The Z885 is clearly directed more at the practical than the fashion-minded. The chunky, 1.2-inch-thick camera weighs a hefty 7.3 ounces with an SD card and two AA batteries installed. Its controls are fairly simple, focusing around a mode dial on the camera's top and a large, square joypad on its back. The various menu buttons surrounding the joypad feel a bit small, but otherwise the camera's interface works well. The Z885's blocky, direct design highlights its most prominent physical attribute: its lens. The camera includes a 36mm-to-180mm-equivalent, 5x optical zoom lens for a bit more telephoto power than most compact cameras' 3x lenses. It doesn't have the mechanical image stabilization of the EasyShare Z712 IS, but it doesn't have its much larger 12x lens, either.
As part of Kodak's EasyShare Z series, the Z885 is directed primarily at more experienced camera users rather than your average snapshooter. Besides the standard automatic and scene preset modes found on every EasyShare camera, the Z885 features complete program and manual shooting modes. Manual mode lets you change every exposure setting from aperture to shutter speed and even manually focus the camera. On such a small, inexpensive shooter, these are welcome options. Unfortunately, if you want to adjust those exposure settings, you're forced to adjust them all individually; the camera lacks shutter- and aperture-priority modes.
Kodak really pumped up the ISO sensitivity in the Z885. At full resolution, the camera can shoot between ISO 80 and ISO 3,200 sensitivity, an impressive range. By ratcheting the camera down to 2.2 megapixels or lower, the Z885 can hit ISO 6,400 and ISO 8,000 sensitivity, the highest settings we've seen in a point-and-shoot. Unfortunately, this feature only looks good on paper; when you shoot at the super-high ISO settings, noise engulfs the pictures so much that you can actually see the grain in the camera's 2.5-inch LCD screen. You can't use the high-ISO shots for anything larger than a postage stamp or a computer icon, and even then you'd be pushing it.
In our lab tests, the Z855 performed rather sluggishly. After a 2.8-second wait from power-on to capturing its first shot, we could fire off a new shot only once every 2.2 seconds with the onboard flash disabled. Curiously, we waited 2.2 seconds with the flash enabled, as well; often the flash increases the delay by at least half a second. The shutter lagged just 0.5 second with our high-contrast target, and a full second with our low-contrast target, which mimic bright and dim shooting conditions, respectively. Burst mode proved surprisingly quick, taking five full-resolution shots in 2 seconds for a rate of 2.5 frames per second.
The Z885 can make some nice images, especially at lower ISOs, but we did see some image artifacts which make some diagonal and/or curved lines look jaggy. Also, the lens in our test sample looked slightly out of alignment, making the bottom-left corner a little less sharp than the rest of the frame. While this may sound bad, it's not all that uncommon in lower-priced compact cameras and can be considered to be "within acceptable manufacturing tolerances" for some manufacturers. The camera's auto white balance tends to create yellowish images under incandescent lights, so you should try the tungsten setting if you don't like that warm look. Otherwise, colors look fairly accurate, and there is a good amount of sharp detail for a camera in this price range.
On the surface, the Z885 produces some surprisingly low-noise photos, but at higher ISOs that comes at the expense of sharpness and shadow detail. At ISO 80 and ISO 100 we saw almost no ISO-related noise. At ISO 200, it began to creep in but didn't take away significantly from image quality. Noise steps up a tiny bit more at ISO 400, and we saw only a tiny rolloff in overall sharpness, with shadow detail remaining unaffected. At ISO 800, images take on an obviously grainy look but are still very usable, though you do sacrifice a noticeable amount of sharpness and a very minor degree of shadow detail at this point. At ISO 1,600, Kodak engages a heavy blur filter to smooth away the noise, resulting in a large loss of sharpness and an overall decrease in dynamic range. Once you hit ISO 3,200 noise takes over, adding a layer of grain atop the muddled results we saw on the previous level of the sensitivity scale. We recommend staying below ISO 1,600 altogether and below ISO 800 whenever possible.
With plenty of manual controls and a nice, 5x lens, the Kodak EasyShare Z885 offers a lot of bang for its relatively low price. Its high-ISO shots leave a lot of be desired, but the flexibility and feature set make this shooter a pretty appealing camera, comparable to the satisfying Samsung S850.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)