In playback mode, red-eye reduction does a reasonable job of clearing up glowing eyes, while an orientation sensor automatically flips your pictures. The crop tool is less useful as you can't specify the size or shape of the trim. Images can be tagged with generic preset tags like 'holiday' or you can add your own with an onscreen keyboard.
The VGA video (640x480 pixels) shoots at 30 frames per second. What's really interesting is the option to grab a frame and save it as an image or to create what Kodak has called an 'action print'. This lays out up to 16 frames of the video -- which you can select yourself or have the camera do it for you -- in a single still image.
Burst mode captures a measly 4 images, although it does so in a relatively speedy two seconds.
Noise is present even at ISO 64. We did have to zoom in on the image onscreen to see it, however. At higher ISO speeds, noise is less of an issue than we expected. Unsightly speckles don't overwhelm images even at ISO 800 and 1,600, but at the price of some prettty heavy noise reduction, which blunts fine detail.
We found that images were a little soft, with purple fringing in evidence around the edges of highly contrasting areas of colour. Our biggest concern was the surprising amount of barrel distortion at the wide end: the image appeared to bulge slightly in the middle.
The Kodak EasyShare Z8612 IS is an affordable and compact superzoom with a classy fusion of retro and modern styling. We want to like it and we do enjoy the clever video options. But images are softer than we'd want and we sense that form has triumphed over function in a few design quirks.
It's better looking than the lumpen Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4, but that camera makes a much better fist of putting superzoom performance in a compact body. Ultimately, the Z8612 isn't one thing or the other.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday