I’m a terrible photographer. I just can’t grasp all that stuff about ISO and focal length, and don’t even start on that twiddly lens business. All I want out of a camera is reasonable looking snapshots that I can safely print at a reasonable size without looking a fool when my proper photographer pals come round and start jabbering on about depth of field. If the camera was a cool looking object that fitted in a pocket rather than needing to be carried around in a wheelbarrow or something that would be the icing on the cake. So how does the new Kodak V610 stack up against those exacting requirements?
First off, it’s quite a pleasing article: If you’ve seen it’s predecessor the V570 you’ll know more or less what to expect. Not much more than a couple of centimetres thick it would slip neatly into a handbag or suit pocket without making you look lumpy in someone else’s wedding photographs. The black, satiny finish is agreeably tactile and the two lenses are concealed behind an integral metal lenscap that pops open at power-on.
That’s right – two lenses. What’s the big idea? The big idea is Kodak Retina Dual Lens Technology. I got one of my proper photographer pals to explain it to me and apparently you get a zoom lens of 38-114mm and a second zoom lens of 130-380mm in the same camera. The Kodak V610 actually features two 1/2.5 inch, 6 megapixel sensors, one per lens. Effectively you get 10x optical zoom from this arrangement, which for a pretty compact digital camera is, I’m assured, fairly remarkable. All the zooming goes on within the case so there’s no distracting (or impressive depending on your frame of mind) lens travel when you’re focusing on a subject. Don’t get too excited though, it’s still a 6MP camera.
All of the cutting-edge technology is concealed behind a very simple-to-use scene menu, which enables you to select the type of picture you’re shooting with minimal fuss and leads in most cases to reasonably creditable results. Night shots don’t work so well, demanding some kind of tripod or other stabilizing hardware to get blur-free results. The 2.87″ LCD on the rear of the unit is pretty serviceable, but like most digital camera LCDs tends to make the picture you’re shooting look sharper than it really is. Of course Kodak have thought of that too, with a beginner-friendly green/amber/red hand icon system that gives you a fair idea if the settings are likely to yield a blur-free image.
Once you’ve taken your snaps you can use the attached A/V cable to display them on a TV or, more excitingly, transmit them to your PC or Mac using Bluetooth. Being able to import photos without hunting around for a USB cable seems like a small deal until you try it, but it’s a very cool trick.
The downside of this arrangement is that the A/V cable connects to a proprietary docking port on the bottom of the camera and if you need to transfer some pictures without a Kodak dock (part of their EasyShare range)or a Bluetooth-equipped computer it’s going to be a bit tricky.
There’s provision for a SD/MMC, but you can also save images to the camera’s internal 32mb memory (around 28mb is actually usable, the rest being taken up by internal housekeeping). The same compartment houses the proprietary lithium battery. Personally I feel safer with an AA-size battery giving you the option of buying a Duracell in the chemist if your rechargeables give out. That’s about the only negative on this camera though. Sure the two-stage zooming takes a little getting used to but the idiot-proof scene menu, the onboard panorama stitching and the irresistibly modern Bluetooth file transfer more than make up for it.