Serious photographers who love ISO settings and white balance would be advised to give the Kodak EasyShare M1033 a wide berth.

Its raison d'être is to work in auto mode (Kodak calls it Smart Capture) where you can simply let the M1033 get on with the job. If you're feeling adventurous you can switch to Program mode, which adds more options to the menu so you can change how the Macro works, your preferred mode for Auto Focus and whether Face Detect is on or off.

Picture modes

The third option is to switch to Scenes, which gives you a choice of 22 preset modes. They include such oddities as 'Manner/Museum – use when sound and flash are not desired' and 'Backlight – use for photos when light is behind the subject.' The menus are clear and easy to navigate and they are assisted by the enormous three-inch LCD screen.

There are very few buttons to bother the casual user, so if, for instance, you want to force it into Macro mode, you have to use Scenes to select Macro mode. However, you can leave the M1033 in Smart Capture mode and it'll do the job for you. It's the strangest feeling to point the Kodak at different objects and see the icons changing as it switches modes on the fly.

Great value camera

This camera took the best array of test photos here using Smart Capture, and the quality only deteriorated when we tried to decide when the flash was necessary. Dr Kodak truly knows best and all this despite an uninspiring specification of a regular lens without wide angle, 3x optical zoom and a small 11mm CCD sensor.

We were impressed by the brightness and clarity of the test photos indoors and were surprised to see Kodak's JPEG compression shrank images to 1.5MB, where the other cameras used 3MB to 4MB to do the same job.

On top of all this, the M1033 is incredibly cheap at £129 (inc. VAT), provided you resist the temptation of buying the Kodak EasyShare HD TV Dock for £60 (inc. VAT).