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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Kodak V705 Dual Lens

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Kodak V705 Dual Lens Review

Review Date: Oct 10, 2006

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Kodak EasyShare V705 Dual Lens with optional Photo Printer Dock Plus Series 3
Kodak EasyShare V705 Dual Lens with optional Photo Printer Dock Plus Series 3

USER'S EXPERIENCE

Tuesday, Sep 26, 2006 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • EasyShare V705 Dual Lens
  • No memory card included [but it has 32MB of Internal Memory]
  • [I received a 256MB Hi-Speed Core Micro SD Card]
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • AC Adapter
  • USB / A/V connector
  • Wrist Strap
  • Soft Bag
  • Custom Camera Insert for Docking Station
  • Custom Printer Insert for optional Printer Dock Plus
  • Interface Cables: A/V; USB
  • Software CDs: EasyShare v6.0 software with printer driver
  • Instruction Manual: Getting Started Guide
  • I also received the optional Printer Dock Plus Series 3 Printer to review

The Kodak EasyShare V705 Dual Lens digital camera in its silver all-metal body looks simply stunning. I believe I like it in silver much better than the all-black V570 it replaces. The construction also seems to be a notch higher. Everything else is basically the same as in the V570, except for the higher resolution (7.1MP vs. 5MP), a higher ISO 1000 (vs. ISO 800), lower ISO 50 (vs. ISO 64), and some other minor changes.

Which means the Kodak V705 still has the two features that set it apart from its competitors and are the most fun to use: the 23mm ultra-wide angle lens that is perfect for group shots and wide landscape vistas; and, an innovative and easy-to-use in-camera panorama stitch mode that needs only 3 pictures to cover a full panoramic 180°.

This is one beautiful digital camera that looks like an expensively crafted fashion jewellery. The attention to detail, from the brushed silver lens cap to the etched letters speak of quality. Don't take my word for it: head to your favourite digital camera retailer and hold one in your hand. This is one gift that will not be returned to the store.

From Left to Right, Everyone Is Included In Group Shots

If you are always complaining that your digital camera does not take good group shots, the Kodak V705 will delight you. Its 23mm ultra wide-angle lens will allow you to include everyone without having to back up until no one's face is recognizable anymore. In addition, its unique in-camera panoramic feature allows you to "walk across" a line of people for an amazing panoramic group shot. Note that you won't be able to do that in low-light because the flash will not cover that wide an angle.

Great Panoramic Shots As Easy As 1-2-3

When I first started using digital cameras, the possibility to take real panoramic shots (not the pseudo "panorama" mode of APS film cameras that simply cropped the top and bottom portion of the picture to simulate a panorama shot) was a powerful attraction. As I dabbled into it, I found that the software you used mattered as well as how helpful the panorama mode of the camera was.

For example, did the camera display part of the previous shot as semi-transparent to allow easy alignment with the next shot? The more closely aligned your shots are, the more seamless your final resultant panorama shot will be.

Also, I found that the panorama software had to be good or I could spend hours trying to get the stitching right. There are some good ones out there, but who likes spending time stitching images?

That is why the Kodak V705's in-camera panorama stitching is such a winner. It works well but does require that you align your shots carefully -- and that can be challenging using a relatively small LCD screen (compared to a 17-in. or larger computer screen). Our panorama image samples were handheld and so suffers from some misalignment, though you would not be able to see it unless you view it full size. Overall, if you choose your alignment points carefully, your panorama shots should come out very acceptable.

[See our tips on how to take great panorama shots with the Kodak V705.]

I don't believe Kodak has targeted those who love wide landscape vistas strongly enough. This is easily a new sub category that could take off in new printers, paper types, etc. catering to printing panoramas.

[Editor's Note: A note of caution is necessary when you are taking only 2 shots. When you are taking 3 shots, the camera automatically stitches the shots together after the third shot is taken. Not so with 2-shot panoramas. You must press the mini Joystick in to start the stitching process. If you simply power off, the camera does not stitch first then power off; it simply turns off and no warning is given that you will lose those shots. The Kodak V705 has still not fixed this design flaw first seen in the V570, then the V610. We hope Kodak fixes this "feature" in a future firmware upgrade.]

