Kodak P712 Review

 
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Kodak P712 Exposure

The Kodak P712 combines a fully automatic mode that's suitable for novices with a full range of exposure modes for more advanced users, including Programmed exposure, Aperture-Priority metering, Shutter-Priority metering, and full manual operation for the ultimate in control. It's thus a camera that a complete novice can pick up and use to get good-looking images with no hassles, yet that still offers sophisticated users as much or as little control as they'd like.

Powerful Color Control The P712's Custom White Balance adjustment lets you adjust color by moving a cursor across a palette. Here, we've tinted this shot magenta, so you can see how the control works.

One feature of Kodak camera's we've always been impressed with is their white balance systems. Most of us don't realize the extent to which our eyes adapt to very differently-colored lighting -- We have no trouble telling that a white piece of paper is white, whether viewed outdoors on a cloudy day (when the light is actually quite bluish), or indoors under typical household incandescent lighting (which is a very yellow light source). Left to their own devices, digital cameras will just record whatever color is actually there, which can result in photos that look a lot different than we remember the scene looking when we shot the picture. Automatic "white balance" systems are supposed to correct for this, but the fact is that the auto white balance systems on many digital cameras have a hard time adjusting to many common light sources. The Kodak P712 takes advantage of Kodak's "Color Science" to do a much better than average job of handling tricky lighting conditions; the sort that give other cameras fits. It also includes a menu option for Custom White Balance adjustment that lets you visually adjust the white balance system over a broad range of variations. This feature (and the way it's implemented on the P712) is normally only found on higher-end digital SLR cameras, and can be a real boon to the advanced amateur shooting under difficult lighting.

Read the sections below to see how the Kodak P712 performed in our various tests of its exposure system.

Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Good overall color, good hue accuracy, pleasing appearance. Unusual saturation profile.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The Kodak EasyShare P712 Zoom's color profile is a bit unusual though, in that it's much more restrained in the strong reds that most cameras blow out, but boosting a range of colors from blue to magenta more than most other cameras. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. The P712 Zoom's skin tones were actually a little pale in some cases, though again, results are pretty pleasing to the eye.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. The P712 Zoom's color was more hue-accurate than most cameras we test, the largest hue shifts being that oranges were pushed toward yellow somewhat. We saw a slight magenta cast in some of its shots, but overall color was both accurate and appealing.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Better than average color balance with Auto and Incandescent settings, best color with the Manual white balance setting, less positive exposure compensation required than usual.

Auto White Balance +0.7 EV Incandescent WB +0.7 EV
 
Manual White Balance +0.7 EV  

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was just slightly reddish with the Auto white balance setting, and a bit warm and yellow with the Incandescent setting, but the P712 handled this difficult light source much better than most cameras we test. The Manual white balance option produced the most accurate results, an almost perfectly neutral color balance. (Note that some users may actually prefer the slight warm casts of the Auto and Incandescent settings, as being more true to the original lighting.) The camera required less positive exposure compensation than most on this test, at +0.7 EV. Overall color looks very good, though skin tones are a bit pale, and the blue flowers are dark and purplish. (A common outcome with this shot.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a very yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Good overall exposure and color, though slightly dark. About average exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance,
+1.0 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Kodak EasyShare P712 Zoom produced very good color, though occasionally with a cooler, slightly magenta cast. Color was also slightly dark, but still quite good. Under harsh lighting, the P712 produced slightly high contrast, but the strong highlights held onto detail better than in many cameras we test. In the shadows, high image noise obscured a lot of the finer details though. In general, the P712 required roughly average amounts of exposure compensation than average, and overall results were good.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
Moderately high resolution, 1,200 lines of strong detail.

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,200 lines per picture height, with extinction at around 1,650. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail. Beware that while you might be able to make out what looks like distinct lines at numbers higher than those we've mentioned here, the camera is just doing its best to continue interpreting the lines. If you zoom in and follow them from the wider portions, you'll see the lines converge and reappear several times, so the lines you see at 1,500 and higher are really only artifacts generated by the camera's imaging system.

Strong detail to
1,200 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
1,200 lines vertical

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Moderately sharp images overall, with some edge-enhancement artifacts visible on high-contrast subjects. Noise limits fine detail definition in the shadows.

Pretty good definition of high-contrast elements, though with visible edge enhancement. Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, as in the darker parts of Marti's hair here.

The Kodak EasyShare P712 Zoom captured pretty sharp images overall, though with some softening in the finer details. The crop above left shows this slight softness as well as some visible artifacts from edge enhancement along high-contrast edges. (Note the dark line along the edge of the bright white eave of the house. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.)

Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop above right shows some flattening from noise suppression, but also more image noise than we'd expect to see in an ISO 100 shot. The noise itself and the camera's noise suppression both impact detail definition here.

ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate to high noise at the normal sensitivity settings, and very high noise with strong blurring at the highest setting.

