Superzooms are a style law unto themselves. Their boxy, angular frames look uniformly geeky and they often handle -- and shoot -- like poor relations of digital SLRs. Kodak's latest effort, the EasyShare Z1012 IS, is a fairly lightweight option with 10-megapixel resolution, 12x zoom and optical stabilisation. Available for around £190, could it tempt you away from a dSLR?
Essentially, you want two things from a superzoom: plenty of lens and plenty of stabilisation. The Z1012's 12x optics aren't the absolute longest on the market -- Sony's similarly-priced Cyber-shot DSC-H9 goes to 15x -- but they're pretty generous for a sub-£200 snapper. Optical quality is about average for the size; there's some noticeable purple fringing throughout the range, but at least you get a relatively spacious 33mm wide-angle setting and a bright f/2.8-4.8 aperture.
Kodak's optical stabilisation is very good, enabling sharp handheld telephoto shots down to about 1/30-second, if your hands aren't too wobbly. To match the lens, you've got manual control over exposure and focus. Adjusting exposure and sensitivity is easy with the Kodak's tactile and precise jog dial, mounted where the zoom rocker usually is.
Changing other settings means negotiating the clear, stripped-down menus or toggling through the focus, flash and drive buttons on the top. A mode dial zips between exposure modes quickly, meaning that the Z1012 is generally faster on the uptake than most Kodaks -- even the shutter lag is well under a second.