BUILD AND DESIGN
The M590 has a solid feel for such a thin camera. It appears to be constructed mostly of plastic, with metal support at the top and sides. It comes in several colors, silver, purple, blue and an attractive burgundy. Styling is conservative but sleek, with no protruding buttons and dials. Overall, the M590 makes a good first impression.
The M590 definitely falls within the ultracompact class, with dimensions of 3.8 inches (96.5mm) wide, 2.3 inches (58.4mm) high and 0.6 inches (15.2mm) thick and a weight of only 129 grams, including its battery and memory card. The M590 uses a micro-SD card, which is often used in cell phones but rarely in digital cameras. Kodak ships the M590 with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (KLIC-7000), a USB cable, a USB/AC adaptor that is used, with the USB cable, for in-camera battery charging, a sturdy wrist strap, a useful bag for carrying the camera and a brief paper User Guide.
According to the User Guide, when the camera is connected to the computer, a software downloader automatically runs and will download and install Kodak’s software for transferring images to the computer and editing pictures. However, the software downloader did not work for me, but an online chat with Kodak enabled me to download the software manually from Kodak’s website. Kodak’s website also contains an Extended User Guide.
Ergonomics and Controls
The M590 has a smooth, metallic appearance and fits easily in a pocket or purse. The front of the camera is mostly featureless except for a strip at the top. The lens is in the upper right hand corner, an awkward place as fingers tend to stray in front of it when the left hand is used to steady the camera. Next to the lens is a lamp used for auto focus assist in dim light as well as showing the use of the self-timer and video. The flash is located in the top-center and underneath is the microphone for monaural recording.
The top of the camera contains only two controls, a rectangular power button next to a larger rectangular shutter button. The buttons are similar in size and shape and I sometimes found myself pressing one when I intended to press the other. I did not care for the shutter button as it was not as sensitive as I would have liked.
One side of the camera is bare, on the other side there is a wrist strap mount and a USB port. The port is open at all time – there is no removable cover as in most cameras. That is a concern as without a cover dirt and dust can enter the port.
At the bottom of the camera there is a tripod socket properly placed in the middle (not in the corner as in some cameras), though the socket has plastic grooves that wear more quickly than metal grooves. The bottom also contains the battery/memory card compartment which is covered by a thin, fragile plastic cover.
The rear of the camera contains a 2.7-inch diameter LCD monitor with a 4×3 aspect ratio. There are five menu buttons in a column bordering the right edge of the monitor – flash, delete, menu, info and review. Further to the right, from top to bottom, are a zoom control toggle, a speaker, a four-way controller with an OK button in the middle, a mode button and a share button.
All the controls at the rear of the camera work smoothly and well. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated movie button, which I’ve found to be very useful. Also, there is no raised area to enable one to grip the camera with the right hand, which makes it necessary to use both hands most of the time.
Menus and Modes
Kodak cameras have always had clear, easily understood menus and the M590 is no exception. The menus change depending on the mode selected by the mode button:
- Smart Capture: The camera identifies the shooting conditions and automatically selects the most appropriate settings, including the applicable scene mode, exposure setting, and face recognition.
- Program: Users have access to certain manual settings, including ISO (up to 1600, higher using 3.1 or fewer megapixels), white balance, exposure compensation and flash settings.
- Scene: Users can select a scene mode, from portrait, sport, landscape, close-up, flower, sunset, backlight, candlelight, children, museum (disables flash), text, beach, snow, fireworks, self-portrait, night-portrait, night landscape, panning shot, blur reduction, high ISO and panorama (manually combining three images).
- Video: HD (1280 × 720) at 30 fps, or VGA (640 × 480) at 30 fps. Optical zoom may be used when taking videos.
The M590 has a 2.7-inch diameter LCD monitor in a 4×3 aspect ratio with a resolution of approximately 230,000 dots. The monitor has three different brightness settings, auto where brightness is automatically adjusted based on the environment, high power and power save.
The LCD monitor is a good one, and can be seen well in both shady and sunny conditions. There is no viewfinder.