Not one but two cameras arrived this year claiming the title of "world's
smallest 10X optical zoom." We put them head to head and let the sparks fly.
Distortion: Slight barrel (0.21%) at 35mm; imperceptible pincushion (0.09%) at 175mm; Imperceptible Barrel (0.02%) at 350mm. AF speed: Quite fast in bright conditions for a compact camera, slowing down a little in subdued lighting. Image Stabilization with both LCD and capture selected also slowed down AF slightly. Video: 848x480 with mono sound at 30 fps to capacity of the card. CIPA battery life rating: 250 shots, 50 percent with flash.
Imaging: 5MP (2560x1920). Lens: 35-350mm (equiv.) f/2.8-4.2 10X zoom, 4X digital zoom. LCD: 2.5-in. Storage: 13.4MB internal memory, SD/MMC card slot. JPEG format, PictBridge enabled, proprietary Li-ion rechargeable battery. Size/weight: 4.4x2.3x1.6 in., 9.2 oz with card and battery. Street price: $310. In the box: Battery, charger, battery case, strap, A/V and USB cables, software (Lumix Simple Viewer, Photo Fun Studio, ArcSoft PhotoImpression, Panorama Maker, and PhotoBase). For info: www.panasonic.com; 800-272-7033.
• Effective image stabilization.
• Flip-book animation is a fun extra.
• Starry Night offers very long exposures.
• No aperture- or shutter-priority mode.
• Digital noise near unacceptable at most ISOs.
NOTE: The two test numbers in the graphs for the Kodak EasyShare V610 represent the results from the 38-114mm lens and the 130-380mm lens (35mm equivalents), respectively.