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Kodak EasyShare Z950 (Black) review: Kodak EasyShare Z950 (Black)

Kodak EasyShare Z950 (Black)

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
6 min read

The Kodak EasyShare Z950 is a fairly dry camera, but in a good way. After testing so many cameras with hot, new special features lately, the Z950's straightforward "I'm a camera, I take pictures" package is a nice change. Its most exciting element is a 35mm-equivalent lens with a 10x zoom in a moderately compact body. That's not even a wide-angle lens that other manufacturers have gravitated toward lately. There are no outlandish shooting options, either, but you do get manual and semimanual controls. As long as you can cope with its slightly finicky shooting performance, it's a reasonably priced way to get an uncomplicated point-and-shoot camera with a 10x zoom.


Kodak EasyShare Z950 (Black)

The Good

Nice features, photo quality for the money.

The Bad

Shooting performance can be frustrating; comparatively narrow lens.

The Bottom Line

As long as you're a patient snapshooter, the Kodak EasyShare Z950 is a respectable compact megazoom camera.

Key specs Kodak EasyShare Z950
Price (MSRP) $249.99
Dimensions (WHD) 4.3x2. x1.4 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 9.2 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 3-inch LCD, 230K dots/none
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 10x, f3.5-4.8, 35-350mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/Motion JPEG (.MOV)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,000 x 3,000 pixels/1,280 x 720 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, rated life Lithium ion rechargeable, 220 shots

The design and controls for the Z950 are very similar to the less expensive Z915, but more polished. It comes in black only with a body made of a mix of metal and plastic as well as a dark gray rubberized grip and thumb rest. The overall feel is comfortable and solid. Though there are more compact 10x zoom cameras, the Z950 is a tight package able to slip into a larger handbag or coat pocket.

Up front is the camera's main attraction: an image-stabilized 10x zoom lens. It's not especially wide or fast, but it will get you closer to your subject. (Stabilized or not, though, you'll still want to use a support when you've got the lens fully extended.) On top is the shutter release and zoom ring, dedicated buttons for flash and timer/drive, Mode dial, and a tiny, but easily pressed power button. Icons for the flash, timer, and Mode position are backlit so you can find them in the dark. There's also an HD marking that's lit in red, but is purely cosmetic.

On back is a reasonably bright LCD, a vertical row of buttons (Delete, Menu, Info, and Play), a five-way joystick for setting and menu navigation, and Kodak's Share button letting you tag photos as favorites, as ones to upload to a favorite Web site for sharing, or both when the camera is connected to a computer.

Kodak's menus are attractive and generally easy to navigate. None of the shooting options is obscure; however, should you come across a setting you don't understand, a press of the Info button brings up a text description of what the feature does.

General shooting options Kodak EasyShare Z950
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600
White balance Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Open Shade
Recording modes Smart Capture Auto, Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Scene, Panorama, Movie
Focus modes Normal, Macro, Infinity
Metering Multi-pattern, Center-weighted, Spot
Color effects High Color, Natural Color, Low Color, Sepia, Black & White
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 3 photos

The Z950 gives you as much or as little control as you want over shooting, making it a good candidate for those wanting to step away from fully automatic snapshots or if there are many different user types under one roof. Except for white balance, you get full manual control as well as shutter speed- and aperture-priority modes. Aperture options are limited to three stops at the wide and long ends: 3.5, 6.2, and 8.3 and 4.8, 8.5, and 11.3, respectively. Shutter speeds range from 16 sec to 1/1,000 of a second. Controlling them is reasonably simple, all done with the five-way joystick. You also get exposure bracketing, color effects, and sharpness adjustments.

Of course, you can use the Z950 as a standard point-and-shoot camera, too, thanks to 17 scene modes and Kodak's Smart Capture mode that combines its Intelligent scene detection, Intelligent capture control, and Intelligent image processing. It's a reliable mode if you don't trust yourself--or others--to get a good shot. There's a standard Panorama mode (shoot two or three photos and the camera does the stitching), Sport mode that boosts ISO and shutter speed for moving subjects, and a 720p HD Movie mode with use of the optical zoom while shooting (and yes, you'll hear the lens movement, but the video is very good).

Shooting performance is a bit of thing with this camera. If you're the type to take a single shot and not need to quickly take another and another, then you should be fine. You can take up to three photos in a row without slowing down, but as soon as you try to take a fourth, the camera puts up a "Processing" screen as the camera catches up with storing the shots you just took. It wouldn't be so bad if it didn't take in excess of 5 seconds for it to finish. Then, if you take another photo once the "Processing" stops, it will capture the fourth photo and put the warning up again if you try to take an immediate fifth shot. For a lot of people this won't be a problem, but those who like to keep shooting will likely be frustrated. The burst modes on the Z950 (set through the Timer button) are limited to three continuous shots as well. However, you can set it to record the first three or the last three of up to a 30-shot burst.

All of that said, the raw numbers from our lab tests put the Z950 behind the competition in all areas except continuous shooting, which again, is only for three shots at a time. From on to first shot is 3.2 seconds. Because of the shoot-process cycle discussed earlier, the shot-to-shot times averaged 3.5 seconds; with the flash on the time goes up to 7.4 seconds. Shutter lag is long at 0.6 second in bright lighting, but short in dim light at 0.7 second. Lastly, that three-shot burst mode fires at a fast 2.2 frames per second.

Photo quality is generally very good for the Z950's class. ISO 100 is the lowest the camera can be set to manually, but the Auto ISO will go as low as ISO 80. Using Auto means the camera will select sensitivities above ISO 200, and those photos tended to look soft and overprocessed (though detail was good up to ISO 800). That's not to say the pictures are unusable; only shots at ISO 1,600 might not be good enough for small prints. The highest selectable sensitivity is ISO 3,200, which can only be used at resolutions below 3 megapixels and yields poor results.

For not being a wide-angle lens, the Z950 has some very visible barrel distortion, though no real pincushion distortion at the long end of the zoom range. Lens sharpness was consistent edge to edge and there was little to no purple fringing in my test shots.

Exposure is fine and the Smart Capture processing does a solid job of rescuing detail lost in shadows. On occasion, though, it will overprocess, giving photos a washed-out look. Colors are very vivid, which many people--including myself--find pleasing. Blues and violets in particular appear punchy and occasionally, a little too unnatural. In the end it comes down to how you plan to use your photos. If they're only going on the Web, a digital photo frame, or printed at or below 5x7 inches with the occasional 8x10, then the photo quality should suffice.

The Kodak EasyShare Z950 is overall a solid compact megazoom. It has a narrower lens than newer models, but does give you manual and semimanual controls lacking on much of the current competition. Outside of its Smart Capture system, the camera lacks gimmicks, which is refreshing. And as long as you're OK with the performance issues and photo-quality limitations, then by all means, pick one up.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Casio Exilim EX-H10
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20
Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR
Canon PowerShot SX120 IS
Kodak EasyShare Z950

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.


Kodak EasyShare Z950 (Black)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 6Image quality 7