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Old Jul 6, 2005, 10:03 PM   #1
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Hiall,

My wife and I have been shopping for a new digital camera over the last few weeks, and we finally decided to pick up the Kodak v550 last friday, just in time for the 4th of July weekend.

First a bit of background:

We previously owned a Canon A310, and prior to that I've always had Canon cameras. We felt that the A310 took pretty good pictures, but the real problem was that the shot-to-shot times were ridiculously long, sometimes it felt like a full 10 second wait for the next flash shot. Also, the camera had a terrible time focussing in low light; sometimes the camera would spend literally over 15 seconds trying to focus with the shutter pressed down.

For our new camera, we were looking for something that had much better performance, took good video, had a nice sized LCD, and was nice and compact.

Other cameras we considered:

Our main contenders were the yet-to-be-released Casio s500 and the Fujifilm z1. We chose against the Casio due to the smaller, very low-resolution LCD, although I loved the overall size and claimed excellent performance.

My wife was a big fan of the Fujifilm z1. We got to play with it in-person, and it seemed like a great camera. What stopped me from picking it up was the limited movie-mode recording capabilities and the lower-res LCD, otherwise we would have chosen the Fuji z1. It had a great form-factor and a great feel.

The Kodak V550:

Finally, the camera we chose. We finally chose the v550 after we were able to use it hands-on at a local circuit city. The form-factor of the camera is good, but not on the same level as the Casio and Fuji. The Kodak has a very high-quality body and feel, it just isn't as tiny as the Casio or Fuji; I would liken the size of the Kodak to the Canon sd400. What sets the Kodak apart is the great LCD. It is a higher-resolution LCD than nearly all the other cameras available today, and it is great to look at. We put a lot of emphasis on this LCD, as we thought it would allow us to more accurately judge the quality of a picture without viewing it on a computer. The LCD is quite viewable in direct sunlight, and even if it isn't, you always have the viewfinder to rely on (which we absolutely never use, ever).

The performance of the Kodak is nothing short of amazing. The time between non-flash shots is nearly non-existant. The same is true for the time between flash shots. In both cases, the picture review will flash up onto the lcd (for a longer time with a flash shot), but you can go straight to the next shot by pushing the shutter down halfway. Honestly, I couldn't even take shots faster if I wanted to.

Video quality is quite good. When viewing the clips on the computer, they do not look spectacular; good, but not spectacular. When viewing the clips on tv, they look spectacular. There's been talk of the white balance jumping around, but the same happens with my Sony HC-20 MiniDV camcorder. I'd say that the clips are pretty great for a digital camera, but it won't replace a true camcorder. You can definitely hear the zoom when optical zooming. In a quiet room, the zoom can be very evident. When recording outside, you need to strain to hear the zoom.

I'm not expert when it comes to judging image quality. Personally, I think that the images look great, especially when it comes to outdoor shots. Indoor, the flash shots turned out quite well. In a few cases, the flash was actually overpowering, but this quickly became evident on the LCD, and we'd shoot another shot. I'd say image quality is great, no complaints at all.

One thing that is great about the v550 is the scene modes. I believe that nearly all cams have this feature now, but I find the feature quite useful. Navigating through menus and switching between modes on the v550 is easy and intuitive. One little annoyance though; when reviewing pictures on the LCD, the lens is out. I've yet to find a way to review pics on the LCD without having the lens out.

In all, I'm very happy with our decision to choose the Kodak v550. Form and style and great (although it could be smaller), performance is outstanding and image and video quality leaves nothing to be desired.

Pros: Good form and style. LCD accurately depicts the way the image will actually look. Shot-to-shot times are non-existant.

Cons: Battery life is not as good as others, although we did not encounter a problem over the long weekend (charging each night, we never got the mid/low battery warning). Could be smaller. Can only review pics with lens out. Zoom is a little slow. Zoom can be heard during video.

Whew. Okay, I think that's all I have to say. I hope that this helps a few people, as I've been reading a few posts asking for opinions of the v550. Let me know if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them as best I can.

Cheers

Roger
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Old Jul 7, 2005, 12:02 AM   #2
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Hi Roger,

Nice of you to submit a very informative post on this camera of yours. One question though: does this DC incorporate the "steady Shot" feature? I have the OLY C-740UZ, which happens to be a nice little camera - but am finding that a tripod is essential for taking night shots. I would like to avoid this necessity, and just be able to shoot 'straight-up' with the camera. Also, as I have rather big hands, I don't mind (in fact, I prefer) a larger body camera.

Thanks in advance.

....................................

Blessings,

Nate

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Old Jul 7, 2005, 3:14 AM   #3
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Thanks Roger,

I have had my heart set on this camera ever since I saw it on the web. I have been waiting5-6 weeks for it to reach the uk. Thanks for the review, almost ready to buy this camera now, just need to read a few user reviews to confirm that this camera takes as good a picture as it looks.

cheers

Dean
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Old Jul 7, 2005, 1:52 PM   #4
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Sounds good. What size/speed memory card are you using?


