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Kodak EasyShare V803 Review
Date: Mar 5, 2007
Kodak EasyShare V803 in Cosmic
The Kodak EasyShare V803 is a digital
camera targeted to Point-and-Shoot (P&S) photographers.
It has 8.0 MP resolution on a 1/1.8 in. CCD and
a KODAK RETINAR 36-108mm (35 mm equivalent) 3x
optical zoom lens.
We find the overall image quality of the Kodak
V803 to be good with low noise at ISO 80, but
we would have preferred images to retain more
details. Image compression is quite high producing
file sizes that are about 2MB. The Kodak V803
produces images that are saturated in colours
straight out of the camera. More advanced photographers
might object to the high colour saturation.
The Kodak V803 provides 3x optical zoom. In the
above pictures, we show the coverage for 36mm
and then 108mm (35mm equivalent).
The Kodak V803 has Auto (really, Programmed Auto)
mode and 22 easy-to-use Scene Modes. This includes
the on-camera panorama stitching popularized by
the Dual Lens V Series: you take up to 3 shots
and the camera stitches them together into a panorama.
A slice of each previous shot is presented semi-transparent
to allow precise alignment of the shots. I love
this feature and this makes group shots and wide
landscape shots fun and easy.
The camera also provides exposure compensation
(though, no Auto Bracketing) but no Manual White
Balance. Advanced photographers will welcome the
live Histogram which can also be displayed in
Shutter speed ranges from 1/8-1/1,448 sec. in
Auto mode. Slow shutter speeds from 0.5 to 8 sec.
can be manually selected (MENU - Long Time Exposure).
When using Long Time Exposure, you can set WB
but not ISO. What this all means in practical
terms is that you will be hard pressed to use
this camera in low-light situations without resorting
to the flash. Otherwise be prepared to use a tripod
and erxperiment to obtain the correct exposure.
|36mm, Long Time Exposure
0.5 sec., Multi-Pattern, F2.8
ISO 160, Macro, Tripod used
The Kodak V803 can focus as close as 5cm (2 in.)
at wide-angle. Short of using a light tent or
studio lights, in practice you will not be able
to move in that close unless you can get light
in there somehow to illuminate your subject. The
above picture was taken at about 5 in. away using
natural room lighting. The camera was placed on
a tripod and I experimented with Long Time Exposure
(LTE) to find the best shutter time to use. When
using LTE, ISO is automatically set to AUTO (and
seems to default to, or prefer, ISO 160).
There is no AF Area, i.e. you cannot manually
move the AF Frame around on the screen to where
you want it to focus.
There are three metering modes: Multi-Pattern,
Center Weight and Center-Spot. Exposure and focus
lock are achieved thru a half-press of the shutter
||WB = Tungsten
As the above pictures show, the auto white balance
(AWB) can sometimes be quite accurate indoors
under artificial tungsten light, better than using
WB=Tungsten. Often, though, the AWB will behave
quite mysteriously and return inconsistent results.
It is not possible to set the WB manually. Outdoors,
under natural light, the AWB works quite well.
You can set the ISO on the Kodak V803 from 80
to 1600. The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate that noise at ISO 80 and 100 are under
control. Noise starts to be slightly visible at
ISO 200 but is usable. At ISO 400 to 1600, the
presence of noise takes the form of coloured splotches.
[Editor's Note: Since we are most interested
in ISO when using high ISOs in low-light situations,
the above images are therefore usually taken in
a low-light situation where long shutter speeds
are necessary to correctly expose the images.
However, on the Kodak V803, Long Time Exposure
is only possible when ISO is set to Auto. Therefore,
we have used flash to obtain the above images.
If you look at the EXIF info, you'll notice that
though the ISO changes, the exposure settings
do not (1/100 s at f/4.9) -- it seems that the
Kodak V803 varies the flash output instead to
obtain correct exposure.]
The above images (taken at normal room lighting
using two tungsten bulbs on the ceiling) tell
us a lot about why not too many digital cameras
are good for low-light situations -- in spite
of the availability of a high ISO 1600. The use
of flash can also sometimes results in stark images.
Compare these pictures with another more natural
looking one I took using a long exposure of 1.3
sec., f/4.9 at ISO 160 (automatically chosen by
108mm, Long Time Exposure 1.3 sec., Multi-Pattern,
ISO 160, Tripod used
We were not able to find much CA in everyday
shots. An example is above where the area delimited
by the red square at top right, and reproduced
at 100% crop at bottom left, shows slight purple
|36mm, Long Time Exposure
4 sec., Spot, F2.8, ISO 160
Self-timer, Tripod Used
The Kodak V803 allows the use of a long shutter
speed of up to 8 sec. in Manual mode, therefore
allowing some limited night photography. It seems
to use ISO 160 most (if not all) of the time,
probably to keep noise levels in check. Generally,
with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes
more prominent at slow shutter speeds. The kodak
V803 has noise reduction (NR) algorithm that automatically
kicks in at shutter speeds slower than 0.5 sec.
and you'll notice a longer processing time (approx.
twice the exposure time) before the next picture
can be taken.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take
a low-light indoors shot using a long shutter
speed of 4 sec. The NR works well, though the
presence of noise is slightly apparent.
Speed - PERFECT TOUCH Technology
|36mm, Auto, 1/8 sec., F2.8,
PERFECT TOUCH Technology applied in-camera
To correct underexposed images as the one above,
the PERFECT TOUCH Technology feature is a life
saver. It brightens the image in-camera and allows
you to save the enhanced image as a separate picture.
It's not too apparent at small sizes, but noise
is increased and there seems to be some artefacts
such as the halo around the black hair. A similar
Enhance feature is also available in the EasyShare
Overall, I am quite impressed with the overall
image quality of the Kodak V803. For a US $199.95
digital camera, it's a bargain. A first-time user
will find this digital camera point-and-shoot
easy to use and easy to obtain good results.
The pictures in the Kodak EasyShare V803 Photo
Gallery page provide a good sample of what
the camera is capable of. I have provided samples
at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100
in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 3264×
2448 pixels original size. Click on the image
for the original version.
You can safely assume that most macro shots
and slow shutter speed shots required the use
of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels
in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended
to the file name (though the original sized image
is, of course, not adjusted). The navigation images
at the top are usually adjusted (levels and sharpening).
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious