Back in September I reviewed the Kodak EasyShare Z650, a reasonably priced 6.1-megapixel superzoom snapshot camera. I was fairly impressed by its handling and image quality, and although it had some fairly serious flaws, such as slow performance, no image stabilization and a terrible 11fps VGA video mode, I awarded it an above-average 7/10 overall.
This week, moving up one step in Kodak’s EasyShare range, I’m taking a look at the Z710. It has an extra megapixel of resolution and costs around £50 more, so it should be a much better camera, right? Wrong. Very wrong in fact, in several important ways.
At first glance it’s hard to tell the two cameras apart. They share the same body design and control layout, and look identical apart from the “7.1 megapixels” emblazoned on the side. The Z710 has the same 10x zoom, 38-380mm equivalent lens, the same 2in, 115,000 pixel “indoor/outdoor” monitor and the same rather limited set of features.
It also shares the Z650’s control layout and menu system. There is a large illuminated mode dial on the back surrounding a simple joystick-type menu controller. The camera isn’t exactly overburdened with features and options, but it does offer full manual, aperture priority and shutter priority exposure control with a good range of settings. It also has sport, portrait and night program modes, as well as fourteen scene modes. Other functions such as the two-speed self timer, macro or infinity focusing and flash modes all have their own buttons, and exposure compensation is controlled via the joystick.
It is very simple and intuitive to operate, which is really just as well, because it only comes with a basic 23-page “Getting Started” manual. For the full user guide you have to go to Kodak’s website and either view it in your web browser or download it as a PDF and print it yourself. I thought Canon was pretty slack with its CD-ROM manuals, but this is just plain lazy.
Although the Z710 is externally almost identical to the Z650, there are several differences on the inside. The Z710 features a 7.1 megapixel 1/2.5in CCD. This is the same small physical size as the sensor in the Z650, but Kodak has squeezed an extra million photosensors onto it - an increase of 16 per cent. In doing so Kodak has demonstrated why this is often not a very good idea.