How To Take Great Panorama Shots With The Kodak V705

It is easy to take great panorama shots with the Kodak V705. There are three reasons for this:

1) The ultra-wide angle lens covers a wide field of view with only 2 shots and a full 180° with 3 shots.

2) The in-camera panorama stitching gives you a semi-transparent overlay of the previous shot that greatly helps in proper alignment.

3) The Panorama scene mode is divided into 2 scene modes: Left-Right and Right-Left. In case you're wondering what's the big deal, it is. Read Tip #1 to see why.

Here are 4 tips that will help you nail that panorama shot everytime:

Tip #1 - Select Your First Shot Carefully

When taking multiple images for a panorama shot, the first shot is used to meter the exposure. This is important to keep in mind if you want to have your panorama shots correctly exposed.

Let's take an example where you want to take a 3-shot panorama of a Family Room - Breakfast Area - Kitchen (say, from Left to Right in that order), as is currently the design for many new houses in the Toronto real-estate market. The Family Room usually includes a large porch door that allows lots of light in while the Kitchen is usually the area with less light. So depending on whether you take your first shot with the Family Room or the Kitchen, the exposure will be metered and set differently.

If you start with the Kitchen first (a Right-Left shot), the camera meters for the somwhat dark Kitchen and exposes it correctly. Next you move left to the Breakfast Area, and the exposure is still OK. But when you move to the Family Room, the porch door ends up being too over-exposed, resulting in a not-too-successful panorama shot.

Reverse the panning order and select the Panorama Left-Right scene mode instead. Now, on your first shot, the camera meters for the large porch door and correctly exposes the Family Room. Next you move right to the Breakfast Area and the exposure is still OK. When you move to the Kitchen, depending on how dark it is, you might either end up with an under-exposed Kitchen shot, or more probably (since the Kitchen also has a window), slightly under-exposed but OK exposure.

Overall, this Left-Right shot might come out better than the previous Right-Left shot.

For great panorama shots, always give it a dry run first, checking the 2 or 3 shots that you want to stitch together, and carefully selecting the one to make your first shot. A good rule of thumb is to start with the shot that has the most light that may come out way overexposed or the one with the least light that may come out way underexposed. If all 3 shots are lighted about the same, it does not make a difference which Panorama mode you choose. If in doubt, take two panorama shots, one Left-Right, then a second one Right-Left, then select to keep the best.

Tip #2 - Keep Camera Level

A second important thing to keep in mind is to keep your camera level. Keeping the camera level keeps your horizon level, so the ceiling does not slope up or down. It also allows alignment of the 3 shots to be as perfect as possible. Using a tripod here is highly recommended.

Tip #3 - Pivot Around Camera

The third tip is to pivot around the center of the camera, not your body. In other words, it's the camera that should pivot, not you. This is because we are not holding the camera close against our face, peering through the viewfinder. There is no viewfinder and we are holding our hands out and looking into the LCD monitor. So just pivot the camera (imagine it's on a tripod), and the wide viewing angle of the LCD monitor definitely helps here. Of course, as in the previous tip, placing the camera on a level surface or a tripod is highly recommended.

Take 3 shots and you have covered a full 180°. Don't have to stop there. After the stitching is complete, take another 3 shots, continuing to pivot so that you cover the next 180°, for a full 360°.

You do not need to pivot at all. If you are taking a picture of an essentially flat and wide subject, e.g. a mural, simply start at one end and walk across the mural, being careful to keep the camera level and the same distance from the wall. Too bad Kodak restricts panorama shots to 3 only; some murals may need more than 3 shots.

Tip #4 - Be Careful When Including People

The one thing to be careful of when including people in your panorama shots is if they are moving around, you may end up with one or more persons appearing more than once in your final panorama shot.

It's also quite difficult, even impossible, to align 2 shots if you are using a moving person as your alignment point. If the person walks away when you take the next shot, you may end up with a half-bodied "ghost."

