The Bottom Line
Obviously, with a dual camera like the PlaySport that's designed primarily as a video camera, the still image capabilities won't be quite as good as the video. In this review, I will focus primarily on the still image options for the PlaySport, and my star ranking also primarily reflects this camera's still image capabilities.
The PlaySport is extremely easy to use, and its still image quality is perhaps just a bit below average, compared to others in this price range. However, stronger video capabilities make up for that.
The edition I tested -- the Burton edition -- has no flash, no LED light, no optical zoom, and an LCD that's too small. Obviously, these are significant negative aspects for this camera versus other still image cameras, as most inexpensive point and shoot cameras contain even very basic versions of these features.
The PlaySport's price, layout, and video capabilities, combined with the basic still image options, make it a reasonably good option for older children.
If you're more interested in learning about the video capabilities of the PlaySport, read the About Camcorders review of the PlaySport from Camcorders Guide Greg Scoblete, who gave the PlaySport very high marks on its video capabilities.
Image quality is hit and miss with the PlaySport. Some photos will have a slightly soft focus, while others are surprisingly sharp. For the most part, the PlaySport seems to do a better job focusing on close-up objects, rather than being sharp throughout the frame over a distance.
Indoor photos are pretty flat and underexposed, especially if there isn't a lot of light available, because the Burton edition of the PlaySport has no method for adding light to a scene (more about that later). Outdoor photos were pretty accurately exposed most of the time, although, on occasion, the outdoor photos seem overprocessed with unrealistic colors.
Overall, I'd call the PlaySport's still image results passable. They're a bit below average compared to most cameras in this price range, but, for a dual camera that's primarily designed as a video camera, the PlaySport does a decent job with still images.
You can make some in-camera special effect changes with the PlaySport, which is nice, adding high saturation, 1970s film, black and white, or sepia effects to your still images. There aren't any other specific editing features with this camera, at least for still images. You can pull a single still image out of a video clip by using the camera's controls, though.
Outside of those previously mentioned special effect options, the PlaySport does not give you any significant manual controls for shooting still images. Kodak designed this camera as a fully automatic model, and it is very easy to use.
With a dual camera designed more as a video camera, it's no surprise that the PlaySport does an outstanding job with movies. The quality is very good, and the tiny size of the PlaySport is great for shooting movies while you're in the middle of an activity. It's also easy to toggle between still image and movie modes.
The biggest problem with the PlaySport Burton edition that I tested is its lack of a built-in flash unit or an LED light that can help with low light photos. For still images, the PlaySport is basically unusable unless you have a decent amount of external light. (NOTE: Some versions of the PlaySport include an LED light, but the Burton edition that I tested does not.) This version of the PlaySport is designed primarily as an outdoor camera.
The PlaySport's LCD is a disappointment, at least when compared to the LCD screens you'll find with point and shoot cameras in this price range. I would've liked a larger LCD with the PlaySport than the 2.0-inch screen it has. The screen's response is pretty slow when making menu selections, which can be a bit frustrating when you're in a hurry. If you press the buttons too quickly, before the menu is ready, your selections are not recognized.
In addition, the LCD's field of view is very narrow, and it's difficult to see the screen when you twist or tilt the screen just a little bit.
Shutter lag is a bit of a problem with this camera, meaning you may miss some photos of moving subjects because of the delay. The PlaySport's shot to shot delays and start-up times are pretty good, though.
Another disappointment is that the PlaySport offers no optical zoom capability. Instead, you'll only be able to zoom in to the subject using a 4X digital zoom, which will cause a slight loss of image quality.
Kodak included a macro mode with the PlaySport, and it seems to work pretty well, providing a sharp focus for close-up photos.
The PlaySport's design is vastly different from that of a typical still image camera, as the PlaySport is designed to be used with one hand in a vertical configuration. Most of the buttons are on the back of the camera near the LCD, and they're easy to access with your thumb, even if you're wearing gloves. The shutter button is in the middle of the four-way button, and it is convenient to use.
The camera's lens is in the upper quarter of the camera body, making it nearly impossible to block the lens with your finger.
The PlaySport has a "tough" design, and it is designed for use in harsh conditions. It can work in up to 10 feet of water depth, and it can work even after a fall of 5 feet. The panels containing the USB, HDMI, and memory card slots are very sturdy. The battery for the PlaySport is built into the dual camera, which further secures the camera from any potential damage.
The camera is extremely easy to use, with a very simple menu structure. You also can easily "share" your images and videos through social networking sites by pressing just one button to start the process.
Finally, with the Burton Edition that I had the chance to test, Kodak includes a small tripod and a remote control, which are two very handy additions for this type of camera in this price range. That helps give the PlaySport a very nice value.
The camera's HDMI slot is great for downloading videos. In addition, Kodak includes an HDMI cable with this Burton edition, which helps increase the value of this unit and which makes it easy to connect the camera directly to your HDTV.