With its unique twin-lens design and devilish good lucks the Easyshare V705 is a camera to covet and treasure, and certainly not to share. It isn't Kodak's, it's mine declares Duncan Evans.
If there's one common factor amongst all compact cameras it's that you're stuck with the not-so-wide angle of 34, 35, or even 38mm equivalent. Not so the V705, it boasts a 23mm equivalent lens, and in a feat of design inspiration, also houses a second lens that covers 39-117mm. Specification
- Sensor type: 1/2.5" CCD
- Effective pixels: 7.1Mp (3081 × 2313
- Lens ultra-wide: 23 mm fixed (35mm equiv.) f/2.8
- Optical zoom: 39–117mm (35mm equiv.) f/3.9–f/4.4
- Shutter speed: ultra-wide: 8–1/1448sec; 3X zoom: 8–1/1170sec.
- LCD: 2.5in high resolution (230K pixels)
- Storage: 32Mb internal memory available, SD/MMC card expansion slot
- Focus modes: Normal, Macro (5cm), Infinity
- Focus type: Single or continuous
- Focus zones: TTL multi-zone, centre zone
- AF assist light: Yes
- ISO sensitivity: 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000
- Metering modes: multi-pattern, centre-weighted, centre spot
- Compensation: ±2.0 EV with 0.3 EV steps
- White balance: Auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, open shade
- Anti-blur: Yes
The Kodak V705 has a list price of £249, which puts it into the mid-range of well specified compact cameras, however, the street price is as low as £164.99 at which it's competing with cameras like the 7.2Mp Samsung L70, the 8Mp Nikon CoolPix P3 and the 6Mp Canon IXUS 60. Modes and features
The V705 is designed as a point and shoot camera, to look good, get in there and get the picture. As such, in standard Auto mode, there's exposure compensation
over an adequate +/- 2EV range that's controlled by the thumbstick. This also switches between macro
mode – a decent 5cm – landscape mode (sets focus to infinity) and normal.
To get into scene-specific action, press the top mounted button and activate scene control. Then a selection comes up on screen of tiny icons, with a text description. The choices are portraits, panoramas, sports, landscapes and macro (again), night portrait and night landscape, snow, beach, text, fireworks, flower, museum, self-portrait – bizarrely, party, children, backlight, panning, candle light, sunset and custom settings. What's slightly annoying is that if nothing is selected within 10 seconds it resets back to Auto.
Once into a scene mode, the exposure compensation is then disabled, so the camera becomes completely automatic. However, what are still active are the LCD display options. Here the information on screen can be removed – why you might want to i have no idea, a grid of lines can be displayed to help with composition and a live histogram can be displayed in the bottom left corner.
How the twin-lens system works is quite ingenious and pain-free for the user. It kicks off in standard mode that offers a fairly tight 39mm field of view and then allows a 3x optical zoom
towards the telephoto end. However, if the zoom rocker is pressed in the other direction the system switches automatically to the other, wide-angle, fixed 23mm lens. A little graphic on the display re-enforces that this has happened.
One other point is that the V705 also does 30fps, 640x480 (or 320x240 if required) video, saving the files as QuickTime MOVs. Also, as part of the EasyShare range, you can also connect the camera to your computer and share photos, or send them to a Kodak printer with great ease. Build and handling
There's a certain retro look to the V705. As well as being completely oblong, with just the faintest of curved corners, presumably to stop people stabbing themselves and bleeding all over the place, it has a shiny metal band the circumnavigates the camera. On the back is the large 2.5” LCD screen, brushed metal on one side and a transistor radio panel on the other. A large steel circular plate covers the twin-inset lens design, and rolls back to reveal them when the camera is activated. It's all a bit James Bond, 1960s gadget in design, but served up with style for the modern consumer.
The overall build quality is very high, it feels nice and solid, though that metal band picks up finger grease continuously so buffing and polishing of the camera is de rigeur. However, the one weak point in the build is the flap for the SD card. This is plastic and is held on by a little rubber hinge – how long is this going to last was the first and obvious question.
The handling though, isn't quite up there. The inset buttons on the top are quite tricky to depress and activate and the zoom rocker on the back has far too little feedback for comfort. On top of that the menu buttons on the left side of the back are very thin and set close together. Sausage fingered snappers could have trouble pressing the right one. That said, it's easy to hold and the menus are fairly simple to use so the camera can be picked up and used almost straight from scratch. Flash options
It's built in and set as far away from the lenses as possible, but red-eye
is still problematic. There is a red-eye reduction pre-flash, and this goes off well before the main flash. There's also a fill-flash mode which is well worth having. The actual flash range itself is pretty poor. At ISO100 you're talking about 0.4m-1.55m on the wide angle lens which isn't great and 0.3m-1.1m on the zoom lens at the wide angle end, and that's palpably worse. It's the weak point on the camera compared to any compact in this range. Performance
The V705 is reasonably speedy to wake up, being ready to shoot in just under three seconds, and can close down and switch off in just over one second in camera mode. For shooting, the camera, at hi-res, can whack out around eight pictures, at roughly one a second, before the internal buffer fills up and the camera slows down while it writes to the memory card and clears the buffer. That's not bad and certainly good enough for most compact owners.
