Point-and-shoot simplicity is the hallmark of most of the Kodak digital cameras we've reviewed, and the Kodak EasyShare M853 is no exception. This small, light, 8.2Mp camera offers few exposure controls, but it has a wealth of built-in help information and 19 scene modes.
Using the Kodak EasyShare M853 is akin to driving an inexpensive compact hatchback - it's not particularly fun, but it gets the job done. Next to the wide shutter button is a small mode dial with tiny, somewhat hard-to-read icons. The four-way thumb buttons are unlabelled, but because they do far less than the ones typically found in digital cameras, the drawback is minor.
The Kodak EasyShare M853's onscreen menu has relatively large text on a blue background, making the text easier to read than on most point-and-shoots, but selecting a setting prompts lots of subsequent scrolling and button pressing.
There's also no obvious organisation to the Kodak EasyShare M853's menus. Typical of Kodak cameras, you see a short text description of what each setting does.
Proof that a high megapixel count doesn't guarantee excellent photos, the Kodak EasyShare M853's image quality is mediocre, at best - many of our test shots had noticeable noise (or colour speckling). Scenic shots captured in bright sun had a slight bluish tinge; colour saturation and contrast were acceptable.
Earning an overall score of Fair in our formal lab testing, the Kodak EasyShare M853 scored slightly below average in colour and exposure accuracy, and well below average for distortion. The movie mode is fun - if you like those old, slightly jumpy and faded 8mm movies.
Creating a panoramic shot with the Kodak EasyShare M853 is quicker than with most of its competition, but with dicier results. Each panorama is limited to just three source shots (most cameras with this feature allow significantly more), and stitching happens in-camera, whereas most of this Kodak's competitors do the stitching via software in your PC.
In-camera stitching makes the process extremely simple, but it also means you can't make often-necessary fine adjustments during the stitching process.
The Kodak EasyShare M853 comes with Kodak's EasyShare application - a capable, easy-to-use utility for managing your digital photos. The photo editing tools are fine for casual photographers, and you can use the software to order prints online or to back up your photos to CD or DVD.
The Kodak EasyShare M853 is, in short, adequate for family snapshots, where photo-quality expectations are modest.