The Kodak Z915 is an unusual camera - whilst it heralds the features of a compact it's clearly modeled on a DSLR design. The What Digital Camera Kodak EasyShare Z915 looks at whether this works favourably...
Kodak EasyShare Z915 review
Launched in January this year, the 10-megapixel, 10x zoom Z915 is an unusual camera, with the specification of a compact zoom travel camera, but clearly modelled on an SLR. The body is made of plastic but the overall build quality is very good. It’s quite a large and heavy camera compared to other zoom compacts, but it does feel a lot more solid and well made than its price tag would suggest.
The Kodak Z915 has a 2.5in, 230K-dot LCD, which is decently sharp, plus it has adjustable brightness and a good anti-glare surface. The angle of view is good from side to side and from above, but unfortunately poor from below, such as when holding the camera overhead to shoot over a crowd.
As well as the Auto and Program modes the Z915 features manual exposure options. The range of shutter speeds and aperture settings is very limited but it does provide some creative potential. General shooting options are controlled via a very simple interface, while other functions have clearly labelled buttons. The menu is also clear and concise, offering spot metering, wide or centre-spot AF, face detection and even adjustable sharpness, but only has the most rudimentary colour options and lacks features such as saturation or contrast control.
In the video mode the Kodak Z915 can shoot at VGA resolution at 30 frames per second with mono audio. Film clips can be up to 4GB, and the optical zoom can be used while recording. The zoom motor is virtually silent and cannot be heard on the recorded soundtrack.
There is no control over image compression though, which is unfortunate because this is the Z915’s major weakness. Most other 10-megapixel digital cameras generate image files averaging around 4.0 to 4.5 megabytes in size. The Z915 produces files averaging around 2.0MB, with some as small as 1.0MB, and as a result picture quality suffers from unnecessary over-compression.
The Z915’s overall performance is very good for such a low-cost camera. It starts up in approximately 3.5 seconds which isn’t too quick, but in single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time, including focusing, of a consistent 1.2 seconds, which very quick indeed. It also has a three-shot 1fps burst mode. The autofocus system is quite slow however – even in good light it takes nearly a second to focus, and it is slower still in low light. The Z915 does have a very bright white AF lamp, but low light focusing is unreliable at any range over about a metre.
The lens quality is excellent, with a minimum of barrel distortion and good edge to edge sharpness. Dynamic range is also surprisingly good, although it is prone to image noise in the shadow areas. Image noise is well controlled, with good image quality at ISO 800 and grainy but usable images even at ISO 1600. However, despite all these qualities the resulting images still look over-processed and over compressed.
The Kodak EasyShare Z915 offers a lot more than its price would suggest, with good design and easy handling, outstanding performance and a useful range of manual exposure options, but it is let down by over-compressed image files and mediocre low-light performance.