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Anyone looking for a super-zoom camera is rather spoilt for choice at the moment. There are so many good ones that it’s very difficult to choose between them. When there are cameras like the Fuji FInePix S5700, Panasonic Lumix FZ8, Olympus 550UZ and the new Canon S5 IS (review coming soon) available, the choice is difficult enough, but now Kodak has gone and launched another new superzoom camera with a specification that makes the problem even trickier.
Of course with all those high quality cameras out there, any new product is going to have to be something a bit special if its going to have any chance at all, so for the EasyShare Z712 IS Kodak has piled on the features. It has a top-quality Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon f/2.8–4.8 12x zoom lens with built-in optical image stabilisation, a 2.5-LCD monitor, an electronic viewfinder, maximum ISO of 1600 and a full range of manual exposure modes with easy command dial operation. To make it even more competitive Kodak has managed to put all this together for just £177, which compares favourably with all of the competition except the Fuji S5700, although of course that camera doesn’t have image stabilisation.
The Z712 is a surprisingly compact and lightweight camera, measuring just 103.6 × 74.2 × 69.7 mm and weighing 300g, which is smaller and lighter than any of its immediate competitors. It has a plastic body, but it is very solidly put together, with no creaks or rattles. It has a large handgrip for its size, with a textured thumbgrip area on the back, and despite the rather confined space available beside the lens barrel it is very comfortable to hold, although the finish is quite smooth and can be slippery especially if your hands are a bit sweaty. A rubberised texture on the handgrip would have been a good idea.