The following article is a review by FreshDV guest contributor Eugenia Loli-Queru. sent us over for a review a Kodak V1233 12MP cheap digital camera that has a 720p HD recording capability. Along with it, they also sent us a 4 GB SD card to test the camera with.

The V1233 uses a 1/1.72in CCD that captures 12.1MP pixels JPEG images. It features a 3x varizoom, an electronic image stabilizer, and a 2.5″ LCD screen. It comes with 32MB flash storage and it accepts SDHC cards up to 8 GB. The camera sports a microphone and a flash. This model is largely the same as the V1253, a $40 more expensive model. Their only differences are the larger LCD, stereo mics and higher video bitrate that the V1253 enjoys. Delve in for more.

In the package we found the camera, a rechargeable battery, a camera bag, a USB cable that fits on Kodak’s proprietary slot, a composite A/V cable, an insert dock for Kodak printers, a CD and a manual in 4 languages. Unfortunately, there was no wrist wrap in the package we received, even if it was listed in the included parts. The camera is refurbished, but we found no blemishes or scratches.

On the top of the camera you will find the Favorites button, Video button, Picture button, on/off and flash button’s on/off/auto/red-eyes modes. At the far right there is the zoom slider button and the snapshot one. On the top right there is a good quality speaker to review your videos, and on the bottom right you will find the joystick that let’s you navigate on the different menus. Around the joystick you will find the review, delete, menu and Kodak’s “share” buttons. When not on menu mode, the joystick allows you to go into landscape/macro mode, and enable/disable the guidance on-screen text.

The camera is pretty thin and small, considering its feature-set. Custom settings include LCD brightness, LCD dimmer, image storage, album, orientation sensor, camera sounds, sound volume, date & time setting, digital zoom setting, auto power off time setting, video out setting, language, reset camera and memory format. Firmware version used was 1.01. Battery life was good. The camera still had 65% of juice left after 20 minutes of HD video recording with its screen always ON. That’s on par with some miniDV cameras. At low light, I found the flash very powerful, but its LCD screen was very dim under sunshine.

The camera has 4 modes for white balance, a normal, macro and infinity focus modes, auto and two other types of macro focus ranges, several exposure control techniques and compensation (including selectable ISO values). The V1233 allows for a single shot, burst mode up to 3 frames, and self timer up to 10 seconds. There are also several color modes (high color, natural color, low color, sepia, black and white) and three sharpness levels. The camera has several scene options: portrait, sport, landscape, close up, night portrait, night landscape, snow, beach, text/document, fireworks, flower, museum/manner, self portrait, hi-ISO, children, backlight, panning, candle light, sunset, custom, panorama R-L, panorama L-R, digital image stabilization. You can shoot 12 MP 4:3 pictures or 9 MP 16:9 ones. Other options include 6.0 , 3.1, 2.2, 2.1 MP (1920×1080) and 1.2 MP.

HD and downloadable version here

The V1233 supports QVGA, VGA and 720p (10mbps). You will need a 2 GB SD card for 16 minutes of 720p HQ recording (files will be cut off at 2 GBs because of the FAT limitation). Audio quality from the mono microphone was very so-so, possibly because of the codec it was saved in rather than the actual quality of the mic. The camera records in MPEG4-SP at 30fps, although unfortunately the frame rate is not constant. There are variations between 30.04 to 30.73 fps. Although this doesn’t seem a big deal, it’s enough to bring difficulties during video editing or TV viewing. Another problem we had was that the camera seemed to “forget” some of its settings sometimes during reboots, so some of the shots on the above video were mistakenly shot in “normal” quality instead of “high” quality.

The camera has literally zero video control. No white balance, no exposure compensation, no shutter/apperture or gain control. You get what you get, and it’s usually over-exposed. There is also no manual focus, but there is macro/infinity/normal modes, that might help in some situations. The zoom function is not really usable when used with video. Except the fact that you hear the vzzzz-vzzzz of the lens while zooming in/out through the microphone, the camera has trouble staying focused all the time and for moments it’s completely out of focus, resulting in ruining your video. But even if you zoom-in and then press “record”, there is a new problem. When zoomed-in, there is this purple spot in the middle of the frame! I believe that it’s possibly a lens problem, but I can’t be sure. The spot is clearly visible on the video above. There are other instances, where the sensor went completely berserk during video shooting, as you can see below, and purple colors were all over the frame. The V1253 has similar issues, just not as apparent. Others have reported such problems online on these models, which leads us to believe that the design of these cameras should have undergone more testing.

Finally, the video format is easily transformable to a PS3/Xbox360/AppleTV format. Despite all its problems, this the cheapest 720p video camera in the market, sold these days for under $155. Sure it doesn’t have all the controls we prosumers would like to, but I think it would make a good present to a first-time videographer or photographer newbie.

Rating: 6.5/10

FreshDV guest-contributor Eugenia Loli-Queru is a Senior News Editor at You can catch up with her online at

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