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The camera's overall performance is somewhat disappointing. It takes nearly five seconds to start up, and in single-shot mode it takes an average of around 4.4 seconds between shots. In the camera's specification on Kodak's website it claims 1.6 seconds as the shot-to-shot time, but I don't know where they get this from. Even the first two shots take nearly three seconds, and the delay gets longer the more shots you take, as the buffer can't write to even a high-speed memory card fast enough to keep up. In continuous mode the camera fires a burst of up to three shots at approximately 1.2 shots per second, again significantly slower than the manufacturers claim of 1.7fps, but the buffer then takes over seven seconds to write to a high-speed memory card. With a slower card it can take over 11 seconds before you can continue shooting.
Unfortunately the sluggish performance was far from being the most damning problem that I encountered while testing the Z1275. Several times while I was out shooting, the camera suddenly locked up for no apparent reason just as the shutter button was pressed, with the screen going blank and none of the controls responding, and it had to be switched off and then on again to restore operation. And before some bright spark writes in to tell me that cameras have a ‘sleep mode', it wasn't that. The camera had a major technical problem which caused it to crash repeatedly. The pictures taken at the moment when this occurred were corrupted, and attempting to view them resulted in an "unknown file format" error message. It may be that this was a problem only with my review unit, and is not a general fault with the model, but the fact that it occurred at all in a brand new camera is very worrying.
This is a great pity, because like the other 12MP cameras I've tested, under the right circumstances the Z1275 is capable of producing good picture quality. As always, Kodak's colour reproduction is flawless in good light, and the Schneider-Kreuznach lens also lives up to its reputation, producing excellent clarity from edge to edge with very little distortion at wide angle, and only a tiny hint of chromatic aberration at the very edges of the frame. However the 1/1.72-inch 12.4 megapixel CCD does suffer from limited dynamic range, clipping highlights and losing shadow detail in high-contrast shots. Image noise is also a significant problem, with colour speckling visible even on shots at the minimum ISO 64 setting. The rather severe file compression further reduced image quality. In order to save storage space the big 4000 x 3000 pixel images are very heavily compressed, with file sizes averaging around three megabytes, about what I'd expect from a six or seven megapixel camera. As a result compression artefacts are visible on many images.
The Kodak EasyShare Z1275 is a camera with a number of problems and few saving graces. It is heavy and bulky for a compact, build quality is below average, it lacks any real image stabilisation for its longer-than-average zoom range, and its performance and image quality are well below par. The HD video mode is potentially useful, the lens is very good and the asking price is relatively low for a 12MP camera, but I'm afraid that isn't enough to save it. The possibility of a crippling technical problem is the final nail in the coffin.
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