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Good: Price, zoom, manual controls, performance at auto mode(!)
Bad: Image quality, image compression.
Comment: Well they say that what you pay, is what you get... This is exactly the case with this camera. Dont get me wrong, the camera isn't bad at all for the money it costs. It's just that people who decide to buy a camera for advanced shooting (Z8612 IS aims at that category of buyers) simply expect a better image quality from their camera.
If I was a snap-shooter that would buy a camera as my latest object in my gadget collection then I would have had several other choices better designed (slimmer, sleekier, maybe with a bigger lcd screen) even from the same company (Kodak) and of course I would be VERY happy with the imaging results of this camera.
But, I bought this camera thinking that all these manual controls it offers, and the extra zoon (12x) would give me the chance to make better pictures than simply selecting "auto"...so I dont feel 100% satisfied.
Well I guess, no matter under which category of using the camera you fall... you wont get to be 100% satisfied with Z8612IS. For advanced shooting you will need to pay an extra 60-70$ (thats around 50-60 euros) to get a camera with better image quality and same controls with Z8612, and as for snap-shooting...omg! choosing a camera sounds like a headache, there are great cameras out there that will provide you with all the slimness, sleekness and shine you need combined with maybe better image quality in same prices... after all when you simply want your new gadget, who gives a dime about 12x's and manual controls right?
Good: Pound for pound, the results are excellent.
Bad: White balance is a tricky balancing act.
Comment: Kodak cameras - you tend to love them or hate them. A name synonymous with the masses of point and shooters out there. Over the recent years, Kodak have released a plethora of cameras, one after the other, many looking like identical twins with the occasional skin blemish to distinguish them.
The Z8612 IS, however, is different. It's style is so old, it's new - and a welcome departure from the Kodak pea-pod.
Yes, it's all plastic, but contrary to other reviews I've read, I think it is well made and feels quite robust in the hands. The battery and SD card doors are not suspect in the least - they certainly aren't as thin and flimsy as those from certain other manufacturers I've seen.
As for features, well Kodak have catered for most tastes in this compact market. Full auto, program, apperture & shutter priority, plus full manual control - plus the usual scene modes. There's even a dedicated panorama stitch mode position on the main dial - indicating, perhaps, Kodak's insistance on its usefulness as to elevate its status this way.
The 2.5inch LCD is of decent quality, with 250,000 dots. Even in this day and age, people like Casio are STILL churning out no control compacts with half the resolution - AND at more expensive prices.
Now bear this in mind. I picked up my Z8612 at an amazing £99.99 (though I won't advertise the company). For THIS price this Kodak is a steal, provided you're prepared to do some lengthy PC work later to correct the white balance.
This is definitely the camera's Achilles heal. In sunshine, there's a definite red/magenta cast. Under cloud laden skies pictures are magenta tinged again - no matter how you juggle the white balance settings. But don't be put off.
Recently I gave my Kodak the meanest of tests - certainly not the typical summer hols weather you'd hope to find abroad. Oh no! Instead I chose a horrible overcast day with intermittent rain and strong wind. Then I took it and a G clamp underground to a disused copper mine.
Yes, OK, the zoom is a pain - no precision whatsoever - and the image does indeed lose focus whilst you zoom in or out. And, yes, there are some Jpeg artifacts if you scrutinise closely on the PC screen. But, well, er, kinda wow! I was truly amazed with the results.
In very, very, very dimly lit (spotlit) underground grottos and passageways, set to full manual control, with exposures up to 10 seconds long, the camera fixed on railings & staircases with the ubiquitous G clamp pod, images were sharp, clear, and exhibited remarkable tonal range for such a small CCD. ISO was set to the minimum 64 in most cases - but also up to 200. Over 200 things do turn mushy, but no more than with the vast majority of other competing products. I would certainly use up to 400 ISO - at a pinch 800. Don't go further though, unless any picture is better than nothing.
Lens quality is, again, frankly amazing for the price. From one extreme of focal length to the other, pictures exhibit sharpness virtually across the frame, with only slight corner softness and very moderate fringing in high contrast areas. Certainly nothing to complain about, not at THIS price.
Handling is probably as good as one would expect for this size of superzoom, and the interface I found very user friendly. The two most common features I use - namely EV compensation and ISO adjustment - are easily changed from an active menu permanently sited along the bottom of the LCD.
Images can be shot in standard 4:3 ratio, but also 3:2 - my personal preference - along with 16:9.
It is a shame Kodak STILL don't offer a choice of Jpeg compression ratios, as a lower compression would go a long way to reducing the artifacts. I also take issue with the HD logo emblazoned all over the box and in advertising. As purchased, the camera neither shoots, nor is it able to output anything HD. You will need the HD docking station for that purpose, and then only to display on HD TVs. Kodak are sailing close to the wind with this one - and pre
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