The Kodak EasyShare Z7590 looks great on paper: it has a 10X optical zoom, a 5-megapixel resolution, an SLR-like electronic viewfinder, and manual exposure controls. Unfortunately, its photos tell a different story. A variety of artifacts, including purple fringing around highlights and noise at higher ISO settings, drop the Z7590's desirability a few notches. Still, niceties such as an action-ready burst mode and a standard PC (Prontor-Compur, not personal computer) connection for an external flash will appeal to photographers who love to play with a full set of features.
This camera shares much of the DNA of its 4-megapixel cousin, the EasyShare DX6490, but costs about $100 more and has twice as much internal memory (32MB), nearly a dozen more scene modes, the PC flash connection, and the ability to specify JPEG compression ratio (either Standard or Fine). The EasyShare Z7590 also lets you zoom in twice as far (8X) during picture review. Its 3.9-by-3.2-by-3.2-inch dimensions are boxy, but the handgrip makes the 13.5-ounce camera comfortable even for one-handed shooting, and the most-used controls are readily available without juggling.
Sports and wildlife photographers will be drawn to the EasyShare Z7590's 38mm-to-380mm (35mm-camera equivalent) zoom lens, which sacrifices a little wide-angle coverage to pull in distant subjects. This lens offers f-stops from f/2.8 to f/8 in wide-angle mode (f/3.7 to f/8 at the longest tele setting) and autofocuses down to 4.7 inches in macro mode. There's no manual focus capability, but you can fine-tune focus by switching from three-zone to center-spot or selectable zone autofocus.
There are lots of buttons to please control freaks, but once you've mastered all the options, you'll appreciate the clever touches. For example, move your index finger from the shutter release to the front-mounted jog wheel, and you can spin the wheel to cycle among settings such as lens aperture, shutter speed, EV adjustment, or ISO setting. Depress the wheel when the setting you want is highlighted in the viewfinder, then jog the wheel to make the adjustment. It provides separate buttons for flash options and macro mode, and a single key cycles between exposure bracketing and two kinds of burst modes.
Both the 2.2-inch back-panel LCD and the internal electronic viewfinder are bright and easy to view, but they show an annoying amount of ghosting when the camera is panned or tilted to track moving subjects. The electronics boost the LCD gain when imaging low-light levels and simultaneously increase the distracting multicolor speckles that come from onscreen noise.
The Kodak EasyShare Z7590 bristles with advanced features. You can choose full automatic or programmed exposure, use shutter- or aperture-priority modes, or set shutter speed and f-stop yourself in manual mode. There's also a Custom mode you can use to save your own exposure, flash, image quality, white-balance, ISO, or other settings. The 14 scene modes do a good job of optimizing your photos for common shooting situations, including close-ups, flower photography (close-ups in bright daylight), landscapes, night landscapes, night portraits, snow and beach scenes, fireworks, text, museums (with sound and flash disabled), self-portrait, parties, children, and backlighting.
The Kodak EasyShare performed decently, emerging from its power-off slumber in 3.9 seconds, then snapping off pictures every 1.8 seconds thereafter, with a slight slowdown for flash recycling that stretched the time to 2.4 seconds. The Z7590 supplies two burst modes. The traditional mode captured 5 full-resolution frames in 2.1 seconds. The Last Shot mode, which we're increasingly seeing in newer cameras, grabs up to 30 shots in a row while the shutter release is depressed but saves only the last 5 images. This mode is perfect for, say, capturing a high jumper clearing the bar. You can start shooting just before the leap and let go of the shutter release as the leap is completed, capturing only the peak moments. Shutter lag under high-contrast lighting was acceptable at 0.8 second but, thanks to the lack of a light assist, ballooned to 1.1 seconds under difficult low-contrast lighting conditions.
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|The Kodak EasyShare Z7590 loses a lot of detail for a 5-megapixel camera--the crop on the left should show the texture of a grosgrain ribbon--and postprocessing blurs detail as well. For instance, in the right crop of a stuffed animal's fur, you should be able to make out the individual hairs.|
Photo quality is acceptable if you don't plan on making enlargements. Colors were bright and saturated and exposures generally good, although we noticed a bluish cast in many daylight photos and a bit of a warm tone in photos shot under incandescent light, even when using a white-balance preset; there is no custom white-balance capability. The dynamic range is squeezed toward the middle--photos lack detail in dark areas and tend to wash out highlights. But the worst defect was pronounced purple fringing, most noticeably around backlit objects. JPEG artifacts also appeared that tended to reduce the detail of the image somewhat. Noise was a problem at higher ISO settings; ISO 800 is available at only the lowest-quality 1.8-megapixel setting, so you probably won't be using that option except as a last resort.