Most helpful customer reviews
734 of 747 people found the following review helpful.
By Michael J. Mcmorrow
I have had my Z981 for two weeks and I have given it a thorough testing. My son is a professional photographer and he told me that I would be disappointed with this camera. I told him that I would give it a real-world test and, if I was disappointed, I would send it back.
First the cons: 1) The On/Off toggle switch is awkwardly placed. It is almost impossible to turn the camera on (or off) without moving (changing) the Mode dial. 2) The battery compartment is easy to open but very difficult to close and lock (I use my car key to slide it). Also, make sure the camera works once you have locked it. For some reason, this seems to be a problem. 3) A hotshoe and tilting view screen would have been nice but I knew from the specs that I would get neither. 4) The zoom on the back of the camera (rather than on the top) is awkward but I will get use to it. 5) I would have gladly paid an extra $50 to have the camera built out of heavy duty plastic.
Now the pros: 1) The photo quality is first rate. 2) The zoom is smooth but, keep in mind that in high power, you really need to steady the camera (I use a monopod). 3) The video automatically includes sound (not so with all cameras). 4) The video is very high quality (1280x720) and the optical zoom works in video mode. When playing this video, it fills my entire computer monitor - not just a little window in the middle of the monitor. 5) It uses SD cards. This doesn't sound like much but these are much cheaper than the proprietary cards that some cameras use. 6) It uses AA batteries. Since I travel a lot in the Amazon, built-in (or proprietary) rechargeable batteries are not an option for me. 7) I love having a separate button for all of the different functions. Most cameras have a Function button that you push and then get totally lost in the maze of options, sub-options and sub-sub-options. 8) The price is great. I have never paid less that $600 for a digital camera.
Bottom line: Great pictures, great high resolution video, 14mp and 26x zoom. It has some quirks but is a great camera at a great price.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
Excellent for the price; great telephoto
By William R. Drake
I bought this camera specifically to take hiking in Utah in areas with ancient Native American (Ancestral Puebloan/Anasazi) cliff dwellings, some of which can only be seen at a distance. Its telephoto lens is what most attracted me to it.
One reviewer, an accomplished photographer, determined that it was hard to get quality prints with this camera. Simplifying his recommendations a little, when he used the "P" [Program] setting and "raw" picture quality (resulting in unprocessed image data, which he would process later), and an ISO of 64 (preferably) or 100, he got his best photos. His assessment of the "fine" picture quality setting was that it was not that fine, hence he went for "raw." He also used "exposure compensation" to adjust brightness. Because of his review, when I was in Utah, I often took photos with the "Auto" setting (which defaults to the "standard" picture quality - although apparently I had it set to "fine" most of the time without realizing it) as well as the "P" setting so I could compare them later. Because I don't trust myself with processing image data, when I used "P", I selected "Fine" for the picture quality rather than "raw." At first, I tried to select 64 or 100 ISO, but I did not always have enough light to do that, and/or I needed a tripod (which I didn't have) to allow for a slower shutter speed without blurring, so I ended up letting the camera chose the ISO, which was not as low as the reviewer recommended. I did not fool with the exposure compensation. I used 14 megapixels for the best quality prints (menu button>capture>picture size>14MP).
Most of the time (not always), pictures taken in Auto had a little richer (better) color than those taken in "P." Sometimes (infrequently) Auto would distort the color, making tan sandstone more pinkish. When I printed my pictures at home (Canon iP3600 printer, Canon software program - from Amazon), and I made 8" x 10" prints of both Auto and "P" pictures, to the naked eye, both types of prints were comparable and very good quality. Even using a magnifier, I could not notice a difference in them. I could not say one type of prints was better than the other. In the end, I was very pleased with the picture quality of all of my pictures, and I don't think the average person would have any problem with them as 8" x 10"s. Perhaps if larger prints were made, I had used all of the photographer/reviewer's recommendations, or I had a discerning eye of a professional photographer, a difference in quality would be apparent??? (You would want a low ISO, and to uses a tripod, for quality large prints.)
When taking distance shots, with trees, etc., in the foreground, the auto focus was a problem. It tended to focus on the closer object(s) rather than the distant subject that I wanted to be in focus. (I did not get into using manual focus, but doing so might have solved this problem.)
Because of concerns raised by reviewers about camera movement when the telephoto is extended, I took one reviewer's advice and got a monopod, and a "ball head" for shifting the camera's angle easily. A problem I found was that the ball head was apparently made for tripods with different size threads and would not screw onto the monopod. I tried a second "ball head" as well as a different monopod and had the same result. (On Amazon, for a few dollars you can buy a 1/4" to 3/8" converter which might have solved my problem.) Finally I bought a Canon monopod that came with a ball head attached (Canon Monopod 500 through Amazon), which worked well. In the "field," however, while the monopod kept the camera steadier than were I just standing and holding the camera, with higher magnification, there was still camera movement, especially with a little wind. What I really needed was a tripod (with a ball head). I found that if I was able to sit down, with my feet on the ground and knees up, and my elbows on my knees, I could hold the camera pretty steady - not as steady as would be the case with a tripod, but steadier than with the monopod. Whenever possible, this is what I did for distance shots, and it was sufficient. It was rare that any of my many distance shots were a little blurred (including ones taken with the monopod).
I used rechargeable batteries, both the Kodak ones that came with the camera and another brand that also made a 15 min. charger, which I purchased. The 15 min. charger seemed to work better, in terms of how long the battery lasted between charges, than the charger that came with the camera. A set of batteries lasted one day (taking a lot of pictures - 150+) to three days. I like that I can use regular AA batteries (or rechargeable batteries) so I don't have to worry about a not being able to use the camera once a special (non standard) rechargeable battery goes dead.
