The camera also has an electronic viewfinder, however I was not impressed with it. On my review sample it seemed to be slightly out of focus, and there was no way to adjust it. It also seemed to be prone to unusual colour casts, which really didn’t help.
Since it is aimed squarely at the budget point-and-shoot end of the market, the Z650 isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with creative features. It does have manual exposure options, and the aperture range of F2.8 to F8 is almost wide enough to be genuinely useful. It also has a selection of scene modes, but they are all very basic.
In program mode the full range of menu options becomes available, and these do include spot, multi-pattern or centre-weighted metering, multi-zone or centre-zone focusing, and adjustable sharpening, but that’s pretty much your lot.
One feature that is most notable by its absence is image stabilization, a serious omission on a camera with a lens this big. At 380mm equivalent, there is always going to be a risk of camera shake at any shutter speed under about 1/500th of a second unless a good tripod is used.
Fortunately the Z650 does have one major strong point, and that is image quality. The Schneider Kreuznach lens is as usual superb, producing pin-sharp focus right across the frame, with virtually zero distortion at all focal lengths. The Kodak Colour Science processing engine does the rest, turning in gorgeous colour reproduction in every shot. The image files produced at the 6MP setting are around 0.8-1.5MB each (528 shots on a 1GB card) but even so there was very little JPEG artefacting. Image noise is also very well controlled. The Z650 has an ISO range of 80-400, but even at the highest setting there was very little noise.
The Kodak EasyShare Z650 is something of a Curate’s egg. While it does have some fairly serious flaws, it does offer a lot of image quality and zoom power for a very low price. The slow performance, lousy video mode and limited range of features are a downside, but you’d have to go a long way to find a better 10x zoom for under £160.