Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Kodak EasyShare Z8612 IS
- Big zoom, optical image stabilisation, retro design
- Chromatic aberration issues, colours inaccurate, sluggish at times
Kodak's EasyShare Z8612 IS has a few things going for it, including a large zoom that is backed up by optical image stabilisation. However, its images exhibit a fair bit of fringing and it can at times be quite slow.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
If you're a digital camera user who still begrudges the loss of your film-based unit, Kodak's latest advanced camera, the EasyShare Z8612 IS, should suit you quite nicely. It sports a retro design that is sure to make old school photographers feel at home, and packs in an 8.1 megapixel sensor along with full manual shooting options. However, things aren't all rosy: it exhibits a few image quality problems and some speed issues.
The main problem in our imaging tests was some fairly severe chromatic aberration. Indoors, our charts showed strong haloing in areas of high contrast while outdoors there was prominent purple fringing, particularly around trees and areas of dense foliage. It was quite a bit worse than we're used to seeing and was visible even at relatively small magnifications.
That said, there was fairly minimal corner softening. Our test shots were crisp and clear, satisfying our expectations of a sensor of this resolution. In fact, at times edges were a little over-sharpened, which Imatest confirmed, but it wasn't too problematic.
Colour response was another area where this unit struggled. Like previous Kodak models we've reviewed, the white balance pre-sets are fairly scant on the Z8612 IS, with only a handful of options included. The automatic mode produced shots that were far too warm indoors and came out quite washed out, with all the primary colours paler than they should be. The tungsten setting wasn't much better, although it did produce a noticeable cooler cast. Overall the colour balance was acceptable but little more.
Thankfully, image noise was kept well under control. Everything up to ISO 400 produced perfectly usable shots, and even above this we'd be happy producing regular 4in x 6in prints. The noise created is more of a vague blotchiness than the typical white grain we see at high sensitivities and it wasn't too problematic at small magnifications.
Another problem area was speed. The Z8612 seemed to struggle to take a rapid series of shots in succession. After five or six in a small space of time we began to get processing lag and the camera had to pause after every snap. This quickly became irritating. It also meant in our speed tests the results were mixed. Shutter lag was fairly consistent at 0.1 seconds. However, shot-to-shot time was anywhere from 1.5 to 3 seconds. Start-up time was also disappointing at about 3.7 seconds—this is to be somewhat expected due to the large lens needing time to extend.
Its feature set is really where the Z8612 excels. It carries a massive 12x optical zoom and supports it with optical image stabilisation. The OIS works well on the whole and 12x is large enough to allow for some extra creativity. As mentioned before, the unit also has full manual shooting options, allowing you to tweak aperture and shutter speed and a fairly paltry five scene modes are present as well. There are two burst modes, the faster of which captures three frames per second for four seconds; the other is slightly slower but can snap indefinitely.
As stated before, aesthetically this unit is extremely retro, with a black boxy design reminiscent of the film cameras of old. It is far from what we'd call stylish but it does have a certain appeal that many other ultra-zooms lack.
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