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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Kodak Z612 Zoom

Kodak Digital Cameras

   

Kodak Z612 Zoom Review

Review Date: September 1, 2006

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Kodak EasyShare Z612

HANDLING & FEEL

The Kodak EasyShare Z612 Zoom is a medium compact ultra zoom digital camera with an all-silver plastic body that feels solid and well constructed. It has dimensions of 104W × 74H × 69D mm (4.1W × 2.9H × 2.7D in.) and weighs in at approx. 300g. The handgrip is large enough to be comfortable and, though it lacks a non-slip rubber strip, it does not feel slippery.

The lens is a Schneider KREUZNACH VARIOGON with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 35–420 mm. For a 12x optical zoom digital camera, the Kodak Z612 is quite compact and light, though it won't fit in your coat pocket. Kodak provides a neck strap. The lens barrel extends about 3.7 cm (1.4 in.) from the body; when you turn on the camera, the lens extends an additional 2.0 cm (0.4 in.). Zooming to the full 12x adds an additional 2.0 cm (0.4 in.).

A lens cap (with retainer string) is standard and snaps securely on the lens barrel. [The eyelet on the lens cap is correctly placed on the right side (viewed from the front).] Unlike some lens caps that I've encountered that are either too loose or too tight, this lens cap has an excellent fit: it won't accidentally fall off and it won't damage the lens mechanism should you inadvertently turn the camera on without first removing the lens cap. In fact, the retainer string is long enough to prevent damage to the lens mechanism should you switch on the camera with the lens cap still on the lens: the lens cap simply safely slides off the lens barrel.

The control buttons, though tiny, are spaced away from one another so you don't press the wrong one, and raised high enough so they are easy to operate.

Startup time is at about 1.5 sec. (from power ON to image appearing on LCD), shot to shot time is fast about 1 sec. (you can keep pressing the shutter for approx. 12 shots until the buffer is full), and there is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is fast and precise day and night thanks to the AF Assist light. The Kodak Z612 uses the Secure Digital (SD) memory card.

STYLE
- Colours: overall silver with chrome accents
- Looks: futuristic
   
FEEL
- Grip is comfortable and allows one-handed operation, though it's best to operate with two hands
- Controls are straightforward to use and click precisely
   
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
- Medium compact: best carried slung over the neck
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 104 × 74 × 69 mm / 4.1 × 2.9 × 2.7 in.
- Weight: 300 g / 10.6 oz (without batteries)
- Takes 1 rechargeable Li-ion battery KLIC-8000 3.7V 1600mAh
   
SPEED OF OPERATION
- Startup with LCD turning on (with 2 cm / 0.4 in. lens extension) in about 2 sec.
- Shot to shot time about 1 sec. (with QuickView off)
- No practical shutter lag
   

Kodak KLIC-8000 Battery and Li-ion Rapid Battery Charger

Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion battery KLIC-8000 that can take about 225-300 shots depending on usage (CIPA standard) on a fresh charge and a Li-ion Rapid Battery Charger K8500 that plugs directly into an wall electrical outlet. The recharge time is average [don't get fooled by the "Rapid" in the name] with a new, or fully depleted battery, recharging in approx. 3 hours.

The flash working range is also average: set to ISO Auto, it is 1.6–15.4 ft (0.5–4.7 m) at Wide and 3.9–8.9 ft (1.2–2.7 m) at Tele. It is of the flip-up type and will pop up automatically when needed at half-press of the shutter button (unless you have turned Flash Off).

Controls

Kodak Z612 Top View

The Kodak Z612 has lots of features that make life easy for the photographer. I like the Jog Dial, the ability to dial in flash compensation, infinity focus, 2-Shot Self-timer, Last Burst, live Hostogram, Selectable-Zone AF, and full exposure flexibility.

At the top of the camera a row of buttons is neatly arranged on the handgrip. From front to back (viewed from the back of the camera) are the Flash, Macro/Infinity/MF, and Drive buttons.

What is not too apparent is that there is another button in front of the Flash button, flush with the surface of the handgrip. This is the Shutter Button. It's a cool design element; however, without any raised part for your finger to feel by touch, it does take some practice to "trust" that the shutter button is there. Your index finger does rest on it anyway, so it's just a matter of getting used to the lack of "feel."

