High-Def Video Brings High Value to New Kodak Camera

Video has been a perk packed with digital point-and-shoot still camerasfor some time, but judging by the quality present in many offerings, it’s aperk that has been treated as an afterthought by many digicam makers.Not so by Kodak.

The chief of film stock — now remaking itself as a dean of digital imaging –has steadily improved the video features of its EasyShare digital stillcamera (DSC) line. A case in point is Kodak’s EasyShare V1253 camera(US$246 to $320).

The unit is one of a handful of DSCs that shoot high-definition video at720p. They include the Canon Powershot TX1, Sanyo Xacti HD2 and HD1a andthe Panasonic Lumix LX2.

Memory Expansion a Must

Without descending too far into the swamp of video terminology, 720pmeans the camera is capturing video at 720 lines of vertical resolution.By comparison, standard DVDs use only 480 lines of vertical resolution.

Needless to say, the Kodak camera produces excellent video — and thesound is good, too, thanks to the use of a stereo microphone about thesize of a collar button located at the front of the unit.

If you intend to shoot a lot of video with the camera, though, yourfirst purchase after buying it should be a beefy SD memory card — twogigabytes or more — because the snapper’s 32 megabytes of internal memoryis woefully inadequate for the task.

With a two gigabyte card, the V1253 will shoot about 29 minutes of HDvideo and 80 minutes of standard vid. Files are created in QuickTimeformat (MOV) using MPEG4 compression.

Zoom Capabilities

While this Kodak model’s video prowess is a fancy asset, its abilitiesas a still camera shine, too.

It can corral images at a maximum resolution of 12 megapixels.

Overall, I found photos taken with the V1253 very good. They were sharpwith good color fidelity.

Without a doubt, the unit’s excellent lens contributed to the quality ofits pics. It’s a Schneider Kreuznach Variogon lens. Some shutterbugs,though, may find its 3x optical zoom (37 to 111 millimeter equivalent) abit tepid for their tastes. It also has a 5x digital zoom.

The zoom is controlled by a circular lever that surrounds the shutterrelease button. I found the arrangement very comfortable to use, and I wishmore point-and-shoot makers would adopt it.

Irritating Display Navigation Knob

By contrast, I found the control for navigating on the camera’sdisplay — a kind of “stick shift” knob — irritating to operate. Just theslightest bit of pressure applied at the wrong angle and I was drillingthrough menus instead of moving left or right, up or down.

While packed with power, the V1253 has a slim and trim physique. Itmeasures 4-by-2.2-by-0.9 inches and weighs a meager 5.5 ounces. Thatmakes it convenient to carry around in a purse or shirt pocket.However, with its rakish good looks — especially the black model withsilver controls and lens area — you won’t want to keep it out of sightfor long.

Controls on the unit are well-sized for a compact camera andconveniently placed. A row of long buttons along the edge of the LCDgive you quick access to menus and reviewing, sharing and deletingphotos and videos.

It also counts among its attributes an enormous 3.1-inch wide-aspectdisplay that’s real eye candy — bright, sharp and richly colorful.

Although the wide screen lends itself to photos with a 16:9 aspectratio, the camera will secure snaps in other ratios such as 4:3 and 3:2.

There’s no viewfinder in the unit.

Making the Scene

As with many newer point-and-shoot DSCs these days, this Kodak model hasface detection technology. When it sees faces in a frame, it will adjustits settings to best capture the mugs in a shot.

It also has a broad range of ISO settings. ISO can be used to improveshots in low lighting situations. By boosting the ISO, you can shoot atfaster shutter speeds and avoid blurring a picture. ISO settings in theV1253 range from 64 to 3200, although at 3200 photos must have aresolution of 3.1 megapixels or less.

True to its ease-of-use roots, the camera has more than 20 “scenemodes.” The modes contain combinations of settings designed for takingthe best pictures in a variety of photographic situations — portraits,panoramas, night shots, landscapes, backlit subjects and so forth.

With its high definition video capabilities and high resolution stillshot features, the Kodak EasyShare V1253 can meet the desires ofshutterbugs for an all-in-one camera with a petite footprint.

John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at [email protected].

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