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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Kodak Z740

Kodak Digital Cameras

   


Kodak Z740 Zoom Review

Review Date: April 26, 2005

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2005 Award

HANDLING & FEEL


CN Tower
38mm, Program, Multi-Pattern, 1/750 sec., F5.6 and ISO 80

The Kodak EasyShare Z740 Zoom is a very well designed and ergonomic medium compact digital camera. It has a good sized and comfortable handgrip, with a non-slip rubber strip for extra safety. Construction is solid with a clean and organized feel. Its dimensions are 97.6W x 77.5H x 72D mm (3.8W x 3.1H x 2.8D in.), and it weighs 287g (10.1 oz).

The lens is a KODAK RETINAR Aspheric All Glass Lens with a 35-mm equivalent focal length of 38-380mm. For a 10x optical zoom digital camera, the Kodak Z740 is quite compact and light, though it won't quite fit in your coat pocket (especially if you screw on the lens hood). Kodak provides a neck strap. The lens extends about 3.3 cm (1.25 in.) when powered off, and 5 cm (2 in.) when powered on. Zooming does not increase or decrease this extension.

Kodak provides a lens hood/adapter attachment as standard. The lens hood/adapter screws on smoothly, and the extension now becomes 6 cm (2.5 in.). The lens hood is a great addition because it prevents glare on the pictures, and it also protects the extending lens since the lens hood is slightly deeper than the lens at full extension. The lens hood also functions as an adapter for mounting filters. The lens barrel with the lens hood attached provides a natural secure holding place for the left hand.

A lens cap (with retainer string) is also standard and snaps either on the lens (without lens hood on) or on the lens hood. The retainer string is long enough to prevent damage to the lens mechanism should you inadvertently switch on the camera with the lens cap still on the lens.

The control buttons are spaced away from one another so you don't inadvertently press the wrong one. In fact, all of the buttons are positioned in a common sense way and are where you would expect them to be. No hunting for a button in some obscure and illogical place.

On the top of the camera, besides the shutter release button, are the Drive, Macro and Flash buttons. I'm glad I don't have to go into the Menu to access those functions, and wish more camera manufacturers would follow this example and be less menu-bound.

The shutter release button requires a somewhat strong press, and if you are taking sequence shots, you need to exert a little effort to keep the shutter release depressed or the sequence stops.

The power switch is of the sliding type with three positions: Favorites, OFF, ON. The switch clicks positively into each position so there is no risk of going past one into the other by mistake. Startup is about 3 sec. and there is no practical shutter/AF lag, except at the telephoto end range when the AF can hunt sometimes, depending on the subject, for a full sec. Anticipating is key here, and the Last 4 sequence function should help.

An Open Flash button is on the left side of the flash. A note about the pop-up flash: it pops up whenever you switch the camera on and there is no way to disable that behaviour. I guess it's a good safety measure for beginner photographers so that the flash is up and ready to fire if the light situation warrants it. Since I prefer to control when to use flash, I find myself putting my left thumb on the flash whenever I switch the camera on and pressing the flash back close right away. The tell-tale click of the flash opening and closing means you cannot be as inconspicous as you would like sometimes.

At the back of the camera, the Zoom toggle lever is thumb activated. I personally find it a bit on the small side and too far left with not too much room to activate the wide-angle end. If you have large hands and fingers, you may want to check this out yourself at the store first.

Instead of a traditional Mode Dial at the top of the camera, the Kodak Z740 has instead a cool translucent knob. The Mode Dial has markings that glow a pleasant green when selected, making it easy to read in the dark.

I stare at the back of the camera for a full minute wondering where the four way arrow keys went. There are none and I rake my brain trying to figure out how to scroll among the pictures. Then it dawns on me that the small button in the middle of the Mode Dial is a mini joystick. You need a few seconds practice before quickly feeling like a game pro maneuvering up, down, left, right to select a choice, and clicking down to OK your choice. It's an elegant implementation that will appeal to all the gamers among us, and those not used to using a joystick should feel at ease with just a few seconds practice.

[As you can see, we rarely break open the User Guide when we are reviewing a digital camera. Our philosophy in this matter is that if you have to consult the manual to perform a common function, there is something wrong in the design of the user interface. Later, we will read through the User Guide to see if there are any functions we have not covered in the review. The Kodak Z740 user interface passes with a top A+ grade.]

