The EASYSHARE M550 is one of the latest products in the series, and sits towards the extremely affordable range of the scale. The model features a sizeable sensor, decent LCD screen and the expected range of simple functionality – all of which is available at a bargain price. But how does the M550 perform? Is it solely an entry-level shooter, or does it offer something for the more experienced photographer as well?
Design, Performance, Value & Image Quality
Kodak EASYSHARE M550 review – Design
One area where Kodak will not be winning awards with the M550 is design. The consumer compact end of the market is one that normally welcomes enterprising an innovative design, though it seems that Kodak has missed that memo. The M550 has the looks like a camera designed several years ago with a view to designing a camera of the future. Button layout and design is also fairly disappointing – the buttons on the top of the camera sit flush to the camera’s body and quite close together, making pressing them individually a complicated task. The buttons on the rear of the camera are slightly better and more sensibly sized, but are placed very close together making it difficult to operate the camera without accidentally pressing the undesired button.
Kodak EASYSHARE M550 review – Performance
Luckily, the Kodak EASYSHARE M550 is a decent camera in use. Once you’ve adjusted to the camera’s less-than-desirable button layout, it’s not that much of a pain to operate. The focus system is fairly prompt, with AF tracking working noticeably well. Unfortunately, the zoom is fairly noisy in its travel from wide to tele, and is slow, making it a fairly painful experience.
One of the plus points is the LCD screen. Despite being at the low end in the resolution stakes, the 2.7in screen displays exposures well and show a good amount of detail. Once you get used to the slightly unintuitive button layout, the menu system is nice a simply laid out in a linear fashion. Various buttons on the rear of the camera are customisable, meaning you can add quick / favourite functions where needed.
Kodak EASYSHARE M550 review – Value
One of the major sells of the Kodak EASYSHARE M550 is its price. Currently priced around the £100 mark, it’s difficult to expect too much from it. However, the bar has been raised recently with some fantastic models in this price range, and for that reason the EASYSHARE M550 starts to look as though it’s slightly lacking at this price point.
Kodak EASYSHARE M550 review -Image Quality
Image quality is another area in which the Kodak M550 falls down. There seems to be a real struggle with the rendering of fine detail. In what appear to be an act of overzealous compression, definition in subjects such as trees or a field of grass is almost completely lost, with the latter appearing solely as a multi-toned patch of green. White balance is also far from reliable, varying from cold to warm in between shots. ISO performance is also fairly poor, with noise appearing even at the lowest of settings. One of the redeeming factors with regards to image quality is the reliability of exposures – more often than not this is an area in which the M550 produces the correct result.
In theory, there is a lot to like about the Kodak EASYSHARE M550. It’s affordable price means that those new to photography can get a foot on the ladder for very little cash. Then there’s the specification – the 12MP sensor, 5x optical zoom with 28mm wide-angle and 2.7in LCD screen all result in what looks like a good value package. However, the problems soon surface upon closer inspection. As mentioned, the compact is poorly designed and looks dated, while button layout is unintuitive and complicated. Performance is generally sluggish, with zoom and focus being less than prompt, though AF tracking does seem up to the job. Finally, there’s the image quality, which is amongst the most disappointing of compact cameras to recently grace the WDC testing bench. All in all, if your looking to get one of the most affordable cameras on the market and really aren’t fussed about performance, design or image quality, then the Kodak EASYSHARE M550 may be right for you. If any of those factors are important to you however, there are much better options out there.