Kodak Easyshare Z710 Review
Review Date: November 1st 2006
Ease of Use
When you consider that the Kodak Easyshare Z710 offers a 10x zoom lens equivalent to a massive focal length of 38-380mm, it's surprising just how small this camera actually is. The Kodak Easyshare Z710 offers a good compromise between portability (think small camera bag) and handling that will instantly appeal to anyone who has used an SLR camera before. Weighing around 300g with the battery and memory card fitted, the Kodak Easyshare Z710 has a reassuring feel, helped by the deep hand-grip and durable silver plastic body. The 10x ultra-zoom, Schneider Kreuznach branded lens is obviously the main attraction of this camera, with the giant lens barrel and chunky hand-grip dominating the overall design. The huge zoom lens obviously makes this one of the more versatile compact cameras in terms of focal range. If you're used to a 3x zoom lens, then the 10x zoom will be like a breath of fresh air and should handle most photographic possibilities, with the exception of true wide-angle shots. Unfortunately there is no image stabilization system of any kind, which is a serious omission on a camera with such a big focal range.
There is no true optical viewfinder, but Kodak have provided an electronic version with 201,000 pixels, which protrudes slightly from the back of the camera. The EVF on the Kodak Easyshare Z710 is useful when the 2 inch LCD screen is difficult to see, for example in very bright sunlight, or when you're using the longer focal lengths, as it allows you to keep the camera steady at the telephoto end of the zoom by holding it up to your eye. This is helped by the lens' quick maximum aperture of f/3.7 at the maximum telephoto focal length of 380mm. Sadly there's no diopter adjustment on the EVF for spectacle wearers.
There aren't too many weak-points in terms of the Kodak Easyshare Z710's design and build-quality - for once the battery compartment and SD card slot are both well implemented, and even the tripod mount is metal and located in the middle of the camera body in line with the lens. There are a few aspects of the design that slightly disappoint. Some of the external controls have a shiny silver finish to match the rest of the camera, which makes them a little slippery and difficult to operate, in particular the small joystick in the middle of the navigation pad. As this joystick is used for a lot of things, including setting apertures and shutter speeds, I would have preferred to have seen a matt or maybe rubberised finish to aid grip. Most annoying of all, though, is the flash unit on top of the camera, which automatically pops-up whenever you turn the Z710 on, even if the flash mode is set to off. I have no idea why Kodak have done this, as there is a dedicated switch for opening the flash. After a while you just find yourself holding down the flash unit as you turn the camera on, which is hardly ideal.
|Mode Dial / Joystick||Pop-up Flash|
The Kodak Z710 offers a full range of manual exposure settings, and Kodak have chosen to make many features accessible via external buttons, which means that this is quite a complex camera in terms of the number of external controls that it has. I counted 15 in total, which could prove a little intimidating for the beginner, although the majority of them are clearly labeled and common to most cameras. Instead of the usual traditional mode dial on the top of the camera, there's one on the back of the camera where the navigation pad is usually located. This lets you select the different shooting modes and scene modes. Kodak have made it a little more complex than it needed to be by having just one option on the dial for Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual modes. You then have to use the joystick in the middle of the dial to select the specific mode on the LCD screen or EVF. Kodak have otherwise used the joystick to good effect. When in the PASM mode, you use it to set the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation and ISO speed, which are displayed as icons along the bottom of the LCD screen and EVF. This allows you quick access to all of the important controls. Simple and effective.
If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea, although it doesn't go into any great depth. Thankfully Kodak have chosen to supply it in both printed format and as a PDF on a CD, so you can also carry it with you. You can use either the 2 inch LCD screen or the electronic viewfinder to frame your shots. You have to press the EVF/LCD button to switch between them. The various icons used to represent the camera settings are clear and legible, even on the small EVF.
The main menu system on the Kodak Easyshare Z710 is extremely straight-forward to use, and is accessed by pressing the Menu button underneath the mode dial/joystick. There is a single main menu with 11 options, including the Setup Menu at the bottom, which has a further 18 options. Some of the camera's key options, such as image size, white balance, exposure metering, auto-focus mode and colour mode, are accessed here. Kodak have restricted the number of on-screen choices to four, which means that the various options and icons are very clear and legible.
|Battery Compartment||Memory Card Slot|
The start-up time from turning the Kodak Easyshare Z710 on to being ready to take a photo is slow at around 5 seconds. Zooming from the widest focal length to the longest is also slow at around 4 seconds, but this is perhaps more understandable given the 10x focal range. Focusing is quick in good light and the camera achieves focus most of the time indoors or in low-light situations, although it tends to hunt at the telephoto end of the zoom range. There is also a powerful green focus-assist lamp to help out in low-light situations. The visibility and refresh rate of the 2 inch LCD screen are perfectly acceptable. It takes about 1.5 seconds to store a JPEG image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card, although there is a short LCD blackout between each image. The Kodak Easyshare Z710 has a below average continuous mode which enables you to take 1.7 frames per second for just 3 frames at the best JPEG image quality. Overall the Kodak Easyshare Z710 is slow in terms of operational speed.
Once you have captured a photo, the Kodak Easyshare Z710 has a good range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails, zoom in and out up to 8x magnification, view slideshows, delete, protect, crop, and copy an image. You can also select favourite images, put images in albums, set print options, and email images. The Info button toggles limited information about each picture on and off, such as the filename and time/date when the picture was taken, and there is a small histogram available during both shooting and playback. When taking a photo, pressing the Info button toggles between the detailed information, detailed information with histogram and no information at all.
In summary the Kodak Easyshare Z710 is an SLR-like bridge camera with the defining feature of a huge 10x image stabilized lens which is straight-forward to use, although its general operation is quite slow and it suffers from the lack of an optical image stabilizer.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Kodak Easyshare Z710 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.