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The Kodak EasyShare Z1275 is an attempt to bring 12 megapixels to the masses. It's essentially a higher resolution version of the 8-megapixel Z885, and at £130 is certainly affordable. We found that the Z1275 is an impressive camera in many ways, but you get what you pay for in other areas.
Somehow the two-tone grey and black colour scheme gives the Z1275 a more grown-up feel than its blocky, plasticky, toy-like styling would otherwise evoke. As with most AA battery-powered compacts, it's a brick of a camera, but at least there's plenty to hold on to.
As usual, there's a 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen, but the 115k pixel resolution is subpar. This is most noticeable when using the manual focus option, which magnifies the image to check focus. Unusually, the black buttons are rice-grain oblongs, and the rear clickpad is square. We thought at first the OK button was a mini joystick, but it's actually just annoyingly loose.
The best feature of the Z1275 is its 5x zoom. The f/2.8-5.1 Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens is let down, however, by the lack of optical image stabilisation.
Optical image stabilisation is a glaring omission, especially in a camera sold on its telephoto abilities. This is because long zooms magnify the effects of camera shake. Newer cameras should really have this feature as standard. Face detection is also absent, but we didn't really miss it.
The usual Kodak bells and whistles are present and correct, including 20 scene modes, a favourites mode and panorama stitch function. Video mode shoots 1,280x768-pixel resolution at 30 frames per second, making the footage interlaced HD video. Unusually the zoom lens can be used during video. The manual exposure mode is misleadingly named, however, as it includes only three available aperture settings. The shutter's maximum speed is just 1/1,000 second.
In decent lighting conditions, the Z1275 is a very capable camera. Colour reproduction is rich and vivid. The automatic white balance does a good job, and we managed some decent pictures with barely any purple fringing. The lens, despite lacking optical image stabilisation, produced no discernable distortion.
Sadly, that's as good it gets. When the light fades, the Z1275's flaws become glaringly apparent. Noise is a problem even as fast as ISO 100. The high ISO mode, ostensibly for low-light shooting, is as useless as on most compacts. The severely limited manual options don't give anywhere near enough scope to manage noise and exposure issues.
We also found that the metering could be erratic, sometimes leading to underexposed pictures. This was a problem when photographing high-contrast shots in bright sunlight, with the camera's limited dynamic range losing detail in darker areas.
Image quality aside, the Z1275 disappoints in other areas. Battery life is frustrating, eating two sets of AA batteries during our week of testing.
Startup is also slow, taking about four seconds, with a similar gap between shots.
We tested the Z1275 with a SanDisk Extreme III and a PNY SDHC memory card, but even with high-perfomance cards it could take up to ten seconds to process images. Continuous mode is particularly limp in this regard, capturing only three images -- just about managing 1 frame per second -- and then taking 10 seconds to write them to memory.
This poor performance is despite heavy compression that reduces file size, and should make processing quicker. It also leads to compression artefacts, though.
The Kodak EasyShare Z1275 has a respectable lens and plenty of potential, but is let down by excessive corner-cutting. Features such as optical image stabilisation are sorely missed, while the poor screen and plasticky build scream of a camera bodged up on the cheap. If you're desperate for an affordable high-resolution point-and-shoot, the 10-megapixel Pentax Optio A30 is a better bet.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide