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Putting more photosensors in the same area means that the individual sensors have to be smaller, and smaller sensors are less sensitive to light. This means that to get an image out of them you have to apply more signal amplification, which means more image noise. Ironically adding more megapixels can mean a reduction in image quality, because the individual sensors are not as good at detecting subtle variations in shade and colour, and so lack the ability to differentiate fine detail. This is very much the case with the Z710.
The extra electronics inside also seems to have had a negative impact on the camera’s overall performance. It takes a very slow 4.5 seconds to start up, which is about twice as long as most modern cameras, and slower even than some cameras with larger lenses including Kodak’s own P712. It also takes around four seconds to shut down when switched off.
It has one start-up feature that I found to be massively annoying: whenever you switch the camera on, regardless of the ambient light level, the flash pops up, even if you’ve previously set it to ‘off’. However when you switch the camera off the flash stays open and has to be pushed back down manually.
A more sensible idea, and one which I’ve seen implemented on other cameras, would be for the flash to pop up automatically if needed only when the camera is in Auto mode, however the Z710 doesn’t do this. If you need the flash and it isn’t open, you have to open it manually using a separate switch. Believe me, when a camera has as little going for it as the Kodak Z710, an extra annoyance is the last thing it needs.
Speaking of annoyances, I must also mention the Z710’s electronic viewfinder. It is quite simply the worst I’ve ever used. It appeared to be slightly out of focus, with eye-watering blue/green fringes all around the edges. Using it for just a few minutes gave me eye strain and a headache. It has no focusing adjustment, so it was pretty much unusable.
There are two continuous shooting modes which operate at just under two frames a second, but one only saves the first three frames while the other saves the last three. There is no unlimited continuous mode.
In single shot mode the performance is equally dismal. Taking a sequence of shots it can shoot the first three in about five seconds, but then has to pause for several seconds to write data to the memory card before you can shoot again. Shooting five shots takes over twenty seconds.
This is doubly annoying because the AF system is actually quite good. In normal light if focuses very quickly and accurately, and thanks to a decent AF light it can focus in complete darkness at a range of several metres.
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