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As is usually the case with these cheap OEM cameras, overall performance is very disappointing. It starts up in approximately three seconds, which isn’t too shocking, but it gets worse. In single shot mode at maximum image quality, and using a high speed memory card, the shot-to-shot time is approximately 1.5 seconds for the first four shots, but then when you go to take another you’re presented with a frustrating “Processing…” message for several seconds. This delay gets worse with every subsequent shot, until you’re waiting nearly ten seconds between shots. Not surprisingly the Z8612 doesn’t have a proper continuous shooting mode, instead offering a top-four or last-four capture mode.
The autofocus system isn’t too bad, although it too is a little slow, but it does operate surprisingly well in low light, and the bright AF assist lamp helps it to focus in complete darkness at a range of a couple of metres.
Despite its shortcomings the Z8612 is capable of quite good image quality, although again it’s not without a few problems. The Schneider-Kreuznach lens is better than average, although not as good as the name might imply. It produces relatively little barrel distortion, but does suffer from noticeable chromatic aberration toward the edges of the frame. Exposure metering on my review sample is consistently about half a stop over exposed, which helps to preserve shadow detail but does result in burned-out highlights. Colour rendition is less than perfect as well, which is unusual for a Kodak camera. Bright colours appear as featureless blobs with little detail.
Noise control is about average for a cheap camera, with good results up to 200 ISO, but beyond that the noise control is very obtrusive, blurring out detail and making a horrible mess of high-contrast edges. Image compression is also an issue, with JPEG artefacts visible on plain colours and around details, further reducing image quality.
The Kodak EasyShare Z8612 IS may be relatively cheap for a long-zoom model, but its numerous shortcomings mean that it’s not particularly good value for money. Build quality is below average, it has a number of annoying handling problems, and overall performance is very slow. While image quality isn’t completely awful there are also some problems in this area. If you’re looking for a cut-price super-zoom camera the Fuji S5800 is still the best value on the market.
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