Follow these 4 tips and your panorama shots should come out great. As usual, practice makes perfect.

Fixed-Focus

Since the camera starts out at the ultra-wide angle 23mm focal length, and it is a fixed-focus lens, there are no AF frame on the LCD screen to indicate focus is achieved.

Remember it is fixed focus, so there is no focusing to perform: objects within the distance range specified are always in focus. So, do not panic if you do not see the AF frame -- there is simply no need to focus.

Similarly, AF-assist never needs to fire when using a fixed-focus lens.

Also you can't do macro with the ultra-wide angle lens. Setting the camera to macro automatically switches to the second "normal" lens.

Menu Structure

The menu structure on the Kodak V705 has improved somewhat on that of the V570. Readers will remember that I complained then that there were no indication what the settings were.

Kodak V570For example, on the V570, when you are on the third SETUP page (SETUP 3 of 5, reproduced at the right), the highlighted option displays "Red Eye Preflash" at the top.

But you would not be able to tell just by looking at the two options above it that Distortion Compensation is set to ON and Orientation Sensor to OFF.

Kodak V750 On the V705, small icons now display besides each setting value and that helps if you remember / recognize what the icons represent. Not bad. I contend that there is still lots of space to include a text beside the icon, and even beginners would appreciate that extra help.

The MENU structure is just a long list of items, and to reach an option, you have no choice but to patiently scroll thru each item until you reach the one you want. This makes it super easy for first-time users, but more advanced users would love to have some means of faster access, perhaps using tabs.

Advanced Users

Though the Kodak V705 is targeted to beginners, more advanced photographers will find useful manual controls.

For example, its Auto mode is really a Programmed Auto mode, allowing changes to WB, ISO, Exposure Metering mode, Focus Zone.

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 surprisingly does not happen easily here -- perhaps because the mini Joystick does require a conscious and definite push to dial in a change of setting.

Frustrated that the camera does not keep your MENU settings [SETUP settings are kept]? Any changes you make in the MENU apply only to the current session. When next time you power on, the camera will default back to its factory-shipped settings.

There are now 2 ways to keep your MENU settings. The first way, which carries from the V570 and V610, is to use the Custom scene mode: Just press SCN, select Custom (it's the last icon), and press OK. Then go into menu and set your favourite settings. When you turn off/on the camera, it will default back to Auto mode. Press SCN and select Custom again (if that's where you left it last time, the icon will still be selected) to retrieve your saved settings.

In our V570 review, we asked Kodak to add an option in SETUP for those of us who like our MENU settings to stay (and proposed Menu Changes = Reset | Stay). Well, on the V750, there is now an additional option called "Maintain Settings" in MENU that allows you to save certain of the most used settings: Flash, WB, ISO, Color Mode, Sharpness, Exposure Metering, and Focus Zone. This saves you from having to go to Scene Mode to select Custom. Thank you, Kodak!

EasyShare Software 6.0.1.17

Kodak EasyShare Software 5
Kodak EasyShare Software 5

Kodak EasyShare Software 6.0.1.17
Kodak EasyShare Software 6

There is a change from EasyShare 5 to EasyShare 6 (as the above two screen captures show). It's basically the same software and layout with a move away from traditional Kodak yellow to a more "fading / transparent grey" theme. I don't remember if you could do that before, but you can now drag a thumbnail into the "Picture Tray."

You can substitute the default background image to one of your own "Personal Background Theme" as I have done above substituting the default Aqua Star (Kodak provides 11 more background themes) with the picture of the Eaton Centre. To select a picture to use as your Personal Background Theme is easy: simply right-click on the picture and select "Set as Personal Background Theme...". The background image is very faint (perhaps a bit too faint?) and the other areas of the screen is just a tad too grey for my tastes. It gives a smudgy look overall. But I like the idea of themes and skins, and so perhaps in a future version, Kodak will provide the capability to change colors of the other screen items and not just the background?

The EasyShare Software 6 remains easy to install and use. Anyone (even if you do not own a Kodak digital camera) can download it for free. If you are running an older version, you can download the most recent one from Kodak's site.

