Kodak EasyShare Z981 Review

3.5
June 11, 2010 | Gavin Stoker |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3.5Mb.

Images from digital cameras, especially when taken in less than ideal conditions, can sometimes appear a little flat, so having the ability to boost colour in camera - with here a choice between 'high' and natural colour - is always welcome. However, when left to its fully auto devices, we found that too often the Kodak's images lacked contrast and over exposed and over saturated the scene or subject. A matter of personal taste perhaps, and often a warmer tone can make for a more flattering effect, but even on natural setting colours could be anything but.

In terms of lens performance the Z981 reveals some of the most pronounced barrel distortion we've witnessed from a digicam for a while; walls bowing out at maximum wideangle - most evident on our white wall test shots. At maximum telephoto there's evident softness across the images, but at least a degree of definition can be rescued via un-sharp mask in Photoshop.

This softness does however help mask the sin of pixel fringing, which is evident if you're really looking for it, but kept reasonably hidden if you're not. Noise starts to creep into images from ISO 400 upwards, but effects are notably worse at ISO 800. By ISO 1600 however detail is beginning to smudge and the overall image is soft as heavy processing kicks in, the overall result resembling a video grab rather than photograph.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Kodak EasyShare Z981. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Kodak EasyShare Z981 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Kodak EasyShare Z981 allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Kodak EasyShare Z981 are auto, red-eye reduction, fill, and off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (26mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (676mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (676mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, both the Fill and the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused a small amount of red-eye.

Fill

Fill (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Kodak EasyShare Z981's maximum shutter speed is 16 seconds, which very good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds at ISO 800.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 720p, 14 megapixel, super-zoom, manual, RAW, 26mm, 26x zoom, kodak, z981, Kodak EasyShare Z981 Review

Tracker Pixel for Entry