Digital camera help Kodak Easyshare V1003

OK, let me preface this by saying I know about zero about digital or other cameras. My entire experience with digital cameras is the old Sony Mavica FD 88 that saved to a floppy disc (which I"m now seriously regretting selling) and my camera phone.

I bought the new Kodak Easyshare V1003 a few weeks ago. It has a 30 day return policy, so I’m trying to work out if I should return it or not. Here’s my main issue:

It has a zillion different settings that you can do with it. Portraits, landscape, sunset light, etc. What my issue is is that when I look at the screen, line up the shot and push the shutter, what I get is hardly ever what I was just seeing. In regular daylight, no problem. I’m talking about lower level lighting, indoors, etc. When I use the camera on “auto”, I’m looking at the screen and lining up the shot. All looks good. I push the shutter (doing the two step method where you push halfway, then push the rest), the picture is taken, and it is usually significantly darker than what it looked like as I lined up the shot. WTF? I don’t particularly like flash shots indoors, as they tend to look washed out to me. My old Mavica had a “candle” setting on it where you chose that mode and it would add a little extra light to the shot. Point, click, and the shot is exactly what you were looking at. I don’t know how else to verbalize my issue.

I tried to explain this to my husband and he was like “Well, the camera has different settings for different situations, blah blah.” and I"m saying "that’s fine, but why- on Auto, do the pictures look significantly different than what I see on the screen? I actually discovered that in low light I can take a decent shot without flash by adjusting the “exposure composition” to +1.7, which gives a good shot, but again, the result is nothing like what I was looking at on the screen.

On my old Mavica, I could do all sorts of adjustments and whenever I changed modes or whatever, the screen would change with it and show you exactly what your shot would look like. Hell, same with my cell phone camera- you point, shoot, and whatever you were looking at from birthday candles on a cake in low light to a bird flying in the sky, that’s exactly what you got. I even tried a video tonight- it was kind of low light, but it looked OK on screen when I lined it up. Took the video? So dark you can hardly see anything. WTF??

Is there such a mode/change to obtain this same level of “what you see is what you get” with this or other digital cameras? The manual is very general and never addresses anything like this. I feel stupid but it seems like a camera that was $200 (not high end, I know) should work better than my crappy old cell phone cam or my 100 year old Mavica.

Can anyone shed some light (no pun intended. OK, maybe a little) on this for me? I’m particularly interested if anyone has ever used the Sony Mavica and gets what I mean by what you see is what you get with regards to how it works.

I know squat about this camera, but I do know of an excellent resource: they have discussion groups on all kinds of cameras, including Kodak.

Thanks for that, but I guess you can’t register there with a gmail or Yahoo mail account. I don’t use any others, unfortunately.

“Registration with web based email accounts (such as or is not allowed, please use an ISP account”

Your problem is taking pictures at Auto. The “candle” setting of your older Mavica just raised the ISO which increases the camera’s sensitivity to light. That allows you to take pictures in lower light.

What you need to do is move out of Auto into one of the modes that allows you to adjust the ISO and set it to 200, or possibly 400 for low light situations. Most cameras cannot take low light shots without a flash or without pushing the ISO up higher. You’re old Sony took such small shots with little detail that, frankly, it didn’t matter much.

The downside of pushing the ISO higher is that your images will be noisier, just like the grain in high ISO (ASA) film. 200 should be fine, 400 you’ll begin to see some artifacts, but it should be fine for online images or 4x6 or 5x7 prints.

Thanks for that, Telemark- I’ll give that a shot when it’s dark later on and see if that works out. What’s frustrating is that I find that no matter how I set it, the screen doesn’t accurately reflect what the picture will look like, so it’s all very hit or miss. Perhaps if I get the hang of setting the ISO properly, though, it may not matter as much.

There also may be adjustments for the brightness of the LCD (I’m not familiar with this specific camera). Check the owners manual for ways to change those settings to something that better reflects what you are seeing.

