Compact Digital Cameras are becoming two a penny at the moment and with more and more available on the market it's sometimes hard to separate the chalk from the cheese. Kodak has concentrated on the aesthetics and ease over everything else with its latest model the Kodak V550, but does that mean that other areas of the camera, like picture quality, have lost out? We take a closer look.

The V550 is small and compact 5 megapixel offering from Kodak with a 3x optical and 4x digital zoom. It features a large 2.5in 260k colour screen on the rear of the model and a series of buttons on the back and the top offer shortcuts to this and that. The design is simple, but effect and we very much like the range of picture mode buttons on the top of the model.

Closer inspection reveals three buttons for choosing the right picture mode for the shot. Auto, portrait and scene select.

Auto sets up the camera to adapt to the best possible settings in any given situation. Portrait changes the settings to suit portraits of people and makes sure the camera focusses on the subject at the front of the image rather than what’s behind them. The final shortcut button access the scene menu and allows you to select from a list of a further 18 modes, such as Beach, Fireworks or Landscapes with people.

Get past the buttons on the top and everything is fairly straightforward and well laid out. The camera features Kodak’s EasyShare button and this means users can mark favourite images, order up print runs for when you connect it to Kodak’s camera dock and have the software on the computer automatically bundle the images off to friends via email on connection.

The V550 has taken the favourites option one stage further and included a slider button on the side of the camera that allows you to access your favourites straight away without having to scroll through the rest of your images on the camera.

The camera comes with 32Mb of internal storage (enough for 17 shots at full resolution) and a SD slot for external memory. Unlike some cameras you can happily chop and change between the two when it comes to taking images, even if an additional memory card is in the camera.

The camera also offers video playback for those interested and users can record video footage in the MPEG4 standard at 30 frames per second.

As for images - the camera performed well with good reproduction of skin tones and colours. The flash when used had a tendency to over-bleach the subject, but this can be easily fixed by either not using the flash or reducing the exposure setting to compensate.

Verdict

Overall the Kodak V550 is a smart little model that is easy to use and takes good pictures. We especially liked the scene mode shortcuts on the top of the model. What's the catch? Well the docking station doesn't look that robust and we get the feeling that after a couple of months you may be having to buy another as the camera connects to a socket that is raised above the main base.

The other complaint is that at £299.99 (Kodak has now told us this will be coming down to £249.99 sometime in November) this is a tad expensive for a 5 megapixel camera that doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary.