Several months ago, I was outside my  local Curry's Digital with my daughter. She pointed to a poster advertising the 12 megapixel Kodak Easyshare C143 camera for the incredible price of £35. i was tempted, but my nice Pentax Optio S7 had served me well for a couple of years, and it had a rechargeable battery, and it had a few nice features like in camera red eye removal, the ability to crop and resize pictures, in camera red eye processing to remove red eye after you've taken your photograph, and several more interesting but unnecessary features. And it was metal bodied. I decide to leave it, but the next day, went back and bought three, with the intention of putting them on E-bay for £55.00, Something I'd never done before. As you all know, to sell new items on Ebay you need a lot of good feedback, and they didn't sell, despite two attempts. July 2011 was the family holiday to france. I'd been looking for my Pentax for several weeks without success, and decided to pack a C143. Wifey came up trumps the day we were due to leave (it was in the glove box of the car, and I'd searched there two days previously - honest!), but since the Kodak was packed, I took both.  I was pleasantly surprised by the camera, so much in fact that I prefer it to my Pentax. The camera’s widely available in several colours, including silver, red, green, blue, orange and pink. Read on for my detailed review.

 

What's in the box?

The camera box is quite small, approximately 4 inches square and 2 inches deep. Inside you'll find a cardboard tray with a cardboard cover over the camera itself, which is in a small polythene bag. In the side compartment, the strap, camera lead and two AA alkaline batteries are all individually wrapped. Two quick start guides (different languages), a share button guide and the warranty are in a neat document parcel, wrapped neatly in a polythene bag. There's no camera case or memory card or battery charger, as the camera takes standard AA batteries.

 

Specifications.

12.2 Megapixel Sensor,

3x Optical & 5x Digital zoom (15x total),

32 MB internal memory (19MB for images) equivalent 32 - 96 mm,

2.7 inch LCD 230,000 pixels,

Built in help system,

Focus Systems: Through the lens Autofocus, Multi Zone, Centre zone, Face Priority, 0.1m to infinity,

AF: Continuous & Single,

Face Detection & recognition,

Shutter speed 8-1/400 second,

ISO: 80-1600,

5 mode White Balance,

Metering: Through the lens Auto Exposure, Face priority, Multi Zone, Centre Zone,

Timer: 10 second, 2 second, 2 picture,

Burst Mode: 3 Pictures,

Image sizes, 12, 9, 6, 3, 2 & 1 Megapixels,

Colour Modes: Vivid, Full, Basic, Sepia, B/W,

Sharpness: High, Normal, Low,

Video: Pal, NTSC Up to 4GB @ 640x480 ,

Scenes: 22 Scene Modes,

Panorama: 2 - 3 Images stitched together automatically in camera

Red Eye Removal, Pre Flash or in camera automatic post shot processing,

Power: 2xAA Alkaline, NiCad, Ni-MH or Lithium

 

Phew, there’s the list over with, now onto the review proper.

 

FIRST HANDLING.

The camera is lightweight at only 172g with card and batteries. It's not slim at 94 x 62 x 31mm, and the body tapers inwards from the grip end to the lens end. the grip is the on the right hand side, and the shutter button as with most cameras is at the top left of the picture. This is surrounded by the zoom button. It's really easy to grip the camera, and zooming is really easy, as you use your index finger to zoom before taking the shot. There’s two Autofocus modes, single & continuous, and if you use the latter, the camera focuses all the time, eliminating the need for a half press of the shutter that annoys many photographers. This is recommended for things for moving subjects like sports, peets or children who are rarely still. At the camera's heart is the smart capture mode, where it decides the scene modes an d other appropriate settings for you. Picture taking can be a simple as point and shoot. The autofocus is reasonably fast, with a respectable shutter lag tone of 0.49 seconds, better than the entry level models from Fuji, Casio & Nikon.

 

The camera's small enough to fit in a pocket, but not one of those ultra slim models. With a width of 3cm at it's widest point, tapering to one and a half cm, it’s not too bulky. There are 4 buttons on the top, and 5 on the rear. From left to right, looking from at the top view from back to front are power, mode and flash buttons. Mode and flash buttons are raised a millimetre or so higher than the Power so as not to accidentally turn the camera off.

 

SHOOTING MODES.

There are four modes on the Easyshare  C143: Smart Capture, Video, Scene & Programme. 

