Kodak continue with the Z series. A feature rich line-up that won't put a strain on your bank balance.
Kodak Z1285 IS: Specification
- Optical zoom: 5x
- Resolution: 12.1Mp
- Sensor type: CCD
- Focal length: 35-175mm
- Aperture: f/2.8-5.1
- Movie mode: 1280×720 30fps
- Screen size: 2.5in
- Card format: SDHC/SD
- Battery model: KAA2HR
- Weight: 161g
- Size: 89.5x64.5x31.6mm
- Resolution: 4088×3040
- Sensor size: 1/1.72in
- Minimum focus distance: 20cm
- Screen resolution: 115,000 dots
- File formats: JPEG
- Connectivity: USB 2.0, A/V output
- Flash type: In-built
- ISO min: 100
- ISO max: 3200
- PictBridge: Yes
A couple of cameras in the same price bracket share the resolution of the Z1285. The Fuji Finepix F50fd at £27 more, and the Olympus FE-300 at £47 more. Both only have a 3x optical zoom while the Fuji also sports a slightly larger 2.7in LCD screen.
Kodak Z1285 IS: Modes and features
The camera is relatively thin for a 5x zoom, though not the thinnest I've seen. The Schneider lens pokes out of the front slightly and a small silver bar down the front signifies the elegant hand grip.
Styling has a high priority on this model and the gun metal grey and glossy black strip on the top plate give it a futuristic feel.
While looking at the top plate, that's where you'll find the drive, flash and power buttons on a slightly raised platform and the shutter release which has the mode dial wrapped around it in a chrome and shiny black finish.
The mode dial has the options of Favourites, Movie mode, Scenes, Auto, Program/Manual, Hi ISO and Image stabilisation. It seems Kodak feel that the usual Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Macro modes are to be relegated to the Scene menu only.
The back of the camera lacks the styling of the front and top, bringing the camera down slightly. It has an air of cheapness compared to the slick front with basic square buttons that look worse than they are.
When I was a child, I used to love toy cars. It always annoyed me that the lights would be painted over, so if I had a red car, the lights would be red as well. The navigation pad on the Kodak has the same problem with the lettering. It's an embossed OK sign which is the same colour as the rest of the pad. It looks like they couldn't be bothered to paint it a different colour, but looking at the other side of the coin, painting it white would rub off eventually anyway.
The other buttons are small and close together, so people with large hands may have trouble and find themselves pressing more than one button at the same time.
The zoom is a simple rocker system with the same embossed lettering as the confirmation button mentioned above.
The Kodak is a descendant of the Z885 I reviewed back in September and a number of the same features can be found on the Z1285. The ISO8000 feature seems to have been removed, which is by no means a bad thing.
Kodak EasyShare Z1285: Build and handling
The casing is primarily plastic with only a metal bar running around the top and sides. The camera does feel solid, though.
Kodak have outsourced their lenses on the higher specification cameras and the Z1285 comes with a Schneider Kreuznach Variogon. It's a well-built lens which isn't wobbly when manipulated.
The battery cover that holds in the two AA size batteries is strong, but has a degree of play.
P/M mode gives more control to the user. A number of icons appear along the bottom of the screen and these can be scrolled through or changed using the navigation pad.
The M button is for choosing Manual or Program mode. Pressing up or down will scroll through these two options. Manual will open up access to the shutter speed and aperture, closing off the exposure compensation, while Program does the reverse.
Pressing left again will bring you to the ISO override and then the focus options of AF, macro, Landscape and Manual focus. MF works by moving a virtual slider on the screen up and down to get the correct focus point. The focusing must be done on screen, so it's a hit & miss operation if you can't see it easily, but I found zooming in on the subject helped to focus properly before zooming out and recomposing.
Kodak EasyShare Z1285: Flash options
The new breed of Kodak compacts appear to be joining many others and removing double functions from the navigation pad. The flash access button is located on the top plate next to the drive functions and power button. Options in Auto mode are auto, on, off and red-eye reduction. In P/M mode, the auto flash option disappears.
The distance performance of the flash is 0.6-5.9m at wide-angle and 0.6-3.2m at telephoto.
Kodak EasyShare Z1285: Performance
With a minimum distance of 20cm, I find it hard to understand why the camera has a macro feature at all. They may as well set the camera up with a standard 20cm focus and have done with it.
The portrait has given the same cast result as the M863, but the portrait mode shows a lighter result in shadow areas, similar to what Nikon's D-Lighting would achieve.
The colour chart shows the blue over saturated with good tone results and the skin colour looking balanced.
The Z1285 has the low colour and normal colour settings. Low being the setting that desaturates the colours slightly. My daffodil, a vibrant, colourful flower, looks muted and withdrawn in comparison. Detail has dropped in the petals, too.
The lock image shows minimal fringing on the roof of the building with good colours of the grass, but the sky has been lost to the dreary day.
Panoramic shots used to be done by taking a load of photographs, sticking them together and framing them. Then the Advanced Photo System came along and took a panoramic shot in one go. This was a cropped version of a normal photograph, so just an optical illusion. Cameras like the Kodak EasyShare Z1285 have a built in panoramic stitcher.
The stitching program will allow you to take three images and then the camera will merge them into one. The second and third images will have a portion of the previous image shown on screen to assist you with aligning the next image.
It's a good, fun program but the part of the previous image shown is a small strip so could be bigger. I would also have liked to see it as an opaque strip so I can see the new image underneath to help me align, but it's a good performer when stitching.
The continuous shooting test was a disappointing round for Kodak. The Z1285 managed just three shots in ten seconds. It would have done more if it wasn't for the resolution delaying the download. It took until the 12 second mark to finish downloading the three images.
Good colours and skin tone. Some primaries are a little over saturated.
The macro mode is 20cm. Not good for a camera of this specification.
Despite previous comments about flash location, the image is nicely balanced.
The image is under exposed in Portrait mode. The blue background is actually white.
Panoramic images are created using an inbuilt stitching program.
Kodak EasyShare Z1285: Noise test
A decent result on the moise front from the Z1285. Green and Purple blotches start to appear on the black part of the test card from ISO200, but can only be seen at full size.
ISO400 has a definite softness of the image as noise control starts to work on the camera, while ISO800 has the image sharpened again.
ISO1600 shows deterioration of detail on the flower petals, noise and artefacts scatter the image and the whole image has a more faded look to it.
The ISO64 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
Kodak EasyShare Z1285: Verdict
Thankfully, Kodak have got rid of that horrible ISO8000 setting that plagued the Z885 and have kept with a more modest ISO1600 maximum, although the performance of that is bad enough.
I'm surprised that the camera comes with features such as manual mode and manual focus. The camera seems to be aimed at those who take photography relatively seriously, yet the camera can't get very close to focus and the continuous shooting performance was dire.
The price will attract the sort of consumer that Kodak seem to be aiming their cameras at. Those who are big with online communities, enjoy sharing and wouldn't be out of place in a Gap advert.
Kodak EasyShare Z1285: Plus points
Good colour rendition
Kodak EasyShare Z1285: Minus points
Bad noise results
Poor drive mode performance
The Kodak EasyShare Z1285 costs around £121 and is available in the ePHOTOzine shop here.