The Imaging Resource
Kodak EasyShare Z700 Digital Camera
Digital Camera Design
|Good, 4.0-megapixel CCD|
|11x14s or 8x10s with some cropping|
Suggested Retail Price
with bundled Printer Dock 3)
With its 5x optical zoom lens, 4.0-megapixel CCD, and range of preset Scene shooting modes, the EasyShare Z700 is another excellent offering from Kodak's popular EasyShare line of digital cameras. Compact and similar in style to a traditional point-and-shoot 35mm film camera, the Kodak Z700 measures only 3.7 x 2.8 x 2.2 inches (94 x 72 x 55 millimeters), without the lens extended. The camera's all-plastic body makes it light weight as well, at 7.7 ounces (219 grams) without the battery and memory card. The Kodak Z700 squeezes into larger coat pockets and average-sized purses, and comes with a wrist strap for carrying. Its compact design includes a retractable lens, protected by a shutter-like lens cover that automatically slides open when the camera is powered on. The 4.0-megapixel CCD captures high resolution, print quality images (up to 11x14 inches, although 8x10 are sharper), as well as smaller image sizes better suited for distributing via email.
Built into the Kodak EasyShare Z700 is a 5x zoom lens, equivalent to a 35-175mm zoom on a 35mm camera. The camera's autofocus mechanism uses a multi-zone system to "find" the primary subject closest to the lens. The AF area is highlighted in the LCD display with a set of brackets. You can also change the AF area to read only the center of the frame through the Record menu. Also available through the Record menu are Single and Continuous AF modes, the Continuous option helping you maintain focus on a moving subject. The Kodak Z700 has a maximum aperture ranging from f/2.8 to f/4.8, and a minimum aperture of f/6.7 to f/8, depending on the zoom position. Focus ranges from 24 inches (60 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, with a Macro mode ranging from 2.0 to 27.6 inches (5 to 70 centimeters). (The minimum Macro focus distance depends on the zoom setting.) A Landscape focus mode fixes focus at infinity, for distant subjects and scenery. In addition to the 5x optical zoom, the Kodak Z700 also offers as much as 4x digital zoom, which effectively increases the camera's zoom range to a total of 20x. Keep in mind though, that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, since it just stretches the center pixels of the CCD image. For composing images, the Z700 offers a real-image optical viewfinder as well as a 1.6-inch color LCD monitor.
The Kodak EasyShare Z700 offers a range of partial manual and automatic exposure modes. The Mode dial on top of the camera offers options of Movie, PAS, Scene, Auto, Sports, Landscape, and Close-up exposure modes. While Auto mode is best for general photography, leaving all of the exposure decisions up to the camera, the PAS option provides access to Program, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority exposure modes. Program mode lets you control options such as white balance and exposure compensation while the camera handles the basic aperture and shutter speed settings. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes let you control either aperture or shutter speed, while the camera selects the appropriate corresponding variable. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to eight seconds. The Scene exposure mode offers no less than 13 preset shooting modes, including Children, Party, Portrait, Beach, Flower, Fireworks, Snow, Backlight, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Manner/Museum (for indoor settings without flash), Text, and Self-Portrait (for pointing the camera back at yourself). The more frequently used scene modes (Sports, Landscape, and Close-up) have their own designated places on the Mode dial.
The Kodak Z700 employs a Multi-Pattern metering system, which bases the exposure on several light readings taken throughout the frame. Also available are Center-Weighted and Center-Spot modes. You can increase or decrease the overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-half-step increments. White balance options include Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, and Fluorescent settings, which take advantage of Kodak's proprietary Color Science technology to achieve an accurate color balance under most lighting. An ISO setting offers light-sensitivity setting equivalents of 80, 100, 200, and 400. An Auto setting is also available, whose range is limited to 80 to 160 ISO equivalents. The Kodak Z700 also offers Black and White and Sepia color modes. The built-in flash is effective from two to 12 feet (0.6 to 2.2 meters) at ISO 140, depending on the setting of the zoom lens. (In our own testing, it worked great out to a distance of 10 feet, at ISO 80.) The flash operates in Auto, Fill, Red-Eye Reduction, and Off modes. A two- or 10-second Self-Timer mode provides a delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and when the shutter actually opens, so you can get into your own shots.
