Many of today's point-and-shoots share the same specs: 3X optical zoom, image stabilization, and more megapixels than you'll ever need. Kodak has taken the next step by adding high-definition video recording to its EasyShare V1253 camera, which will never replace a standalone camcorder but managed to impress us. We just wish this camera captured better-looking stills.
The V1253 is slim, but at 6.4 ounces (with the battery), it's heavier than it looks. Its silver accents are elegant, though, and its scratch-proof black shell makes it a low-maintenance choice. On top, the camera has buttons for video, still shots, flash, and tagging favorites, all of which glow an attractive blue when in use. The zoom control is attached to the shutter button in the form of a rotating toggle. The 3.1-inch widescreen LCD takes up most of the back, and though it's bright, it looked pixelated and washed out.
The interface was easy to learn, thanks to the four buttons to the right of the screen used to open the menu and review, delete, and share images. Although intuitive, the navigational joystick's small size made it cumbersome. However, we like that you can un-delete a photo immediately after you trash it. The camera can also display the original photo next to an enhanced version, and lets you select either version.
Overall, we were impressed with the video quality from the V1253. A street scene showed some pixelation, but we could still make out a surprising amount of detail, including graffiti on the side of a moving truck. The video filled a 30-inch screen without distortion, as did still photos taken with the 3X optical zoom. Sound quality was on the weak side, but we could still hear people laughing alongside the rumble of passing traffic.
As for still shots, we noticed that the V1253 favors cool tones over warm ones, making a friend's purple dress look vibrant but turning a marigold bedspread pale yellow. The one exception is skin tones: The camera captured our friends' rosy cheeks and tanned shoulders realistically.
For the most part, the camera's face-recognition feature did a fine job, but our pictures looked less sharp when we took close-ups of people sitting next to us. The V1253 has 22 scene modes, which performed unevenly. A picture taken with Digital Image Stabilization of our friend waving her hand showed no blur but was grainy. Backlight mode left our subject's face brighter and sharper than when we took the same picture in Auto mode. The Panorama Stitch mode was disappointing, as combined pictures looked patchy, and High-ISO mode delivered a grainy picture that wasn't much brighter than the same shot in auto mode.
Even with only a handful of pictures on our SD Card, the camera ran slowly. It took three seconds for the V1253 to start up, and seven to ready itself for the next shot. The rechargeable battery didn't last as long as others we've tested; it died after just two days of intermittent use.
If you care a lot about video, the V1253 is worth a look. But the point-and-shoot photography is marred by poor image stabilization and inaccurate colors. If you really want 12 megapixels, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX100 offers sharper, more vibrant photos, as well as more reliable optical image stabilization.
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