Camera Review: Kodak EasyShare V705

The super-wide angle abilities of the twin-lens, 7.1MP V705 ($299, street) place it head and shoulders above the competition.

Camera-Review-Kodak-EasyShare-V705
Camera-Review-Kodak-EasyShare-V705

When picking up the solid and weighty 7.1MP Kodak EasyShare V705 ($299.95, street), one gets the illusion that it's a chrome brick with no moving parts. But then you push the power button and hear "thuuuuuuuunk" and you'd swear that you just closed the door of a '72 El Dorado -- it feels that solid. In reality, you've opened the protective slide that shows the two Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon lenses, and the differences between this point and shoot and all the others suddenly seems very obvious.

In comparison to ultra-compact point and shoot cameras aimed at the novice market, the V705 appears to have a bigger presence, but when held next to comparable models (such as the Nikon Coolpix S), the V705 is only about a quarter of an inch wider, squatter by about half an inch, and is identically thick. The simplistic design and low profile buttons give the Kodak a boxy appearance, but it's surprisingly comfortable and user-friendly when held. The buttons and controls, like the rest of the camera, have a solid feeling and are big enough to ensure that use of the controls is effortless. One big difference in the controls of the V705 is that many of the functions are controlled via the camera's "joy stick" rather than a directional pad. Once I realized this, I became quite fond of it.

• Image Quality GalleryWhat's Hot • In-camera panorama stitching • High quality glass • Super-wide angle lens • Rock-solid feel/high quality build • In camera video editing What's Not • No manual exposure options • Low resolution viewing and smear on LCD during image capture • 30 fps regardless of video resolution size • Ho-Hum scene modes

The V705 has a generous 2.5 inch, 230,000 pixel LCD screen that functions as the viewfinder when shooting and as a normal LCD for reviewing your images and settings within the camera. In all but the very strongest direct sunlight conditions, the LCD is bright and viewable from any angle. The screen has two distinct resolutions: one for shooting and one for reviewing images. In shooting mode, the screen has a lower, coarser resolution and some noticeable video smear. When reviewing images, the display is extremely sharp and it's obvious that you're viewing the image using the full LCD pixel count. Another nice feature of the V705 is that it shows the image you've just made in the correct orientation. In other words, if you shoot a vertical image, when it's reviewed on the LCD, it rotates 90 degrees to "horizontal" viewing, so the image doesn't display sideways.

The V705 uses a twin lens system with a fast 23mm f/2.8 super-wide angle (35mm equivalent) and a 3x zoom 39-117mm f/3.9 - 4.4 (35mm equivalent). Kodak claims the camera has a 5x zoom range, and technically this is correct if you consider the full range from the super-wide 23mm lens through the 117mm end of the zoom range. The idea of having two lenses sharing the load is interesting, but we had to wonder how well this system works. The short answer is that if you didn't know there were two lenses, you'd barely notice in your shooting. The camera zooms out to its widest zoom setting and then with a slight flash of the LCD screen, suddenly shows a much wider view of the same scene. Rack the zoom back toward the telephoto end and you've switched back to the "normal" lens, again with a slight flash in between. The only way to improve this configuration is to make the 23mm lens a true zoom, with a range of 23-38mm, and then let the 3x zoom take over. The end result would be a smooth zoom range with all focal lengths between 23mm and 117mm completely covered in very high quality glass. (It should be noted that Kodak V705's twin-lens sibling, the V610, has two 5x zooms, for an ultra-slim camera with a 10x range: see our V610 test).

The V705 has 22 distinct scene modes, most of which we found to be a little on the ho-hum side ("Fireworks," "Portrait," "Flower"...). There were a few surprises in the mode options that scored high for their coolness factor. In "Panoramic" mode for example, the V705 gives you the option of panning left or right and automatically stitches up to three images in camera. When shooting panoramas, the camera shows a 33% portion of the previous shot to allow you to overlay the scenes. There is also a distinct difference between using the "Close Up" scene mode and "Macro" mode. The "Close Up" mode sets the entire camera up automatically while the "Macro" mode allows you to choose settings for ISO, sharpness, AF zones, and long exposure options. In these two modes, we also learned that the camera automatically presets the focus and determines this setting by the focal length the camera's zoom is currently set for. "Macro" should definitely be the preferred mode simply because of the control it allows. The "Macro" mode also used the camera's digital image stabilization feature as well, a thoughtful addition to its abilities in our view.