The big selling feature of the V705 is the second, wide-angle, lens that offers a field of view of 23mm. This makes a huge difference in landscape photography, and can be used either for wide vistas or very creative effects. What shouldn't be underestimated is how valuable this is for interior, party and and people shots. Yes, they might be distorted if near to the camera, but this will guarantee you capture everyone sat around a table. The only problem with such interior shots is that the flash is so weak – it really is an incentive to increase the ISO sensitivity so to get more flash range. With people in range, it's very effective though, and the fill-flash option can help create nice portrait shots.
The other lens, starts at 39mm, which would have been a problem if there wasn't a wide-angle option, but there is so it means that the modest 3x optical zoom actually reaches a little further – at 117mm effective focal length
, compared to that of a 35mm effective lens, which would only go up to 105mm. The fact that the lens does not extrude, and that there is a shooting option for the camera to work silently, means that unobtrusive and candid shots are easily obtainable.
What should also be pointed out here is that the video quality is surprisingly good. More so, that sound quality is much better than it has any right to be considering that the mic is on the back of this small camera. It easily recorded someone speaking at a noisy leaving-do, on the other side of a dining table.
Quality wise the V705 also impresses, for a compact. Whereas some compacts can create noisy and bitty images, thanks to having high capacity sensors packed into small spaces, the Kodak has better noise control, and finer, if slightly softer, detail. There's no bittiness as such, but similar shades of colour do become patchy in places. What also do go down well was that the sensor required less exposure compensation on a high contrast scene than a number of others, including Samsung, Nikon and Canon have.
There may not be program and aperture control modes on the V705, but the exposure compensation works well when user-adjustment is required, and the various scene modes acquit themselves well.
All the primary colours look very good here, though the red looks slightly deeper. So, standard colours should render very well and accurately. The only mixtures that are slightly off are the blue-green combinations which are distinctly weighted towards blue.
Using the Portrait mode, the pictures are generally soft, which is no bad thing, though the sharpening and software processing has made the front of the hair sharper in odd places. There is some variation in the skin tones in the neck.
Using the wide-angle lens, there is more scene visible here than other test shots, and this results in the verticals bending to either side. The detail level is good, though patches of continuous colour are broken and patchy.
This is what you want to use a super wide-angle lens for – a creative shot under the Humber Bridge makes it seem like the road stretches away for miles. The sky has also been rendered a nice shade of blue.
This is the kind of standard view that you can expect with most compacts – though this is slightly narrower using the standard lens.
And here's why a 23mm wide-angle is so useful – now you can get everyone in around the table making it ideal for party shots.
The flash comes with red-eye mode that is quite effective, and while the flash has highlighted on the face and eye make up, it does suit older subjects as it fills in the facial lines.
The ISO50 test is obviously the best with fairly smooth tones and good detail sharpness. However, there are patches in the grey card. The ISO100 test shows more colour variation in the grey card area, and this is certainly worse than the result from Nikon and Canon cameras in this range, but you'd be hard to quantify it as traditional noise effects. At ISO200 the colour variation is more noticeable, though details is fine. In areas of similar shades you'll start to just notice variations if the image is printed very large. The ISO400 test then shows up actual noise, the colour variation is more distinct, but still, the detail is good and you can get away with using this mode quite easily. At ISO800 noise is pronounced in the grey card, but there is still plenty of detail in the petals. At the top range, ISO1000, the noise in the grey area is quite unpleasant with blocks of green present, there is less detail, but none of the dramatic colour shifts that other compacts exhibit at this level.
The addition of the wide-angle lens as a second lens on the camera is a system that works flawlessly and requires no conscious thought from the user. It really gives the V705 a USP that works just as well for the expected landscape applications as it does for interior scenes with people. It's a great, and creative option to have. The rest of the camera works speedily and is efficient at what it does, making use very simple for anyone looking to pick it up and shoot. And despite not having the more advanced photography modes, it does feature exposure compensation and scene modes that work well. On top of that, the V705 looks very stylish, if not particularly subtle, with it's brick-like shape and retro chrome-work. While the flash is underwhelming, the ease of use and wide-angle lens are great selling points and make the camera a great option for carrying around in a pocket. Plus points:
Wide-angle 23mm (equiv.) lens
Very easy to use
Lovely build quality Negative points:
The SD card cover is flimsy
No aperture or shutter priority modes
Flash is relatively weak
Only sRGB, no AdobeRGB