The Kodak EasyShare M1063 is a 10.3-megapixel point-and-shoot camera. It's extremely similar to the M1073, so we took it for a spin to see what distinguished the M1063 from its siblings, and other budget snappers. It's pretty easy on the wallet, available for around £89.
The M1063 is a fairly plain, boxy camera, with the only styling cues being a contoured silver bar on the front, and some cutaways in the silver lens ring. The milled edges of the small raised mode wheel give it a retro feel. It's very slim, with no protruding bits to snag on a pocket.
The only standout design element on the camera itself is the large 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen. This supports an onscreen keyboard for tagging your photos, allowing you to search for a keyword, or sort your pictures by those tags.
A clever touch is that the battery is charged via USB. This means you only need one lead to charge the camera and transfer images. This cuts down on the number of cables required, and makes it possible to charge the camera by either plugging it into your computer or the mains, with this clever two-part plug.
Kodak's trademark red share button allows you to mark photos for printing or emailing. It's a source of some annoyance though that Kodak cameras don't tend to be recognised by computers: when you plug the camera in, you're forced to use the EasyShare software. There's nothing wrong with Kodak's software, but if you prefer Picasa, iPhoto or other programs you have to go the roundabout route of removing the memory card and using a card reader to transfer images.
The M1063 keeps things simple on the features front, with just the basics built-in. There's no image stabilisation, for a start. The 3x optical zoom lens has a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 32–96mm, which is slightly above average at the wide end. It packs a 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor and an orientation sensor, that automatically flips pictures taken with the camera held sideways.
Face-detection technology joins perfect touch technology, which is designed to capture greater detail in shadows and highlights, without losing clarity elsewhere. Scene modes include the usual suspects, such as portrait, sports and landscape, as well as settings for backlit subjects and candlelit scenes.
Video is recorded at VGA 640x480-pixel resolution at 15 frames per second, which is fine for YouTube and other online sharing sites. Sound is monaural, and some on-camera editing options are available. We've said this before, but we don't know why manufacturers bother with internal memory so paltry: the M1063 will save 16 seconds of video -- or a whopping four pictures.
Menus are easy and clear to use. They're based on horizontal tabs so it's simple to move around the menus, and you always know where you are. They're transparent, which means you can see your image through the menu, but Kodak has missed a trick by not previewing settings as you scroll through the menu. For example, if you want to change the colour settings, you don't see the effects on screen until after you've made your choice.
The manufacturer logo welcome screen can't be turned off, as on many other compacts, so the M1063 isn't very quick to start up. Burst mode is reasonably fast, taking four images in two seconds, but the screen goes black while shooting. This makes it tough to track with a moving subject, such as a pet or child.
Images look reasonable, with a crisp lens showing no trace of distortion or vignetting. Purple fringing was an issue in high-contrast shots, such as skylines, but not enough to irredeemably ruin prints. As on most compacts, image noise is the main problem, with shots taken at ISO speeds over 200 being speckled with gritty marks. This isn't a camera tailor-made for low-light situations, with a flash that can't be adjusted and is rather harsh.
The auto-focus is reasonably capable, although while it is quick and avoids hunting around, it can be random as to what it focuses on. Face detection does the job when subjects are looking straight at you, but struggles in poorer lighting and with profiles.
Battery life was fairly average, with around 150 shots taken without the battery dying.
When our favourite thing about a gadget is the price, you know it's a not an exciting gadget. It's hard to find anything noteworthy about the Kodak EasyShare M1063, apart from the large screen. We prefer it over the equally anonymous M1073, even though that includes image stabilisation, simply because the M1063 is more realistically priced. It does the job, with a large screen and decent pictures, but with virtually no manual control and few features it's just not much fun. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5 is a good alternative.
Edited by Nick Hide