Kodak EasyShare M753 digital camera review

3.5 out of 5
£89.99

For

Easy to use, price, image quality at lower sensitivity, lens, handling

Against

Plastic build, tiny on/off button, LCD flares in bright conditions, very noisy images at higher sensitivity, image processing strips detail, slow (or no!) AF in low light

Kodak has been working hard to improve the looks of its range of digital cameras, particularly the budget end of its models and the M753 marks this trend with a well and truly slender style, among some of its more attractive features that including availability in a range of funky colours including blue, red, black and, of course, silver.

A 7-megapixel resolution sensor for £99 is particularly impressive and offers scope for some nice sized prints, as does the Kodak lens that provides a 3x zoom focal range of 37 to 11mm and sports aspherical lens elements to help keep distortion and aberrations such as pixel fringing to a minimum. So far so good.

Sensitivity has been well catered to as well, with a range on offer from a clean, noise free ISO 80 to a very noisy almost pointless ISO 1250, with ISO 100, 200 and 400 steps the latter just usable, then an ISO 800 and the aforementioned 1250 setting.

Noise problems are made worse because the camera’s digital anti shake mode is not an anti shake setting by just boosted sensitivity so you can shoot in low light, without camera shake but get images so noisy that they become pretty darn horrible to look at.

In terms of handling, the camera is easy to use although the tiny on/off button on the top plate is both too tiny and too close to the flash mode button with which it is easy to confuse. Also quite small and on the top plate is the camera’s main mode dial.

Here the shooting modes (auto, macro, SCN (or scene) and the high resolution 640 x 480-pixel movie mode) provide access to the various shooting options but the dial is small and fiddly to use and anyone with even slight myopia will be really challenged when it comes to reading the icons stamped upon it and that represent the various shooting options.

The large 2.5-inch LCD makes using the camera’s menus easy enough and thankfully the text for the menus and their simple scroll up or down navigation makes the process of changing ISO, resolution, white balance (you get the usual presets of daylight, fluorescent, etc.), metering and colour settings of black and white, natural vivid and so on all very easy.

However, the screen’s not so good when it comes to composition because, in brighter conditions, the screen flares horribly. Thankfully however, this does not affect the images per se, it’s just a viewing glitch.

Another couple of niggles that were frustrating indeed included the slow performance in terms of focus speed and in low light the face that the focus simply would not, erm, focus!

The camera will let you fire the shutter nevertheless but as I found this is not due to a sudden and miraculous ability to focus properly but to let you shoot lots of blurred images.

And what of those images? Well, where to start … low ISO shots look good, colour is natural and clear while white balance is not bad – though the auto setting struggled indoors in mixed lighting. However get over ISO 2090 and noise starts to get in on the act and by ISO 400 it is noticeable.

Above ISO 800 the double whammy of noise and then noise processing means images that lack detail and colour and are full of noise artifacts. On the up side, the metering is very good indeed where even high contrast shots in challenging direct lighting or strong backlight, it managed to cope.

Despite the sluggish focusing performance (and its complete lack in very low light), in daylight, focusing is actually accurate and shutter lag is noticeable but not intrusive.

I have to bring issue with a couple of things Kodak use to make this camera more appealing to the masses. The first is the “HD Still Capture” tag this camera is saddled with; for those among you that “know” HD – or High Definition – is supposed to mean better image quality, well for a TV yes it does, but not here.

There are many other cameras out there with better image quality (some with fewer pixels) that usually cost more, but even they don’t have the misleading HD name added to them.

And the trend to call boosted ISO “digital anti shake” is equally misleading since it does no such thing and makes image quality worse in the process because it boosts the ISO to get at faster shutter speeds and pours in noise and detail smoothing noise reduction processing as it does so.

Verdict

So on the face of it, when you put all this together it makes the M753 look rather poor, but when you remember that this camera is a penny short of £90, you’re actually getting what you pay for, that is a budget digital compact with a modest range of good features and some that could do better.

Keep the ISO low and be patient while it focuses in low light and anyone on a tight budget that needs a simple snapper will be more than happy.