Photo quality on the Z980 is at its best below ISO 200, but noise is present throughout its sensitivity range. Detail drops off at ISO 400 and above, making the photos questionably useful. If you're looking for something to shoot with in low light and without a flash, you probably don't want this camera. On the upside, you can use Kodak's add-on flash with this camera for better results with flash.
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The Z980 has Sport and Child modes for capturing action shots without blur. It seems to have worked, but since the formula includes bumping up sensitivity to ISO 800, the shot is of limited use because of the noise and detail and color degradation.
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Typical of megazoom lenses, there's slight pincushion distortion at the Z980's longest setting (624mm equivalent) and barrel distortion at its widest (26mm equivalent).
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If you're not sure just how close you can get with the 24x zoom lens on the Z980, here you go. On the left is a shot of the Empire State Building at the camera's widest setting. At the right is not a crop, but a shot of the building's top shot from the same location, but with the zoom fully extended. This is handheld, too, so while the photo isn't free from noise, my shaky hands had little impact.
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Being able to get this shot with a sub-$400 camera is impressive; it's a full-resolution crop. However, you can see the amount of noise in the blue areas of the photo. This is at ISO 100. But hey, it's the freakin' moon!
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The fly is a 100-percent crop from the image on the lower left. Detail is good and the Z980 is at its sharpest in Macro mode.
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Another 100-percent crop. Again, really good detail and decent sharpness from this camera in Macro mode.
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Though image noise is visible at lower ISOs, it doesn't impact color until you get above ISO 400. Shoot below ISO 200 and you get great vibrant colors.