Although there is a good range of controls available in the V705, there are no manual exposure options designed into the camera. Outside of changing the ISO or using the EV compensation up to +2 or -2 stops, all exposure calculations are made by the camera. Even with the 22 different scene modes, which cover many different lighting situations, it's still no replacement for manual exposure control. The EasyShare is not alone in this design flaw, however -- most cameras of this caliber share this shortcoming.

The EasyShare has the ability to do some limited photo editing by using Kodak's "Perfect Touch" technology. This system allows you to review images in-camera and have them edited automatically for hue, saturation, brightness, sharpness, contrast and exposure. The coolness factor goes up again because the camera splits the LCD screen into two identical sections -- a before-and-after view to show you the differences that the "Perfect Touch" technology makes. You can also use the joystick to navigate to other sections of the image and review their details. The firmware then gives you the option of saving the original or a copy. This is certainly no replacement for editing on a high-grade video monitor, but if you want to make prints on the go, it's a nice touch.

Like many point-and-shoot cameras aimed at the novice photographer, the V705 offers NTSC quality video that it encodes as a Quicktime file. The V705 offers 3 video resolution modes, all of which are shot at 30 frames per second. You can also make a print from a single video frame and Kodak has added a "Video Action Print" that allows you to take 4, 9, or 16 frames of video and incorporate them into sequence images on one print. When using the V705, you also have the option to make simple cuts to video, but only at the beginning or end of the file.

Overall, for the price and feature set, the EasyShare V705 is a well-mannered camera that has some useful and interesting features. The V705 has the rock-solid feel of a much more expensive camera, but at a fraction of the price, and the super-wide angle abilities place the V705 head and shoulders above most of its competition. Throw in the video editing, panoramic features, overall good performance, and good image quality, and you've got a winner.

In The Box:
• Kodak EasyShare V705 Dual Lens Digital Camera
• Camera Strap
• Camera pouch
• Kodak Li-ion battery KLIC-7001
• In-camera 5v battery charger
• Adaptor/cables for USB and Video
• EasyShare software and user guide
• Camera inserts for EasyShare Photo Frame Dock 2
• Camera insert for EasyShare Camera and Printer docks.

Specs:
• 7.1 MP (3081 x 2313)
• ultra-wide: 23 mm-fixed (35 mm equiv.) f/2.8, Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon Lens 3X zoom: 39-117 mm (35 mm equiv.) f/3.9-f/4.4, Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon Lens
• 5X optical zoom range
• Shutter speeds- ultra-wide: 8-1/1448 sec.; 3X zoom: 8-1/1170 sec.
• 2.5 in. (6.4 cm) high resolution (230K pixels) indoor/outdoor color display, 2 level brightness adjustment
• 32 MB internal memory* available, SD/MMC card expansion slot
• W x H x D: 4.0 x 2.0 x 0.8 in. (101 x 49.8 x 20.4 mm)
• 4.4 oz (124 g) without batteries and memory card

A-three-image-stitching-of-the-Gorgus-Library-at-t
A-three-image-stitching-of-the-Gorgus-Library-at-t
A three image stitching of the Gorgus Library at the University of Alabama Campus. The camera was able to handle the complex scenery very well, but does better in more moderate focal lengths.Photo By Mark Lent
A-pillar-from-Alabama-s-first-state-capitol-buildi
A-pillar-from-Alabama-s-first-state-capitol-buildi
A pillar from Alabama's first state capitol building in Tuscaloosa. For a point and shoot, the V705 gave good detail in both highlight and shadow areas and retained high impact color.Photo By Mark Lent
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