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DCRP Review: Kodak
EasyShare Z712 IS
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: September 23, 2007
Last Updated: February 25, 2008
The Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS ($249) is a low-cost, but full-featured ultra zoom camera. It features a 7.1 effective Megapixel CCD, 12X optical zoom, optical image stabilization, full manual controls, a 2.5" LCD display, and the ease-of-use that Kodak cameras are known for.
After I received the Z712, Kodak announced a newer model, known as the Z812 IS ($299). It's quite similar, with the notable changes being a higher resolution (8.2MP) sensor and a 720p video mode.
The Z712 IS has some really tough competition, especially from the likes of Canon, Panasonic, and Sony. How does it perform? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The EasyShare Z712 has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
As is the case with most cameras these days, the EasyShare
Z712 has built-in memory in lieu of a bundled memory card. The Z712 has 32MB
of built-in memory (of which only 28MB can be used for photo storage), which
holds just ten photos at the highest quality setting. Therefore, you'll want
to buy a memory card right away, and I'd recommend a 1GB card as a good place
to start. The camera supports both SD and MMC memory cards, plus the newer,
high capacity SDHC cards, though they don't actually tell you that anywhere.
While it improves camera performance slightly, a high speed card isn't a necessary
[Paragraph updated 9/24/07]
The Z712 can use several types of battery. It comes with a lithium CR-V3 battery, which will soon find its way into your trash can. After that, you can use two AA batteries (NiMH, lithium, or alkaline), another lithium CR-V3, or Kodak's KLIC-8000 rechargeable battery ($20). Now, here's how the Z712 compares with ultra zooms in terms of battery life. I only have numbers for the KLIC-8000 battery, so I can't say how the camera performs with NiMH rechargeables.
As you can see, the Z712's battery life falls well below the average for the group. It's possible to get better numbers out of the camera by using NiMH rechargeables, but since Kodak doesn't publish them, I can't say that with 100% confidence. So, you'll probably want to get yourself a spare battery -- the KLIC-8000 rechargeable sells for about $20.
There's no battery charger included with the camera, and you have various options there too. If you're using the KLIC-8000, then you can use the Kodak K7500 (priced from $33) or K7600 ($35) chargers. The Kodak camera and printer docks can charge the battery while it's inside the camera, as well. If you decide to use NiMH rechargeables (which are certainly a better value than the KLIC-8000), then any fast charger will be fine.
Kodak includes a lens cap and retaining strap in the box with the Z712 IS, so that big 12X lens will be protected from scratches or worse.
Kodak offers a decent amount of accessories for the Z12, and I've compiled them into this chart:
Not too shabby... though a wide-angle conversion lens would've been a nice accessory to have.
EasyShare 6.0 for Mac OS X
EasyShare 6.2 for Windows lets you view your Online Photo Gallery right in the software
The Z712 comes with Kodak's EasyShare 6 software for both Mac and Windows. As is often the case, the Windows version (6.2) is superior to the Mac version (6.0) of the software, offering full integration with the EasyShare Gallery photo sharing website.
The main screen in EasyShare is where you'll organize your photos after they've been imported from the camera. You can view your photos by date taken, and you can create both regular and "smart" albums as well.
On this screen you can also view your photos in a slideshow, edit or rotate them (see below), get exposure data, burn them to a CD or DVD, or even upload them to the Kodak EasyShare Gallery for printing and sharing. You can also e-mail them (directly or via a website) and print them in numerous ways.
EasyShare 6.0 for Mac OS X
EasyShare 6.2 for Windows
On the edit screen you've got a bunch of nice tools for fixing up your photos. They include rotation, cropping, "instant enhancement", redeye reduction, brightness and contrast, color, exposure, and instant black & white or sepia conversion. For some edits, you can split the screen (see above) so you can see a "before and after" view of your proposed changes. The Windows version adds a few other "fun effects" as well.
EasyShare 6.2 for Windows
Something else that the Windows version lets you do is create greeting cards. The software includes templates, and Kodak sells packs of additional templates for around $10. Just plug in your photo and you're ready to print your card either yourself or via Kodak's EasyShare Gallery service.
All-in-all the EasyShare package is pretty darn good for bundled software, especially if you've seen the stuff that some other companies give you.
On their recent cameras Kodak has taken a step backwards in the documentation department. In the "old days" (meaning last year), you used to get a nice thick manual in the box with the camera. Now you get a thin "getting started guide" which has just 22 pages of actual content. Want the full manual? You'll have to go to Kodak's website and either view it there, or download it as a PDF. I'm sorry Kodak, but people should not have to do this -- especially those who aren't terribly techno-saavy.
Look and Feel
The EasyShare Z712 IS is a fairly compact ultra zoom camera. It's made of a mixture of plastic and metal, and feels pretty solid. The camera's grip is just the right side, so the camera fits snugly in your hand. Your thumb conveniently sits on the zoom controller, so there's no stretching necessary. The Z712 does have more than its share of buttons, but they're all well-labeled. The only thing that bothered me was the command dial on the back of the camera -- I think it spins too easily.
Now, here's a look at how the Z712 compares to other ultra zoom cameras in terms of size and weight: