I’ve been putting off this review trying to get more into the camera to make sure there isn’t something major that I’m missing. That and I do most writing the night of a deadline; since I didn’t have a deadline on this, it’s a tad hard to finish. This is part one of the review, I’ll be adding a part every day or two. Ending with roughly 4-5 parts. My apologies to those who have read my initial review and all of my comment replies as I’ll most certainly repeat something. Again thank you for your patience, I hope it was worth the wait.
First a quick summary of my experience and reasons for purchasing this camera. My photography experience is semi-pro. I primarily use film; haven’t spent the money on a digital camera that’ll match the quality of my favorite 35mm SLR. Though, it’s important to note for the purpose of this review, that I have used many of the digital cameras on the market, countless different units from the cheap point and shoot up to cameras that are worth more money than I care to think about. I spent most of high school in a darkroom as yearbook editor (what time I didn’t spend in the network room). At the time I used about 60% black and white 40% color. Being yearbook editor, I got the chance to teach photography to three different classes of students, which was amazingly fun. These days I shoot mainly nature / landscape photography, enjoy low light work on any subject and can’t resist the occasional portrait.
It’ll be a while before anything replaces my 35mm SLR, especially for low light. What I was looking for was an all around good digital camera that takes good photos at a high enough resolution to be useful and preferably has 480 video. This camera is mainly for everyday carrying and for hiking, biking, backpacking, etc. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money; If I had the money to spend I would have plopped it down on a DSLR and still needed a camera to carry around. Several early front runners were ultrazooms but many received so-so image reviews and didn’t have enough features. I would lean toward canon as I’m a canon guy. My SLR is a canon and my digital camera that the Z1275 replaces was a canon. I’m not opposed to other brands; much like I prefer ford over chevy; coke over pepsi, I like canon over Nikon. (though if you want to buy me a D80 for Christmas, go ahead, I do like them). So I tried on a few canons for size but never found anything that had a good all around review to it.
Quite by accident, the Z1275 caught my eye on the Kodak website. At the time no one else was carrying it. I liked the overall specs for the price and searched high and low for a review. I didn’t find anything on the net that wasn’t stock text from Kodak. I took a risk and bought it. I wouldn’t have time to change my mind before my Glacier trip.
Form factor and user interface
It was smaller than I expected but after a few minutes I got used to it. The layout is very straightforward and refreshing. The location and function of the buttons are intuitive. I was fairly impressed by how easy the camera is to operate and how simple it is to change settings. I’ve had a couple of comments and emails asking about the buttons. To me, they are better than the average compact camera, and great considering the features that are packed into this package.
I shoot over half of my images in full manual no matter the camera, always have. Within a minute of having the unit out of the box I wanted to see what the controls were like in full manual. I was really impressed with how simple it was to set everything in manual, from iso to manual focus. It’s very, very simple. Much better than some I’ve used on which iso or some other setting was two pages deep in the menu.
A quick breeze through the menu and other modes and I had a pretty good understanding of the functionality.
There were a couple of things I knew I wouldn’t like about the camera when I got it. Number one being it has a max shot of eight seconds. What the heck were they thinking? Sorry, I love low light work. Eight seconds at 64 ISO just doesn’t work for what I want. Another drawback is the lack of viewfinder. This is more of a vain desire on my part. I can live without it, but for some reason photography seems more of an art looking through a viewfinder than at a computer screen. Though some of the large format guys with antique camera are used to the screen.
Within the first few shots I was a little disappointed in the LCD quality. The camera has battery save mode and bright light mode. Though I can’t tell much of a difference on the latest firmware. Didn’t test it on stock firmware. I don’t have trouble seeing the LCD in bright light, just the quality isn’t there. The 1.04 firmware addresses LCD quality and while I’m not sure what exactly it did to the LCD, it i’s considerably better.
One of my favorite features is the rule of thirds overlay. If you aren’t familiar with the rule of thirds, its outside the scope of this review, but you should read up on it. I spent countless hours trying to get my photographers in high school yearbook to consider the rule of thirds when composing an image. I often wished I could draw the grid lines in their viewfinder. Well, the Z1275 has an option to display the rule of thirds grid on the LCD.
It’s the simple things that amaze me; another feature that I love about the Z1275 is option for auto image rotation. I know other cameras have it, but none the less, I love it. The camera senses the orientation of the camera (normal, right vertical, left vertical) and automatically rotates it before it saves it. No longer spending time rotating the images when you transfer the images to your computer.
To sum up, I really like the package. Over all I’d give the unit a 8 of 10 on form factor and a 9 for user interface.
That just about does it for part one. I’ll post the video review next for part two. Sample videos will be available as soon as I post it (probably Saturday). I’ll have the sample images and part three up around Monday. With the last part (if you’re still reading) around Tuesday.
I’ve posted some more images to my flickr account (click any image on right bar to get there). I hope to upload the rest of the glacier images sometime next week, I’ve finally finished looking through all of them.
Thanks for the read, if you have a question, leave a comment, I do respond.