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Kodak Easyshare Z712 IS: Zoom zoom zoom

The Kodak Easyshare Z712 IS packs an enormous 12x zoom and other SLR-like features into a lightweight frame for snapping things far away

What's that over there? Where? There: it's the Kodak Easyshare Z712 IS -- and it can see you. Kodak has put the Z and the 12 in Z712 with a 12x optical zoom. That's equivalent to a focal range of 36mm to 432mm. That's quiiiite a lot, and all jam-packed into a lightweight frame. Plus, the IS means mechanical image stabilisation.

The Z712 is like a sawn-off SLR in a bulked-up compact frame. It packs SLR-like features such as pop-up flash, manual focus and a viewfinder, along with a Schneider Kreuznach Variogon lens and that ginormous zoom. It also includes compact-style automatic features such as a plethora of scene settings, and a 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen.

The Z712 has an electronic viewfinder, which takes some getting used to, as there's a bit of motion blur. It's also only as clear and bright as the screen allows, so precise manual focusing is a little tricky, but you do have an automatic focus that gives you a cool green grid when it locks on. All the screen functions, such as the menus, are replicated on the viewfinder.

Another interesting feature is a panoramic mode that allows you to take a number of pictures and then have the camera stitch them together into a wide panorama. Ideal for holiday landscapes.

We'll be testing the £200, 7.1-megapixel Z712 at our annual summer team-building exercise this week. We're sure that we'll be able to capture the dynamic synergies of our business units re-engineering their motivational hub to provide solutioneering for blue-sky thinking. We'll be needing that massive zoom -- so we can stay as far away from that nonsense as possible. -Rich Trenholm