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Kodak announces compact with 10x optical zoom

First look at the Easyshare V610

Kodak yesterday announced the launch of the Easyshare V610. With a price tag of £350 and availability scheduled for June, the V610 blends a powerful optical zoom with a compact form factor.

Current compact cameras tend to fall into two distinct categories: pocket-friendly models, which tend to have a limited zoom, and the portly beasts that boast plenty of range but require pockets the size of Gran Canaria.

Kodak has managed to get around this problem with the 6.1Mp (megapixel) V610 compact camera, which manages to combine the best of both worlds – it offers genuine pocketability with an ingenious 10x optical zoom system, which roughly equates to an impressive 38-380mm equivalent in 35mm terms.

The secret to its mammoth magnification is the V610's use of a dual-lens system, like its sibling the V570. But instead of using a second lens to get ultra-wide angles, the V610 effectively uses the lenses as two separate telephotos, staggered to achieve greater range. The first lens deals with 38-114mm zooming duties, while the second lens is responsible for reaching 130-380mm.

Another advantage to the V610 is that neither lens extends from the body, unlike a lot of its rivals. This means V610's flat profile and manageable proportions are maintained even when in use, so you don't have to worry about giving the person in front of you concussion when fully zoomed in. Our only grumble with the glassware of the V610 is that with a range that great, it’s a disappointment not to see some form of image stabilisation included.

First impressions of the V610 are very favourable, as it's easily one of the best-looking Kodaks we've seen in a long time, managing to shake off the Tonka Toy appearance of some of its predecessors. And it also feels well made, with a reassuringly sturdy body partnered with robust-feeling (albeit slightly fiddly) controls.

A quick play discovers that the V610 is quite accommodating for the novice user: options and functions are about as intuitive as they currently get. With Kodak's drive towards simplicity and sharing, it's great to see that it has even managed to make picture sharing using the V610's Bluetooth connectivity pretty painless, allowing photographs taken seconds ago to be beamed to phones and PDAs a few moments later.

Things are looking bright for Kodak; the V610 is one of the more interesting cameras to come along recently. But only time will tell if the clever concept translates to a successful finished product.

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