Camera designers must have the easiest job in the world. With some models, such as the M893 IS, they took a rectangle, put a circle on the front and added some buttons. Job done.
Kodak Easyshare M893 IS: Specification
- Resolution: 8.3Mp
- Lens: f/2.9-f/5.2
- Zoom: 3x optical zoom, 34-102mm
- Image stabilizer: yes
- Shutter speed: 4-1/2000sec.
- Viewfinder: none
- LCD: 2.5in. (230k pixels)
- Storage: 32Mb internal memory available, SD/SDHC card expansion slot
- AF Modes: normal, landscape, macro selectable
- Auto focus: yes
- ISO sensitivity: 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
- Metering modes: TTL-AE, centre-weighted, multi-pattern, centre spot
- Compensation: ±2.0 EV with 1/3 EV steps
- Bracketing: no
- Flash range: wide: 0.6-3.0m, telephoto: 0.6-2.0m
- Flash modes: auto, red eye, fill, off
- Face detection: yes
- Burst modes: single, self timer (2 or 10sec.), two-shot self-timer, continuous
- Long time exposure: 0.5-4sec.
- Output: USB 2.0
- Dimensions: W × H × D: 92.0 × 56.5 × 22.7mm
- Weight: without battery and memory card: 117g
Priced at £109 with 8Mp, 3x optical zoom and image stabiliser, the Kodak EasyShare M893 IS could compare to the Samsung L83t which shares the resolution and zoom specification, but doesn't have image stabiliser or HD still technology and is £4 less. Alternatively, for an extra £15, the Casio Exilim EX-Z80 has 3x optical zoom, 8Mp resolution and auto shutter face detection.
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS: Modes and features
The front of the camera is occupied by the modest 3x optical zoom and slim flash, while the top has the usual power and shutter release buttons. Interestingly, the top of the camera also houses the flash button for scrolling through the different flash options.
The back is dominated by the large 2.5in LCD screen with all extra buttons and functions down the right hand side.
The zoom is a small rocker switch with a mode dial sat just below. The dial juts out of the side of the camera for easy operation by the thumb and this gives access to the video, high ISO, macro, auto and favourite modes.
Three slinky buttons that tickle the side of the screen are to delete images, access the menu and go to the playback mode. Accessing menu or playback can then be navigated using the thumb pad which also has quick access to the display menu as well as drive options for continuous shooting and self timer.
The model that I received was in the powder blue and looked lovely. The main drawback with this colour is that the icons for the buttons are in a slightly lighter shade and not easily viewable. This could potentially be problematic if you're in playback mode, want to access the playback menu and hit delete by accident.
Within the menu, more features await such as colour adjustment, date/time stamp and face detect which I'd expect to see as a standard setting although is set to on by default. Sharpness, AF zone and image stabiliser are also available. The AF zone can't be activated while the face detection is on as this feature overrides any other focus settings.
The favourites mode is not a custom setting feature as the name suggests, but actually an area of spare memory for loading low resolution versions of your favourite images into. This is an evolution of Kodak's sharing mind set which is to work in collaboration with EasyShare.
The display button will scroll through showing info on the screen, no info or having the rule of thirds grid superimposed on the monitor.
The drive options are accessed by pressing down on the thumb pad and it's not just the two options available to you. As well as the 10 second delay and continuous shooting, two other options of a two second timer and a double timer are present.
As you move through the menu systems, you may come across an option you're unfamiliar with. Pressing the telephoto button on the zoom rocker will bring up a help screen giving a brief explanation of what the mode does and its benefit for you.
While the idea is not exclusive to Kodak, I think this is a great idea and surpasses the usual option of putting the explanation on absolutely everything.
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS: Build and handling
The body appears to be made of plastic and covered in that paint that makes it look like metal. A metal ring runs around the circumference of the body which has the shutter, flash and power buttons set into it as well as the speaker and AC port.
While I was perusing the menu, I discovered that flicking through playback and the menu sometimes didn't register. This meant that I had to keep pressing the button repeatedly to get it to work.
You may think that this wouldn't affect someone that isn't testing the camera, but if you took a picture, didn't like it and wanted to make an adjustment and you only had a small window of time to do it in, you'd be kicking yourself.
The battery bay shares its space with the memory card and the door is uniformly secure, but not overly strong.