ISO 64 ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400

Compared to competing models, noise levels are moderate to high at the Kodak EasyShare P712 Zoom's lower sensitivity settings, with a fair amount of blurring even at ISO 200. At ISO 200, noise pixels are brighter and the resulting blurring much stronger. Finally, at ISO 400, noise is very high with a defined pattern that decreases visible fine detail.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
Strong detail and high resolution, though high noise limits shadow detail. Good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and much darker conditions.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight:
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

The Kodak EasyShare P712 Zoom produced slightly high contrast with deep shadows under the harsh lighting of the test above, though the highlights held onto detail quite well (better than most consumer digital cameras that we test). Strong image noise in the shadows detracts from detail, a fair amount of noise is also visible in the midtones. The camera required about average positive exposure compensation at +1.0 EV, although some users might prefer better highlight detail at the cost of darker midtones, as seen in the +0.7 EV example above. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
64
Click to see P712LL06403.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL06404.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL06405.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL06406.JPG
16 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL06407.JPG
16 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
Click to see P712LL10003.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL10004.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL10005.JPG
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL10006.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL10007.JPG
16 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see P712LL20003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL20004.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL20005.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL20006.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL20007.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see P712LL40003.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL40004.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL40005.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL40006.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see P712LL40007.JPG
6 sec
f2.8

Low light:
The Kodak EasyShare P712 Zoom captured bright images down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level (about 1/16 as bright as average city street lighting at night) at all ISO settings except 64. (Here, images were bright to the 1/8 foot-candle light level.) Overall color looks good with the Auto white balance setting, without any strong color casts. The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to just below the 1/4 foot-candle light level, so you'll need to manually focus on subjects in darker conditions. Keep in mind though, that the long shutter times necessary here absolutely demand the use of a tripod or other camera support to get sharp photos. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Flash

Coverage and Range
A strong flash, especially at wide angle settings. Our indoor shots required less than average positive compensation in the normal flash mode.

36mm equivalent 432mm equivalent
Normal Flash, +0.7 EV Slow-Sync Mode, Default Exposure

Flash coverage was a bit uneven at wide angle, though results at telephoto were more uniform (if much dimmer). In the Indoor test, the Kodak EasyShare P712 Zoom's flash underexposed our subject just slightly at its default setting, requiring a lower than average +0.7 EV positive exposure compensation boost. Results are just a little bright here, but I felt the overall image a hint too dim at +0.3 EV. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode resulted in a more even exposure and a brighter overall image at its default exposure setting, though the longer shutter time did result in an orange cast. Still, overall color is pretty good in both shots.

Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft
Click to see P712FL06W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL07W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL08W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL09W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL10W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft
Click to see P712FL11W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL12W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL13W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL14W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL15W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft
Click to see P712FL06T.JPG
1/400 sec
f3.7
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL07T.JPG
1/400 sec
f3.7
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL08T.JPG
1/400 sec
f3.7
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL09T.JPG
1/400 sec
f3.7
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL10T.JPG
1/400 sec
f3.7
ISO 100
11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft
Click to see P712FL11T.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL12T.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL13T.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL14T.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P712FL15T.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 100

Flash power remained pretty strong to the 15 foot limit of our test with the lens at full wide angle, shooting at ISO 100. At telephoto, the flash seemed to underexpose slightly, but it was fairly consistent to the 16-foot distance. Kodak rates the P712 Zoom's flash as powerful to about 15.4 feet at wide angle, and to about 11.8 feet at telephoto.

Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide Angle Telephoto
Click to see P712FL_MFR0174WM0100.JPG
ISO 100
17.4 feet
Click to see P712FL_MFR0154TM0100.JPG
ISO 100
15.4 feet

Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims. While many makers specify flash range with the ISO set to Auto, Kodak takes the more conservative approach of specifying range at ISO 100 for the P712. In the shots above, the P712 seemed to perform exactly as Kodak says it will, producing good exposures at the rated distances, although as we noted above, the flash tended to underexpose slightly at telephoto, perhaps the result of glare from the target.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, great color, good 13x19 inch prints, sharp 11x14 inch ones. ISO 400 images are soft/noisy but usable at 8x10.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

With the Kodak EasyShare P712, we found that it had enough resolution to make good-looking 13x19 inch prints. They were a tad soft at that size, but really looked just fine at normal viewing distances of a foot or more. Prints at 11x14 were nice and sharp. As always, high ISOs is where the challenge came, and the P712 struggled slightly at ISO 400. At that setting, 8x10 prints were on the noisy side, but again were just fine at viewing distances of a foot or more. At 5x7 inches, ISO 400 noise was much less evident, but still visible. While we're once discussing noise though, it bears noting that the P712's shots do show some visible noise in sky colors, even at ISO 64 and 8x10 inch print sizes. We don't think this would be an issue for a majority of users, but anti-noise fanatics would probably be bothered by it.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Kodak EasyShare P712 Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Kodak EasyShare P712 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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