SMART CAPTURE

Every time you switch the Easyshare  C143 on, it defaults to Smart Capture Mode. In Smart Capture, the camera does all the work for the photographer, selecting the ‘appropriate’ scene setting, which in most cases is the one you’d normally choose.  Sometimes it won’t set a scene, but will default to S (Smart Capture) mode. An Icon in the top left of the screen quickly flashes up the scene the camera has chosen. It even detects macro mode as well. The smart mode generally works well for most situations, taking an excellent photo for a camera at this price point. The autofocus & auto exposure give a well-balanced and exposed photo that’s reasonably sharp.  If all you need from a camera is to point, zoom & Shoot, then you don’t even have to take the camera out of Smart capture. Only 3 options are available on the Capture menu, image size, timer and the option to assign a pre-set keyword  tag to your photos such as holiday, wedding and this has the option of a custom tag There’s a further 12 options in the Setup menu, but as this is virtually the same in all four modes it will have it’s own section of this rewiew.  You can scroll through the timer options using the up and down on the D pad.   It appears that in this mode that sharpness and saturation are set to the middle ‘normal’ setting. If you like really vivid colour and sharp photos, then Programme mode may be better for you.  

VIDEO

Long gone are the days of taking video at a measly 320 x 240 QVGA resolution. Most entry level cameras can record HD 720p video.  The Easyshare C143 falls a smidgeon short at SVGA 640 x 480 TV resolution with stills cameras 640 x 480 is classed as VGA, but for monitors it’s SVGA).  Video is smooth and reasonably well saturated.  VGA is classed as TV quality 4:3 ratio, and is not widescreen.  The 3 x optical zoom works on video mode,  but not the 5 x digital ,and mono sound is recorded albeit not as clearly as you might like (common to entry level models) , but it won’t play the sound back on the camera, which is unusual as microphones double up as speakers  on most cameras. Video is output as a .AVI file, and you can choose between PAL  & NTSC formats.

PROGRAMME

In this mode, the photographer gets access to 11 options. 3 of which  ( EV, timer & focus mode) can be selected using the D-pad (left and right to select option, and up & down to change the mode or value) without going into the main menu system. These are: Picture size, exposure compensation, iso speed, self-timer/burst mode, colour mode (saturation),white balance, focus mode, focus/exposure zones, autofocus control, pre-set  keyword tag, and sharpness. The most important of these will be dealt with here.

Image Size:

There are a generous 7 shooting sizes available, 12, 11, 9, 6, 3, 2, and 1 megapixels. Most sizes  are at 4:3 ratio, though 2 and 9 MP are in widescreen 16:9, and 11MP is 3:2.

Exposure Compensation:

This is fairly standard, ranging from -2 up to +2 EV, and there’s nothing to shout about here.

Iso:

This ranges from Iso 80 up to Iso 1600. As any experienced snapper would expect, Iso 1600 is very noisy. 800 is just about useable, and below that you’re cooking on gas. In smart capture, it states it uses Iso 80 – 400, but in the exif data for many images, many odd figures such as iso 640, 160,105, and lots of others were recorded. Iso cannot be viewed on playback of images. Remember, if you’re shooting in overcast daylight, a higher iso will give a brighter picture. In bright conditions, a lower iso will give a noiseless picture.

Self-Timer;

Again, it’s standard pub grub served here, with 10 second, 2 second and 2 shot timer, to allow yourself to be in the picture. Two second timer seems more like 3 or 4 seconds, 10 second timer seemed to be roughly that. If you need time to compose yourself properly for shots, then 10 seconds is the best setting for all ladies who look like Audrey Roberts on steroids and need to preen themselves before a shot, allowing for a quick look in the mirror, or time to hide your Lambrini bottle, whilst the 2 second mode is all men need to slip into the shot and look good.

Colour Mode:

Five options are present, Basic, Full, Vivid, Sepia & B/W.  Basic colour is supposed to be an accurate representation of natural colour, Full colour captures rich balanced colour, whilst Vivid colour boosts colour for more exaggerated colours.  However, this is not always the case, as if it’s not bright sunlight, you can get pale colours. Sepia & B/W modes are exactly what the names suggest. In these modes the LCD changes to the mode set to allow you to get an idea of what your image will look like.

White Balance:

Like any cheap camera, with the Easyshare c143 white balance on indoor shots can be a little on the warm side, producing magnolia tinted shots, unless it’s set correctly. It has an auto setting which although works fine for outdoor shots, can leave some shots (under halogen for example) too warm.  It’s vital to set the correct balance for indoor shots.

