The 10-megapixel Kodak EasyShare Z1085 IS is deceptively good. It doesn't stand out with a unique design and there are no overtly special features: it's a pretty straight-laced compact and comes in dark gray/black only and its ridiculously and unusably high ISO 8000 setting doesn't really qualify. Judging by its sub-$200 price, you wouldn't expect much from it, either. However, the Z1085 IS rewards simply by being a decent camera that's easy to use and produces very good photos for little investment--of time or money.
The 7.3-ounce Z1085 is relatively compact--3.5 inches wide by 2.5 inches high by 1.5 inches thick--and will fit in a large pants pocket, though the protruding lens surround and handgrip will keep you from sliding it out easily. That grip, however, makes one-handed shooting possible. Buttons are nice and big, clearly labeled, and well spaced. On top, buttons for drive mode, flash, and power and a mode dial surround the shutter release. On the dial joining Kodak's auto mode--called Smart Capture--sit manual and program options, panoramic shooting (left to right or right to left), scene mode with 16 setting choices, and movie capture.
Smart Capture mode integrates scene and face detection, optimized auto ISO, and a broader dynamic range, among other things, so you truly don't have to worry about a setting to take a decent picture. This mode also applies Kodak's PerfectTouch technology to help improve detail and contrast. In general this system works, producing fine photos regardless of subject or lighting conditions and is one of the better automatic modes I've tested.
The Z series is Kodak's megazoom line, which currently goes all the way up to 24x; the 5x f2.8-5.1 35-175mm-equivalent lens on the lowest-end Z1085 IS doesn't even really qualify as a megazoom. It does have barrel distortion at its widest setting, typical of its class but a bit much given its relatively narrow 35mm-equivalent angle of view. Still it's nice to have the extra power above similarly priced 3x models, and you get optical image stabilization, too. For framing shots and photo playback there's a 2.5-inch LCD on back.
While I wouldn't consider the Z1085 IS sluggish, it's not speedy, either. It takes 2.9 seconds to go from off to first shot. Shutter lag is pretty good at 0.4 second in bright conditions and 0.7 second in dim. Though its typical shot-to-shot times of 2.6 seconds and 3.2 seconds with flash may be average for its class, that's still pretty slow. Its burst mode is limited to three shots--first three or last three--but the speed is a respectable 1.3 frames per second.
In general the photos from the Z1085 IS are good for the money. Colors are generally accurate as is white balance, both indoors and out. Detail remains good up to ISO 200 with little to no noise and no issues from suppression. At ISO 400, however, aggressive noise reduction in the red channel turns red objects smeary and the photos develop the typical overblurred, painterly look. The camera boasts ISO settings up to 3200 at full resolution and up to ISO 8000 at a 3-megapixel resolution. The results at these ISOs are pretty useless. Yes, you'll capture something that may be acceptable for Web use at a small size, but if you're expecting to get the same performance that the camera gives you at ISO 800, you'll be disappointed. Exposure also tends to be a bit off, with occasional blown-out highlights.
The Z1085 IS, like many Kodak cameras, records 30 frames per second of 720p HD video (1,280x720) in MPEG-4 format. The video quality is very good for a point-and-shoot camera, especially if you're keeping the camera focused on the subject and not moving around too much. Otherwise, the camera's exposure metering and focus will abruptly change causing scenes to suddenly be blurry and exposure to be off, and it takes a couple seconds to correct it. It supports optical zoom in movie capture, which is nice.
The 10-megapixel Kodak EasyShare Z1085 IS offers up a reasonably price-to-feature ratio, produces good, though occasionally overexposed, photos at ISO 200 and below, and offers uncomplicated operation. But while the 5x optical zoom is nice to have, performance is merely average for its class.
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|