CONTROLS ON TOP
- Power Switch, Mode Dial, Shutter button, Flash, Macro/Infinity/MF, and Drive.
   
POWER SWITCH
- To the left of the handgrip is the Power Switch which works a bit differently than on most cameras: it is spring-loaded, which means that when you pull it to the right to turn ON the camera, it springs back to the left position; you pull it to the right to turn OFF the camera, and it springs back again to the left position.
   
MODE DIAL
-

Mode Dial with AUTO, PASM, Favorites, Movie, SCN, Night Portrait and Sports.

The Mode Dial is rotated using the thumb, requires a little bit of effort to rotate, and so will not be inadvertently moved from its actual mode. It positive clicks in place. Thankfully, it can be rotated both clockwise and anticlockwise as much as you want.

Favorites, however, is not a shooting mode and should therefore not be on the Mode Dial. Everytime you rotate the Mode Dial past Favorites [either on your way to Movie or back to PASM], the camera goes into "Entering Favorites" and then "Leaving Favorites" -- irritatingly wasting precious moments.

   
SHUTTER BUTTON
-

Flush with surface of handgrip. Falls under right fingertip. With a good 2-stage press.

   
FLASH
- Off, Auto, Fill, Red-Eye preflash.
- Once set, the Flash setting stays until reset.
- Flash compensation is conveniently available using the JOG DIAL.
   
FOCUS
-

Macro is too far at 12 cm (4.7 in.).

Infinity is a convenient setting when you don't want to waste time auto focusing for subjects far away.

Manual Focus is accomplished using the LEFT and RIGHT ARROWS with the center portion of the image usefully magnified.

   
DRIVE
- Self-timer at 10 sec. or 2 sec. Also, camera can be conveniently set to take 2 self-timer pictures [don't we do that all the time!]: one at 10 sec. and a second one 8 sec. later.
- First Burst: takes 8 pictures at 2fps.
- Last Burst: takes 30 pictures at 2fps, but saves only last 8.
   
PASM and Scene Modes
- I find the JOG DIAL very intuitive to use when in one of the PASM mode.
- SCN takes you to a menu of 14 scene modes. The menu stays up for approx. 5 seconds then disappears from screen. To bring it up again, press OK. Use the LEFT and RIGHT ARROWS to select a scene mode, then press OK to confirm your selection.
- In addition, Night Portrait and Sports scene modes each has its special place on the Mode Dial.
   

Kodak EasyShare Z612 Back View

The other controls are on the back of the camera.

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS (clockwise starting from the EVF/LCD button)
- EVF/LCD: Positioned at top left, besides the EVF [which does not have a diopter control], the EVF/LCD button toggles the display between the EVF and the LCD monitor.
-

JOG DIAL: Positioned at the top right and conveniently falling under your thumb, the Jog Dial implements an interface on consumer digital cameras that seems unique to Kodak.

It makes the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, flash compensation and ISO settings immediately available without having to go into the menu or dedicating buttons to these functions.

This is an elegant implementation that I wish more cameras would incorporate.

The way the Jog Dial works is: you rotate it to one of the settings mentioned above [not all are present at all times, e.g. if flash is disabled, then the Flash Compensation is not available], click the Jog Dial to select the setting and rotate the Jog Dial to select a value. Click again to set the value.

It works quite well but does require a little practice at the beginning: when you use it at first, you might rotate it when you meant to click it.

- ZOOM: Zooming from Wide-angle to the full 12x tele takes less than 3 seconds. I counted at most 11 steps from W to T and at most 27 steps from T to W. This means that you have to backtrack often to stop exactly where you want to. It can be quite difficult to stop precisely where you want to.
-

INFO: The Info button allows you to display a clean screen, one with info, and also with a live histogram.

To display a Framing Guide of horizontal and veritcal lines, you need to set it ON in SETUP [and then it will always display].

-

REVIEW: with 8x Zoom. Via Menu: Album, PERFECT TOUCH Tech., Crop, Protect, Slide Show, Copy, Image Storage, Multi-Up, Setup Menu.

