Kodak’s top budget M1093 IS ultra-compact is strong on value
The EasyShare M1093 IS is the top model in Kodak’s budget-priced M-series. It is a 10.1-megapixel camera with a 3x zoom lens, a 3.0-inch 230k monitor, optical image stabilisation and HD video capability, and is currently priced at under £110. Most of the other cameras in the M series have been very disappointing, but the M1093 is an exception to the rule.
The M1093 does have a number of very useful features, including USB in-camera battery charging, international mains adapters supplied as standard, an effective optical image stabilisation system and full HD video recording, in 1280 x 720 resolution at 30fps. Unusually both autofocus and optical zoom can be used while filming, and HD video clips can be 30 minutes long if you have a big enough memory card.
Unfortunately it also has a few problems, in particular the enormously annoying default shooting mode. When you switch the camera on it starts in Smart Capture mode, an automatic scene selection function. In practice it selects Landscape mode in almost every situation, unless the subject is less than six feet away in which case it selects Macro mode. In both these modes flash is disabled, which means that when shooting indoors in low light, which includes most social situations, you end up having to fiddle about selecting Program mode and turning on the flash in order to take a picture.
For a budget camera it makes a good first impression. The body is half aluminium and half plastic, and is available in black or the anodised silver finish shown here. The design is slim and compact, measuring 95.2 _ 58.5 _ 21.4 mm and weighing just 135g. Build quality is better than one might expect for the price, and the camera feels surprisingly solid and well made. The body shape is a simple rectilinear slab with slightly rounded ends, and the flush-mounting controls and retracted lens mean it can slip easily into a shirt pocket.
The control layout is quite fiddly, with small flush-mounted buttons on the top that are hard to locate by touch, and a cramped rear panel that doesn’t leave much room for the thumb when holding the camera. The zoom control is slow and unresponsive, and the joystick menu navigation control will not be to everyone’s taste.
The built-in flash is also rather underpowered, with a maximum range of considerably less than the claimed three metres, and poor frame coverage.
Overall performance is slow. It can shoot three shots quite quickly, but then there is a very long delay before further shots can be taken. The AF system is quite fast and works well in low light; however, the metering system doesn’t work at all well in low light, under and over-exposing by several stops in pub or club lighting.
Overall picture quality is better than one might expect for the price, with rich colour and plenty of detail, and the lens is also pretty good, with little distortion and good centre sharpness. Noise is a problem at higher ISO settings, but it’s no worse than many other 10MP compacts
In daylight the M1093 is capable of good results, but it doesn’t cope well in low light. The slow performance, fiddly handling and annoying default mode are big handicaps but it has some good features and is a solid little performer.