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Digital Camera Reviews > Kodak V550
Kodak V550 Zoom Review
Date: Aug 15, 2005
Tuesday, Aug 2, 2005 - Here's what I receive
in the box:
- EasyShare V550 Zoom
- Li-ion rechargeable battery
- Wrist Strap
- Soft Bag
- Docking Station
- Custom Camera Insert for Docking Station
- Custom Printer Insert for optional Printer
Dock Series 3
- Power Cable
- Interface Cables: A/V; USB
- Software CDs: EasyShare software with printer
- Instruction Manual: Start Here! Quick Guide,
The Kodak EasyShare V550 Zoom is fashionable
with an all-metal solid construction and it is
available in black or silver. The large 2.5 in.
LCD monitor dominates the back of the camera.
It is mainly a P&S camera with Auto mode and
19 scene modes, and everything seems geared to
make it as easy to use as possible for the beginner.
The first thing I notice is that the camera does
not save [all] of the settings I so meticulously
set in the Menu. Every power off/on defaults the
camera back to Auto mode, flash on, ISO Auto,
etc. I crack open the User's Guide to find that
I need to use the Custom scene mode to save my
preferred camera settings. It's a bit of a hassle
to have to navigate to that setting every time
I power on the camera, but at least it's available.
After using the camera for a while, I just leave
it all on Auto. Reason: the camera is smart enough
to default to ISO 80 whenever possible.
The second thing I notice is that the control
buttons are on the small side. I've used other
ultra compact digital cameras with small buttons,
but the control buttons of the Kodak V550 seem
to have been shaved of a few mm too much all around.
I would recommend that you try them out first,
keeping in mind that eventually you'd get used
to them, like I did.
What I don't get used to is the close placement
of the Power button and the Flash button. I've
turned off the camera so many times when I meant
to simply turn the flash off. Good thing that
this camera is fast with startup at around 1 sec.
and negligible shutter lag!
The extra large 2.5 in. LCD monitor is high resolution
at 235K pixels (many other cameras have only about
115K pixels resolution) and it gains up very well
in low-light situations. It also has a fast refresh
rate for a smooth display. On my review camera,
I notice that the LCD tends to band when the camera
is pointed toward a very bright source of light.
It is very easy to compose and focus using the
LCD monitor. Most ultra compact digital cameras
today skip on the viewfinder altogether, but those
who like to have one will like the fact that the
Kodak V550 has a small but very clear optical
One standard feature that I really appreciate
with Kodak digital cameras is that the Left and
Right arrow keys default to Exposure Compensation.
No need to go into the Menu to do it or press
an extra button. The danger is that you may inadvertently
dial in an exposure compensation but it does not
happen here because you need to positively click
the arrow keys -- a simple touch won't change
You can easily mark some of the pictures you
take as "Favorites." A docking station
is included as standard, and besides serving to
recharge the camera's battery, it also serves
as a convenient stand. Place the camera on it,
press the Slide Show button on the docking station
and a slide show plays. The large LCD monitor
with wide viewing angle makes it easy for people
to see the images clearly. Good thinking all around
The Kodak V550 uses the SecureDigital (SD) memory
card and comes with 32MB of internal memory, which
holds about 17 5MP images. A memory card is a
one-time buy, so buy as large a size as you can
afford. There is really no sense in jiggling a
number of these tiny cards around -- easy to damage
and lose -- better just leave one 256MB or 512Mb
in the camera.
36mm, Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/320 sec., F2.8, and
Levels adjusted in Photoshop Elements
EasyShare Software 4
The EasyShare Software 4 is easy to install and
use. You might have to download the latest version
from the Kodak website. Be aware that it does
take a while to install; after you reboot, it
will run for a while more to set up your Favorites
folder. Just wait, let it run and do its job.
It's a wonderful program and highly recommended.
Make sure you install the EasyShare Software
before you do any transfer. Why? Because the defaults
may not be what you want. For example, where do
you want your images to be saved? The default
is Windows XP "My Pictures" directory
on the C: drive in Documents and Settings. I much
prefer to create a new directory in D: drive under
a name of my own choosing so I can easily find
the pictures when I need to. You set this directory
in Tools - Preferences... - Transfer - Browse.
If you use the EasyShare Software to edit your
photos, be aware that the default image compression
is set to less than the highest quality possible.
So the pictures you edit and save will be of less
quality than the original one. (Always save using
a different name.) This is all right if that's
what you want. But if you want the highest quality,
go to Tools - Preferences... - General tab - select
Large File/High Quality JPEG compression.
The one improvement suggestion I would have liked
to see is more detailed EXIF info.
Printer Dock Series 3
I also received the optional Printer Dock Series
3 printer that prints borderless 4x6 in. prints
in about 90 sec. (from the moment you click 'Print'
in the Kodak EasyShare software).
It is really a one-touch affair, printing either
directly from the Kodak V550 or from the EasyShare
software. If you thought printing at home is messy
and difficult, then the combination of a Kodak
digital camera and the Printer Dock Series 3 will
quickly dispel that erroneous notion.
Everything you need to start printing immediately
is included in the printer kit: the printer itself,
color cartridge, 10 sheets of glossy photo paper,
and paper tray. Slide the color cartridge in;
put the paper in the tray (glossy side up) and
insert tray in printer; plug in power cable and
USB cable (USB cable for printing from your PC);
and place custom printer insert (that came with
the Kodak V550) on printer, if you intend to print
directly from the camera.
Then select the picture, and press or click 'Print'
to send the image to the printer. In about 90
sec. (if printing from the Kodak EasyShare software
on your PC) or 105 sec. (if priting directly from
the camera), a beautiful 4x6 in. print is the
result. The photo is printed in 4 passes: one
each for yellow, red, blue, then a clear coat
of KODAK XTRALIFE lamination to make the
print waterproof and durable.
Make sure you have enough clearance (about 5
in. / 13 cm) on the other side of the printer
since that is where the paper will slide out temporarily
before being run through the printer again. In
all, you'd need roughly about 1ft 6in. by 9in.
(or, 46 x 23 cm) desk space for the printer.
Note that when the paper is brought into the
printer during the first pass, it sits there for
about 30 secs before the actual printing starts.
It is that simple and it beats waiting for the
camera store to return your prints. It is more
expensive than taking it to the store and I would
still recommend a trip to the camera store if
you have lots and lots of pictures to print. But
if you print only a dozen or so select pictures
at a time, the Printer Dock Series 3 is ideal.
It is also compact enough to bring with you to
a party, family visit, or other social occasion.
Purchase a kit containing a color cartridge and
40 photo paper, bring it all with you, and you
can take pictures and immediately print and leave
a copy with family and friends.
The Kodak EasyShare V550 Zoom is basically
a P&S digital camera that gives well exposed,
vivid and sharpened images straight out of the
camera. Though it allows some manual adjustments,
I wouldn't count on them too much because they
are limited. Add the optional Printer Dock Series
3 printer and you have One-Touch facility in printing
4x6 in. prints in the convenience of your home.