Press Review button again or touch shutter release button to immediately return to Shooting mode.

-

4-Way Controller: Used to position the AF Frame [if AF zone is set to Selectable Zone in MENU], to select a MENU option, and for Manual Focus.

The OK button confirms a MENU or SETUP selection. When you have selected a shooting mode, pressing the OK button will also display a brief help message.

- DELETE: Picture, All
- MENU: set MENU and SETUP options
- SHARE: Print, Email, Favorite, Print All
   
HISTOGRAM
-

A Histogram is available and can be displayed either live in Shooting mode or in Playback by pushing the INFO button repeatedly until the Histogram displays.

The camera does not save your preferred display setting, and the LCD display defaults back to Info ON when the camera is turned off and on again.

   
LONG TIME EXPOSURE
- Shutter speeds up to 16 sec. is conveniently available in Shutter-Priority and Manual modes. In AUTO, Program AE and Aperture-Priority modes, the slowest shutter speed possible is 1/8 sec.
- In PAS modes, the shutter speed and/or aperture values turn red to indicate over- or under-exposure. In M mode, the Exposure Compensation indicator turns red to indicate over- or under-exposure at selected shutter speed/aperture combination.
   

You can record movies with sound (continuous [up to 80 min] based on memory capacity) at either 640 x 480 or 320x240 pixels at 30fps. You can set focus to be Continuous AF or Single AF.

You can use optical zoom during movie recording but the zooming noise will also be recorded. In fact, the microphone seems to be super sensitive and there is always a faint background static noise during movie recording even when I use Single AF and do not zoom; this noise is not apparent [and so not a problem] when you are recording with other noise around but if recording in a silent room, you'll faintly hear it on Playback.

Video Storage Capacity
(min. sec.)
32MB
Internal Memory
1GB
640x480
46s
27m 51s
320x240
1m 53s
68m 14s

If you prefer to keep movie clip lengths to a reasonable size (say for emailing), you can also conveniently restrict the max. clip length to 5 sec,. 15 sec., or 30 sec.

About 32MB [28MB usable] of Internal Memory comes with the camera, so no SD memory card is included. Only 46 sec. of movie can be saved in the 32MB of Internal memory. If you plan to do lots of movies, plan on using a large capacity memory card.

SD Memory Card Storage Capacity (approx. # images)
Quality 32MB [Internal] 1GB
F S B F S B
6.0MP 6 14 22 245 528 817
5.3MP [3:2] 7 16 25 276 591 911
4.0MP 10 21 32 367 777 1183
3.1MP 12 26 40 459 962 1448
1.1MP 33 64 89 1221 2332 3236

As the above chart shows, at 6.0MP [F] image quality, only 6 images can be saved in the 32MB of Internal Memory. We recomend that you purchase either a 512MB or 1GB SD memory card, depending on the number of images you normally shoot in one session.

Kodak Z612 Bottom View

The tripod socket is metal; it is not possible to change SD memory card and battery while the camera is on a tripod. You can also see the lens fully extended in the above photo.

The Battery/SD Card Compartment is at the bottom of the camera and there is a safety latch to keep the battery from accidentally falling. The SD memory card also goes in here. The cover slides and then opens [it is spring loaded].

LCD & Menus

There is a high resolution (202,000 pixels) electronic viewfinder (EVF) and a very nice extra large 2.5 in. LCD monitor with a high 230,000 pixels resolution. They both have a fast enough refresh rate for a smooth display in good light and low light. The LCD monitor's brightness can only be adjusted 'Normal' or 'High'. Both the EVF and LCD display gain up a bit in low-light, though not in extreme low-light.

There is an AF-assist light and it is very effective in low-light.

You can also display a framing grid [turned ON in SETUP] of horizontal and vertical lines, which is very useful when you need to align vertical and horizontal lines precisely. Once turned on, it always display, even when INFO is turned off.

The AF Frame can be set to Selectable-Zone which is very convenient when you want to focus on off-center subjects. There are however only 5 AF points to select from: center, left and right of center, top and bottom of center. This restricts Selectable-Zone only to subjects that are off-center but still very close to the center. However, it is stll better than nothing.

