I have decided to return the Kodak v550 I got to replace the Pentax Optio S5i. I was looking for photos to print out and frame, and nothing I've taken recently is pleasing to my eyes. I like to take macro shots of my cats but my recent attempts have been miserable compared to ones I took last year.
In looking at the photos Cathy took on her trip, it seemed to me everything was fine with the camera for everyday photos, except when I zoomed in. Subjectively, I think none of the photos I've taken recently will make decent prints on anything larger than a 4x6.
At first, I blamed my less-than-steady hands for the quality of the photos I've taken recently. I looked at my favorite photo, one of Malachi with soft sunlight upon her while she lay peacfully on the bed. I comapred it to a recent attempt of a macro shot of the same subject in the same room and the images simply did not compare.
By zooming in, it was almost instantly clear that I have far less detail on the recent phot than the origianl photo. Then, viola, I though I discovered the problem... the Kodak photo was _much_ smaller than Optio photo, so I must have resized the image! I just needed to find the full-size image I took with the Kodak and my problem would be resolved.
I couldn't find the "original", uncompressed version of the Kodak photo. It finally hit me: this is the size of the Kodak photos. The Optio and the Kodak are both 5 megapixels, yet the Optio photo was 2500k while the Kodak photo was only 800k. I looked on my Kodak camera for an "image quality" setting, like the Optio, yet I could not find one.
Simply put, the Kodak V550 appplies much higher image compression than my Optio S5i did. Unfortunately, this is not a user-adjustable setting on the Kodak, so I cannot adjust the setting to lower the compression.
That explained a lot... the increadible refresh rate, the lack of details on photos, the inability to get high-quality shots despite my best efforts. I did a few Google searches on the Kodak V550... everybody gave it glowing reviews, but a few reviews noted that the "compression is a little high". Well, the compression is too high for me, expecially since I can tell the difference between my digital photos and a 35mm 4x6 print.
I need a camera that will take 4x6 digital photos that look just like the same photo taken with a 35mm camera. So... the Kodak V550 is going back. I want a compact camera to carry on my waist, and Cathy wants a mid-sized camera with high optical zoom, so I'm stuck with having two cameras. I'll be replacing the V550 with another compact digicam, but I'll need to find one for Cathy, too. *sigh* Knoica Minolta is selling their digicam division to Sony, so I'll be looking at a Kodak, Epson or Canon... we'll see.