I’ve experienced this with every digital camera I’ve ever owned, mostly in low light situations. It appears that the camera manufacturer “helps” the user by enhancing the display in low light to help line up the shot, but the shot is what it is. I’ve never understood why that “enhancement” isn’t readily available in the actual picture. Digital still cameras are just awful in low light situations, but video cameras seem not to have this problem. I see people taking video of childrens play, etc, in a situation where all I get is black or blurry pictures and they have fully lit, sharply focused video of the same event with no additional lighting. Someone needs to explain to me why this is.

When you push down the shutter halfway it should capture focus and show you how the scene will look once the image is taken (at least it does on my Canons). I use the optical viewfinder to frame and focus my shots so this isn’t an issue for me; I never use the LCD to shoot, only to review shots later.

Yes, the camera is trying to help you focus on the subject so it pushes up the gain on the LCD.

My understanding is this is the great achilles heel of all “point and shoot” cameras. They perform very well outdoors in decent light, but simply are not that great at low light situations of any sort. Supposedly some of the Fujis are the best at it ( though they apparently have other flaws - no such thing as the perfect camera, more’s the pity ), but even they can’t really meaningfully compete with a good DSLR. I’d try the suggestions above, but you might just have to live with some limitations in this area. If you feel that you need a P & S for a lot of lowlight/indoors shooting it might be worth exchanging the Kodak andchecking out one of the Fujis to see if it makes a difference for you.

Another one of those “DSLR vs. Point & Shoot” articles:

My experience with the Kodak Easyshare (older model) is that the zoom function darkens the picture. I found much better to take pictures with limited zoom, and then do the cropping and resizing using image software after the fact.

Could this be it?

The screen on a point-and-shoot is not intended to preview exposure, only composition. In order to get a usable image in low light, the camera greatly amplifies the video signal and uses a much lower resolution. If you took a picture like that the results would be unacceptable. The only way to preview exposure is to actually take a picture. Some cameras may be better at it than others, but the goal is still to have an image bright enough to see what you are pointing the camera at.

With regards to ISO settings, on your camera, I’d expect the noise to jump up sharply past the Auto range, and even be noticeable at low settings. The fact that the camera’s Auto range is ISO 80-160, merely a one stop range representing twice as much sensitivity, does not bode well for its performance at higher ISOs. Most other cameras have a range of two to three stops (4 to 8 times more sensitivity) in Auto mode. Also be on the lookout for a smeared appearance, a sign of heavy-handed noise reduction. Squeezing 10 MP into a tiny sensor does not do well for low noise levels.

The reason zooming in darkens the picture is the lens on nearly all point-and-shoots is not a constant aperture lens. The lens’s aperture admits less light at the long end of the zoom. Kodak lists an aperture range of f/2.8-4.9 on their product page for the V1003. This represents nearly 3.2 times more light being able to enter the lens at the wide end compared to the long end. This is not in any way unique to Kodak cameras; constant aperture lenses are much more expensive than variable aperture lenses.

I wonder if the 160 they have on the specs page is a misprint, and they really mean 1600? But if they really only range from 80-160 it would explain why the pictures are coming out dark; you simply need more light to shoot in Auto without flash. I suspect they don’t want you shooting without flash turned on in Auto mode.

In manual setting modes, I would expect that anything over 400 is pretty lousy, but that may be all you need to turn these shots around. Again, you’ll end up with more noise but you can try software like Noise Ninja to reduce the worst of that.

This is not a fast (lets in a lot of light) lens, which is very common on smaller digicams.

Some (not all) Fuji cameras user their super CCD technology which allows you to take very clean images up to ISO 1600. There’s really nothing on the market short of a dSLR that comes close. There are issues with all cameras, but if you are looking to take a lot of no flash shots in low light, these are the only cameras that can really pull it off.

Wow, great answers from everyone! I’ll do some experimenting and report back.

As I said, it’s not that I’m upset that the pictures might look dark, but I"m upset that I’m looking at the screen and it looks great, then I take the picture and it looks like shit. I was hoping I was missing some setting that would show me onscreen exactly what my shot will look like, since I did have that with my Mavica and even my cell phone camera does that. It seems like there would be an unenhanced LCD setting of some sort.