The EasyShare docking port sits directly next to the tripod bush, which is plastic. Call me weird, but I prefer the visible screws on the belly and sides of the camera showing where it's been bolted together to a super smooth, seamless shell.
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS: Flash options
Unusually, the flash button has been moved away from its usual habitat on the rear thumb pad, to a dedicated button on the top. Tapping through the options on this reveals four choices of auto, off, on and red-eye reduction.
Another red-eye reduction option available in the menu is for the pre-flash to be switched on or off. This only works in the red eye mode on the flash button. In normal flash mode, a pre-flash will fire before the shutter and with the red eye pre-flash, an extra flash is fired before that.
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS: Performance
The colour chart test shot has produced an expected result. The processor has boosted the primary colours such as blue and green for landscape shots. The skin tone looks nicely balanced, which will be good for portraits and the tones are clean.
Macro mode has a closest focus distance of 10cm, which seems to be a growing trend. I don't see the point of adding a macro mode that can't actually give a macro image. 10cm could easily be a standard focus distance with macro closing in to three or four centimetres.
The EasyShare M893 IS has provided a good set of portrait shots. The image in portrait mode with flash has given a good even skin tone with no strong shadows, especially on the wall. This shows the flash compensation is working effectively. This system will use the autofocus to judge where the subject is and adjust the power of the flash to ensure a well exposed shot.
Without the flash the image is a little under exposed and the cast given to portraits to warm them up, which is usually red, is more noticeable.
The landscape shot has little or no fringing in the places it's usually found, which are the white bars of the steps out of the canal and the roof of the building.
I'm surprised at the strip of grass in the foreground being out of focus because the shot was taken in Landscape mode.
I tested the Image Stabiliser and it works well. The shot without the stabiliser has come out blurred and unattractive. Interestingly, the EXIF data shows no change in the shutter, aperture or ISO rating, which suggests an optical method is used to stabilise the image.
There are two Image stabiliser (IS) options: Single and Continuous. Continuous keeps the IS working whether a shot is being taken or not, so is good for previewing the capability. Single only works when the shutter release has been pressed halfway down.
ePHOTOzine contacted Kodak technical assistance and asked them to explain the benefits of the different IS to the user. Kodak said that the Continuous IS uses more power because it's always on. To save power was the reason they added the Single IS mode.
The colour chart shows the ususal boosts in primary colours, especially blue.
Macro mode has a close focus of 10cm. Not a sterling performance, but seems standard on Kodak compacts today.
The flash has spread an even light over the face and only a small shadow is visible.
Normal portrait has a mild cast to warm portraits.
Normal program mode has softened the image a tad and the cast is absent.
With Image Stabiliser off, the image comes out blurry from camera shake.
EXIF data shows all the same settings, which means that the ISO isn't pushed to create the stabilisation.
Fringing is practically non-existent on the white bars, but a blurred green strip can be seen on the building roof.
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS: Noise test
ISO80 and ISO100 give brilliant results with sharp edges and good detail. ISO200 doesn't show any noise either, until the image is zoomed into full size, then sharpness of noise can be seen on the dark and mid-tone areas.
Purple areas start to show at ISO400 with a degradation in detail on the petals. The noise is noticeable at normal size.
ISO800 has lost most detail in petals and speckles of noise can be seen easily in the form of purple specks. ISO1600 has given the black area a purple and pink cast with definite splodges on the grey card. The white area has escaped reasonably unscathed with no noise visible.
The ISO80 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS: Verdict
Recently, modern digital compacts have been utilising the ISO rating to give an effect of image stabilisation. The Kodak doesn't use that or it would have adjusted it for the stabilisation test.
The EasyShare M893 IS is by no means a cutting edge camera. There are few features that you won't have seen on all other cameras out there. The price, size and overall colour rendition makes it a decent camera to go for. Just don't rely on the camera to give a decent picture without flash in the dark because you'll be sorely disappointed.
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS: Plus points
Good size and weight
Decent image stabiliser
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS: Minus points
Bad noise performance
Buttons take ages to respond
Poor macro performance
The Kodak EasyShare M893 IS costs around £109.99 and will be available from the ePHOTOzine shop soon. Take a look here for other cool Kodak gear.
The M893 IS can be found on the Kodak website here.