In the Setup Menu, you can specify whether you want to see the picture you have just taken for about 3-4 secs or to stay in Record mode right away. A separate Review button on the back of the camera takes you into review. A touch on the shutter release button puts the camera immediately into record mode again.

Though I usually like to view the picture I have just taken, I find that I like it better on the Kodak Z740 with the review feature turned off (Menu - Setup - Quickview = OFF) especially when I need to take one picture after another. It makes for a faster shot-to-shot response. I can easily view a picture by simply pressing the Review button.

The LCD monitor is 4.6 cm (1.8 in.), high resolution with a good refresh rate. It gains up slightly in low light (but very grainy) and there is an AF Assist Illuminator to help gain focus in low light situations. I like the refresh rate, too.

Even in bright sunlight, you can see the image on the LCD (like you are looking through sunglasses). I miss a swivel LCD, especially for macro photography.

The viewfinder is electronic (EVF) and you switch between the LCD monitor and EVF by pressing the EVF/LCD button that is conveniently positioned right between the viewfinder and LCD. The EVF is high resolution at 201K. Note that in low-light, images in the EVF has a yellow tint and look very grainy. I guess this is better than not being able to see anything in low-light.

Here is the screen of the Kodak Z740. It tells you at a glance the mode you've selected on the Mode Dial: Flash off, 5MP resolution, space for approx. 157 images left, ISO 80, and exposure mode PASM (stands for Program Auto, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, and full Manual). The exposure mode currently selected is Manual, aperture is f2.8, shutter speed is 1/3 sec. and exposure compensation is -2.5 EV.

You are probably wondering, How can there be 4 exposure modes using just one "PASM" setting on the Mode Dial? Simple. Kodak has designed a very intuitive and user-friendly user interface that you navigate using the mini joystick. See the Up-Down arrows along the bottom part of the screen (currently poised over the shutter speed of 1/3 sec.)? Move the mini joystick left and right to select which setting you want to change. For example, to change the exposure mode, use the mini joystick to move the arrows left to the "M" and then move the mini-joystick up and down to select between P, A, S, or M. Then move the arrows to one of the other settings (from left to right: aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation) to select a different value. It's really fast and intuitive -- beats having to go back to the Mode Dial to select another exposure mode. This is by far the best user interface I've used.

See the -2.5 in red? That's the exposure compensation value. I am currently in Manual mode, and the camera is telling me that at my chosen aperture of f2.8 and shutter speed of 1/3 sec., I am going to be -2.5EV underexposed. It makes using full Manual as easy as simply dialing in a new value for either the aperture, shutter speed, or both, until the exposure compensation reads "0". Bingo, perfect exposure! This simple user interface makes you look like a pro at setting exposure, and you will never be afraid of using Manual mode again.

In P mode, simply leave the arrows poised over the exposure compensation value, then you can easily dial in an exposure compensation up or down.

The Kodak Z740 has 14 scene modes accessible from the Menu (Landscape, Night Landscape, Manner/Museum, Text, Self Portrait, Children, Party, Beach, Flower, Fireworks, Snow, Backlight, Close Up, Night Portrait) plus 3 more directly on the Mode Dial (Sport, Portrait, Night).

To access a scene mode from the Menu, rotate the Mode Dial to SCN and use the mini joystick to select the appropriate one. If you take too long to make a selection and the menu disappears; simply press the mini joystick to bring it back up.

At the bottom of the camera, the battery compartment is spring loaded and clicks positively open and shut; it feels pretty safe and there's no danger of inadvertently opening the battery compartment door.

Another feature that Kodak gets right is the tripod socket that is: 1) metal and 2) centered inline with the lens, permitting easy panorama on a tripod.

The Kodak Z740 is the first camera with the new IMAGELINK standard which allows different brand cameras to dock in each other's docking station.

The Kodak EasyShare Z740 Zoom is a true Point-and-Shoot digital camera with a comfortable handling and very well designed user interface. It is fast in operation with no practical shutter lag at the wide-angle focal length range, and its user-friendly design makes it easy to take good pictures with zero frustration.

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