Kodak EasyShare Z915Compact with a boost, this should be the main definition for the new Kodak EasyShare Z915. Not many cameras under $200 can deliver you as much as the Z915 does. This small sized camera includes lots of settings, which you can set manually or go with full-automatic shooting.

Weighing just 9.6 ounces (while carrying two AA batteries and media), this 10 megapixels camera features a 10x zoom lens shooting 3,648 x 2,736 pixels photos. Even with these impressive specs it will still fit inside a large pants pocket, and it does handle faster than most competitors through a rather simple user interface.

Regarding build quality, the camera is mostly made of metal and molded plastic. On the downside, the hand grip is one of the plastic parts, so it reminds you it costs under $200. Also, those somewhat rough edges may not please those looking for design over performance.

Digging deeper, you’ll find the 10x zoom lens with image stabilizing (both optical and digital). Although not fast or wide, will get you close enough to your target. You’ll find all the regular buttons with ease, as they’re arranged in a simple manner and neatly identified. Specific to the camera, is the “Share” button that lets you tag specific photos in two different ways (or both simultaneously): tag as favorite and tag to upload to web site, although the second obviously needs a computer to connect to.
About the shooting itself, it lets you manage just about every setting manually, or let it choose them automatically for you. If you’re trying to move away from full on automatic photos, this will be music to your ears. You won’t be able to set white balance though, but you do get to set every other aspect of the desired photo.

One of the main characteristics that set this model apart from its competitors is the speed of its operation. Most low cost models like this one tend to slug around, so the Z915 is refreshingly fast. Strangely enough, AF is quite slow, especially under specific low lighting conditions.

Video is also not one its strong points. Even though many of Kodak’s cameras already shoot HD movies, the Z915 won’t keep up. What you get, nonetheless, is good VGA quality movies, with the bonus that the zoom lens keeps working while rec’ing.

Back to Z915 main purpose, photos, the results are very good for this class of cameras. Keep in mind though that shooting in auto will result in shooting above ISO200, so the photos may look kind of soft or show evidence of processing. You can go with lower ISO manually, but results will tend to show some noise. Obviously these soft or noisy photos would not be acceptable for professional use, but that’s not the Z915 intention. Your photos will look great, and you should only notice loss of real quality with small prints of shots at ISO1600.

Colors are not reproduced accurately, but they are quite strong and alive. This is naturally done with the average consumer of these cameras in mind, for whose photo shoots usually end up on the digital photo frames, web sites, and printed on regular 5×7. Occasional prints at 8×10 will be ok, but for regular use of 8×10 or bigger, you should look elsewhere.

To wrap things up, the Kodak EasyShare Z915 is a very good all rounder. You have no trouble identifying what got cut or limited in the specs to keep the camera cheap, so you can easily take them into consideration and see if any is too low spec for your needs: you get an average lens, plastic parts, no HD capture, AA batteries powered, and a small LCD. If all those are acceptable to you, you’ll get a reasonably cheap camera that’s fast performing, shoots in good quality and lets you set most parameters manually for that extra “professional photographer” urges.

Video review: Kodak EasyShare Z915

Photos: Kodak EasyShare Z915
Kodak EasyShare Z915 back and front

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