Focus mode

This is simply a choice between Macro (under 8 cms) infinity (anything over 8 cms) and of course Auto

AF Control (Still)

As with all but the cheapest cameras, there’s autofocus, and here there’s two versions. Single autofocus is where the camera has to be pre focused by a half press of the shutter to set it, then a full press to take the picture. Some people (like my wife) have problems with this method, and the second method is Continuous Autofocus, where the camera is focusing all the time, and thus the half press is dispensed with. This method has advantages and disadvantages. The big advantage is that if your following sports events or trying to capture children or pets running around, then as it’s constantly focusing, a clear shot the moment you’re ready to press the shutter is much easier. However it’s downside is that if it’s constantly re-focusing, you could catch it mid focus. My advice is, use single if it’s a still shot, and continuous for moving subjects.

Focus/Exposure Zone

There are three options here for setting exposure and focus, and focus and exposure are linked together. Face priority focuses on faces to ensure faces come out well focused and exposed. In this mode, faces detected will have a frame around them. Multi  zone uses five zones and evaluates an evenly balanced picture. This is a good all round mode. Centre weighting evaluates the small area in the centre of the lens, and is ideal for focusing on a precise area.

Sharpness

The usual suspects are present in this mode, soft, normal and sharp, with normal being the default setting. To avoid having to sharpen images with software, set the camera to sharp.

 

SCENE MODE.

In this mode, the user has a whopping 22 modes available, too many to cover them all in detail. I’ll list them here:

Portrait:: Full-frame portraits of people.

Sport Action pictures.

Landscape: Distant scenes.

High ISO: People indoors, in low-light scenes.

Close-up:  Close range. Use available light instead of flash, if possible.

Flower: Close-ups of flowers or other small subjects in bright light.

Sunset  Subjects at dusk.

Backlight: Subjects that are in shadow or “backlit.”

Candle Light: Subjects illuminated by candle light.

Children Action: Pictures of children in bright light.

Manner/Museum: Quiet occasions. Flash is off. For best results, place the camera on steay surfaces.

Text Documents: For best results, place the camera on a steady surface or tripod.

Beach:  Bright beach scenes.

Snow: Bright snow scenes.

Fireworks:  For best results, place the camera on a steady surface or tripod.

Self-Portrait: Close-ups of yourself. Assures proper focus and minimizes red eye

Night Portrait: Reduces red eye of people in night scenes or low-light conditions.

Night Landscape: Distant scenery at night. Flash does not fire.

Blur Reduction: Reducing blur caused by camera shake or subject motion.

Panorama R-L, L-R “Stitching” 2 or 3 pictures into 1 panoramic scene.

Panning Shot Emphasizing horizontal motion, with a sharp subject and blurred background.

I’ll go into a little detail on a few of the scene modes. The camera adjusts the settings to optimize images.

Portrait is self explanatory. It’s optimized for lovely skin tones. Anti blur helps reduce camera shake at full zoom. Sports, is for moving action like a football  match or a car race. Landscape is set to focus to infinity and works well. Macro is for close ups from as close as  8cms away. I’ve obtained some stunning macros of flowers from Monet’s garden in France. Snow is supposed to be used for bright snowy scenes, but there’s another use, it’s great for taking early evening dusk shots with clarity. Museum mode is interesting. Previous cameras in Auto mode struggle to cope without a flash, and photographing objects behind glass will give the photographer  a reflection of a flash and a wahed out subject. Museum mode is very good. Tests on my fish tank in good indoor lighting came out better than any camera I’ve had. The best mode tough, just has to be the two panorama modes (L-R  & R-L). Now panoramas are easy. Just take the first shot, then the last centimetre of the shot appears on the left or right side of the screen. Just line the images closely (it doesn’t have to be exact) and then either press ok to stich or do the same again. Up to 3 images can be stitched and the results are impressive.  Right handers like me will probably find L-R best, and Southpaws will want to go the other way. Flash is off in this mode, and I don’t recommend it for action shots. I use it a lot.

PLAYBACK MODE..

The play icon represents the playback button.  There’s three menu’s, playback, edit & Setup. There’s several options under each menu.  Playback lets  you view, the images, check the file properties such as capture mode, iso setting and image size, and, in keeping with peoples love of social networking sites such as Facebook,  tag people in your photos  in much the same way you’d enter your name on a PlayStation game. It can even remember faces and automatically tag people, though this is patchy. Also the camera needs to have detected a face for the tag function to work. 

The edit menu lets you resize, crop, rotate, and even enhance your photo’s. Resizing is simply selecting a new image size, whilst cropping uses the zoom ring to select an area to  crop, and the D-pad to position the area to crop. As Ricky Tomlinson would say, Easy Peasy.  Perfect Touch automatically enhances your images, rather like a software programme like Windows Live Photo Gallery works. It enhances really well, but can wash out highlights with over saturated images.  Rotation is easy as well, simply choose the direction to rotae your image and it’s done.

