posted by Eugenia Loli on Wed 22nd Jul 2009 09:26 UTC
IconGeeks.com, home to many Kodak digital cameras, sent us in the Kodak V1073 10MP digicam, one of the first touchscreen digicams in the market. Naturally, we had to put its user interface under some scrutiny, and compare it to the UI of the non-touchscreen Kodak cameras.

Some information about the camera first: It's 10 megapixels, features a 3x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom, a 3-inch (7.6 cm) touchscreen color LCD, 32 MB internal memory with SDHC support, AV output (NTSC/PAL), a 1 / 1.63 in. CCD sensor, a lens at 37–111 mm f/3.1–5.7 SCHNEIDER-KREUZNACH VARIOGON, an optical image stabilizer, and automatic shutter speeds from 8 to 1/1164 sec. The camera arrived with a hand strap, a USB cable, a battery, and a wall adapter that connects to the USB cable (proprietary).

The camera feels very nicely in the hand, and the LCD is bright. In terms of size and handling it feels like a perfect vacation and snapshot camera. There's a power button and the shutter button on the top of the device, and the zoom/review/info/menu buttons next to the screen.
When you turn on the camera you are greeted with a screen asking you to enter the right date/time to the camera. I had trouble figuring out the UI the first time, but eventually I made it through to the main screen. Overall, the camera takes just 1-2 seconds to load, which is faster than some other non-touchscreen digicams in the market.


Video by Kevin Keplar

Automatically, the camera goes to "smart" auto mode. In that mode, you can only select the self-timer, and the flash on/off, everything else is decided by the camera. I found it to be pretty intelligent to the scenes it would pick, e.g. when I tried to shoot my screen & web browser, it automatically recognized that there were characters in front of the lens, and it chose a "text" preset. The picture came out very clear and all text was readable!

In "P" mode you can manually pick between macro/normal/tele settings and use exposure compensation. There are no other manual controls offered, although there is an "info" screen showing off the live histogram, and the current ISO value the camera uses.

In "Scene" mode, you can manually select from the following presets: Portrait, sport, landscape, close up, night portrait, night landscape, snow, beach, text/document, fireworks, flower, museum/manner, self-portrait, high ISO, children, backlight, panning, candle light, sunset, panorama stitch, blur reduction.

The video mode has no manual controls whatsoever. It only offers the ability to select between two 720p types (higher and lower bitrate), VGA, QVGA sizes, and between continuous or single autofocus modes. Quality of the videos is identical to other Kodak cameras we have reviewed in the past. It records in MPEG4-SP at a variable 30.xxx fps (it's never fixed, which can lead to ghosting after editing the footage, if you don't disable resampling), at around 12 mbps.

The setup options are common for both still and video, and include options like image stabilizing on/off, orientation sensor, digital zoom on/off, language, date, LCD brightness, etc.

The touchscreen UI in the shooting mode is extremely basic, and often confusing. There is a "top" icon set where is clickable, and each time you click one of these icons, other icons appear on the bottom of the screen, that happen to not be clickable (however, their style is the same as the top ones, so naturally it feels like they are also clickable).

The team that did the "review" mode screens though seems to be a bit more serious about their UI rather than the team that did the shooting mode. While lots of features are missing or are confusing in shooting mode, the review screens come with flick-through ability, zoom in/out using touchscreen controls, flick-through all your pictures in thumbnail mode, plus hefty menu items for tags, setting up favorites, check/uncheck multiple files for deletion or printing, cropping, etc. Even in "review" mode the UI is not iPhone-good, but it is usable.

Battery life was so-so, at around 120 shots. In terms of actual image quality, this model manages fine for a hundred dollar camera. It won't get any awards, since it has many of the disadvantages of cheap cameras (e.g. fringing), but it does manage to stay on its feet with dignity.

The unit did fail me in another aspect though. See, the camera stopped charging at some point (I was charging it via my PC). I removed the USB cable, connected it to the wall charger that it came with, but still, no luck! The camera wouldn't charge. At that point, I feared the worst, that the battery was dead. I connected another Kodak camera I had around (that uses the same connector), and that camera wouldn't charge either. When I replaced the new USB charging cable with the older USB charging cable that had come with my older Kodak camera, all was working fine. Apparently, the... USB cable that came with the V1073 was problematic. I had other devices/parts failing on me over the years, but never a USB cable. There's a first time for everything.

Regardless, if you are looking a cheap digicam that does the snapshot job well, and at the same time get access to some HD video recording, this is not a bad camera. Although, I would personally go for this model instead, which has full manual control. Sure it doesn't look supa-dupa with a touchscreen, but it offers more shooting features, for the same price.

Rating: 6.5/10

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