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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Kodak V550

Kodak Digital Cameras


Kodak V550 Zoom Review

Review Date: Aug 15, 2005

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Kodak EasyShare V550


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 driver
  • Instruction Manual: Start Here! Quick Guide, User's 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 viewfinder.

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 them.

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 here!

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.

"Hot Air" Balloons
36mm, Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/320 sec., F2.8, and ISO 80
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.

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