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Digital Camera Reviews > Kodak V550
Kodak V550 Zoom Review
Date: Aug 15, 2005
HANDLING & FEEL
River - Paramount Canada's Wonderland
Demonstrating the correct way to relax your way
down Lazy River as a couple
without getting separated by the gentle current
and other bumping inner tubes
36mm, Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/400 sec., F2.8 and
The Kodak EasyShare V550 Zoom is an all
metallic ultra compact digital camera with a solid
construction. It looks fashionable and is part
of Kodak's newest "Pocket Series." With
its flush design, it will fit into your jeans
pocket with dimensions of 94W× 56H×
22D mm (3.7W × 2.2H × 0.9D in.); it
weighs 143g (5.1 oz). It comes with a docking
station as standard, and small design attention
to details make it an enjoyable camera to use.
The 3x optical zoom lens is a quality Schneider-Kreuznach
C-Variogon with a 35-mm equivalent focal length
of 36-108mm. The lens extends about 2.5 cm (1
in.) when powered on.
The back of the camera is mostly taken by the
extra large 2.5 in. LCD monitor with a high 230,000
pixels resolution and a fast refresh rate. The
image is very clear and gains up very well in
low-light. Those who like to use an optical viewfinder
will be glad to learn that there is a small though
very clear one on the Kodak V550.
On the LCD, you can choose to display a clean
image (without any info), display info, display
a live histogram in addition to the info, or turn
the display off completely.
When pointed to a bright source of light (the
TV screen, a bright metal roof reflecting the
sun), the image in the LCD may sometimes band.
I find that too often I inadvertently hold the
camera by the LCD when placing it on, or removing
it from, its docking station. Fortunately the
LCD is protected by a piece of clear glass, and
a wipe with a soft cloth is all it takes to clean
Because of the amount of space taken by the LCD
monitor, Kodak chose to make all the control buttons
on the small side. Everything, including the zoom
lever and the four way controller, is small. I
find the control buttons somewhat difficult to
operate at first, and I personally would have
preferred a few extra mm. However, each click
is precise, and you do get used to them after
I find that I do have to be careful not to inadvertently
press the Auto mode control (situated at the top
left corner where you put your index finger to
hold the camera steady); if I had selected a Scene
Mode, I can easily switch back to Auto mode just
by holding the camera for shooting. So, if you
have large hands and fingers, you may want to
check the controls out yourself at the store first
before making a buying decision. Those used to
tiny control buttons, as is common nowadays on
most electronic products, might not find any of
this to be a problem.
The Kodak V550 does not have a mode dial. Instead,
four panel buttons line the top of the camera:
Auto, Portrait, SCN (Scene), Video. They are not
touch-sensitive; they are really part of the top
panel itself and you do have to slightly depress
that particular section of the panel to activate
one of the modes. Once activated, the selected
mode glows blue.
Also on top of the camera is a tiny flash button
that I find a bit too close to the power button
for comfort. Flash is Auto by default: everytime
you turn on the camera, flash is reset to Auto.
This is probably a bit irritating for those who
like to leave the flash off until needed, but
good for P&S photographers who might forget
to turn the flash back on if they had temporarily
turned it off. As it is, I turned off the camera
a number of times when I meant to turn the flash
off. It would be good to have a menu option to
default the flash to either Auto or OFF.
The shutter release button is rectangular, very
close to the edge and almost flushed with the
surface. It is two stage with a soft first stage
to lock focus and exposure, and a firm click is
necessary to take the picture.
All the options are accessed thru the menu, except
for macro (Close-up) and flash. I like the fact
that there is also a Landscape setting that will
set the lens to focus at infinity. The latter
option should come in handy when taking fireworks
pictures when it is too dark to lock focus on
anything and you really want an infinity focus.
There is a "light sensor" at the far
top right corner (looking at the front of the
camera) which I find easily blocked by my fingers.
If this is the light meter, then be careful not
to block it to ensure correct exposure metering.
This is a fast camera. Startup is fast at about
1 sec. including waiting for the lens to extend
and the LCD monitor to light up! There is also
no practical shutter/AF lag. Auto focus is fast
and locks easily. There is an AF Assist Illuminator
to help gain focus in low light situations that
works very well. I find that writing the image
to memory seems slower than average.
When you take a picture, it is displayed on the
LCD for about 5 seconds for review. I did not
find an option to disable it. A touch on the shutter
release button puts the camera immediately into
record mode again. At any time, a press of the
separate Review button on the back of the camera
takes you back into review.
Here is the screen display of the Kodak V550
in Auto mode. It tells you at a glance (from top
left clock-wise): Self-timer on, Flash Auto, 5MP
resolution, space for approx. 13 images left,
Internal memory being used, Continuous AF, Center
Focus zone, Center-Spot metering, ISO 80, Auto
mode, exposure compensation, Histogram, Zoom indicator.
As on other Kodak digital cameras, the left and
right arrow keys conveniently default to exposure
The Kodak V550 has 19 Scene Modes: press the
Scene Mode button on top of the camera and use
the arrow keys to select: Sport, Landscape, Close
Up, Night Portrait, Night Landscape; Snow, Beach,
Text, Fireworks, Flower, Manner/Museum, Self Portrait;
Party, Children, Backlight, Panning Shot, Candlelight,
Sunset, Custom. As you can see, each scene mode
is accompanied by a short explanation of what
it does and some relevant instructions.
One scene mode that you might want to pay particular
attention to is Custom: it allows you to save
your camera settings. If you have been frustrated
that the camera reset your settings (except for
a couple) everytime you turn it off/on, use the
Custom scene mode. Just press SCN, select Custom
(it's the last one), and press OK. Then go into
menu and set your favourite settings. When you
turn off/on the camera, it will default to Auto
mode. Press SCN and select Custom again to retrieve
your saved settings.
A feature that Kodak gets right is the tripod
socket that is: 1) metal and 2) centered inline
with the lens. This permits taking easy panorama
pictures on a tripod. If Kodak can provide a metal
tripod and position it properly on a P&S camera,
why can't other digital camera manufacturers do
A docking station comes standard. Place the Kodak
V550 on its docking station and it starts to recharge
the battery. It takes approximately 3 hours to
completely recharge a fully depleted battery.
When battery is recharging, the SCN button blinks.
When all four top panel buttons glow steady, the
battery is fully recharged. A 3-part indicator
on the docking station also gives an approximation
of how much the battery is currently charged.
A cool feature of the docking station is the
Slide Show button: press the Slide Show button
on the docking station, and your camera becomes
a hands-free display unit running a slide show
of your pictures. The camera sits on the docking
station at a slight angle for comfortable viewing.
The high resolution of the LCD plus a 170°
wide viewing angle make reviewing pictures with
Press the Transfer button and your images are
immediately transferred to your PC using the EasyShare
The Kodak EasyShare V550 Zoom packs lots
of features into an ultra compact and solid all-metal
body. It not only looks fashionable but handles
quite well, and its simple menu design is easy
to navigate. More importantly, it is fast in operation
with no practical shutter lag at the wide-angle