The Setup menu is comprehensive, and is almost identical to the setup menu in the capture mode.  This is mainly camera hardware related, as opposed to the image based settings on the capture menu.  The settings are as follows.

Date & Time;

This is self-explanatory, and you can choose the date format as in DD-MM-YYYY or the other way around if you’re American, or even MM-DD-YY.

Share Button Settings:

This sets the share options should you wish to upload an image to a social network like Facebook. There’s several options, including, Kodak Gallery, Facebook, Flickr You Tube, Orkut (?) and the option to add personal  e-mail addresses.

LCD brightness:

There’s three settings on offer: Power save (to extend battery life), High Power for the best visibility in bright conditions, and Auto where if the camera detects bright sunshine it ‘Gains Up’ in brightness. In bright sunlight, it’s almost impossible to view in power save mode.

Red Eye reduction:

You can choose to have the camera preflash or remove red eye whilst it’s processing the image. The latter works best, as the preflash mode sill left noticeable red eye.  In camera removal does a good job, but processing the image takes longer. You can’t do it after the image has been processed like some cameras can.

Camera Sounds. You can choose between, all sounds on or off, or shutter only.

Video Out: There’s the standard 2 options here, Pal (Europe & Australia) or NTSC (Americas & Japan).

Image Storage: Choose between Auto, Memory Card & Internal  memory (19 Mb). There’s no option to copy images to a Card or vice versa though.

Language:  21 languages are supported, covering most of Europe and the rest of the world, including several far eastern languages.

Computer Connection: This allows the user to select between using a Windows based programme, or having Kodak software start upon connecting to the pc. It’s easier to take the memory card out of the camera and use a built in card reader, as the software didn’t work properly. It imported the images from the camera to the pc, but I didn’t realise they went to the Kodak Software and not windows.

LENS

The camera has a 3X optical zoom lens, which is equivalent to 32 – 96mm on a standard fixed 35mm lens. Most cameras today, are as wide as 28mm at the wide angle end.  There’s no barrel or pincushion distortion at all. The 5X digital zoom is very good, unless you’re at full digital zoom, where camera shake sets in. Images are crisp & clear.  You can tell when digital zoom is used as the images appear a little hazy.

LCD: The camera has a 2.7 inch TFT screen, has 230,000 pixels. It displays a sharp, clear image. More importantly, it doesn’t give a low resolution blurry preview and then sharpen up like some cameras do; it’s an instantly sharp image that looks impressive all the time.

IMAGE  QUALITY.

Pictures on the whole are very good for a £60 camera. 12 megapixels  means images will look good printed out at A4 and bigger.  You’ll need to set sharpness to sharp to get the best image quality. Bright, sunny conditions produce the best images. Smart capture gives good all round quality images. Noise levels are good right up to iso 400, and even iso 800 can produce  acceptable images in the right conditions.  Low light performance, whilst not being outstanding, is good for an entry level camera.  Overcast conditions can produce slightly hazy looking images,  but this is common to most digicams. Panoramic images look stunning, the wider photos really do the camera justice. Scene modes are generally spot on when it comes to capturing well balanced images, and the multi point focus an d exposure zones  usually give a well-balanced image. Sometimes you might need to tweak the ev compensation up or down a little to get the contrast right, or you can use Windows Live Gallery to tweak this automatically.

SOFTWARE

The basic windows mass storage driver is all you need to transfer images on from the card to the computer. The Kodak Gallery and share button software, along with Arcsoft Connect and Arcsoft  print creations, can be downloaded from the Kodak web site, but you need to connect the camera to be able to do this. Print Creations is an easy to use image printing programmes. It connects you to the website to download print templates. These can be used for a variety of items, including creating photobooks. It’s easy to use. Kodak’s own imaging software is  a basic image editor, but can do a few interesting things, such as turning images into drawings.  Again, this easy to use software is perfect for the novice wanting to experiment a little.   

SHARE BUTTON,

Kodak’s much trumpeted share feature for me was a bit of a let-down. Despite several attempts,  I  only managed to upload one photo to Facebook.  All you’re supposed to do is select an image, press share, select the destination and connect the camera to the pc. I’ve no idea why it’s not working.

CONCLUSION.

The Easyshare C143 is a great little camera. It’s got several useful options, and at a price of around £60.00 is good value. It’s easy to use, and the results are pleasing to the eye. It won’t please keen photographers, but for the casual snapper, there’s a lot of bang for your buck. Currently, only Fuji’s 14mp AV220 (Argos £60.00) offers better value for a branded camera. Refurbished models can be bought on EBay for around £40.00 with a memory card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog comments powered by Disqus