Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS digital camera

The Kodak M1093 IS sports 10-megapixel resolution that Kodak claims is enough for 30 x 40-inch prints. Well yes, it is, but with a few caveats as we’ll see. Other kit that this remarkably well-priced model has includes a sharp, Kodak Retinar Aspheric 35-105mm 3x optical zoom lens and, as the name suggests, image stabilisation.

Kodak’s Smart Capture allows the camera to select the shooting mode for the situation it’s presented utilising “intelligent” scene detection, capture control and image processing. The combination, in theory at least, providing the correct combination of frame rate, ISO, exposure control and focus set-up for a variety of situations, from portraits to landscapes.

This works quite well and got the correct mode most times, or at least one that provided a reasonable result but the downside here of course is the lack of manual control it offers. But then again this is what this camera is for: for snappers that want an uncomplicated, easy to use, camera that won’t break the bank.

And at a little over £127, it certainly looks good value for money. The HD video capture mode adds even more appeal to the ensemble, as does the Face Detection AF that forms part of Kodak’s Perfect Touch technology.

Here you also get high ISO capability up to a boosted ISO 6400, though it has to be said, noise issues above ISO 400 mean images shot at ISO 800 are poor and above ISO 1600 are almost unusable.

The M1093 IS tempts us with a nice sleek look yet chunky and sturdy to heft thanks to (almost) an all-metal build. The large 3-inch viewing screen is great but compromises the ease of use of the camera as it takes up so much space on the back, limiting small controls to the extreme right of the back plate. The buttons on the top of the camera are simple: you get a power button, flash control and a mode button.

Last up comes the large shutter button that sits stealthily within the styling, almost invisible on the top plate but well positioned for use. Turn the camera on and the lens pops out of the front quickly enough and time to first snap is about 3 seconds.

Images are stored on SD/SDHD external (and a modest 32MB of internal) storage that slots alongside the camera’s lithium-ion rechargeable battery under a disappointingly plastic flap on the base.

Charging the camera is simple, the battery being charged in-camera so there’s no awkward charging dock, just a simple lead you plug into the camera. However battery life is poor, only around 2 hours of actually using the camera from a full charge, poor considering you've got to find a power point in order to charge it again.

The supplied EasyShare software, can be linked to the camera via the “Share” button and allows you to print or email images that you had “tagged” (incidentally, text and audio tags can be applied to images) earlier whilst shooting, and the EasyShare software also allows you to edit your images - you can even turn your images into postcards or invitations!

Shooting images is simple; literally point and shoot with Smart Capture (akin to Panasonic's iA system) doing the chores, or you can use program or one of the 22 scene modes that are automatically picked by Smart Capture in that mode. You do get exposure compensation or you can opt to use the “High ISO” mode, but there is no real hands-on control.

But I was impressed with some of the different scene modes, there are the usual suspects of macro, firework and portraits and landscape modes, but it has also has cooler ones too.

For example, there's blur reduction, panning and a self portrait mode and there's a panoramic mode where you take three pictures either from left to right or right to left; the camera helpfully stitching your images together as well. That stitching can sometimes go awry, not quite stitching the images correctly, but when it gets it right, it does a good job - all done in-camera in about 30 seconds.

Camera responsiveness, as mentioned earlier, is not bad but the time to first snap of 3 seconds extends dramatically with flash but given the market the M1093 IS finds itself within, it is not unreasonable.

However, the flash is rather underpowered effectively illuminating subjects only up to around 4 feet away, boosting ISO helps here (watch out for noise though) and the IS works well enough to allow you to keep the flash off for handheld shots in lower light or longer zoom ratios.

Disappointingly though and this is my main bug bear with the camera, is you can't control the ISO apart from the Hi ISO scene mode, so noise can come into play if you're not careful.

The 3x zoom lens is crisp but has an uninspiring focal range of 35mm to 105mm, typical at this price point, but one of the other standout features is the camera's HD movie capability. Here you can shoot 1280 x 720-pixel movies at 30fps continuously for up to 30 minutes, so not bad at all for a camera just under £130 and overall you’re left with a neat and inexpensive camera but one hampered (by image noise) because of some of the very features that make it so easy to use.

Verdict

The Kodak M1093 IS offers good quality low ISO images that could stretch to a print size of 30 x 40-inches, at a push. It’s easy to use too and has good build quality.

And although the 10-megapixel resolution looks a bit average now 14-megapixels and above seems to be the vogue, it’s more than ample for most needs. If you’re looking for a simple point and shoot that takes good quality (low ISO) images, then the M1093 IS could be the camera for you, though a spare battery might be advisable!


>