Not ones for being kept out of the popular crowd, Kodak has produced the M863. A compact with 8Mp, 3x optical zoom and 2.7in. LCD screen.
Kodak Easyshare M863: Specification
- Resolution: 8.3Mp (3320 × 2496)
- Lens: 34-102 mm f/2.8-f/5.1
- Zoom: 3x optical, 5x digital
- Image stabilizer: digital
- Shutter speed: 4-1/1400 sec.
- Viewfinder: none
- LCD: 2.7in. high resolution (230k pixels) indoor/outdoor colour display
- Storage: 16Mb internal, SD/SDHC
- Auto focus: Type TTL-AF, selectable: multi-zone (5 zones) AF, centre zone AF Modes normal, landscape, macro
- Auto focus zones: multi-zone AF (5 point), centre zone
- ISO sensitivity: 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
- Metering modes: TTL-AE, centre-weighted, multi-pattern, centre spot
- Compensation: ±2.0EV with 1/3 EV steps
- Histogram display: no
- White balance: auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, open shade
- Flash Range wide: 0.6-3.5m, tele: 0.6-2.0m
- Flash Modes: auto, red eye, fill, off
- Dimensions: W × H × D: 91 × 57 × 21 mm
- Weight without battery and memory card: 115g
Priced at £99 and with the Kodaks 8Mp resolution, 3x optical zoom and slim design, the Samsung NV8 shares the same resolution and zoom, but is a little bigger and £10 less. Alternatively, the Fuji finepix F40fd with 8Mp, 3x optical zoom and hardware based face detection. The Fuji is also slightly larger in dimensions and is £3 more.
Kodak EasyShare M863: Modes and features
The small lens is circled by a large, silver ring which shows off the best bits of the lens. For some reason, part of this ring has been cut out for the AF emitter and slim flash to fit onto the front of the camera despite ample space on the rest of the camera.
Ironically, moving the flash to an area further away from the lens, will help eliminate red eye and make the front of the camera look cleaner.
Running the circumference of the camera is a metal plate and this is the chassis for the power and flash buttons, shutter release and mode dial which has favourites, auto, image stabiliser, macro, scene, hi ISO and video modes. The dial is only small and, although positioned nicely to be operated by the thumb, is still not too easy to use because of its size.
The back of the camera is occupied almost entirely by the 2.7in LCD screen. The right side has the zoom rocker in the top corner with the delete button sat just below. Kodak appear to be concurring with other manufacturers lately and have reduced the amount of functions that the navigation pad has on it.
Pressing down, the M863 has the drive options of ten and two second self-timer, two shot self-timer and continuous shooting. If you press up, the display options will scroll through information on screen, no information on screen and rule of thirds grid. The focus area that's shown in blue doesn't disappear when the display is turned to no information.
The menu button is just under the navigation pad and has three sub menus for adjusting core areas of the camera in the set up and other shooting options such as ISO, white balance, colour and resolution.
Playback for reviewing images taken is located at the bottom of the camera opposite the jeweled share button.
Powering the camera up emits a small chime which has a heroic theme to it and sounds nice, but is more Mario Bros than Superman.
The M863 has a long time exposure feature and different times can be chosen of 0.5 sec, 1 sec, 2 sec and 4 sec. This will force the shutter open despite the light conditions, so a tripod or support is a must when using this feature.
The Image stabiliser is digital and this is usually done by cranking the ISO. The Kodak is no different and noise is definitely present. Interestingly, in the test shots I took, the image stabiliser mode turned on the flash and upped the ISO. Normal auto mode didn't need the flash and gave a nicer, less noisy image.
Kodak EasyShare M863: Build and handling
The M863 is built like any other compact in this classification. The shell is plastic with a smattering of metal to make it more sturdy. Annoyingly, the tripod bush is plastic, so some care needs to be taken with it. Especially as the camera has the long time exposure feature which must be used with a tripod or support that will employ the bush.
The battery and card share the same bay which is located on the side of the camera. The door is a bit bendy and squeaks when manipulated. What I also discovered was that it can be extended out slightly and if this is done, the door can't close.
Kodak EasyShare M863: Flash options
Flash options for the M863 include auto, on, off and red-eye reduction. The options have been removed from the navigation pad and given a dedicated button next to the mode dial on the top plate.
The flash range of the Kodak is 0.6-3.5m at wide angle and 0.6-2.0m at telephoto. Whilst not exactly something to write home about, it falls within acceptable parameters and is common with compacts that have a flash of similar size.
Kodak EasyShare M863: Performance
Trying a few shooting features out, the macro mode has a closest focusing distance of 10cm, which makes you wonder why they bother. That is until you see that the normal focus is 60cm, then it doesn't look as bad.
The colourchart has a good colour rendition with all bold colours saturated. The skin tone is a little too pink, but the tones have come out well.
Portrait mode has given the skin a reddish cast, which doesn't look all too good. The wall behind suffers from this, but barely. The program mode portrait has the same problem, but isn't as harsh.
The M863 has a couple of colour overrides available in the menu. The low colour setting desaturates the overall image giving it less punch. This can create some useful effects on shots like portraits, but be careful where you use it.
The burst test was a little disappointing by showing that the M863 can shoot at around 1fps, but only holds three shots in its buffer memory before it needs to download. The button has to pressed again if you want to carry on continuous shooting. This outcome gave the Kodak six shots in 10 seconds.
The camera handles fringing really well and this can be seen the best on the landscape image. Almost no fringing is present on the white bars or the roof of the building. A great result.
The colour test chart shows good colours that are rich and vibrant.
The Macro mode reaches a less than stunning 10cm.
Normal colour produces a lovely yellow on my daffies.
Low colour knocks down the saturation for a more muted result.
The skin is a bit red on the portrait shot, which is usually used to warm the skin.
Program mode hasn't changed the cast, which is unusual.
Almost no fringing is evident on the contrasty areas.
Kodak EasyShare M863: Noise test
A disappointing result for Kodak as the noise is starting to show at ISO100. This doesn't bode well for the higher ratings.
At ISO400, the noise is very noticeable with purple and green blobs appearing and the petals losing detail. ISO800 has the same result as older cameras from a few years ago and ISO1600 may as well have been left off the camera for all the good it does.
The ISO64 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
Kodak EasyShare M863: Verdict
As far as easy to use, small, pocketable compacts go, this fits the bill. It's uninspiring with no key features that set it out in the crowd.
However, I don't think that was the aim of Kodak. I think they wanted to produce a camera that gave decent results for someone who's not bothered too much about noise and colour casts, they just want a compact that looks nice and is cheap to buy. Kodak got that bit right.
Kodak EasyShare M863: Plus points
Good colour rendition
Kodak EasyShare M863: Minus points
Colour cast on portraits
Poor burst performance
The Kodak EasyShare M863 costs around £99 and is available from the Kodak website. Take a look here for more details.