As the first wireless-enabled Point and Shoot camera to hit the shelves, the Kodak EasyShare One has some high expectations to live up to. While it isn't pushing any envelopes with camera specs (4 megapixels), the camera has a 3 inch touch screen LCD and 256 MB of internal memory to allow easy viewing and sharing of images. The way that Kodak is differentiating themselves from the other wireless enabled cameras (Nikon Coolpix P1, Nikon Coolpix P2, and Canon SD430) is to really make it easier to share your pictures -- with friends and family from almost anywhere.
With a retail price just under the $600 mark, is the EasyShare One so amazing that it's a good buy? It definitely has novelty "value" and will be a conversation piece, but does the wireless function well and is it a good camera? After spending a few weeks with it, I hope I can answer some of those questions out there.
In the Box
In the box, you'll find the camera, the Kodak WiFi card, wrist strap, 2 (thanks!) lithium ion batteries, nice leather slip case, A/V cable, USB cable, EasyShare software, and camera-specific insert for the Printer Dock Plus Series 3/Camera Dock Series 3.
The camera feels impressive in your hand. It demands attention with the metal case, substantial flipping screen, and swank leather case. The camera is pretty hefty and feels solid in your hand. The screen does have some wiggle at the hinge, but the hinge is substantial so I have no worries.
On the front of the camera, you can see the Schneider-Kreuznach lens (that is covered by a built in lens cover when the camera is off or in playback mode), flash, microphone, timer light and light sensor.
The top of the camera has the power button (with blue LED), flash mode button, shutter release, and slot for the WiFi card.
The back of the camera (when open) has the LCD, the zoom rocker on the top right, Menu button, Share button, directional pad, the Back button and Delete button. One minor gripe here with the zoom rocker -- it's not raised up enough to make it easy to operate during image capture.
The bottom of the camera has the access to the battery and external memory card, tripod mount and dock adapter.
On one side of the camera is a rubber flap that covers the USB adapter and jack for an optional DC power source. On the other side (on the edge of the LCD panel) is a slider to choose capture or play back mode, and the Info button.
The camera captures images at 4 megapixels and has a 3 inch touch screen LCD. The lens is a 3x optical zoom Schneider-Kreuznach lens. The 256 MB of internal memory (185 MB for image storage) is good for around 150 pictures (at 4 megapixels). When you mark an image as a "favorite", a smaller version stays on the camera after you transfer the full size image to your computer. This Favorite is optimized for viewing on the camera's LCD and you can store up to 1500 of these Favorite images. You can always use an additional SD card for extra storage.
You can capture images at 4.0 MP (2304 1728), 3.5 MP (2304 1536), 2.1 MP (1656 1242), and 1.1 MP (1200 900). If you use the highest setting with the Kodak printer, images will be cropped to fit the 4x6 paper -- instead, use the 3.5 MP setting.
The video mode on the camera captures movies at a resolution of 640x480 and 24 frames per second. You're limited to 80 minutes or the capacity of the external memory card.
The camera doesn't have any manual modes but has plenty of scene modes. You can also control the ISO sensitivity, white balance, sharpness, exposure compensation, color mode, flash mode, light metering method, and auto focus area. For a full listing of every possible value, please see the technical specifications.
In normal auto focus, you can focus on subjects as close as 28 inches in wide angle and telephoto. When you use the macro mode, you can focus on subjects from 4 inches away to 28 inches away at wide angle and 17 -- 28 inches at telephoto.
Kodak's approach to wireless enabling a camera is that the photographer should be able to share and share easily. Share with people in the same room (3" screen), share with folks with a web browser (by uploading directly to the Kodak Gallery online service), and share with the printer (either wireless or docked). In my opinion they've done a great job at achieving this goal.
The first time you start up the camera, you spend some time setting things up. You are encouraged to register for a Kodak Gallery account, so that you can create a profile in the camera to connect to the Gallery servers. Everything is self-explanatory and the most efficient way to set things up is to use the stylus that comes with the camera. It is possible to use the directional pad to make the entries if you need to.
The Kodak WiFi card, when deactivated, is stored inside the camera. When you need WiFi capability, you just depress the card slightly and the spring loaded mechanism pops up the card (like an SD card). A status LED lets you know what's going on with the camera. The camera will scan for available networks and display a list from which you can choose the network you're looking for. If the wireless network is secured, then you're prompted to enter the security credentials.
