Kodak Z650 Review

 
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Kodak Z650 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slightly oversaturated color (especially reds and blues), very typical of consumer digital cameras. Generally good hue accuracy.

Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image
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 EasyShare Z650 follows this trend throughout the spectrum, though it tends to emphasize strong red and blue tones more than other colors. 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 Z650 did render skin tones a bit on the pink side in most cases, but our sense is that most consumers would find the Z650's snappy color very appealing.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. Here, the EasyShare Z650 did quite well. Like most digital cameras, it shifts cyan colors toward blue, to produce better-looking sky colors, but the rest of the hues were rendered quite accurately.

Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image

Our random "Gallery" shots showed very pleasing color across a wide variety of subjects. (See our EasyShare Z650 Photo Gallery for more shots taken with the camera.)

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Moderate warm cast with Auto white balance, a bit cool with Incandescent white balance. Less exposure compensation required than usual.

Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image
Auto White Balance +0.7EV Incandescent WB +0.7EV

Color balance indoors with Auto white balance was a little warm warm and under Incandescent white balance was a little cool. Both results were within what we'd consider to be acceptable limits though. The EasyShare Z650 required a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, less than most cameras need on this shot. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulb, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

Outdoors, daylight
Good color balance, very bright colors. Better than average exposure accuracy.

Click to see Y100_0540.JPG Click to see Y100_0503.JPG
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoor shots generally showed accurate exposure with slightly blown out highlights. Shadow detail also tended to fall apart, but nothing that would raise an alarm for a consumer digicam. Sunlit shots showed high contrast and oversaturation while overcast scenes managed a more accurate portrayal. Exposure accuracy overall was better than average, the camera requiring less exposure compensation than we're accustomed to seeing with consumer digicams.

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

Resolution
Moderate resolution for a 6-megapixel, 1,200 - 1,250 lines of strong detail.

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,250 lines per picture height horizontally, 1,200 vertically, with extinction at around 1,500. (The camera did produce slight color artifacts at lower line frequencies though, visible in the full-sized res target shots.) This is a good performance, but not quite up to those of the best 6-megapixel cameras on the market. Still, most users will find the Z650's images more than sharp enough for prints 8x10 inches in size or larger. 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.

Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image
Strong detail to 1,250
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
Fairly sharp images, with relatively little loss of detail to noise suppression at low ISO settings.

Pretty good definition
of high-contrast elements
Subtle detail: Hair

The EasyShare Z650's images are reasonably sharp, with only a little over-sharpening or edge enhancement on the camera's part. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.) Performance isn't quite up to that of the sharpest 6-megapixel cameras we've tested, but it's not bad.

ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, more noise and some loss of detail at the higher settings, but overall quite good.

Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image
ISO 80 (slight motion blur
due to long exposure)
ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400

The EasyShare Z650 can automatically set sensitivity between ISO 80 and 160 equivalents or you can manually set it to 80, 100, 200, 400 or 800. At ISO 100, the EasyShare Z650 produced moderate noise, with relatively little blurring of detail in the dark areas. As the ISO setting increases, so does the noise level and the amount of blurring that results, but noise levels and blurring are both surprisingly limited even at ISO 400. The camera's ISO 800 option is only available at a reduced resolution setting. (Our apologies, the above shot wasn't captured at ISO 800.)

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with good overall detail, though high contrast limits both highlight and shadow detail. Pretty good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and somewhat darker conditions.

Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image
Normal +0.3EV +0.7EV

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 Z650 had some trouble with the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, producing very high contrast with washed-out highlights and deep shadows. It at least did not wash out the highlights when exposure compensation was set to zero adjustment. (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
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1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
80
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ISO
100
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2.5 sec
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ISO
200
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ISO
400
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Low light:
Our low light testing of the Kodak Z650 revealed generally good performance, more than adequate for most consumers. At ISO 400, it produced bright images at the lowest light levels in our test. The AF assist light worked well, achieving focus even in the darkest shots (note the sharp text in the test images). There was one wrinkle though: We couldn't find any way to turn the AF assist light off. This won't normally be a concern, but for those times when you'd like to be stealthy in your after-dark picture-taking, the Z650's AF assist light will give you away.

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
The Z650's small flash reaches a surprising 16 feet at wide angle, produces a slight blue cast in combination with typical incandescent room lighting. Our standard shots required more exposure compensation than average.

Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image
38mm equivalent 380mm equivalent
Kodak EasyShare Z650 digital camera image
Normal Flash +1.3EV

Flash coverage was a bit uneven at wide angle but very good at telephoto. In the Indoor test, the flash on the Z650 underexposed our subject at its default setting, requiring a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get reasonably bright results.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
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f3.2
ISO 100
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But there's plenty of punch in this little flash to cover the room. It produced bright images to the 14-foot limit of our test, reflecting the 16-foot range Kodak lists in the specs with a guide number of 10.6 at ISO 100.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, vibrant color, very usable 11x14 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft and a bit noisy at 8x10, good under daylight-balanced lighting at 5x7, under incandescent lighting at 4x6.

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 Z650, we found that it had enough resolution to make very crisp 8x10 inch prints. At 11x14, its prints were a bit softer looking, but more than adequate for wall or table display. At high ISO, its images became softer and noisier-looking. Under daylight-balanced lighting, some users might consider ISO 400 shots acceptable even at 8x10 inch print sizes, but to our standards, they're really only usable at 5x7 inches. As is often the case, incandescent lighting results in higher levels of image noise, making ISO 400 shots captured indoors usable only for 4x6 inch prints.

Color-wise, the Kodak Z650's images were crisp and vibrant when printed on the i9900, with brilliant color. Users who prefer more subdued, technically accurate color saturation levels may find the Z650's images a little too bright, but most consumers should find the Z650's bright, snappy images very appealing.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Kodak EasyShare Z650 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 Z650 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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