The default transfer directory on Windows XP is the "My Pictures" directory on the C: drive in Documents and Settings. I much prefer to create a new directory 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. One improvement suggestion here is to be able to create a new folder while in EasyShare; as it is implemented now, I need to launch Windows Explorer to create a new folder and then come back to EasyShare to specify it as my default transfer folder for this camera.

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 so you don't muck up the original picture.) 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 EDIT function allows you to Crop, Rotate, remove Red Eye, auto Enhance, Scene Balance (exposure, shadow, highlight), Color Balance (pseudo WB correction), apply various Scene Effects (B&W, Sepia Tone, Forest, Scenic, Portrait, Sunset), apply Fun Effects (Spotlight, Coloring Book, Cartoon, Fisheye), and create cards. You can also burn selected images to a CD or DVD.

The one improvement suggestion I would have liked to see is complete detailed EXIF info. Kodak probably thinks the target audience for this camera would not care one bit about EXIF info, but it's already there in each picture, so why not simply display it for more advanced users? Not much is missing: Exposure Compensation, Macro, and other effects used.

One-Touch Printing With The Printer Dock Plus Series 3

I also received the optional Printer Dock Plus Series 3 printer that prints borderless 4x6 in. prints. From unpacking the printer to printing your first photo, "It's so easy that even mom can do it.™" [Trademark, Photoxels ;o)]

You will need to use the printer insert that came with the Kodak V705 and place that on top of the printer to act as a cradle for the camera. Placing the camera on the Printer Dock Plus will recharge your camera (same 3 battery charging LEDS), play a slide show and perform One-Touch transfer.

Printing is really one-touch easy, printing either directly from the Kodak V705 or from the EasyShare software. Everything you need to start printing immediately is included in the printer kit: the printer itself, color cartridge that slides in without any mess, 10 sheets of glossy photo paper, and paper tray.

Slide the color cartridge in (there's only one way to slide it in, so you won't make a mistake); put the paper in the tray (glossy side up, and you'll need to first slide the cover out about half way) and insert tray in printer (slide the cover back except for a couple of inches); plug in power cable; plug in USB cable if you intend to print from your PC; and/or place custom printer insert (that came with the Kodak V705) on top of the printer if you intend to print directly from the camera.

If you print directly from the camera, there is nothing to set up.

If you print from your PC, you should first click the "Print at Home" tab, then "Printer Setup" and select "KODAK printer dock plus s3" in the Printer Name drop down, and Orientation = Landscape. Click OK to accept the changes. [Note you cannot just go to your PC's "Printers and Faxes" (if running Win XP) and set the KODAK printer as the default printer. It doesn't work.]

Then select the picture, and press (or click) "Print" to send the image to the printer. [Or, select a photo, Right-Click and select "Quick Print".] In about 70 sec. (if printing from my PC, a Windows XP 1.6GHz 512MB) or 90 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 lamination to make the print waterproof and durable.

The printer is also equipped with Bluetooth 1.1 wireless technology for wireless printing from compatible Bluetooth wireless technology enabled devices, including PDAs and wireless mobile phones. The printer will receive Bluetooth signals from within 10 m (30 ft).

If you have a Wi-Fi wireless network, you can purchase an optional Kodak Wi-Fi card and insert it into the card slot in the printer for wireless transfer and printing.

[Editor's Note: I have not tested the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology.]

Make sure you have enough clearance (about 5 in. / 12.7 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 a minimum real estate of 46 x 20 cm (or, 18 x 8 in.) desk space for the printer.

It is that simple and it beats waiting for the camera store to return your prints. 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.

Summary

The Kodak EasyShare V705 Dual Lens is a one-of-a-kind digital camera that gives well exposed, good to very good quality images straight out of the camera. Its ultra-wide angle lens should be a major selling point for many who desire or require that wide coverage. It is very easy to use and, paired with the optional Printer Dock Plus Series 3 printer, you have One-Touch facility in transferring images to your PC and printing 4x6 in. prints in the convenience of your home.

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