In addition to its still photography modes, the Kodak EasyShare Z700 also offers a Movie recording mode for capturing moving images with sound. Recording stops and starts with a brief, full press of the Shutter button, but if you hold the button down for more than a second or two, the camera will automatically stop recording when you let it back up again. As you record, the duration of the movie appears in a running counter on the LCD monitor. Maximum movie lengths depend on the amount of memory space available. (The 16 megabytes of internal memory will let you record movies up to one minute and 50 seconds in length.) Movies can be recorded at 320 x 240 or 640 x 480 pixels, at 20 and 13 frames-per-second respectively. Like most digital cameras that record movies with sound, the Kodak Z700 disables its zoom control while a movie is being recorded. (This keeps noise from the zoom motor from affecting the sound track.) A Burst photography mode lets you capture as many as six frames in rapid succession (approximately three frames per second) while you hold down the Shutter button, with First and Last settings. First saves the first six images taken, while Last saves only the last five in the series. The six-frame maximum number applies regardless of resolution, but may be hindered depending on how much available space is on the memory card or internal memory.
The Z700 is compatible with Kodak's latest line of EasyShare camera and printer docks. There's a new bottom connector that makes the Z700 incompatible with older EasyShare docks, but it is compatible with Kodak's latest EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3, which will itself be compatible with other brands of camera that conform to the new IMAGELINK standard. You simply put the camera into the dock, and then download and/or print. The dock station also serves as an AC adapter and in-camera battery charger for NiMH batteries. (The Printer Dock comes with a 2-cell NiMH battery pack.) Built into the Kodak Z700 are 12 megabytes of internal memory, but the camera also features an SD/MMC memory card slot so you can expand the camera's memory capacity. I highly recommend picking up at least a 128-megabyte card right away, given the camera's 2,304 x 1,728-pixel maximum image size, though cards are currently available as large as 2 gigabytes. For power, the Z700 uses either a Kodak NiMH battery pack, two AA-type batteries (NiMH, alkaline, or lithium), a single CR-V3 battery, or the optional AC adapter. Read my NiMH battery shootout page to see which batteries currently on the market are the best, and see my review of the Maha C-204W NiMH battery charger, my current favorite. The good news about the Kodak NiMH battery pack is that it recharges right in the camera when placed on the optional Printer Dock. Also packaged with the Kodak Z700 are USB and AV cables, as well as a software CD loaded with the EasyShare software for downloading and managing images.
- 4.0-megapixel CCD delivering images as large as 2,304 x 1,728 pixels.
- Real-image optical viewfinder.
- 1.6-inch color LCD monitor.
- 5x, 35-175mm (35mm equivalent) lens.
- 4x digital zoom.
- Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority exposure modes, plus 16 preset Scene modes.
- White Balance with four settings.
- Maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/4.8, depending on lens zoom position.
- Shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to eight seconds, depending on exposure mode.
- Built-in flash with four modes.
- 16MB internal memory.
- SD/MMC card storage (optional, card not included).
- Power supplied by one Kodak EasyShare NiMH rechargeable battery pack, one CRV3 battery, two AA type batteries, or optional AC adapter.
- Optional Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock ("Bundled" versions only).
- Kodak EasyShare software included for both Windows and Mac platforms.
- Movie mode (with sound).
- Burst photography mode.
- Black and White and Sepia color modes.
- Adjustable ISO from 80 to 400, with an Auto setting.
- Two- or 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
- Two AF area modes, plus Single and Continuous AF modes.
- Macro (close-up) lens setting.
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
- USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).
