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Since Kodak acquired the Chinon camera company in 2004, it’s consumer digital cameras have undergone a transformation, from being little more than cheap plastic toys, to producing some of the best compact digital cameras on the market, such as the outstanding EasyShare V610. However up until recently Kodak had steered clear of the high-end super-zoom market, an area largely dominated by its arch-rival Fujifilm.
About this time last year though, Kodak launched its “P” series of cameras, getting it off to an auspicious start with the impressive and critically acclaimed 8-megapixel P880, as well as the 5-megapixel, 12x zoom P850. Both cameras have done well, so it’s no surprise that Kodak has added to the series. The 7-megapixel P712 was launched this June, with a list price of £349.99, although it is already available online for £307.98 including delivery. This is still a bit on the steep side for a consumer camera, but as we’ll see the P712 is capable of more than just a point-and-shoot snapshots.
In terms of purpose and style, it’s hard to avoid comparisons with the popular Fujifilm FinePix S5600. The two cameras certainly look very similar, and are roughly the same size. Like the S5600, the P712 is designed to resemble a miniature SLR camera, with a large handgrip, a pop-up flash and large rubberised eyepiece viewfinder. However although there are cosmetic similarities, when you look at the details the two cameras are very different.
For a start, the Kodak has a 7.4-megapixel CCD, which is getting on towards SLR territory. Of course the sensor is only a tiny 1/2.5in type, so it’s not going to have anything like the image quality of an SLR sensor, but the resolution is there.
It also has a massive 12x zoom (36 - 432mm equivalent) lens incorporating a proprietary optical image stabilisation system. The lens is designed by Schneider Kreuznach, a German optics company best known for inventing the Variogon, the first effective zoom lens for cameras, in 1959. While it doesn’t have quite the reputation of Carl Zeiss, it is nonetheless a worthy name, and is found on both Kodak and Samsung optics.