings. Exposure metering, adjustable white balance and a range of ISO sensitivities are also offered, although we imagine most users will want to stick to the auto settings. As with any camera worth its salt, the EasyShare M320 also comes with face detection, which gave a reliable performance in our tests.
When you boil it down, the Kodak EasyShare M320 is an average yet reliable compact camera that is slightly let down by a fiddly control scheme. There are plenty of worse entry-level cameras on the market, but there are also several better offerings, including the feature-packed Samsung ES55.
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