We were pleasantly surprised with the Z712 IS's performance in our lab tests. While past Kodaks have had a tendency toward slow start up speeds, the Z712 IS was able to start up and capture its first JPEG in 0.9 second. Subsequent JPEGs took a slightly sluggish 1.9 seconds between images with the flash turned off and 2 seconds with the flash turned on. Shutter lag fared well, measuring 0.5 second in our high-contrast test and 1 second in our low-contrast test, which mimic bright and dim shooting conditions, respectively. In continuous shooting mode, we were able to capture full-resolution JPEGs at an average rate of 2.6 frames per second.
Image quality is generally pleasing, especially at lower ISOs, though I did notice some purple fringing in high contrast areas of my images, and some artifacts which made some lines look jaggy and gave some blocks of color a mottled look. Overall colors generally look accurate, though slightly oversaturated. This isn't a problem, though, since most people prefer and are used to slightly oversaturated colors, since most consumer film has slightly oversaturated color. Even at its lowest setting of ISO 64 I saw a tiny amount of ISO-related noise, though it was only visible on a computer monitor and not in prints. At ISO 100 this increased very slightly though images were still impressively sharp and had plenty of fine detail and shadow detail. Noise remains about the same at ISO 200, and while there is a slight rolloff in overall sharpness and shadow detail, you should still get very pleasing prints. At ISO 400 noise remains fairly unobtrusive, though shadow detail and sharpness continue to slowly deteriorate. There is a noticeable increase in ISO-related noise at ISO 800, by which point a large amount of shadow detail is also lost. You should still be able to get decent 4x6-inch prints, though larger prints may not pass muster. ISO 1,600 yields very noisy images and should probably be avoided if at all possible. In general I'd suggest sticking below ISO 800 when you can.
If you tend to be more of a snapshooter, but want the reach of a 12x zoom lens, you'll probably like the Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS. In fact, even advanced amateurs will be impressed with its manual exposure controls and image quality, but more choosy photographers may take fault with the artifacts we saw and the noise at higher ISOs. However, for this price, it's very hard to find a camera that matches the Z712 IS.
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)