The £160 Kodak EasyShare Z950 is a fairly straightforward camera. After testing so many snappers with special features lately, the Z950's simple approach is a welcome change. This 12.2-megapixel superzoom's most exciting element is a 35mm-equivalent lens with a 10x zoom in a moderately compact body -- and that's not even a wide-angle lens, such as other manufacturers have gravitated towards lately. There are no outlandish shooting options, either, but you do get manual and semi-manual controls. As long as you can cope with its slightly finicky shooting performance, it's a reasonably priced way to get an uncomplicated point-and-shoot camera with a 10x zoom.
Comfortable in the hand
The Z950's design and controls are very similar to those of the less expensive EasyShare Z915, but more polished. It comes in black only, with a body made of a mix of metal and plastic, as well as a dark grey, rubberised grip and thumb rest. Overall, it feels comfortable and solid. Although there are more compact 10x zoom cameras around, the Z950 is still a tight package, able to slip into a larger handbag or coat pocket.
Up front is the camera's main attraction: an image-stabilised 10x zoom lens. It's not especially wide or fast, but it will get you closer to your subject. Stabilised or not, you'll still want to use a support when you've got the lens fully extended. On top are the shutter release and zoom ring, dedicated buttons for flash and timer/drive, the mode dial and a tiny, but easily pressed, power button. Icons for the flash, timer and mode position are backlit so you can find them in the dark.
On the back is a reasonably bright LCD display, a vertical row of buttons (delete, menu, info and play), a five-way joystick for settings and menu navigation, and Kodak's 'share' button, which lets you tag photos as favourites, as ones to upload to a favourite Web site for sharing, or both when the camera is connected to a computer.
Kodak's menus are attractive and generally easy to navigate. None of the shooting options are obscure, but, if you come across a setting you don't understand, a press of the info button brings up a text description of what the feature does.
The Z950 gives you as much or as little control as you want over shooting, making it a good candidate for those who want to step away from fully automatic snapshots, or households in which there are many different user types under one roof. Except for white balance, you get full manual control, as well as shutter-speed and aperture-priority modes. Aperture options are limited to three stops at the wide and long ends: 3.5, 6.2 and 8.3, and 4.8, 8.5 and 11.3, respectively. Shutter speeds range from 16 seconds to 1/1,000 seconds. Controlling them is reasonably simple -- it's all done with the five-way joystick. You also get exposure bracketing, colour effects and sharpness adjustments.