Like the rest of Kodak's EasyShare line, the Z700 has a very simple-to-understand user interface that keeps the fun in point-and-shoot digital photography. The Z700's range of exposure modes is suited to all experience levels, offering no-fuss shooting with great image quality. Just about everything can be automatically controlled, with great results, though you can opt for partial manual control if desired. The Kodak Z700's versatile setup is a good option for kids or novice users who want to gradually learn more about photography, while more experienced users will enjoy the compact size, flexible controls, and 5x optical zoom lens. The Kodak Z700 also has a much faster than average shutter response, and good shot to shot speed, making it a good choice for sports or other action photography. Like Kodak's other EasyShare cameras, when combined with the accessory printer dock, the Z700 ranks among the easiest to use digital cameras I've seen.
Compact and reasonably small in size, the Kodak EasyShare Z700 measures 3.7 x 2.8 x 2.2 inches (94 x 72 x 55 millimeters), small enough to fit into coat pockets and purses, and possibly into larger shirt pockets. The Kodak Z700 is light weight as well, at just 9.8 ounces (279 grams) with battery and memory card, though it does have a slight heft on the lens side. A wrist strap comes with the camera, but I'd recommend a soft carrying case for travel.
The telescoping lens takes up the right side of the camera's front panel, surrounded by a thick, plastic lip. The lens extends outward when the camera is powered on, and likewise retracts when the camera is turned off. A built-in, shutter-like lens cover protects the lens when not in use, and automatically slides out of the way whenever the camera is powered on (meaning you don't have to keep track of a lens cap). Also on the front panel are the self-timer lamp, flash, and optical viewfinder window. A fairly substantial handgrip provides a good hold. Just barely visible in the lower right corner, beneath the lens, is the camera's microphone.
On the right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) is the SD/MMC memory card compartment, beneath a hinged, plastic door. Opening the door reveals the actual card slot, as well as the USB/AV Out shared connector jack. Directly above the compartment is the eyelet for attaching the wrist strap.
The opposite side of the camera features solely the DC In jack (without a protective cover).
On the camera's top panel are the Power/Mode dial, Drive button, Flash button, and the Shutter button.
The rest of the camera controls are on the rear panel, along with the optical viewfinder and 1.6-inch LCD monitor. Adjacent on either side of the optical viewfinder is a diopter adjustment dial for eyeglass wearers, and a small status LED that reports camera status (such as when focus is set, the flash is charging, or the camera is accessing the memory card.) The Zoom lever is positioned right where your thumb will rest, making for easy adjustment of the optical and digital zoom. The Information button is just above the LCD monitor, with the Share button adjacent to the monitor's top right corner. A Four-Way Rocker button navigates through menu settings, and confirms selections when the center OK button is pressed. (This controller also changes exposure options such as aperture and shutter speed in the semi-manual modes.) Directly below are the Delete, Menu, and Review control buttons.
On the bottom panel of the Kodak Z700 are the tripod socket, dock connector, and battery compartment. The plastic, threaded tripod socket is far from center (but close to the center of the lens) and just far enough from the battery compartment for quick battery changes while working with a tripod. The battery compartment features a locking, hinged door, which slides forward to open. The dock connection jack connects the camera directly to the EasyShare dock for quick image downloading. Note that this is a new connector, compliant with the new IMAGELINK standard for camera dock compatibility between several manufacturers. (Kodak is the first manufacturer to announce a camera with this connector, others will presumably follow.)
As I've come to expect from Kodak's EasyShare digital camera line, the Z700 has a very user-friendly interface. The range of partial exposure control options gives users a lot of flexibility, while the camera's automatic systems do an excellent job of capturing good-looking photos. The LCD menu system is short and simple to navigate, and the plain-English descriptions of menu items are a welcome change from the too-common cryptic icons on so many other cameras. A Mode dial lets you change camera modes quickly, and once again, plain-English descriptions flashed on the LCD screen make operation straightforward for even rank beginners. Given the simple interface and limited controls, you should be able to snap images right away, with hardly a glance at the manual. Though for more advanced functions, it shouldn't take more than a half an hour or so to get the gist of things.
Depending on the exposure mode, the Kodak Z700's LCD display shows the center autofocus area along with currently-selected options for image size/quality, macro and flash mode, the number of images of the current size and quality that can be stored in the remaining space on the memory card. In Program, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority modes, the LCD display also includes shooting mode, aperture, shutter, ISO, and exposure compensation settings. Pressing the Information button once in a record mode cancels the information display, while a second press disables the LCD entirely. (A third press recalls both.)
