With 10MP and 5x zoom, is it the M380 good value for money?
The Kodak EasyShare M380 is a mid-range model of Kodak’s mainstream consumer M-series. It has a 10.2-megapixel CCD, a 3in LCD monitor and a 5x zoom lens, but lacks more advanced features such as image stabilisation, a wideangle lens or advanced video recording. You can buy it direct from Kodak’s website for £129.98 or from a few online retailers for around £125. It’s available in red or black.
It’s not a bad-looking camera. The body is mainly aluminium with some plastic parts, and the anodised metallic finish is attractive, but it’s easy to see where corners have been cut. The poorly labelled controls look and feel cheap, the tripod bush is plastic, and the battery/card hatch is extremely flimsy. While the LCD monitor is large and reasonably sharp, it’s not terribly bright and has a shiny reflective surface that is difficult to see in bright daylight.
The M380 doesn’t offer much in the way of features. Shooting modes are selected via a rather fiddly dial on the top and are limited to program auto, a selection of scene modes or the Smart Capture automatic scene selection mode. There are some useful menu options, such as exposure compensation, macro or infinity focusing, a long exposure option, a very brief list of colour options, and adjustable white balance, ISO and sharpness settings. Autofocus can be set to multi-zone or centre zone, and exposure metering to multi-zone, centre weighted or spot.
The 5x zoom lens gives the M380 some versatility, but the wideangle end is only 38mm. The built-in flash is underpowered and poorly metered, failing to light the corners of the frame at wide angle and over-exposing close-range flash portraits. It will take a picture even if the flash isn’t fully charged, resulting in some very dark night-time shots. The video recording mode is also pretty lacklustre by modern standards, offering 640 x 480 resolution, mono audio and only digital zoom. One unusual feature is the ability to charge the battery via a USB connection.
The shot-to-shot time in seems quick at approximately 1.8 seconds, but the camera doesn’t wait for the AF system to focus before taking a picture. If you wait for it to focus the shot-to-shot time is more like 2.3 seconds. The M380 has no continuous shooting mode, just a three-shot burst which doesn’t focus between shots.
The autofocus system is reasonably quick in good light, but fails dismally in a room lit by a 60W bulb. It has no AF assist light, so it’s useless in the dark, however it will happily take a photo anyway even though it will come out as a dark burry mess.
The camera’s overall image quality is pretty poor. The lens is very soft right across the frame with visible chromatic aberration. Exposure metering and automatic white balance are both erratic, and surprisingly for a Kodak colour rendition is terrible. Darker saturated colours are blotchy, brighter ones are over-exposed and both lack detail. Images are also very over-compressed and are riddled with compression artefacts.
The Kodak EasyShare M380 is cheap for its specification, but it’s far from being good value. Indifferent build quality, a very limited range of poorly implemented features, non-existent low light performance and poor image quality make it one to avoid.