Some model names make no sense, but others, such as Kodak's EasyShare Z712 IS reflect specific details of the product. This Kodak is part of the company's line of superzoom cameras, hence the big Z. It includes a 7.1-megapixel sensor, so the model number starts with a 7. It's long 36-432mm f/2.8-4.8 lens totals a 12x optical zoom, therefore the model number ends in 12. Finally, since it includes optical image stabilization, the model name ends in IS. You won't find face detection, but you will find something more useful--manual exposure controls. Plus, its relatively small size makes the Z712 IS one of the more portable superzooms out there. You'll still have a hard time fitting it in a jacket pocket, but it shouldn't be hard to find a spot for this camera in your bag.
If you're thinking that this model looks a lot like some other Z-series Kodaks you've seen, don't second-guess yourself. Most notably, this camera resembles, the Z612, though Kodak changed from the 612's silver body to a black one. The Z712 IS sports a 2.5-inch, 115,000-pixel LCD, 15 scene modes, and sensitivity up to ISO 1,600 at full resolution and ISO 3,200 if you drop the pixel count to 1.2 megapixels.
One-handed shooting is possible, since almost all the controls are on the right-hand side of the camera. Of course, we always suggest using two hands for better stability. The EVF/LCD button, which switches between the LCD and the camera's electronic viewfinder, is the only button you won't be able to reach with your right hand, though that typically doesn't pose a problem. In manual shooting modes (aperture priority, shutter priority, and full manual), you change the settings using the click wheel, which is mounted on the upper right side of the camera back. You rotate the wheel to choose the setting you want--all the settings appear on the LCD--then click the wheel to select that setting, rotate the wheel to change it to what you want, and click again to set it. Once I got used to it, which didn't take very long, I was able to change settings quickly and easily while shooting. In full manual mode, the exposure compensation readout tells you how far off you are (in third-stop EV measurements) from the camera's metered exposure.
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.