Wouldn’t George Eastman, inventor and marketer of the first consumer camera (1888) be amazed if he could see what the venerable company that bears his name (Eastman Kodak) was selling these days? One of the newest digital cameras from the folks in Rochester is the Kodak Easyshare Z812 IS. The Z812 IS (the flagship of Kodak’s megazoom Z-series) is a compact 8.2 megapixel digital camera with a 12X Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon (36mm-432mm equivalent) zoom, optical image stabilization, a 2.5 inch LCD, auto and manual exposure options, face detection AF, a Smart Scene mode, and a 1024×720 @ 30fps HD (high definition) video mode.
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The eight megapixel mega-zoom (with IS) digicam class is very crowded these days, so the Z812 IS faces some pretty stiff competition from Canon’s S5 IS, Panasonic’s FZ18, Sony’s H9, Fuji’s S8000fd, and the Olympus SP-560 UZ. The Z812 IS offers users impressive responsiveness, super images with very accurate color, a nice selection of useful features, loads of creative flexibility, direct access to the most commonly changed/adjusted camera settings, and a lower price than most of its competition.
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The Z812 IS does have a few shortcomings – Kodak doesn’t include a rechargeable battery and charger in the package – they must be purchased separately. Additional shortcomings include the lack of a custom/manual white balance mode (a feature lots of photography enthusiasts regard as essential) and the jog dial (push to engage and turn to change settings) which offers direct access to exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity is too easily pressed/turned accidentally. Finally, noise management is a little too aggressive, so shadow areas are a bit darker and highlight areas are tiny bit less defined than they should.
Consumers buy mega-zoom digicams because they want most of the benefits of a dSLR without the extra expense and bulk of a modular camera system. The very compact Z812 IS delivers SLR-like features and performance, a nice balance of tweakability and flexibility, and P&S (point and shoot) ease of use at a much lower price than a comparable dSLR.
Check back in a few days for our full review of the Kodak EasyShare Z812 IS.