The Z8612 has several problems, but one thing in particular totally killed this camera for me. Whenever you turn it on, the flash automatically pops up whether you need it or not. It’s not a gentle pop either; it has a fairly strong undamped spring, and snaps up with a loud ‘clunk’. There is no way of stopping it from doing this, since the on/off switch also doubles as the flash latch release, so discreet photography is out of the question. Pushing the flash back down is also slightly awkward, requiring a push from a particular direction to make it retract smoothly. All in all it’s just a little bit too irritating.
The Z8612 has a few other annoying handling issues that further reinforce the impression that this is a very cheaply made camera. While the lens is quite good, the zoom control is awful. The control is far too sensitive and jerky and has a very annoying feature, in that the image on the monitor goes completely out of focus while the zoom is being adjusted, making it almost impossible to frame shots accurately. This problem is especially noticeable when zooming out. The overall handling isn’t as good as it looks either. The handgrip is too small, and the narrow wedge-shaped gap between it and the lens barrel is too small for most people’s fingers, making the camera awkward and uncomfortable to hold.
The Z8612 isn’t exactly bursting with creative features, but it does have some good points. Its range of manual exposure control is better than average, with apertures of f/2.8 to f/8 and shutter speeds of 16 to 1/1000th of a second available in 1/3EV increments. Strangely the shutter can operate at 1/3200th of a second, but only in its automatic modes.
Other than that the Z8612 has only the most basic options. It has the usual three exposure metering modes (multi-zone, centre-weighted or spot), and either centre or multi-zone autofocus. Sharpness is adjustable, at least to the extent of high, low or normal, and there is an exposure bracketing option with adjustable interval. Colour control is limited to five extremely basic pre-set options. Even the 16 scene mode settings consist of the usual list, such as portrait, landscape, sport, museum, night landscape etcetera.
It’s worth pointing out that although the packaging and advertising for this camera is plastered with the HD logo, it doesn’t have an HD video mode. Maximum video quality is VGA at 30fps. Still pictures can be output to a HD TV, but only with the optional adapter dock.
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