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Kodak EasyShare Z812IS
- Big zoom, tons of features, 1280x720 video recording, sharp pictures
- Some chromatic aberration issues, colour could be more accurate, no custom white balance option, no battery charger in package
While it isn't the best ultra zoom on the market, Kodak's EasyShare Z812IS is a good all around package combining a ton of features with solid image quality and a big zoom. The high-definition video recording in particular will appeal to some users.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
If you're looking to buy a high resolution, ultra-zoom advanced camera at some point soon you're currently spoiled for choice. In a market filled with units like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H3 and Canon PowerShot S5 IS, Kodak has released their latest competitor, the EasyShare Z812IS. A successor to the EASYSHARE Z712 IS, this model packs in a big 12x zoom and an advanced feature set into a fairly affordable package. There are some image quality issues, but nonetheless depending on your needs and budget this model may be a good choice.
We ran our usual combination of image tests and found the shots came out quite crisp. There was a little fringing evident along sharp edges but it didn't really detract much from the shots and Imatest awarded the Z812IS a score of 1854 which is a strong performance. That said, the software did also detect 10.4 per cent over-sharpening which increases the score a little.
Unfortunately Imatest also highlighted some fairly prominent chromatic aberration, which took the form of vivid blue haloing in high contrast areas, and a slight loss of clarity towards the edges of the frame. The Z812's Imatest score here was 0.190 per cent, which is towards the high-end of the spectrum.
Image noise was mostly kept under control. This model achieved a result of 0.74 per cent at ISO 100, which is a reasonably good result. There was some slight graininess evident in our test shots but it wasn't too severe at small and medium print magnifications. What was impressive was the camera's ability to keep noise low and sensitivities higher. Everything up to about ISO 800 is perfectly usable, which is brilliant for any kind of compact camera.
Colour response was reasonable but not great, with the Z812 scoring 10.2 in Imatest's colour checker. We found that at the default exposure settings the camera's white balance presets tended to be a little too strong and as a result our shots on the Tungsten setting had a very cool cast. Furthermore there is no custom white balance option, meaning this can't easily be corrected.
Aside from that omission we found the camera's settings were quite robust. ISO sensitivities are available up to 1600 and you can shoot in shutter or aperture priority modes as well as program and full manual. The usual array of metering and focus modes are present along with a bracketing option. Also both optical image stabilisation, for those tricky close-up shots, and face detect, for snapping pictures of family and friends, are included.
One other noteworthy feature is the video function, which records 1280x720 footage at 30fps. While this will eat up your storage space fairly rapidly it is definitely nice if you have a high-definition TV and want to regularly use your still camera for video recording.
The Z812IS also impressed in our speed tests. It exhibited a fairly standard 0.08 seconds shutter lag, but power up time was less than 1.8 seconds and shot-to-shot time was around 1.4 seconds, both of which are very quick. The burst mode operates at 2.5 frames per second.
As with most ultra zooms, the Z812IS's design is far from stylish, but it does the job. The massive zoom lens and jutting right-hand grip are its most prominent features, although Kodak seem to have gone with a 'more buttons is better' approach here and as a result the chassis is littered with controls. The interface takes a little getting used to, but most people should master it given some time.
Users should also note that while the Z812IS's price tag is fairly low, the camera doesn't come with a battery charger in the box. This will need to be purchased separately if you want to use the rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. Otherwise regular AA batteries will suffice.
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