Kodak PlayFull Ze1 Camcorder Review
The Kodak PlayFull, like previous Kodak camcorders, had severe problems with our color accuracy test. The camcorder's issues stem from its terrible auto white balance performance, which resulted in an intense, orange glow on the PlayFull's footage from our bright light test. We saw the exact same thing from the PlaySport Zx5 camcorder and we've seen this before on cheap camcorders from other manufacturers as well. Kodak needs to address this issue, as it makes the camcorders nearly unusable under certain lighting conditions. More on how we test color.
In our test, the PlayFull Ze1 managed a color error of 16.76 and a wild saturation level of 167.7%. Neither of these numbers should be used for comparison because they are so far off from the norm—all because of the terribly inaccurate white balance. In Kodak's defense, the camcorder had much better colors under natural light (outdoors) and in our low light test (with LED light). The PlayFull has no manual color controls, but in the camcorder's "effects" menu there is an option to boost saturation levels (high saturation) or to record video in black and white.
The Kodak PlayFull Ze1 had a nearly identical color performance to its brand-mate, the PlaySport Zx5 (both had alarming issues with white balance). The GE DV1 also had white balance issues, but they weren't nearly as severe, and the Sony Bloggie Touch TS10 is one of the few ultracompact models we've seen that actually did a good job in our bright light color accuracy test.
Low Light Color
Because the PlayFull didn't have as much of a problem with white balance in low light, the camcorder ended up with a much better color accuracy score in this test than it did in our bright light color accuracy test. Again, the PlayFull put up numbers similar to the Kodak PlaySport Zx5—a color error of 5.48 and a saturation level of 85%. These numbers are decent for an ultracompact camcorder, as they rank better than the GE DV1's performance, and very similar to the Sony Bloggie Touch MHS-TS10. More on how we test low light color.
We like the PlayFull's vivid colors in low light, but the camcorder's image did appear rather blurred (particularly in comparison to the Sony Bloggie Touch). Overall, its low light image looked extremely similar to that of the Kodak PlaySport Zx5, which makes sense because the color accuracy and saturation numbers for the two models were in the same range.
Noise levels measured on the PlayFull's test image in bright light came to 0.7%, which is decent for a cheap camcorder. It's roughly the same amount of noise we measured on the Kodak PlaySport Zx5 (0.66%), and it's a bit more noise than was registered by the GE DV1 and the Sony Bloggie Touch. We'd like the noise level on the PlayFull to be a bit lower, but we're satisfied with the camcorder's result—and the PlayFull had nearly the same amount of noise in our low light test, which is another good performance for the camcorder. More on how we test noise.
In the crop image above, the Kodak PlayFull appears to have captured a decently-sharp image (sharper, at least, than the PlaySport Zx5). Unfortunately, the sharpness of the PlayFull's image varied wildly, and, at times, we found certain areas—usually on the left side of the frame—were unfocused and blurred. To get the crop above, we had to frame our test chart slightly askew, otherwise the left side wouldn't look nearly as sharp (appearing more like the Zx5's image). At its best, the PlayFull Ze1 did a good job with sharpness, but, like we said, this sharpness didn't always apply to the entire frame.