DigitalCameraReview.com
Kodak EasyShare Z740 Digital Camera Review
by fsacj -  6/11/2005

The Kodak EasyShare Z740 Camera and EasyShare printer dock series 3 package is a powerful yet very intuitive and easy to use system.  It is capable of making high quality waterproof 4x6 prints at home with or without a computer at the press of a button.  It boasts high 5 megapixel resolution, a huge 10X optical zoom, lots of scene modes, and great ergonomics.

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Specifications

CCD resolution

Lens:

LCD: 1.8 in. (4.6 cm) high-resolution indoor/outdoor color display

Still capture modes: auto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual burst

Scene modes: children, party, beach, flower, fireworks, snow, backlight, close-up, night portrait, landscape, night landscape, museum/manner, text, self portrait, portrait and sport

Color modes: color, low color, natural color, black and white, sepia

Burst modes: first burst: 2 fps, up to 4 pictures; last burst: 2 fps up to 4 pictures

Video resolution : VGA (640 480 pixels) at 13 fps; QVGA (320 240 pixels) at 20 fps up to 80 min. based on memory capacity; or 5-, 15-, 30-sec. clips

Video format: QUICKTIME MOV (MPEG-4 compression)
 
Auto focus: assist lamp for low-light focus

Auto focus selection: multi-zone, center-weighted, and selectable: left, center, right

Sensitivity: ISO equivalent 80--160 (automatic) and 80,100, 200, 400, 800 (selectable)

White balance: auto, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent and open shade

Exposure metering: auto: TTL-AE; selectable: multipattern, center-weighted, center spot

Manual exposure control: aperture priority AE: f/2.8--f/8 at wide, f/3.7--f/8 at tele; shutter priority AE: 8--1/1000 sec. at wide

Built-in flash: auto, red-eye, fill, off

Flash range: wide 2--16.1 ft (0.6--4.9 m) at ISO 168; tele 6.6--12.1 ft (2.0--3.7 m) at ISO 168
 
Review modes: album, slideshow, multi-up, copy, protect, image storage, Share button to print, e-mail
 
Storage: 32 MB internal memory*, SD/MMC card expansion slot
 
Software: KODAK EASYSHARE Software

Power options: KODAK EASYSHARE Docks with Ni-MH rechargeable battery pack; 2 AA KODAK MAX Digital Camera Batteries; 2 AA lithium batteries or 1 CRV3 lithium battery; 3 volt DC

Weight: without batteries: 10.1 oz (287 g)

Dimensions: W H D: 3.8 3.1 2.8 in. (97.6 77.5 72 mm)


Camera Design

The Kodak EasyShare Z740 looks like a miniaturized SLR camera.  It is very small and would be difficult to operate with one hand, but the control layout is simple and sparse so anyone can use it easily.  It is too large to fit in a pocket because the 10X optical zoom lens protrudes even when the camera is powered off.

Battery life

It is difficult to measure battery life since it can vary greatly from person to person.  In my use, battery life was excellent with the included NIMH batteries.  I used the camera for several days off and on without charging.  This included taking photos, shooting movies, lots of reviewing and menu navigation, lots of zooming, and some flash usage.

LCD

The LCD is fantastic.  It is very sharp, bright, and colorful.  It will automatically adjust gain even when the scene is very dark.  It is usable outdoors in sunlight.  The menu text is large and clear, and every option has a detailed explanation.

Electronic View Finder

The EVF is also quite good, although the colors don't match the LCD screen.  They are a more yellow, warm, color.   Other than that, the EVF displays the same information as the LCD.  It is very useful for bright days and for those who prefer the more traditional shooting style of holding the camera up to the eye.

Also, the EVF is perfect for farsighted people who can't easily see the main LCD.

Image Quality

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Yours truly, water skiing way too early in the season in 55 degree Alaskan water.  Photo by David Logan.

Image quality is on par with other 5 megapixel consumer cameras, if not even behind some of the higher end, more expensive models.  The tiny CCD can only capture so much light, so images taken above the base ISO of 80 look somewhat noisy (which looks like film grain) on screen and on large prints.  4x6 photos, however, are usually too small to show any noise.

With so many scene modes and helpful menu hints, users might just get better photos with this camera since it is more likely they will be shot with optimal settings.

The movie mode records in the preferred MPEG4 format, which offers smaller files and better quality.  Movies are not TV quality though, with the two options being 640x480 at a choppy 13 frames per second and 320x240 at 20 FPS.  Zooming is not available during movie shooting.

Lens

The 10X zoom is very nice, and photos appear to be sharp from any focal length.  The wide end, at 38mm, is not truly very wide.  Because of this, you might find it hard to take vast scenic photo or a group photo in tight spaces.  The flip side is that the telephoto end is a very long 380mm, which brings distant objects very close.

Focusing

Focusing is generally quick, quiet, and accurate.  In bright light there is never a problem.  In very low light, focusing is somewhat limited by the range of the focus assist lamp, which is approximately 8-12 feet.  Focusing with high motion, such as the water skiing scene, is difficult for any camera.  Only about 1 in 5 photos were in sharp focus on this scene, but the photographer was in a moving boat and zoomed in which intensifies camera shake.  It was difficult to even frame the subject, so the camera often focused on the trees in the background.

The little things

The Printer

It really doesn't get any easier than this.  For those who want the simplest way to take a photo and make a high quality 4x6 print, this is a great solution.

The EasyShare printer dock series 3 is a multi-function device.  It not only makes prints directly from the camera, but also charges the camera, makes prints from a computer, transfers images from the camera to the computer, and even reads from other USB cameras and memory card readers through its built in USB port.

Printing is a cinch.  Place the camera on the dock and it automatically turns on and displays the last photo.  Select the photo you wish to print by pressing the left/right buttons on the dock.  Press print.  That's it!

The first print takes about 2 minutes and after that only 90 seconds each.  Printing from a computer begins after just 1-2 seconds.

It is also possible to select 2, 4, or 9 photos per page with the press of a button.

Print Quality

The print quality is amazing!  Whites are very white, blacks are very black, colors are accurate and brilliant, and flesh tones are smooth and realistic.  There is no half toning pattern or tiny "dots" that even the best inkjet printers show.  On top of all this, the prints very durable and even water proof! 

Summary

The ease of use is the primary draw for this camera.  For those who want to make superb, durable prints quickly at home (or on vacation) without the hassle of computers and software, the Kodak EasyShare Z740 is a perfect choice.  The camera is no slouch in the features area either.  It has tons of scene modes that are actually easy to understand, a great zoom to pull distant subjects in close, and battery life to last all day.

Pros

Cons