This camera is amazing in low light situations when not using the flash. I like that it is easy to turn the flash on or off. I also like that the camera takes SD or SDHC memory cards and does not just rely on internal memory. (I tend to use a 4GB SDHC card, which works well. I have read that it can take a little longer for the camera to function with cards with a high GB capacity but I do not know how true that is or what GB is ideal for camera functioning. It will take up to a 32 GB card.) I appreciate that one can easily switch from the electronic view finder to LCD screen and that the LCD screen is pretty large (3"). (I usually used the viewfinder when taking pictures.) I was relieved that all or almost all of what I saw in the viewfinder/LCD screen seemed to appear on the printed photo, in other words little or nothing was lost on the edges. It is also easy to review pictures and to delete ones you don't want.
Since the camera is a little slower in functioning than some other cameras, it might not be the best for action photos. (One professional review described it as having a 3.6 sec. shot-to-shot time.)
For far away and close up shots, the lens is remarkable. Sometimes stopping the telephoto where you want it would be challenging (it moves through its range pretty quickly) but this was not a significant problem.
Opening and closing the little door for the batteries can be a little hard, but I don't consider that a big deal. Using the silver button shutter release when taking vertical shots was a little difficult, and its use made it harder to keep the camera steady. When you are about to turn the camera on, remove the lens cover first, otherwise it will have to warn you the lens cover is on and it takes longer to turn the camera on.
Overall, this is a very good camera that is lightweight for its size and relatively inexpensive. If you want a camera with an amazing telephoto, and very adequate picture quality for the non-professional, this one is a very good choice.
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful. See all 359 customer reviews...
Fascinating Beautiful Pictures!
I am not a photography person...but after buying this camera, I might become one!
My photography-taking ability has always been limited to taking pictures of my cats or myself for facebook. I am not an authority on cameras at all.
However, I am a beginner and if you look at the pictures I uploaded here you will see just what a complete novice can do with this camera!
The specs sounded very good to me and camera-people I know seemed impressed so I was willing to spend (for me) a hefty amount for this beauty. I tested it out at night (as soon as I got it) and was genuinely amazed at the quality of the pictures.
So lets start with the negatives:
- Kodak does not seem to be very interested in teaching their customers how to actually use their products! The little book that comes with it basically identifies all the little buttons but in no way tells you how to use them, how to combine them or what picture quality will come from said combinations or uses. It focuses mostly on the Sharing ability (which for me is useless...I will not blindly upload my entire inventory of photos onto facebook. I prefer to view, study and select them myself thank you)
- The extended guide online is mostly more of the same. I was hoping for a "if you do this you will get this picture" etc. Unfortunately the guide merely describes some technical specs about each feature but unless you know what those specs mean - its not very helpful. There is even an interactive guide...that repeats the same info but does not tell you what to do with that information.
- The link given in the book also takes you to Kodak's general search forum and you then have to search for your camera's stuff which is not very clear.
- When you plug the camera into your computer it obsessively wants you to sign up for the share option. It doesn't give you the option to opt out. You have to manually close it out each time which annoys me. I like that you are so excited about your addons...but I should be able to choose it myself.
The Camera itself:
- The negative things so far seem to be the sophistication of the camera itself. It is easy to get lost in the features. I stumbled upon the pictures I took while flipping through options until I got it right. It is very learn-as-you-go.
- I wish it would be more clear how fast the shutter speed/flash is with different options. Sometimes the shutter speed is wicked fast and sometimes it takes a moment while the camera focuses. It just depends on what function you take the picture in.
- When it comes out of the box it has a stupid little noise for every action. You can turn them all off.
- If you are not used to this level of detail you may get a rude awakening the first time you do a self-pic. Oy. I had no idea. Remember...this camera picks up EVERY DETAIL...the fuzziness of older/cheaper cameras may have been a blessing in disguise for some of us. Just sayin.
Negative things other reviewers have said:
- "Its too hard to close the battery case." Its a tad tough...not difficult. I honestly don't know what all the kvetching is about. It closes tight - which is a positive.
- "The picture review takes too long in between pictures." The camera has several fast-picture options if you are trying to capture several things at once - otherwise the time lag isn't noticeable. If you touch any button on the camera it immediately returns to the picture-taking mode so if you push the shutter down slightly it will set up instantly for the next picture.
- "Its too noisy when it focuses." I didn't notice that at all.
- "The on-off button is too close to the select button." This is just silly. I have big hands and you just have to be paying attention. If you do happen to move the circle - just put it back.
- Amazingly clear and sharp pictures. When it focuses the pictures come out with details I never noticed on the item itself. I blows my mind everytime I get a good a picture just how fantastic it is. It almost cheapens all the picture art I see because now I can reproduce all of it!
- While it takes some figuring out, once you get the button pattern down it is amazing how quickly you can go from taking a sky shot to capturing the tip of a small flower.
- The flash at night makes it look like mid-day. Everything shows up with no color distortion.
- The design allows you to securely feel the camera while aiming at things. It doesn't feel like its about to slip from your hands.
- The shutter speed is so helpful. While reading reviews I kept scanning for this detail. Every other camera I have ever had took like 30 seconds to take a picture and my cats would always move by the time I got it to take. This camera really snaps quickly. Even when it lags due to focusing in some of the modes it is still very fast. Also if you click the shutter several times it will queue it up and take them immediately after.
- It really feels like there are a million things to do with this camera and I love exploring the options. It really is not limited at all.
- Turn it to macro (the little flower button) while in the M mode (on the wheel) and pour some water on a small plant and get in close...its breathtaking.
I am a big fan of detailed pictures of small things. I love shadows and angles and I always hated that my other cameras limited this. I really feel like this camera opens up doors to what I can now do.
The price is unbeatable. Period.