The point and shoot camera market is dominated by the likes of Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, and many other commercial brands. Kodak is a brand, mainly known for their imaging materials like photographic papers rather than cameras. They have not yet made a significant impact in the camera market, although the American company has a fair share of cameras in their stable. In India, the company is known for offering good value products in the under Rs. 10,000 range.
The handgrip has a rubberized feel to it
Kodak have recently launched the Easyshare Max Z990, which is an ultra-zoom camera and also boasts of having features such as a 30x optical zoom, and a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor. Read on to know about this camera that could arouse the interest of wildlife or nature photographers.
The main feature of the Kodak Easyshare Max Z990 is its superoom lens with Schneider Kreuznach 30x optical zoom and a focal length of 28–840 mm. Kodak has added a 12 mega pixel BSI (Backside Illuminated) CMOS sensor on this camera, as opposed to a CCD sensor that is normally found on these sort of cameras. The BSI CMOS sensor is more light sensitive compared to standard CMOS sensors and hence allows more light to reach the photo diodes on the sensor reducing the amount of image noise. The aspect ratio of this 12MP camera is 4:3 with an effective image resolution of 4000 x 3000.
The deployable flash is sturdy
This camera allows three step photo sharing to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, etc. It can also upload videos shot on it to YouTube. Hence the name ‘Easyshare Max.’ This feature can be used by simply tethering the camera to a PC and installing the Kodak Easyshare software found on the camera, itself. The interface of this camera is simple to maneuver around. The fact that all the options are available on the screen is a tad bit frustrating. The options are spaced out well with all of them lining up on the upper and lower part of the screen. All the settings on the screen can be viewed through the Electronic View Finder, making it an option to conserve the battery. The camera has a time-out mode where the LCD screen switches off when not in use for a certain amount of time. This further helps in the saving the battery life.
The minimalistic approach on the rear
The Kodak Z990 has 128 MB of internal memory and is expandable by using an SD or SDHC card. Connectivity options on this camera are a mini USB port, along with a mini HDMI port. The HDMI helps in transmitting the data to a compatible television. The camera can record video at full HD with a resolution of 1080p at 30fps. 720p video recording is also possible and it too shoots at a frame rate of 30fps. The flash of the camera pops up when the flash mode is activated. There is no designated button for deploying the flash. Overall, the features of this camera are pretty good and the zoom is by far the best attribute of it.
Design and Build Quality
The Kodak Easyshare Max Z990 features the fixed 30x lens in the front. The camera is with the ‘Bridge’ camera look, making it appear similar to a DSLR camera. The camera is all Black with subtle hints of Red. The handgrip is made of plastic, but has a rubberized feel to it.
HDMI and USB connectors at the side
Like the interface, the design too is minimal. To the left of the 3-inch screen, the buttons are lined up vertically. These buttons include the options for display, flash, settings and trash. On the rear left of the camera is a designated video recording button, a scroll wheel and a four way navigational pad. The ‘share’ button on the rear is red, which empasises it as one of the main features of this camera. The playback button, along with some of the other buttons on the rear are made of plastic with a silver finish. Next to the viewfinder, above the screen is a button for switching between the EVF and the display. The lens of the camera has a rubberized grip making it easy to grip while looking through the viewfinder.
The pop-up flash is located above the lens and like the rest of the body, it has a black textured design. On the top of the camera, there is a dial for scrolling between the different modes of the camera. Alongside it are the buttons for setting a timer, macro-shooting and burst mode. The wide angle and telephoto rocker is located beside the shutter release button. The dial along with the shutter release button is finished in silver. The rest of the buttons are black. The on/off button is a slider button, which is unlike most cameras seen nowadays.
Mode dial and other options found on the top
The HDMI and USB ports are covered by a rubber flap that blends well with the side of the camera. The camera is powered by using four AA batteries that along with a memory card are housed on the underside of the camera. The flap of the battery bay is made of hard plastic, which is sturdy and features a locking mechanism. The overall build of this camera is strong and could handle a few knocks, here and there.
Being a super zoom camera, this camera was tested outdoors using the maximum zoom option available on it. Apart from testing the camera using its ultra zoom abilities, images were shot in a controlled environment using appropriate lighting to testthem at different ISO sensitivities, aperture priorities and flash settings.
The incredible zoom capabilities
The Outdoor Test
Pictures were shot outdoors to determine the image quality, as well as to test the 30x optical zoom of the camera. The image shot well with a fair amount of detail being noticed and all colours looked natural. The zoom of this camera worked like a charm with the image captured being detailed.
ISO sensitivity test
The lowest ISO sensitivity available on this camera is ISO 125. The image shot at the lowest ISO ensures that every detail can be made out clearly. Minimum amount of noise was noticed at ISO 400. From ISO 800 onwards, the colours start seeming more saturated and the noise levels rose drastically. The latter part can be seen in the image shot at ISO 1600. As expected in ISO 3200 and ISO 6400, there was a fair amount of image noise. However, the image was still viewable. For every image shot, the aperture priority was set to f/8.
Aperture priority test
In the aperture priority test, ISO levels for all images, was set at ISO 125. At aperture set to f/2.8, all the colours looked natural; this was not the case when the aperture set at f/8. The colours seemed paler and the depth of field noticed was very minimal.
Flash provided a lot of detail
When we used the flash, the image looked very enhanced. A lot of the finer details which were not seen when the flash was off got highlighted. However, the colours changed quite a bit when the flash was used
Indoor pictures shot well
The quality of images shot indoors was good. There was minimum amount of grain noticed. Video was recorded at 1080p and the playback was good. There were no focusing issues and there was no delay that was noticed while shifting from a dark to a bright area. The battery life of the camera is a cause of worry. We used new AA batteries with this camera, however after approximately 40 shots the battery indicator started blinking indicating that it was almost over.
The stylishy designed Z990
The Kodak Easyshare Max Z990 sells at a market operating price Rs. 17,000. This is a really good camera and does well in the build department. The camera also offers very good shots, and the zoom is really good. Kodak has really stepped up their game in a segment of super zooms, which is expanding. This is a camera that does offer value for money and it would make for a worthwhile purchase. However, if one has some budget constraints then the Fujifilm FinePix S3300 is a good choice over this, though it has a 26x zoom and 720p video recording capabilities. As with the FinePix S3300, the Kodak Z990 will be a great camera for wildlife and nature photography.