The Kodak EasyShare Z710 lifts the resolution stakes of its predecessor the Z650 by a million pixels but otherwise is identical in almost all respects. A lightweight, plastic body feels fragile and creaky but thanks to some rubberised, and nicely molded surfaces on the main grip, it actually feels nice in the hand. Controls are well laid out, with the zoom control falling neatly under the right thumb and shutter release under your index finger.
However, a very clunky on/off switch feels, well, as if it will break at any moment and when used, it pops the flash up. That would be okay but it pops and then you have to turn on the flash mode to make it work. Even if you have the flash off, it still pops into position when you start the camera. In fact, you cannot stop this from happening. And it needs to be manually closed when you turn the camera off too. All very annoying indeed and means the flash is vulnerable to knocks.
On the back plate, an illuminated mode wheel is simple to use and selects camera modes and shooting options such as the 17 scene modes, which include the usual gamut of portrait, landscape and night scene options for example, or the Program, Aperture and Shutter priority modes and a full Manual option.
A tiny joystick sits within the main dial and is used for scrolling menus and selecting choices you’ve made within them or scrolling images in playback mode. In terms of handling then, the camera is not bad at all, however it is not very responsive.
It takes an age to turn on (about 5 seconds) and while the AF is actually quite capable, even in low light, using the camera’s continuous shooting mode for example, it captures and keeps either the first or last three images in a sequence depending on the choice you make when activating. But then it takes about 20-seconds to buffer the data before you can shoot again. Obviously, this becomes a tad frustrating.
In terms of image quality, the Z710 performs rather well but with a couple of caveats. Image noise is well controlled at all sensitivities but as the ISO only goes to a maximum of ISO 400, you’d expect that. The downside is with such a long 38-380mm zoom lens and no anti-shake system, so such low ISO settings means camera shake is always a problem at longer focal lengths or in low light.
Also, image processing removes detail from otherwise well exposed and focused images, so the benefit of that nice, fast, F2.8 Schneider Kreuznach optic is smoothed away to oblivion before you get the benefit of it. Ditto the detail from the extra million pixels. It was a pointless exercise to cram even more pixels into the already small sensor found on the Z650. Exposure compensation to +/-2EV offers some level of control in difficult lighting situations and all your images can be saved on external SD/MMC storage or the 27MB of internal storage.
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The Z710 is ultimately a point and shoot with some extra options, but the nice lens and extra million pixels over its forbear are wasted. The poor build quality compounds the issue and raises doubts about how Kodak can charge a penny under £200 for such a camera. Most irritating for me is the cameras lamentable movie mode. Yes you get to shoot 640x480-pixel clips but at just 10.5fps. Come on Kodak, you can do better than that.
The Z710 is pricey for what it is, it has some odd flaws in design such as that maddening flash/on/off button and it has a build, best politely described as “plasticy”.
The camera’s resolution should allow prints up to A3 but there simply is not enough detail to support such a size, add to that some barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom and purple fringing around high-contrast areas and I have to say that I cannot recommend this camera.
For £100 pounds, this might make someone a reasonable budget snapper, but for £200 there are simply far to many other good cameras on the market that are streets ahead to make buying this one an option.