In Review (playback) mode, you can use the Kodak Z700's Zoom lever to zoom in or out on an image, with a maximum enlargement of 8x. A thumbnail display of the images (called "Multi-Up") is also available, through the camera's Review menu. The Info button offers a more detailed information display, reporting the set exposure variables for the current image. The normal Review display reports the image number, and any shared settings information.
Shutter Button: Crowning the top of the handgrip on the top panel, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed. In Playback mode, pressing this button returns the camera to the selected Record mode.
Power / Mode Dial: Directly behind the Shutter button, this large dial controls the camera's exposure mode. The following camera modes are available:
- Favorites: Lets you view any images saved as Favorite, like a digital photo album.
- Off: Turns the camera off.
- Automatic Record: Best for most average shooting conditions, this mode places the camera under automatic exposure control, with limited user options available through the Record menu.
- Scene Mode: Offers 13 preset shooting modes, including Children, Party, Portrait, Beach, Flower, Fireworks, Snow, Backlight, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Manner/Museum, Text, and Self-Portrait.
- Sports: Sets up the camera for recording fast-paced action shots.
- Landscape: This mode captures distant subjects with both foreground and background in focus.
- Close-up: Changes the focus for smaller, closer subjects.
- PAS Mode: Provides access to the Program, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority exposure modes.
- Movie: Records moving images with sound, for as long as the memory card has available space.
Drive Button: To the left of the Power / Mode dial on the top panel, this button cycles through the First Burst, Last Burst, and Self-Timer drive settings.
Flash Button: Just behind the Drive button on the top panel, this button cycles through the Auto, Fill, Red-Eye Reduction, and Off flash modes.
Zoom Lever: Tucked in the upper right corner of the camera's rear panel, this lever controls the optical and digital zoom in any record mode. In Playback mode, the lever controls the amount of digital enlargement applied to captured images, to a maximum of 8x.
Diopter Adjustment Dial: To the right of the optical viewfinder eyepiece, this notched dial adjusts the viewfinder display to accommodate eyeglass wearers.
Information Button: Next to the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button controls the image and information displays on the LCD monitor.
Share Button: Just below the Information button, this button lets you tag images for printing, emailing, or as a favorite image. (A heart icon appears on "favorite" images.) Pressing this button automatically displays the Share menu with the following options:
- Print: Designates the number of copies of the current image to be printed.
- E-Mail: E-mails a low-resolution copy of the image to a recipient, based on a saved address book.
- Favorite: Marks the current image as a "favorite."
- Print All: Prints one copy of each image on the memory card or internal memory.
- Cancel Prints: Cancels a print order.
Four-Way Rocker Button and OK Button: Adjacent to the right side of the LCD monitor, this four-way rocker button actuates up, down, left, and right, to navigate through menu options in any settings menu. When the center OK button is pressed, it confirms menu selections. In PAS mode, moving the controller left and right selects different options for adjustment on the LCD monitor. You can adjust the PAS mode, aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation settings with this controller.
In Playback mode, the controller scrolls through captured images, when pressed left and right. Pressing the center OK button plays back movie files. During movie playback, pushing the controller up and down adjusts the playback volume.
Delete: Below the Four-Way Rocker button and adjacent to the lower right corner of the LCD monitor, this button calls up the Delete menu in Review mode. You can delete individual images or all images on the card. There's also an option to cancel.
Menu Button: Down and to the right of the Delete button, this button displays the settings menu in Playback or Record modes.
Review Button: Directly to the right of the Menu button, this button activates the image review mode when pressed in any record mode. Once in Review mode, pressing the button again, or the Shutter button, returns to the Record display.
Camera Modes and Menus
Favorites Mode: An album icon with a heart on its cover indicates this mode on the Power/Mode dial on top of the camera. In this mode, any images that have been designated as "favorites" are displayed.
