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7/10

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Kodak EasyShare Z650

Around this time last month I reviewed the Kodak P712, a 12x zoom, 7.1 megapixel high-end camera costing around £300. This week I’ve got its kid brother on the test bench. Where the P712 was aimed at the enthusiast photographer market, the EasyShare Z650 (what is it with naming cameras after motorbikes?) is pitched a little lower, at the point-and-shoot snapshot market. It’s a bit too big to be considered a pocket compact, but for the holiday snapper looking for a little more versatility it seems like the perfect solution. Kodak does a number of things very well indeed, and one of these is to make good, easy-to-use cameras at prices that anyone can afford. There aren’t many manufacturers that can beat it at this game.

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The Z650 is a 6.1 MP SLR-style camera with a powerful 10x Schneider Kreuznach Variogon lens. It has a list price of just £199.99, and is available online and in several High Street stores for around £157, which is remarkably good value for a camera with this specification.

It’s a nice looking camera too. It is quite large, with a big comfortable handgrip, a 2in LCD monitor and an electronic viewfinder. Apart from the metal lens barrel, the majority of the body is plastic, but it feels solid and well made. The curved shape gives it an inherent strength and there are no creaks when it’s squeezed, however the card hatch does feel a bit on the flimsy side. The camera is finished in a nice semi-matt silver, with black rubberized areas on the handgrip, around the lens barrel and around the viewfinder eyepiece. It handles well, and feels very comfortable to hold.

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The control layout reflects the simplicity of the camera’s function. The main control is a large illuminated dial on the back, which doubles as both a mode dial and a D-pad for menu navigation. I was very impressed by this. It’s both quick and easy to use, and with the on-screen help it is marvellously simple to understand. The rest of the control layout is similarly simple. Three buttons on the top panel take care of flash modes, macro/landscape focusing, self timer (10 and two seconds plus a double-shot function) and continuous shooting mode. On the back you’ll find, apart from the dial, the menu, delete and review buttons down the bottom, and the ubiquitous Kodak “Share” button, which works in conjunction with the optional printer or USB cradle.

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