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Kodak EasyShare Z740 Digital Camera

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Review Date
4/21/2005
User Level
Novice to experienced amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digital Camera Design
Point and Shoot, Plus Manual and Partial Manual Control
Picture Quality
Very Good, 5.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
11x14s or 8x10s with heavy cropping
Availability
April, 2005
Suggested Retail Price
$499

 

Introduction

Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Test Images
Specifications
Conclusion
The Kodak EasyShare Z740 is the latest in a long line of Kodak digital cameras bearing the EasyShare name. EasyShare cameras generally live up to their name quite well, being easy to use, with the accompanying software doing a good job of facilitating sharing through a variety of media. The Kodak Z740 is no exception, providing true point & shoot operation with accurate exposure, a very flexible automatic white balance system, and the bright, highly-saturated color that seems to be preferred by most US consumers. At the same time, while the Kodak Z740 sports a very easy to use "green zone" fully automatic mode, it also offers programmed, shutter- and aperture-priority, and even full manual exposure control for more experienced users. Add its 10x zoom lens and 5.0 megapixel CCD, and the Kodak Z740 is a very digital camera, particularly so for one with such good ease of use.

Initially available only in bundled packages with the new Series 3 Kodak Printer dock (we're told that the camera will be available by itself later in 2005), the Kodak Z740 offers flexible long-zoom shooting in a very easy to use digital camera. Read on for all the details!

 

Camera Overview

With its 10x optical zoom lens, 5.0-megapixel CCD, and included EasyShare Printer Dock, the EasyShare Z740 is a well-appointed addition to Kodak's popular EasyShare line of digital cameras. Compact and similar in style to a traditional point-and-shoot 35mm film camera, the Kodak Z740 measures only 3.9 x 3.1 x 2.9 inches (99 x 76 x 73 millimeters), without the lens extended. The camera's all-plastic body makes it light weight as well, at 12.2 ounces (347 grams) with the battery and memory card. The Kodak Z740 squeezes into larger coat pockets and average-sized purses, and comes with a neck strap for carrying. Its compact design includes a retractable lens, protected by a removable lens cap that tethers to the camera's body (so you won't accidentally lose it while on the go). The 5.0-megapixel CCD captures high resolution, print quality images (up to 11x17 with good detail, or 8x10 with heavy cropping), as well as smaller image sizes better suited for distributing via email.

Built into the Kodak EasyShare Z740 is a whopping 10x zoom lens, equivalent to a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm camera, with lens accessory threads for attaching accessory conversion lenses. (That's a moderate wide angle of 0.7 x multiplier, yielding about 26.6mm equivalent.) 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 Z740 has a maximum aperture ranging from f/2.8 to f/3.7, depending on the zoom position. Focus ranges from 24 inches (60 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, with a Macro mode ranging from 3.9 to 27.6 inches (12 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 10x optical zoom, the Kodak Z740 also offers as much as 5x digital zoom, which effectively increases the camera's zoom range to a total of 50x. 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 Z740 offers an electronic optical viewfinder (EVF) as well as a 1.8-inch color LCD monitor.

The Kodak EasyShare Z740 offers full manual exposure control, as well as a range of partial manual and automatic exposure modes. The Mode dial on the rear panel offers options of Movie, PASM, Scene, Auto, Sports, Portrait, and Night Scene exposure modes. While Auto mode is best for general photography, leaving all of the exposure decisions up to the camera, the PASM option provides access to Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual 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. As you'd expect, Manual mode provides complete user control over the exposure, with shutter speeds ranging from 1/1,700 to eight seconds (0.5 to 8 seconds are user-selectable; auto mode delivers 1/8 to 1/1,700). The Scene exposure mode offers no less than 14 preset shooting modes, including Children, Party, Beach, Flower, Fireworks, Snow, Backlight, Close-up, Night Portrait, Landscape, 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, Portrait, and Night) have their own designated places on the Mode dial.

The Kodak EasyShare Z740 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, Open Shade, 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, 400, and 800 (with the 800 setting only available at the Good picture quality setting). An Auto setting is also available, whose range is limited to 80 to 160 ISO equivalents. The Kodak Z740 also offers Black and White and Sepia color modes, and High, Natural, and Low color saturation settings. You can also adjust the in-camera sharpening. The built-in pop-up flash is effective from two to 16 feet (0.6 to 4.9 meters) at ISO 168, depending on the setting of the zoom lens. (In our own testing, it worked great out to a distance of 14 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 Z740 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 32 megabytes of internal memory will let you record movies up to three minutes and 23 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 Z740 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 five frames in rapid succession (approximately two frames per second) while you hold down the Shutter button, with First and Last settings. First saves the first five images taken, while Last saves only the last four in the series. The five-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 Z740 is compatible with Kodak's latest line of EasyShare camera and printer docks. There's a new bottom connector that makes the Z740 incompatible with older EasyShare docks, but it is packaged with the EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3, which will 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. Built into the Kodak Z740 are 32 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 2,576 x 1,932-pixel maximum image size, though cards are currently available as large as 2 gigabytes. For power, the Z740 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 included Kodak NiMH battery pack is not only that it's included, but it recharges right in the camera when placed on the dock. Also packaged with the Kodak Z740 are USB and AV cables, as well as a software CD loaded with the EasyShare software for downloading and managing images.

Basic Features

  • 5.0-megapixel CCD delivering images as large as 2,576 x 1,932 pixels.
  • Electronic optical viewfinder.
  • 1.8-inch color LCD monitor.
  • 10x, 38-380mm (35mm equivalent) lens.
  • 5x digital zoom.
  • Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes, plus 17 preset Scene modes.
  • White Balance with five settings.
  • Maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/3.7, depending on lens zoom position.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/1,700 to eight seconds, depending on exposure mode.
  • Built-in pop-up flash with four modes.
  • 32MB 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.
  • Included Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock (Series 3), with 10 sheets of 4x6 paper.
  • Kodak EasyShare software included for both Windows and Mac platforms.

Special Features

  • Movie mode (with sound).
  • Burst photography mode.
  • Black and White and Sepia color modes, as well as three color settings.
  • Adjustable ISO from 80 to 800, with an Auto setting.
  • 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Image sharpness adjustment.
  • Three AF area modes, plus Single and Continuous AF modes.
  • Macro (close-up) lens setting.
  • Accessory lens thread.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).


Recommendation
Like the rest of Kodak's EasyShare line, the Z740 has a very simple-to-understand user interface that keeps the fun in point-and-shoot digital photography. The Z740'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 or full manual control if desired. The Kodak Z740'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 10x optical zoom lens. Like Kodak's other EasyShare cameras, when combined with the accessory camera dock, the Z740 ranks among the easiest to use digital cameras I've seen.

 

Design

Compact and reasonably small in size, considering the 10x optical zoom lens, the Kodak EasyShare Z740 measures 3.9 x 3.1 x 2.9 inches (98 x 77 x 73 millimeters), small enough to fit into coat pockets and purses. The Kodak Z740 is light weight as well, at just 12.2 ounces (347 grams) with battery and memory card, though it does have a slight heft on the lens side. A neck 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 complete with filter threads for accessory lenses. The lens extends outward when the camera is powered on, and likewise retracts when the camera is turned off. A plastic, removable lens cap protects the lens when not in use, and tethers to the camera body to prevent it from being accidentally lost. Also on the front panel are the light sensor and AF assist / self-timer lamp. A fairly substantial handgrip provides a good hold. Just barely visible in the top right corner 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 one of the eyelets for attaching the neck strap.

The opposite side of the camera features the DC In jack (without a protective cover), and the other neck strap attachment eyelet.

On the camera's top panel are the pop-up flash compartment and release switch, Power/Mode switch, Drive button, Focus button, Flash button, and the Shutter button. The camera's speaker is also on the top panel, just behind the Power/Mode switch.

The rest of the camera controls are on the rear panel, along with the electronic viewfinder (EVF) and 1.8-inch LCD monitor. An indented thumb rest on the right side cups your thumb as you hold the camera, reinforcing the front handgrip. The Zoom lever is positioned right where your thumb will rest, making for easy adjustment of the optical and digital zoom. The Information and EVF/LCD buttons are just above the LCD monitor, with the Share button adjacent to the monitor's top right corner. A large Mode dial is below the Share button, with a joystick-like multi-controller button in its center. The multi-controller navigates through menu settings, and confirms selections when pressed. (This controller also changes exposure options such as aperture and shutter speed in the manual modes.) Directly below are the Delete, Menu, and Review control buttons.

On the bottom panel of the Kodak Z740 are the tripod socket, dock connector, and battery compartment. The metal, threaded tripod socket is just off-center and too close to 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.)

 

Camera Operation

As I've come to expect from Kodak's EasyShare digital camera line, the Z740 has a very user-friendly interface. The full range of available exposure control options give 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.