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Old Jul 7, 2005, 2:31 PM   #5
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Can you turn the backlight off on the camera and see the LCD clearly in bright sunlight? They were making transreflective LCDs for a while that did that and I've been hoping for a rebirth.

Whether reviewers say the LCD is good in sunlight or bad I find they are very hard to see if they aren't transreflective and require the camera backlight for viewing.


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Old Jul 7, 2005, 3:25 PM   #6
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Hey all,

In response to some questions/comments:

1. The V550 does not have any sort of "steady shot" feature. The closest that it comes to IS is a "blurry image indicator", which basically shows a red, yellow, or green hand at the top left of the screen when reviewing. If the hand is red, the image is blurry. It's kind of a nice feature, but if a picture is blurry, you can usually tell right away by looking at the LCD (it's big and detailed). So, night shots with no flash can be tough. I found myself resting the camera on a ledge in order to take sharp night photos. Anyways, I'm sure a tripod or a more experienced photographer would do a better job of night photos than I did.

One other thing that I should clarify, this camera is far from "big". In comparison the to the Casio s100/s500, it is larger, but it is not big. I carried the camera in my front pocket all weekend, and it felt like I was carrying my cell phone. Also, my wife has been/plans to carry this camera around in her purse with her at all times; so far there have been no complaints.

2. I'm using a 1gb ridata gold SD card. It says on the package that it is 66X speed. The camera states that the 1gb card will hold 632 pictures (at full 5.0mp res), or 28:30 of video. In practice, it will actually hold a bit more, but that's a good estimation.

3. I'm relatively sure that you cannot turn off the backlight to the LCD. I could be wrong, but I haven't come across this feature, and Kodak seems to put everything at easy access. Anyways, in direct sunlight, the LCD is far from easy to see, but you can usually strain a bit and see clearly enough to take the shot. I remember two instances, in one case I used one hand to push the shutter and the other to shield the LCD. In the other case, we asked someone to take a photo for us, and he had no problem lining us up and getting the photo even though it was direct sunlight on the LCD (I had just stood in the same place to shoot a photo myself). Anyways, you can always defer to the viewfinder if the sunlight is too much. Just personally, I've never used the viewfinder, and I honestly don't think that I ever will. I'm sure that I'd just strain my eyes, neck, whatever instead; but that's just me.

I did think of one other thing that may be an issue to some people. The top of the camera has the shutter, power and flash buttons. The power button is round, while the flash button is rectangular. However, these buttons are quite small, and feel the same when you're not looking. Anyways, I sometimes found myself attempting to turn the camera on without looking, and actually pushing the flash button. I'm sure I'll just get used to it with time, but for now it can be a bit frustrating.

Anyways, keep any questions coming; I'm happy to help.

Cheers

Roger
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Old Jul 8, 2005, 1:17 AM   #7
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have u compared v550's movie with casio s500 or z750's???? is it better than the high quality movie mode on casio? can u share a sample movie please !!!
how is the burst mode??
is it sturdy?
does it focus during zooming in d movies
overall is it better than the casio s500 ( which is scaring me because of d casio's lens error problem and their poor service back up)

thanx
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 2:23 PM   #8
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Hi Roger--got my 550 yesterday and am learning. Question: I transferred pics to computer using Easyshare (after upgrade download) via USB cable, but the pics were then (automatically?) deleted from the memory card. How do you view the pics on the computer while keeping them intact on the card? Thanks. Bill M.
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 11:04 PM   #9
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Are there any difficulties for you to get an external USB SD cardreader? Much more convenient / faster than to connect the DC directly (but the trouble of physically pulling out the SD card).

I am using EasyShare 5.0 (just downloaded, as diff from the bundled 4.0.4 on CD). I can control if to retain the pic on SD by:

1. Press "Add Pic" on top toolbar.
2. In the pop-up Select_Transfer window, choose question (2) the v550 device.
3. A checkbox just below q(2), controls the "removal" of pics on the card. It's default unchecked in ES 5.0.

Or alternatively:

4. Set the "write-protect" switch on the SD card.
OR.
5. "Protected" the pics from the V550 itself before transfer (very tedious if massive pics).

BTW w/ ES5.0 you can "edit" movies to trim away unwanted frames - a wonderful feature to save space.


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Old Jul 9, 2005, 11:10 PM   #10
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Hi V550 users,

Pls update the forum, when you find the spare batteries are available.

You know, v550 is rather a battery eater in today's standard, but the battery is so proprietary.

I thought it's compatible with Canon Ixus 30 (same physical dimensions, same 3.7v/720mAh, but the terminal metal plates are made f___kingly slightly larger (1mm) ((


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