Kodak EasyShare Z1012 IS
Ultra-zoom camera with a 12x zoom lens
- 12x zoom with image stabilisation, speedy operation, manual shooting modes
- Slightly soft shots, processing lag becomes annoying
A good but not great entry-level ultra-zoom, the Kodak EasyShare Z1012 IS should satisfy users looking to take the next step up from a compact, as long as they can put up with a bit of lag between their shots.
The ultra-zoom category of cameras has really grown in the last year or so, as companies try to outdo each other in the lens department. With the EasyShare Z1012 IS, Kodak has taken a step back: not going for the highest numbers but instead trying to provide a solid, well-rounded unit that still bears most of the hallmarks of an ultra-zoom. In some ways it succeeds, but this camera also has several flaws, including fiddly controls and some slightly soft images.
Sporting a 12x optical zoom the Z1012 IS isn't up there with the 18x and 20x lenses you'll find on some competing models but it is nonetheless a fairly big piece of glass. It is supported by Kodak's excellent image stabilisation, which makes taking shots at maximum extension quite easy — even without a tripod.
The sensor clocks in at 10.1 megapixels, which is about average in today's market. In our image quality tests the unit delivered a middle-of-the road performance, producing fine but not particularly impressive snaps.
The shots came out a touch soft, but this isn't really evident unless they're viewed at a fairly high magnification and most people won't be bothered by it. They're still fine for making regular prints. There were some signs of chromatic aberration, in the form of haloing on high-contrast edges, but corner softening was minimal.
The colour balance was pretty standard, with a bright, vivid look that was fun without being too over-saturated. There are several colour modes to pick from but we found the default setting produced the best results. Exposure performance could have been a little better, however, with noticeable disparity between light and dark evident at times.
When it came to the noise tests, the Z1012 IS returned respectable results. Sensitivities up to ISO 200 were fine, with minimal noise and detail loss. ISO 400 saw a slight increase in speckling but it was still quite controlled; even ISO 800 might be useable in a pinch for small prints. Beyond that, however, users will find the shots too blotchy.
The unit performed up to scratch in terms of speed. It had a rather fast start-up time for an ultra-zoom, taking just 2.2 seconds until the first shot. Shutter lag was typical at 0.08 seconds, and shot-to-shot time was a speedy 1.8 seconds. The burst mode was somewhat sluggish, however, at 2.2 frames per second and we did encounter some severe processing lag at times. The camera's buffer is clearly quite small; you will often get a processing screen after even a single shot.
All the usual features you'd expect from such a camera are present with one notable addition. It can record 720p HD video, which is becoming increasingly popular on new compact cameras. As we've seen before on similar units, the video footage is of a decent quality but doesn't compare to that recorded by an HD camcorder. Other features include face detection, a full suite of manual shooting modes and a smattering of scenes and novice features. The feature set won't satisfy experienced photographers, but as a gateway to SLRs it works well.
The design is nothing inspired, but that comes as no surprise. Ultra-zooms have been showing off the same boxy designs with the same jutting grips and large lenses for many years. If you're after style, then this type of camera is best avoided. That said, the build quality is relatively good and the unit feels sturdy. The camera uses a single dial to navigate the settings; you slide it to scroll and push to select. It is a little fiddly at times but once you adjust it does the job.
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