Record-Mode Display
Depending on the exposure mode, the Kodak Z740'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, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes, the LCD display also includes shooting mode, aperture, shutter, ISO, flash exposure compensation, and exposure compensation settings. Pressing the Information button once in a record mode cancels the information display, while a second press brings it back. The same display is available in the EVF, and you can switch between the two viewfinders simply by pressing the EVF/LCD button.


Review-Mode Display
In Review (playback) mode, you can use the Kodak Z740'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.

 

 

External Controls


Flash Release Switch
: Located next to the flash compartment on the left side of the top panel, this switch releases the pop-up flash from its compartment.


Power/Mode Switch
: On the right side of the flash compartment, this sliding switch powers the camera on and pops up the flash. Sliding it to the right puts the camera into Record mode, while sliding the switch to the left puts it in Favorites mode.


Shutter Button
: Located on the camera's 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.


Drive Button
: Directly behind the Shutter button on the top panel, this button cycles through the First Burst, Last Burst, and Self-Timer drive settings.


Focus Button
: Next in line behind the Drive button, this button controls the camera's focus mode, cycling between Normal AF, Macro, and Landscape focus settings.


Flash Button
: The final button in the series 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.


Information Button
: Above the top left corner of the LCD monitor, this button controls the information display on the EVF and LCD monitors.


EVF/LCD Button
: Directly above the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button switches the image and information display between the EVF and LCD monitors.


Share Button
: Located to the right of the LCD monitor, 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.


Mode Dial
: Dominating the lower right portion of the rear panel, this large dial controls the camera's exposure mode. The following camera modes are available:

  • Movie: Records moving images with sound, for as long as the memory card has available space.
  • PASM Mode: Provides access to the Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes.
  • Scene Mode: Offers 14 preset shooting modes, including Children, Party, Beach, Flower, Fireworks, Snow, Backlight, Close-up, Night Portrait, Landscape, Night Landscape, Manner/Museum, Text, and Self-Portrait.
  • 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.
  • Sports: Sets up the camera for recording fast-paced action shots.
  • Portrait: This mode captures a sharply-focused subject in front of a slightly-blurred background, so that the emphasis is on the person.
  • Night: In this mode, the camera uses a slower shutter speed to capture more ambient light in darker shooting conditions.

Multi-Controller (see image above): Located in the center of the Mode dial, this joystick-like controller navigates through menu options in any settings menu. When pressed, it confirms menu selections. In PASM mode, moving the controller left and right selects different options for adjustment on the LCD monitor. You can adjust the PASM mode, aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation settings with this controller.

In Playback mode, the controller scrolls through captured images, when moved left and right. Pressing the button down plays back movie files. During movie playback, moving the controller up and down adjusts the playback volume.


Delete
: Below the Mode dial 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
: 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 switch on top of the camera. In this mode, any images that have been designated as "favorites" are displayed.


Movie Mode
: The first mode on the Mode dial, 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.


PASM Mode
: Marked on the Mode dial as "PASM," this mode provides access to the Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes.


Scene Mode
: The letters "SCN" indicate this mode on the Mode dial, which offers 14 preset shooting modes. Available "scenes" are Children, Party, Beach, Flower, Fireworks, Snow, Backlight, Close-up, Night Portrait, Landscape, 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.


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.


Portrait Mode
: The traditional portrait symbol (a woman's head) marks this mode on the Mode dial. The camera uses a larger aperture setting to capture a sharp subject in front of a blurred background.


Night Mode
: A person and star icon on the Mode dial indicates this mode, which uses slower shutter speeds for darker settings. A tripod is definitely recommended.

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.

  • Picture Size: Sets the resolution for still images. Choices are 5.0 MP (2,576 x 1,932 pixels), 4.4 MP 3:2 (2,576 x 1,716 pixels), 4.0 MP (2,304 x 1,728 pixels), 3.1 MP (2,048 x 1,536 pixels), or 1.8 MP (1,152 x 1,164 pixels).
  • Video Size: (Movie mode only.) Sets the video resolution to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels.
  • White Balance: Sets the color balance to Auto, Daylight, Open Shade, Tungsten, or Fluorescent settings.
  • Exposure Metering: Sets the camera's metering mode as Multi-Pattern, Center-Weighted, or Center-Spot.
  • Focus Zone: 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 High, Natural, or Low Color, or in Black and White or Sepia tones.
  • Sharpness: Controls the in-camera sharpening, with options of High, Normal, or Low.
  • Reset to Default: Resets all camera settings to their defaults.
  • Set Album (Still): The Kodak Z740 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 32MB 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.
    • Quickview: Turns Quickview on or off. Quickview automatically displays the most recently captured image, with options to delete or Share.
    • 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 turns the zoom slider red if the zoom is too much to render an acceptable 4x6-inch print.
    • Sound Themes: Designates the camera's operating sounds. Choices are Shutter Only, Default, Classical, Jazz, and Sci-Fi. (All sounds are disabled in the camera's Manner scene mode.)
    • Sound Volume: Sets the volume to Low, Medium, or High, or turns sound off.