The menu structure on the Kodak Z612 is straightforward and easy to use, but I have two improvement suggestions to make:

  1. There is a slight inconsistency I've noticed that is more an inconvenience than a problem: sometimes you are allowed to scroll all the way down a list of options and then end back at the very top [which is good], and sometimes you are not and have to backtrack to the top [which is a bother].
  2. The use of icons on the left without text means that you either have to memorize what the icons are, or are forced to scroll over each one and pause long enough to read the associated text that displays at the top. There's lots of screen real estate that could be used to display text beside an icon.

MENU 1 of 3

- Picture Size: 6.0, 5.3, 4.0, 3.1, 1.1
- Compression: Fine [F], Standard [S], Basic [B]
- White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Open Shade
- Exp. Bracketing Interval: +/- 0.3, +/- 0.7, +/- 1.0

MENU 2 of 3

- Exposure Metering: Multi-Pattern, Center-Weight, Spot
- AF zone: Multi-Zone, Center-Zone, Selectable-Zone [5 points]
- AF Control [Still]: Continuous AF, Single AF
- Color Mode: High Color, Natural Color, Low Color, Black & White, Sepia

MENU 3 of 3

- Sharpness: High, Normal, Low
- Set Album [Still]: Off, Album name
- Image Storage: Auto, Internal Memory
- Setup Menu

SETUP 1 of 5

- Return
- LCD Brightness: Normal, High
- Capture Frame Grid: On, Off
- Image Stabilizer: Continuous, Single, Off

SETUP 2 of 5

- Date Stamp: Off, YYYYMMDD, MMDDYYYY, DDMMYYYY
- Quickview: On, Off
- Advanced Digital Zoom: Continuous, Pause, None
- Orientation Sensor: On, On Transfer, Off

SETUP 3 of 5


- Camera Sounds: Theme, Power On, Focus Lock, Shutter, Self-Timer, Error
- Sound Volume: Off, Low, Medium, High
- Date & Time
- Auto Power Off: 10 min., 5 sec., 3 min., 1 min.

SETUP 4 of 5

- Video Out: NTSC, PAL
- Video Date Display: YYYYMMDD, MMDDYYYY, DDMMYYYY, YYYYMMDD HH:MM, MMDDYYYY HH:MM, DDMMYYYY HH:MM
- Mode Description: On, Off
- Print Warning: Pause, None

SETUP 5 of 5

- Language: 18 languages to choose from
- Reset Camera
- Format
- About

MOVIE 1 of 2

- Video Size: 640x480, 320x240
- Video Length: Continuous, 5 sec., 15 sec., 30 sec.
AF Control [Video]: Continuous AF, Single AF
- Set Album [Video]: Off, Album name

MOVIE 2 of 2

- Image Storage: Auto, Internal Memory
- Setup Menu

Click for larger view

PROGRAM MODE

- P, Macro ON, Flash Off, Self-Timer 2 sec., 6.0MP F, Space left for 239 images, SD Card used, Focus Zone = Multi-Zone, Continuous AF, Exposure Metering = Multi-Pattern, Tungsten WB, Image Stabilizer = Single mode, ISO 80, No Flash Compensation, No Exposure Compensation, Shutter Speed = 1/8 sec., Aperture = f/2.8, Simgle AF
- Framing Grid displayed [once set in SETUP, always ON]

SCENE MODES (SCN)

- Portrait, Landscape, Night Landscape, Self-portrait, Flower, Sunset, Backlight, Candle Light, Manner/Museum, Text, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Children

- Do not forget there are 2 more scene modes directly accessible on the Mode Dial: Sports, Night Portrait

REVIEW

- Very complete info is displayed [wish more digicams followed this example]


Note: Many of the screens have been "blackened" to permit a clearer view of the settings.

[Editor's Note: Read our review of the Kodak EasyShare Photo Printer 500 for a complete home printing solution for easy borderless 4x6 in. prints.]

The Kodak EasyShare Z612 Zoom is a true Point-and-Shoot digital camera with a comfortable handling and well designed user interface. It is fast in operation with no practical shutter lag at the wide-angle focal length range, is full featured [except for the inexplicably missing Manual WB] and now sports image stabilization.

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