Kodak boasts one of the longest-running reputations in photographic equipment of all kinds. At one time, the name “Kodak” on a camera was an assurance that it’s a great product. While I won’t say that’s entirely untrue of the Kodak M530 EasyShare digital camera, I will say that you definitely get what you pay for with this model – and not a cent more. In fact, it was soon after I bought this camera that Kodak decided it wouldn’t do digital anymore because it’s just not their area of expertise. I wish I had known that before I bought the camera, but at least it wasn’t an absolute disaster. The M530 is compact, has a lot of automatic features, and does shoot a nice 12.2MP image. That said, if you have any kind of slightly challenging needs, then you’re going to need to upgrade.
I’ll readily admit that at the time I bought the Kodak M530, I was totally broke. As in, I had enough to buy the camera, and only about $5 more. Why spend money on a camera, then? Because I also design jewelry, and it’s unusual enough that it generally gets an instant “wow” reaction and lots of purchases when people see it. I was too broke to go to shows, and didn’t have a working car anyway, so the logical next step is to put the jewelry on the internet, which I do through my Etsy store. While I’ve done it with a scanner before, it’s not at all advisable, especially with Etsy’s rising standards and more people looking for premium products.
My purchase decision was limited to the local Wal-Mart; I really couldn’t even wait for something to be shipped to me. With that and a strict dollar budget, my choices came down to three – a Canon, a Kodak, and another that I can’t remember. I picked the Kodak because I’ve had good experience with their film cameras, and because it has a rechargeable battery.
Because I didn’t have an SD chip at the time of purchase, I could only store seven pictures at a time on the Kodak EasyShare initially. There’s virtually no built-in storage. It’s a pain in the rear, but not too difficult to work around since I can unload onto the computer at any time – jewelry pictures are all taken at home. Now that prices on SD chips have gone down, I have a 16GB chip on it for a capacity of close to 7000 pictures. Definitely get the chip.
This is your basic $100 point-and-shoot digital camera. It has a few features, but it’s mostly designed for the person who just wants to turn it on, hit a button, and get a half-decent picture. You do have to wait a moment for it to automatically adjust, then push the shutter button halfway down until it locks onto your desired focal, and then push the rest of the way down to take the picture. Simple. A little too simple for my needs, it turns out, but it’s been enough to scrape by.
As you’d expect in this price range, there aren’t many features. You get a small digital viewfinder that’s almost impossible to see in the sunlight, and you get a few picture settings. Set with or without flash, manual or timer, and either “smart scene” or manual selection. Manual selection includes motion, bright light, candlelight, panoramic scenes and other high-utility types of settings, but no real ability to adjust to specific ISOs. Not too bad at the price point.
The biggest issue I’ve had with this camera is that it has no manual focus. It’s all automatic, and you just hope that its software can properly lock in on the subject you want to photograph. In most cases, I can get it to focus within three tries. Since most of my subjects are jewelry, they sit still for this – when I’ve tried to take cute pictures of my kids, they’re long gone before it gets the right focus. Macro is by far the worst setting to try to get good focus. It hates taking pictures of earrings. It will focus on the display stand at the exact same distance, but it rarely focuses on the earrings themselves, no matter what color they are or how substantial the design. On other occasions, it finds the perfect focus right away – only to inexplicably go out of focus again before taking the picture. The results are the same whether I do it freehand or on a tripod.
The Kodak M530 EasyShare does have a zoom feature, which uses both mechanical and digital zoom. It has the option to switch between a normal picture size and panoramic, though I almost always use the normal setting.
Despite the issues I’ve had, the Kodak M530 EasyShare isn’t that bad for the price range. It does turn out some nice pictures with good resolution, even if they do take a bit of work to get. Almost all of the pictures need some kind of tweaking with white balance or lighting, but I don’t know many cameras that are mid-range on down that don’t produce tweak-worthy images.
The focus is the only real issue, and it sometimes means pictures take three or four times longer than they should. Here’s where the price doesn’t really make sense. I take a lot of pictures, so in all that turns into a LOT of wasted time. I’ll still keep the camera for general picture-taking of landscapes, kids playing in the yard and such like that, but will find a replacement for product pictures as soon as I can afford a better camera.
Overall, if you want a simple point-and-shoot that is easy to carry and feels nice in your hands, this is probably a good choice. While you can manually change scene modes, it takes a good minute or so to do that because of the way the menus are set up. Assume that unless your subjects don’t move, it’s a “rely on the automation” sort of camera.