    • 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.
    • Orientation Sensor: Controls the camera's orientation sensor, which detects when the camera is held vertically. Vertical-format images captured when the Orientation Sensor is enabled are rotated to their correct orientation on-screen when they're played back.)

    • 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.

Playback Menu:

  • 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 Z740 digital camera.
  • Neck strap.
  • Lens cap with strap.
  • Lens adapter.
  • Kodak KAA-2HR battery pack.
  • USB cable.
  • A/V cable.
  • EasyShare Printer Dock Series III.
  • 10-sheet sample paper pack.
  • AC cable for printer dock.
  • Software CD-ROM.
  • Operating manual and registration card.

Recommended Accessories

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...

 

Specifications

See the specifications sheet here.

 

Picky Details

Information on shooting speed, battery life, etc. can be found here.

 

Test Images

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.

"Sunlight"
Indoor Flash
Indoor
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy


"Gallery" Photos

For those readers interested in a set of less "standardized" photos from the Kodak EasyShare Z740, we've put together a "photo gallery" of more pictorial shots captured with the Kodak Z740.

 

Test Results

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 Z740 sample pictures page.

For a look at some more pictorial photos from this camera, check out our Kodak EasyShare Z740 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 Z740 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. Technically, oversaturated, but likely to be appealing to most consumers. The Kodak Z740's color is very bright when dealing with colors that are already strong, but it 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 Z740 also does very well 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 worthy goal for any camera.)

  • Exposure: Very good exposure accuracy, but high contrast, both indoors and out. As you'd hope from a camera intended as a "point & shoot" model, the Kodak Z740 required very little intervention to produce nicely exposed shots, making it a good choice for a novice photographer. My one complaint is that its high contrast (which produces the bright, snappy photos most consumers seem to love) also causes it to lose detail in strong highlights. The Z740 also has a very powerful flash, good for group shots at night, but it can tend to overexpose close subjects a little.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: High resolution, 1,250 lines of "strong detail." The Kodak EasyShare Z740 performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for its 5.0-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 1,250 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,500 lines.

  • Image Noise: Moderately high image noise in most cases, even at the lower sensitivity settings. Some image noise was present even at the Kodak Z740's lower ISO settings, although it isn't very visible in prints. Noise stayed fairly well under control up to ISO 200, but at ISO 400 it became quite prominent. ISO 400 shots looked a little rough when printed at 8x10" (although probably OK for viewing at a distance, as on a wall, etc), but should be entirely acceptable to most users when printed at sizes of 5x7" or smaller.

  • Closeups: A small macro area with great detail, somewhat soft corners. Flash had trouble and was blocked by the lens. The Kodak Z740 did well in the macro arena, capturing a minimum area of only 2.07 x 1.54 inches (53 x 39 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 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 slightly high at ISO 400, white balance was slightly pinkish, but overall performance was very good. Very bright AF-assist light lets the camera focus on nearby subjects in total darkness. The Z740 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test at the 400 ISO setting. At ISO 200, images were bright to 1/4 foot-candle, and at ISOs 80 and 100, images were bright to about 1/2 foot-candle. Noise was a little high, particularly at the lowest light levels and highest sensitivity settings, but was still better than many competitors. A very bright autofocus-assist light let the camera focus in total darkness, out to a distance of 8 feet or so. Since city street-lighting at night generally corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, the Z740 should do quite well for after-dark photography in typical outdoor settings.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: Very accurate EVF and LCD viewfinders. The Z740 electronic optical viewfinder (EVF) and LCD monitor were both close to 100 percent frame accuracy.