Movie Mode: Indicated by a movie camera icon, Movie mode is indicated by a movie camera icon. In this mode, you can record 640 x 480 or 320 x 240-pixel resolution movies with sound, at 13 or 20 frames per second.
PAS Mode: Marked on the Mode dial as "PAS," this mode provides access to the Program, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority exposure modes.
Close-up Mode: The traditional macro flower symbol indicates this mode on the Power / Mode dial. This mode changes the focus for close-up shots of smaller subjects. The focus distance ranges from 2.0 to 27.6 inches (5 to 70 centimeters).
Landscape Mode: This mode is best for distant subjects, such as large vistas and sweeping scenery. Both the foreground and background remain in focus.
Sports Mode: This mode is indicated by a figure in action on the Mode dial. Here, the camera employs a faster shutter speed to "freeze" moving subjects.
Scene Mode: The letters "SCN" indicate this mode on the Mode dial, which offers 13 preset shooting modes. Available "scenes" are Children, Party, Portrait, Beach, Flower, Fireworks, Snow, Backlight, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Manner/Museum, Text, and Self-Portrait. .
Auto Mode: Marked with a camera icon and the word "Auto," this mode is best for most average shooting conditions. Exposure is automatically controlled, but a small selection of user options is available through the Record menu.
Playback Mode: Accessed by pressing the Review button, this mode lets you review captured images and movies, as well as manage files.
Record Menu: The following menu items appear whenever the Menu button is pressed in any Record mode. However, not all menu options are available in all modes.
- Focal Length: (PAS mode only.) Sets the macro or infinity focus adjustments for Program, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority modes. Options are Auto, Macro, or Infinity. (For example, since you wouldn't otherwise be able to access Macro or Landscape modes in PAS mode, you can change the focal range for macro subjects or infinity.)
- Picture Size: Sets the resolution for still images. Choices are 4.0 MP (2,304 x 1,728 pixels), 3.5 MP (3:2) (2,304 x 1,536 pixels), 3.1 MP (2,048 x 1,536 pixels), 2.1 MP (1,656 x 1,242 pixels), or 1.1 MP (1,200 x 900 pixels).
- Video Size: (Movie mode only.) Sets the video resolution to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels.
- White Balance: (Not available in Auto mode) Sets the color balance to Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, or Fluorescent settings.
- Exposure Metering: (Not available in Auto mode) Sets the camera's metering mode as Multi-Pattern, Center-Weighted, or Center-Spot.
- Focus Zone: (Not available in Auto mode) Controls where the camera's AF system determines focus from. Choices are Multi-Zone and Center-Zone.
- AF Control: Sets the autofocus to Continuous or Single modes.
- Color Mode: Allows you to record images in Black and White or Sepia tones.
- Reset to Default: (Not available in Auto mode) Resets all camera settings to their defaults.
- Set Album (Still): The Kodak Z700 lets you set up albums through its interface software on a computer. If albums have been set up and downloaded to the camera, you can associate images with an album as they are recorded.
- Image Storage: Dictates where images are stored, either in the 16MB internal memory or SD card. If Auto is selected, the camera automatically stores images to a memory card if one is present.
- Setup Menu: Displays the following Setup options:
- Return: Returns to the previous menu display.
- Liveview: Turns the LCD monitor's Liveview function on or off. If turned off, the LCD monitor does not act as a viewfinder display.
- Advanced Digital Zoom: Controls how digital zoom is accessed. The Continuous setting allows you to seamlessly zoom from the optical zoom range into the digital range. "Pause" tells the camera to pause between ranges. "None" disables digital zoom altogether.
- Print Warning: If activated, this feature forces a pause in the digital zoom when the amount of digital zoom would be too much to render an acceptable 4x6-inch print.
- Mode Description: If enabled, displays a description of each camera mode on the LCD monitor when first accessed.
- Auto Power Off: Sets the period of inactivity that must pass before the camera shuts itself off. Choices are 1, 3, 5, or 10 minutes.
- Date & Time: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
- Video Out: Specifies PAL or NTSC as the Video Out signal.
