Price (RRP): $499
If you’re desperate for a big, big lens on your digital camera but want to avoid the sticker shock of many cameras with 10x or 12x zooms, this may be your answer. And it’s a quality Schneider lens, designed in Germany.
There’s only one problem with this ideal situation: the lens is not stabilised and, with a telephoto reach that is the equivalent to a film camera lens of 380mm, you have to hold ‘er steady!
Looking just like a mini SLR, the Z710 has a substantial handgrip and all the important controls like power, shutter button, zoom and the rest nearby.
Weighing around 300 grams the camera is not the easiest shape to slip in a pocket – but what 10x zoomer is!
As an SLR style camera, the Kodak has two viewfinders, one is built into the camera above the lens and easy to view in bright light shooting, while the other is a 5.1 cm LCD screen at the rear.
Seven megapixels of image capture is a big feature and will lead to the making of a print 35 x 26 cm in size. Full frame 640 x 480 pixel movies can be recorded at the somewhat unusual speeds of 10.5 or 20 fps.
To catch random action the camera’s continuous speed setting can capture three pictures at 1.7 fps, and a neat trick is its ability to record and save the last three frames of an action – so you should never miss that Kodak moment!
Very capable as a picture taker, the Z710 can shoot in full auto or in Program AE mode, and gives the options of setting the aperture or shutter speed independently, as well as a manual exposure setting. Metering can be made by choosing from the multi-pattern, centre-weighted or spot reading modes.
There are three scene modes you can select from the mode dial (sports, portrait and night shots), and 14 more are accessible in a special menu, plus macro mode.
A bit on the tardy side, the Z710 took four seconds from power on to first shot; successive shots can be made about two seconds apart.
Some may find the rear LCD screen is a bit on the small side at just 5.1 cm, but least you have the option of viewing your shooting through the alternative turret finder.
I guess you can’t quibble about too much, when taking the attractive price into account, but the lens did show some distortion at both ends of the zoom.
If you figure you want to shoot lots of nice, sharp shots using the telephoto end of the zoom we suggest you lock the camera into infinity focus for those occasions to deter the auto focus system from ‘hunting’. Then you’ll love the Z710.
From our tests, picture quality was about average but you should still be able to make A3 size prints from carefully shot pictures. And while not an ideal camera for the raw beginner in our assessment, the Z710 would, instead, be an excellent model for someone seriously keen to learn how to make decent digital photographs.