While many manufacturers are draping products in pink or Swarovski crystals to appeal to some marketer's notion of what women want, the Kodak EasyShare M1093 is unashamedly manly. It's a 10-megapixel compact camera available for a very respectable £130.
The M1093 is sleekly masculine, like a well-cut suit. It comes in a matte black brick-like casing with an understated diagonal slice across the front, a subtly contoured face and a flush-folding lens. The minimalist look is continued at the back with the 76mm (3-inch) expanse of screen and neatly-placed, uncluttered controls to the right. Although the screen is large, it isn't as crisp as it we'd like, with diagonal lines rendered a little jagged.
The camera is controlled with a jaunty little joystick. This is one of the better mini-joysticks we've seen because the indent where it sits is large enough to let you move it comfortably about without squashing a thumb against the rest of the frame. We're less keen on the flattened zoom control pad, though, which has only the slightest contour to rock the button from side-to-side. It's not terribly responsive, not helped by the limited number of steps in the zooming process.
Things are kept uncluttered by shifting the flash and mode selectors to the top, next to the power button and flat shutter release.
Build quality is excellent. The serious styling is matched by serious sturdiness, with no flex in the frame. The shutter button on our model feels a little loose, though.
Features are fairly limited; this is a point-and-shoot for quick and easy snapping. The mode button toggles to automatic smart capture, program, video and scene modes. Smart capture closes off all the shooting options, while program allows you to alter white balance, ISO speed and similar shooting functions. Exposure compensation is available, but not aperture or shutter priority. There's an embarrassment of scene modes, all of which are straightforward. Panning mode and backlight seem useful, alongside the usual portrait, macro and others.
The lens has the usual 3x zoom, with a wide angle of 35mm when zoomed out, equivalent to a 35mm film camera. Shutter speed can be adjusted between 1/1,448 seconds and a more leisurely 8 seconds, for pretty lighting effects or low-light photography.
You get 720p high-definition video, with 1,280x720, 640x480 and 320x240-pixel resolution footage on offer. The zoom can be used while filming, with the autofocus doing a decent enough job of bringing things into focus as the zoom moves. That's mainly to do with the slowness of the zoom, however.
With its limited feature set, the M1093 focuses on snapshots. It's a capable point-and-shoot with a responsive autofocus and fast snapping speeds.
Start-up is quick enough, with the camera ready to capture an image in less than 2 seconds. Burst mode is limited to three shots, but captures them in a creditable 2 seconds. Capturing burst shots -- and erasing images -- does lead to a short delay with an on-screen processing message, but that's just us being impatient.
The wide range of scene modes is worth exploring in lieu of proper manual control. The scenes aren't padded out by nonsense like two different baby modes -- as seen in some other manufacturer's models. Backlit mode is useful.
One mode best avoided is, as always, the high ISO low-light mode. Images are too speckly to be of use in this mode.
The market is full of capable compact cameras, but few of them look as good as the Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS. The slick, brawny styling won't be for everyone, but boys will be happy with the firm lines and ninja-black colour. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 and Pentax Optio S12 pack more features in for a comparable price, but neither looks as good to us.
Edited by Marian Smith