- Date Stamp: Turns the date stamp function on or off, which records the date over the image. You can choose from a selection of date formats as well.
- Video Date Display: Like the Date Stamp option above, imprints the date and time on video files, with a choice of display formats.
- Language: Sets the menu language to one of nine languages.
- Format: Formats the SD memory card or internal memory.
- About: Displays the camera's firmware information.
- Album: Adds images to an image album, created on a computer with the camera's interface software.
- Slide Show: Enables a slide show of captured images, with user-adjustable intervals between images.
- Multi-Up: Enables a index display of images on the memory card or stored in the internal memory.
- Copy: Copies files from the internal memory to the SD card, or the reverse.
- Protect: Write-protects the displayed image, preventing it from being accidentally erased or manipulated (except via memory or card formatting). Also removes protection.
- Image Storage: Selects between the internal memory or the SD card for image storage.
- Setup Menu: Displays the same settings as under the Record menu.
In the Box
In the box are the following items:
- Kodak EasyShare Z700 digital camera.
- Neck strap.
- Lens cap with strap.
- Lens adapter.
- Kodak Alkaline AA batteries
(Versions bundled with the Printer Dock include a Kodak NiMH battery pack).
- USB cable.
- A/V cable.
- Printer Dock adapter plate.
- Software CD-ROM.
- Operating manual and registration card.
- Large capacity SD/MMC memory card. (I'd recommend 128MB as a bare minimum.)
- Pair of high-capacity rechargeable batteries, and a good-quality charger.
- Small camera case.
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...
See the specifications sheet here.
Information on shooting speed, battery life, etc. can be found here.
See my sample pictures and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of our test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.
For those readers interested in a set of less "standardized" photos from the Kodak EasyShare Z700, we've put together a "photo gallery" of more pictorial shots captured with the Kodak Z700.
In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Kodak EasyShare Z700 sample pictures page.
For a look at some more pictorial photos from this camera, check out our Kodak EasyShare Z700 Photo Gallery.
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Kodak Z700 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!
- Color: Very bright, appealing color. Oversaturated, really, but likely to be appealing to most consumers. Like its "big brother" the Z700, the Kodak Z740's color is very bright when dealing with colors that are already strong, but it (mostly) manages to avoid oversaturating skin tones and other more subtle colors. The result is a "look" that, while not strictly accurate, is bound to be pleasing to a majority of consumers, the group this camera is aimed at. Like most Kodak digital cameras I've tested, the Z700 is also better than average at handling a wide range of light sources, including difficult mixed lighting. - Its white balance system consistently delivers images that look more or less they way you remember the original subject looking. (A noble goal for any camera.)
- Exposure: Better than average exposure accuracy, but high contrast, both indoors and out. The Z700 generally required less exposure compensation than average on my test shots that typically require it, but the combination of its high contrast and relatively coarse 0.5 EV exposure adjustment steps sometimes made it hard to get just the right exposure for a given shot. The high contrast is part and parcel of its appealing, bright, snappy-looking photos, but does result in a tendency to lose detail in strong highlights and deep shadows. On a positive note though, the Z700 has a pretty powerful flash, making it a good choice for after-dark photography, although I found that flash shots routinely required a slight exposure boost for the best results. often produced high contrast, particularly in the "Sunlit" portrait and outdoor house shot. Highlight and shadow detail were often limited as well. Still, the camera exposed the Davebox target well, distinguishing the subtle tonal variations. The Z700 also has a fairly powerful flash, though it requires a small EV boost for the best results.
- Resolution/Sharpness: High resolution, 1,100 lines of "strong detail." The Kodak EasyShare Z700 performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for its 4.0-megapixel class. It showed artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines, although one could perhaps argue for 1,150 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines.
- Image Noise: Moderately high image noise in most cases, even at the lower sensitivity settings. Noise is moderate at the lower ISO settings, but becomes noticeable at ISO 200, objectionable at ISO 400. ISO 200 shots are a little rough-looking when printed at 8x10 inches, but should be acceptable for most users at 5x7. ISO 400 images are still quite rough at 5x7, are really only usable when printed at 4x6 inches.
