According to Kodak, its 7.1-megapixel EasyShare P712 was designed for "second- and third-time digital camera buyers." Appropriately, the camera includes a higher level of control than many of Kodak's cameras, such as manual white balance, full manual exposure, and a trio of custom picture modes. It also sports a hotshoe, which can be outfitted with an accessory flash and can record images as raw, TIFF, or JPEG files. Anyone stepping up from a simple point-and-shoot camera will likely be impressed with the level of control offered, as well as the 12X optical, 36mm-to-432mm, f/2.8-to-f/3.7 zoom lens, but a slightly sluggish start-up time and noisy images at higher ISOs will irk more advanced shooters.
The Kodak EasyShare P712's black-plastic body is small for a megazoom at 4.3 by 3.3 by 2.8 inches with its lens fully retracted and weighs in at a comfortable, but not exactly light, 16 ounces with its 1,800mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery and an SD card. The SLR-style grip's silver accent on the front also acts as a slight ridge, which helps during one-handed shooting. As usual, you'll find the shutter button above the grip, and it's surrounded by a jog ring that acts as the on/off switch and lets you access Favorites mode.
Dedicated buttons on the camera's top let you select options for focus, flash, drive mode, and metering. There's also a button than can be programmed separately for capture and review modes, as well as to allow quick access to a host of options. Joining all these buttons is the mode dial, which includes direct access to movie mode, as well as three customizable shooting modes and full manual, aperture- and shutter-priority, program, auto, and an array of 17 scene modes.
On the back, you'll find the 2.5-inch, 115,000-pixel LCD screen just below the 237,000-pixel electronic viewfinder. We were surprised to find such a low-resolution LCD screen and disappointed that neither the EVF nor the LCD did a very good job of automatically increasing brightness in low-light situations. To the right of the screen, there's a five-way joystick for menu navigation and selection, as well as buttons to control the amount of information displayed on the screen, menu access, image deletion, review mode, and autoexposure and autofocus lock. Above these buttons are the wonderfully comfortable zoom lever, jog wheel, and Set button, which together let you change options such as aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation (as much as plus or minus 2EV in 1/3-stop increments), flash power (as much as plus or minus 1EV in 1/3-stop increments), and ISO. Interestingly, ISO adjusts in 1/3-stop increments as well, spanning ISO 64 through ISO 400, with ISO 800 available in only 1.2-megapixel mode.