Kodak EASYSHARE P850
- Sharp pictures, 12X zoom
- Colour reproduction can get quite oversaturated
A pretty solid advanced camera. It is functional, comfortable, has all the features one could expect, and above average sharpness. It is only let down by overly saturated pictures.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
As a digital camera manufacturer, Kodak has enjoyed mixed results. The picture quality of their units is almost always outstanding, but problems in other areas have left many of their models flailing in the middle of the pack. But the P850 brings a fully rounded package to the table; offering above average picture quality, a solid build, robust features and an impressive 12X zoom.
The P850 is quite a heavy unit, weighing in at over 400 grams. It is entirely cased in matet black plastic, with small metallic sections, and has the sturdy feel that one wants when using an advanced camera. The jutting 12X zoom lens takes up the majority of the face, with a small hand grip filling in the rest. It rests comfortably in your palms, and the weight helps ensure shaky-hand is minimised. All of our shots came out crystal clear, with no blurring evident.
Aesthetically, the P850 is fairly standard. It won't bring pretty girls flocking to your door (when you find a camera that does, tell us!), but you definitely won't be embarrassed to be seen with it in public. There are an awful lot of buttons littering the body, with a total of 17 available controls. These range from a function wheel and navigational thumb stick to flash, image review, focus and share options. With almost everything being accessible from the get-go, it will be a little overwhelming for the less experienced photographer, but it works reasonably well once you have everything down pat. The controls did feel a little sticky however, with the thumbstick in particular suffering from a poor mount.
No such problems were encountered with our photographs, with the P850 turning out some phenomenally sharp images for a five megapixel model. Picture quality has always been Kodak's strong point, and that continued this on this model. Whilst the camera couldn't capture the extremely fine background detail that a seven or eight megapixel model could, we found our pictures to be perfectly crisp and sharp. We honestly couldn't have asked for cleaner edges. Purple fringing did rear it's ugly head in a few of our outdoors shots, but it was quite dark in colour, and barely more than a millimetre wide strip, which is negligible unless the picture is blown up.
Sadly, colour saturation was noticeable less outstanding. It seems to be the trend these days to over saturate key hues, which can make pictures look more vibrant or lively at the expense of realism. We found blues and reds to range from slightly brighter than normal to extremely colourful, depending on the lighting conditions. Some of you may enjoy it this way (you'd be surprised how many cameras do this) but if you're looking for accurate colour reproduction this camera may not be for you. It is a real shame, because in addition to the amazingly sharp edges, this model had some of the lowest noise we've seen. Even shooting in nearly pitch dark on the automatic setting, the P850 managed to focus and capture a detailed image without the horrible fuzz that almost universally accompanies night time shots.
This can partially be put down to the fact that ISO level only goes up to 400. We would have liked to see an option for ISO 800, but the high quality of the present settings left us quite satisfied. They are complemented by a full range of advanced shooting modes, including aperture, shutter and program priority, along with full manual mode. Aperture extends from 2.8 to 8 and shutter speed from 1/1000th of a second to 16 seconds, both of which are about average for this range.
There are sixteen preset shooting modes, for those less photographically inclined, and a nice array of burst, time lapse and bracketing functions. The function wheel also sports three custom spots, which we thought was an excellent move. It enables you to create and record a predetermined combination of settings, then access it at any time as though it were a default camera option. You can have one for indoors, one for outdoors and one for night shots for example. The 12X zoom rounds out what is a fantastically well balanced collection of features, giving all the zooming power you will ever need unless you're looking to go professional.
Camera speed is slightly above average. We timed shutter lag at about .7 of a second. Start-up was unfortunately a little more sluggish, at 3 seconds, whilst it took about a second to write files to the card.
Battery life was quite a bit higher than average. We managed a robust 608 photographs before the battery died. That is well above the average of about 300-400, and more than enough to shoot for days on end without a recharge.
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