  • Optical Distortion: Low barrel distortion at wide angle, very low pincushion distortion at telephoto. Low chromatic aberration at wide angle, moderate to high at telephoto. Good sharpness in the corners. Geometric distortion on the Kodak EasyShare Z740 was moderate to low, as I measured approximately 0.3 percent barrel distortion at the wide angle end, and only 0.08 percent pincushion at the telephoto end. (Both figures are a good bit lower than average.) Chromatic aberration was low at wide angle, but increased to a higher level at telephoto. While there was a little softness in the corners of the Z740's images, there was generally less than I'm accustomed to seeing from the digital cameras I test.

  • Shutter Lag and Cycle Times: Average to better than average shutter response, cycle times are rather slow though, and buffer memory clears slowly. The Kodak Z740 starts up and shuts down with average speed, and its shutter response ranges from excellent at the wide angle end of its zoom range to merely average at the telephoto end. Its biggest limitation is its shot to shot cycle time in single-shot mode, its roughly 3 seconds between shots falling in the slow range among current digital cameras. (And it can only grab two shots even that quickly, before slowing to about 7.5 seconds/shot for any beyond that, at least until the memory card can catch up.) Continuous-mode shooting speed is pretty good at two frames/second for up to four shots, but it takes the camera a long time (~24 seconds) to get ready for the next burst of shots.

  • Battery Life: OK battery life, but a spare pair of NiMH AA cells wouldn't hurt. With a worst-case run time of about 108 minutes on a fully-charged battery pack, the Kodak Z740's battery life is average to a bit below average relative to competing camera models. This is somewhat balanced by the convenience of the battery dock which makes it likely that the Z740's batteries will always be fully charged. The Kodak battery pack that comes with the dock/camera bundle (the only way the camera is currently being sold, as this is written in April, 2005) has a rated capacity of 2100 mAh, and measured capacity of ~2030 mAh. This compares to roughly 2300 mAh true capacity for the best cells currently on the market (which are rated at 2500 mAh), so buying a set of high-quality 2500 mAh cells could boost the Z740's run time to a bit over 2 hours. - I highly recommend purchasing a pair of high-capacity NiMH AA cells to use as backups. (The Kodak Printer Dock should charge these cells just fine.)

  • Print Quality: Surprisingly good-looking prints as large as 13x19 inches. High-ISO shots were a bit rough at 8x10, but quite acceptable at 5x7 inches and below. Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that the appearance of images on-screen sometimes correlates poorly with how they look when printed out. 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.) I normally rate 5-megapixel cameras as being capable of producing good-looking prints as large as 11x17 inches, but prints from the Kodak Z740 made on the i9900 studio printer looked quite presentable even at 13x19. Shots captured at ISO 400 were another matter though, as they looked fairly rough, even at 8x10 inches.

 

Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Very vibrant, appealing color
  • Natural skin tones
  • Auto white balance handles a wide range of lighting well
  • Better than average exposure accuracy
  • Good close-focusing for macro shots
  • Good lens, generally low distortion (some chromatic aberration at telephoto settings though)
  • Very simple user interface, but advanced exposure options also available
  • Accurate LCD and EVF viewfinders
  • Very good low light capability
  • Case design fits both large and small hands well
  • Not terribly fast from shot to shot
  • Rather slow to clear the buffer memory, and very slow shot to shot after buffer fills
  • High ISO image noise a bit higher than average
  • Contrast is a little high
  • Battery life is only averageSome sophisticated users may find the highly saturated color unnatural

 

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Kodak's EasyShare digital cameras have consistently proven to be among the easiest to use of any I've tested, and the Z740 is no exception. Its fully automatic exposure control performs surprisingly well in a wide variety of conditions, and the range of manual exposure controls extend the camera's capabilities nicely for more advanced users. A wide range of preset scene modes helps with special shooting conditions as well. The 5.0-megapixel CCD captures high resolution images, with plenty of detail to make sharp 11x14 inch prints (even 13x19s look pretty good), and the 10x optical zoom comes in very handy for capturing distant subjects. The Kodak Z740's color should appeal to most consumers too, as it's very bright and vibrant (a good bit more so than the original subjects), yet it doesn't oversaturate delicate skin tones. The Z740 would be a great choice for novices who want to learn a little as they go, while more experienced users will appreciate the more advanced features it has to offer. Kodak's bundling of the EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3 (at least, as of the Z740's introduction) makes the Z740 bundle an excellent deal for someone wanting a complete photography solution. The prints are what you'd expect from Kodak: excellent color, sharp detail, and quality you're proud to share. It's a fine combination, and an excellent choice as a versatile family camera. A Dave's Pick for its ease of use and beautiful color.

 

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