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Kodak EasyShare Z650 review: Kodak EasyShare Z650

One-handed shooting is definitely possible with the prominent, rubber-accented right-hand grip, though we found that our pinkie fingers were left dangling uncomfortably. A rubber ring on the lens barrel provides a perfect left-hand grip, which should help when shooting at longer focal lengths. Dedicated buttons for flash, macro/landscape mode, and drive mode sit atop the grip, along with the shutter button and on/off switch.

6.6

Kodak EasyShare Z650

The Good

Full manual exposure controls; 10X optical zoom.

The Bad

No image stabilization; noticeable fringing and artifacts; ISO 800 not available at full resolution; no manual white balance or focus; choppy video.

The Bottom Line

This budget superzoom's price will garner interest, but the Kodak EasyShare Z650's performance and image quality will ward off enthusiasts.
You'd expect Kodak to cut some corners with its budget-conscious superzoom, the EasyShare Z650, and you'd be right. Unlike the more expensive , which includes a 12X optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization, the EasyShare Z650 comes with a 10X optical, 38mm-to-380mm (35mm equivalent), f/2.8-to-f/3.7 lens without image stabilization. On the one hand, the fast maximum aperture of the EasyShare Z650's lens makes it useful for low-light shooting, but we expect to find image stabilization on a camera with such a long zoom lens.

All other controls, including the mode dial, are on the camera's back. A small five-way joystick in the middle of the mode dial lets you navigate and select from the easy to navigate menu system. Depending on the mode you choose, the joystick also lets you change camera settings on the LCD, including shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, and ISO. Strangely, program, aperture- and shutter-priority, and manual modes all occupy one spot on the mode dial and can be selected using the LCD in the same manner as the aforementioned settings.

Metering options include multipattern, center weighted, and spot, and they can be tweaked with as much as plus or minus 2EV exposure compensation. Focus can be set to multizone, center-spot, or full auto, but manual focus is not available. As with most of the cameras in Kodak's Z series, sensitivity ranges from ISO 80 to ISO 400, with a boost mode that gives you ISO 800 at a reduced resolution of 1.7 megapixels.

Video lovers should note that this camera's video-capture mode can serve up only 11fps at 640x480 pixels, or 20fps at 320x240 pixels. Either way, that's well short of the 30fps of regular TV, making for choppy video if you choose to use that feature.

With the exception of shutter lag, the Kodak EasyShare Z650 was slow in our lab tests. It took 3.6 seconds to start up and capture its first image and 3.6 seconds between images thereafter without flash. With flash, it took 3.9 seconds between shots. Shutter lag measured 0.4 second on our high-contrast test pattern and 1.0 second on the low-contrast pattern. The camera fared slightly better on continuous shooting, capturing VGA-size images at 5fps, slowing to 2.5fps when capturing 6.1-megapixel images.

Auto white balance yielded a slightly warm image with the tungsten lights in our test lab. While the tungsten preset turned in more neutral results, they look just slightly cool. Either setting should work though, with auto preserving that touch of warmth that some people prefer for indoor shots. In general, colors looked natural, and exposures were typically accurate, though very bright whites tend to become blown out.

Noise fared slightly worse. At ISO 80, noise was minimal, with just a few speckles showing up, mostly in darker colors, and it remained well under control at ISO 100. By ISO 200, noise was obviously noticeable, and at ISO 400, it grew to the point of obscuring finer details and gave images an overall softer look. Images we shot at ISO 400 were usable as 4x6 prints but likely wouldn't be pleasing at larger sizes.

Casual snapshooters who need a long zoom lens might be happy with the Kodak EasyShare Z650, though if you plan on shooting in lower light, you'll likely want to look for a camera that has less noise at higher ISO, such as Canon's PowerShot S3IS, or at least step up to a Kodak with image stabilization, such as the EasyShare Z612.

6.6

Kodak EasyShare Z650

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6Image quality 6