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For the most part the control layout is fine, but I did have a bit of a problem with the zoom control. Not only is it slow and unresponsive, it is also positioned so that if you’re looking through the viewfinder with your left eye, as most right-handed people will do (not me – ed.), you can’t operate it without pocking yourself in the eye with your thumb.
General performance is pretty good, although it has some weak points. The camera starts up in just over two seconds, not bad for a super-zoom camera with a lens this size. Focusing is, however, quite variable. About half the time it focuses very quickly, in well under half a second, but at other times it takes far longer, around one and a half seconds, and sometimes it just won’t focus at all. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it, just sometimes it gets a bit lazy. Low light focusing is quite good though, thanks to the built-in AF illuminator which has an effective range of about four meters.
I mentioned weak points, and unfortunately shooting speed is one of them. In single shot mode, at the 6MP resolution setting, it takes around three seconds (not the 1.7 sec. claimed on Kodak’s website) to save each shot to the memory card, during which time you cannot take another shot, which is a bit slow by current standards.
It has two continuous shooting modes, one which takes up to four shots at about ¾ of a second per shot, and another which keeps shooting as long as you keep the button pressed, but then only saves the last three frames. In both cases the camera then takes nearly 25 seconds to save these shots to the memory card.
Another weak point is the video mode. Most cameras these days can manage 640 x 480 (VGA) resolution at 30 frames a second, but all the Z650 offers is VGA at a miserable 11fps, or 320 x 240 (QVGA) at 20fps. You can’t use the zoom lens while shooting video.
The Z650 is equipped with what Kodak calls an “indoor/outdoor” LCD monitor. What this means is that it has an automatic gain and brightness control, so it adjusts its brightness to suit the ambient light conditions. In practical use this means that in low light conditions it becomes very grainy, although in bright sunlight it brightens up enough to see. With only 110,000 pixels it’s also not very high resolution.