- Closeups: A small macro area with great detail. Flash had trouble and was blocked by the lens. The Kodak Z700 did well in the macro arena, capturing a minimum area of 2.44 x 1.83 inches (62 x 46 millimeters). Resolution was high, with strong detail, although the corners of the frame were somewhat soft. (This last is a trait of many digital cameras in macro mode.) The flash however, was blocked by the lens in the closest shots and created a strong shadow in the lower portion of the frame: Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots.
- Night Shots: Very good low-light performance. Noise was high at ISO 400, but overall performance was very good. Good autofocus performance, works to a bit darker than 1/4 foot-candle. The Kodak Z700 did pretty well in dim lighting. It lacks an autofocus-assist light, but still focused down to light levels a bit less than 1/4 as bright as typical city night scenes, and it captured well-exposed shots with relatively modest noise levels down to that light level as well. (In our tests, it managed good exposures all the way down to 1/16 as bright as city street lighting at ISO 400, but with considerable image noise and loss of subject detail. Still, the Z700 is more than capable enough to shoot typical outdoor scenes at night.)
- Viewfinder Accuracy: An accurate LCD monitor, but tight optical viewfinder. The Z700's optical viewfinder was pretty tight, showing only 80 percent frame accuracy at both zoom settings. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, however, showing about 97 percent accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto.
- Optical Distortion: High barrel distortion at wide angle, very low pincushion distortion at telephoto. Low to moderate chromatic aberration , very good sharpness in the corners. Geometric distortion on the Kodak EasyShare Z700 was higher than average, as I measured approximately 1.13 percent barrel distortion at the wide angle end, but only 0.2 percent pincushion at the telephoto end. Chromatic aberration was moderate at wide angle, but decreased to a much lower level at telephoto. While there was a little softness in the corners of the Z700's images, there was generally much less than I'm accustomed to seeing from the digital cameras I test.
- Shutter Lag and Cycle Times: Good shutter response, good shooting speed. Apart from its leisurely startup/shutdown times, the Kodak EasyShare Z700 is faster than average in most of its operations. With a shutter lag range of 0.46 - 0.61 second, it's more responsive than the majority of cameras out there, and its shutter delay when "prefocused" (by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself) is a very fast 0.076 second. Shot to shot times are also better than average, at a bit over 1.5 seconds per frame in single-shot mode, and its continuous shooting modes capture images at a rate of 2.33 frames/second. All in all, performance that's a fair bit better than average, ideal for keeping up with fast-paced sports or young-family action.
- Battery Life: A bit shorter than average battery life. With a worst-case run time of only 86 minutes with the LCD screen on in capture mode, the Z700's battery life is on the short side of average. (Note though, that this time is based on the 1600 mAh "standard" NiMH battery capacity we've used for years in our digital camera power tests. Modern, high-capacity NiMH batteries could increase this by 25% or more, producing a more reasonable 108 minute worst-case run time.) With the LCD turned off, run time increases to almost 5 1/2 hours, an excellent figure, but the mediocre accuracy of the Z700's viewfinder will force you to use the LCD more often than you might otherwise. Bottom line, plan on picking up at least two sets of high-capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good-quality charger. See my battery shootout page for a current listing of the top batteries, tested under actual load conditions, and read my review of the Maha C-204W charger, my current favorite.
- Print Quality: Somewhat soft prints at 11x14 inches, good at 8x10. High-ISO shots only look good at smaller print sizes. 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 iP5000 here in the office. (See our Canon i9900 review for details on that model.) Prints from the Kodak EasyShare Z700 were a little soft when printed at 11x14 inches (normally the upper limit I'd consider for photos from a 4-megapixel camera), sharper at 8x10 inches. As always, the tougher test was with high ISO images, and here the Z700 struggled a bit. Shots captured at ISO 200 looked good only as large as 5x7 inches, and those shot at ISO 400 were really only acceptable at 4x6: ISO 400 shots printed at even 5x7 still looked pretty rough, with soft details and distracting noise patterns.
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