Kodak M1093 IS Review
By Mike Flacy
Building on the popularity of past 'M' series models, Kodak has added yet another compact entry-level model, the EasyShare M1093 IS. While being a new camera, the M1093 shares almost identical specifications with its predecessor, the M1033 we reviewed last year. This 10-megapixel model offers users plenty of features along with a very 'intelligent' Smart exposure mode. Some options that were carried over from the previous model include a 3x optical zoom lens, ISO sensitivity settings up to 6400, 720p HD movie mode, 22 scene modes, a 3.0-inch LCD, Kodak's EasyShare capabilities, Face Detection AF, Perfect Touch and Blur reduction technologies, and 16:9 still image capture. The only differences I found between these models was the M1093 boasts an Image Stabilizer, has a USB port right on the side for transferring and charging, and it weighs more than the M1033 by .4 ounces.
This compact digicam is offered in 3 stylish colors (Silver, Red, and Black) and is slim enough to be tucked in to your pants pocket or a small purse. The various camera controls are laid out in a comfortable manner, and were within easy access of my right thumb and index fingers. While the LCD is nice and large, I was a bit disappointed with the display when shooting outdoors. The surface does not offer an anti-reflective coating, which did make it difficult at times to see my subject when out in the bright sunlight. Indoors however, the display worked well, gaining up to help brighten the subject for framing. Another issue we have with this model, which seems to be prevalent among many Kodak EasyShare cameras, is the fact that it only outputs video when using optional accessories, like an EasyShare Camera Dock. This means you can not plug the camera into your TV set to share pictures with friends and family unless you purchase additional devices like these: either the USB A/V connector ($7.99) + AV-8 A/V cable ($24.99) or the EasyShare HDTV Dock ($99.99).
Shooting performance was only average for a camera in this class. Power up to first image captured measured 2.6 seconds. Shutter lag averaged 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and about 5-8/10 of a second including autofocus, depending on the amount of focus change. In single drive mode, you will be able to capture an image every 1.4-2 seconds with or without the flash. One annoyance I found was, the camera will only take three full size images before the buffer fills. It then takes about 7 seconds to take another shot, but a total of 30 seconds to completely clear a full buffer of only 3 images! This was with us using a very fast Class 6 SDHC card too. Continuous shooting mode was quite fast, capturing 3 images in just 1.3 seconds. However, again the buffer fills with 3 full size images, and you have to wait about 30 seconds for the buffer to flush and shoot another set of 3. All our test were completed using an ATP Pro Max (Class 6) 4GB SDHC card, 10MP image size, flash off, Program exposure mode (Smart mode showed same results), and all other settings at the factory defaults. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The image quality from this model's 10-megapixel fine setting was good for a camera in the sub $200 category. When shooting outdoors, I was able to capture some beautiful images with excellent exposure and vivid colors. The subject in the center of the frame is also nice and crisp, however there was a good amount of edge softness present along the left-hand side of the frame. I also saw a good amount of noise in our outdoor images. Even at settings as low as ISO 80, there is still some speckling from imager noise, which can be seen very easily in areas like the open blue sky. While this was a bit disappointing, don't let this discourage you from looking at this model. These instances can really only be seen when critically viewing an image at 100%. It is very unlikely that you will see anything at all in your typical 4x6-inch or 8x10-inch prints. Like we saw with the M1033, Kodak's 'Smart Capture' exposure mode seems to work very well. This intelligent mode was able to accurately determine the type of scene I was shooting, almost instantly, and changed the camera settings to produce the best possible photos. I personally used it to take all of our sample images, with the exception of the M&M photos, which required me to switch to Program mode so I could manually adjust the ISO. I highly recommend you keep this camera in Smart mode for all of you shooting needs.
When capturing photos indoors, the M1093 does well for a compact digicam. Again, I found the Smart mode produced the best results. One thing you have to remember is that the built-in flash unit on this camera is tiny and lacks the power to illuminate open areas. Your best bet is to ensure you have plenty of ambient light, or shoot no further than 6 feet or so from your subject. Our portrait examples look good, with pleasing skin tones, and the flash provided a decent exposure. The face detection system was fast and accurate, and also had no problem finding and locking on to young faces. The flash also did a pretty good job at controlling the output when shooting in Macro mode. You can see in our Candy Dish shot that it did well with the very reflective candies. While it's still a bit stronger than I'd like, it performed much better than some models we see that totally blow out the exposure. The only real announces I had indoors were the AF system didn't always lock on to our subject in dim lighting, and because there are more shadow or low contrast areas in these photos, noise is much easier to detect.
Movie mode produced good results in both standard and HD modes. Video is smooth thanks to the 30fps frame rates, and the exposure system also seemed to do well when shooting outdoors in bright sunlight. Indoors, the image does get a bit noisy. Sound is nice and clean, and I did not notice any problems with the camera picking up wind noise from a slight breeze. Overall, I recommend only using the video feature outside where you will more than likely have plenty of light. If you do use it indoors, be sure there is a good deal of ambient light, otherwise the quality of the video clip will suffer.
Kodak claims that their proprietary KLIC-7004 3.7v 1000mAh battery pack can power the M1093 for up to 220 images on a single charge. This number is a bit low when compared to its competitors that use a Li-ion battery. Even many cameras that uses AA type cells claim longer life than this. While testing this camera, I was able to capture about 128 samples (mostly still images with several short movie clips) and conclude most of our other test before having to charge the battery to continue. Luckily, this camera can be charged directly from the USB cable, so you can replenish the battery just about anywhere that has a PC. In fact, this the third Kodak model we have seen that uses the USB cable to charge the camera. You simply plug the USB cable in the side, then plug it into a USB port on your PC or use the included AC adapter. As with almost all Kodak models, there are also EasyShare Camera and Printer Docks that charge the battery as well as perform other useful functions. We highly recommend you add a second battery (US$29.95) to your purchase, especially if you are planning on taking the M1093 with you on vacation.
Bottom Line - the Kodak EasyShare M1093 is a nice compact entry-level digicam. While there were a few things that discouraged me, this camera does has the ability to capture pleasing images both indoors and out, and features one of the 'smartest' capture modes out there. With an MSRP of $199, I feel this model offers a good value for someone in the market for an inexpensive camera that can fit into their pocket/purse, whether for an adult or a teenager. Be sure to check out our Sample Photos page to see for yourself how well this camera performed.
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