Once you're on a wireless network, you can upload images to the Kodak Gallery with the user credentials that you may have set up. You add images to your "drawer" click the Share button and choose the "Upload" option. The screen shows a status of the image upload.
If you have a computer with the Kodak EasyShare software installed (and the wireless option enabled) you can also choose to "Transfer" the images in your drawer. This lets you transfer images without the USB cable.
If you would like to print and happen to have a Kodak Printer Dock Plus Series 3 with a Kodak WiFi card, you can choose to connect to the Kodak Device to Device network that should be available when you scan for networks. Printing was very easy, just "Print" your image from the Share menu. My only gripe was that once you chose an image to print, it was hard to tell if anything was happening because of a lack of status messages/blinking lights, etc. It took about 1 minute, 20 seconds to complete a print from when I "sent" the order from the camera. Nothing seems to happen for about 20 seconds, while the printer gets ready, so be patient.
The Kodak EasyShare software is meant to "synchronize" with the EasyShare One software. I'm not going to spend a lot of time explaining every single feature, but you can use the software to mark Favorites to leave on the camera, process print orders that were placed in the Outbox, move all your images to the PC, etc.
Camera Performance and Image Quality
The EasyShare One is definitely not a speed demon in its class. It takes a couple seconds to start up, but it also powers on when you open the screen, which is a nice touch. Auto focus times are acceptable and shutter lag, while noticeable, is acceptable. The speed of the zoom was a little slower than average. Also, the write time to the internal memory was pretty sluggish.
The LCD, even though it's 3 inches, isn't nice and crisp. They should have really tried to find a display that had a higher pixel count. It was really hard to judge the quality of a shot until it was viewed on a computer screen (or printed). I also found that, when using the stylus on the screen, I had to push harder than I wanted to enter my input. However, it seems that everything that you could use the stylus for can also be done with the control buttons. Good thinking on Kodak's part for those folks that like to lose styluses (or "styli" for you Latin lovers out there).
It is easy to take snapshots with the camera and switch modes if you need to. If you don't want to pull out the stylus to change a scene mode, all you need to do is press Menu, choose Scenes, and then scroll through the list until you find the one you want. There is a dedicated button for flash mode and the exposure compensation can be changed just by using the up and down directions on the directional pad.
Battery life was ok. The key limiting factor is how much the wireless capabilities are used. Kodak warns that battery life with wireless activated is about 1 hour. I didn't get a chance to exhaustively test the battery life during normal capture, but I estimate that you can take many more than 100 shots on one charge. The best part is that Kodak includes two batteries with the camera.
Overall, I was impressed with the image quality. For some reason, I actually didn't have high expectations. I suppose my experience in the past with devices that cram a lot of features in do a lot of things, but not a lot of things well, hasn't been that great. I was pleasantly surprised by the images from the EasyShare One.
Color reproduction was good, even with skin tones indoors (but with enough ambient daylight that the flash wasn't used). Purple fringing in high-contrast situations was above average.
Exposure was good in most cases -- the exceptions being some shots that were taken with the subject in bright sunlight and the camera shooting at higher telephoto settings.
Noise was a bit above average. At ISO sensitivities of 80 and 100, noise is acceptable, but starts getting bad at ISO 200 and worse at ISO 400. It becomes noticeable when viewing images at full size, but this noise will not be noticeable in prints.
Depending on your taste in images, you may want to play around with the sharpness settings on the camera. In its default setting, some shots (autumn leaves on trees) look a bit over processed with more sharpness than real life.
Please see Kodak's specifications page for a full list.
The three camera manufacturers that are now offering consumer level digital cameras with wireless capabilities are approaching the technology slightly differently. Kodak is all about making it easy to share pictures -- from home, from Starbucks, from anywhere you can hop on a wireless network. I think they have achieved this goal with the EasyShare One. It is easy to connect to a wireless network, it's easy to create a Kodak Gallery account and have the camera send pictures to the service, and it's easy to print directly from the camera. Not only does the wireless work well, but the camera takes some good images with excellent color and sharpness.
Now, the big question -- is it worth $600? It's a tough call. For people who can spend the money, want the conversation piece, and only need a camera for snapshots, this is a good choice. For someone looking for a camera that will grow with them as they learn digital photography, it's not such a good choice since the camera lacks many manual controls. Another great application for this camera would be in some sort of business application. For example, a car dealer with a wireless network could email a picture of a specific car on their lot to an interested party.
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