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"Ultra-ultrazoom": Kodak Z980 officially official
by David Rasnake -  1/6/2009

Kodak made an exciting if unsurprising announcement yesterday in officially confirming the existence of its new Z980 24x ultrazoom.

Kodak Z980

Although much of the information contained in Kodak's official announcement was leaked over the weekend, the latest model from Kodak (which, notably, drops the "EasyShare" branding) should still get its fair share of attention and interest at CES this week.

Kodak hasn't produced a top-spec ultrazoom in a while, but the Z980's 24x zoom lens that sports wide-angle coverage out to an impressive 26mm focal length changes the game. The Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens is optically stabilized as well, making it easier to successfully take advantage of its telephoto length.

Behind the lens, the Z980 utilizes a 12 megapixel sensor, and a 3.0 inch display for shot composition. Based on the product images, it looks like there's also an electronic viewfinder on-board, though the press release doesn't provide confirmation or specs.

Taking its styling cues from a DSLR, the Z980 incorporates a unique-for-an-ultrazoom detachable vertical grip, and a hot shoe that supports Kodak's P20 flash unit. In terms of imaging processing, the Z980 takes advantage of Kodak's Smart Capture auto scene recognition feature. SD/SDHC is, as expected, the camera's supported memory format.

Kodak adds to EasyShare M series
In addition to the Z980, Kodak has launched a new series of EasyShare M models. The Kodak EasyShare M380, a 10 megapixel, 5x zoom compact model, leads off the lineup of new M cameras. Featuring a 2.7 inch LCD, the M380 will be available in three colors, including red and teal.

Kodak rounds out updates to the M line with the 10 megapixel M340 and 9 megapixel M320. These EasyShares appear to share basic hardware, including 2.7 inch displays and 3x zoom lenses. The more advanced M340 features Kodak's Smart Capture system, while the budget-minded M320 has basic features like red-eye reduction and Kodak's Perfect Touch image correction tool.

Pricing and availability
According to Kodak's press release, the Z980 will be available sometime this spring for a suggested retail price of $399.95. The new M models will be coming to market in February (M320) and March (M340/380), with prices ranging from $129 to $179.

We don't have complete technical specs on any of the new launches at this time.