Hopefully you've noticed some improvement in my photography over the last couple of months. I've been wanting a "nice" camera for a while now. Well, probably since about puberty, to be honest. I borrowed my stepfather's SLR to take photography classes in high school and college but somehow never got around to buying my own. Possibly because I always managed to overexpose my negatives. Or because I am inherently stingy. Now that digital has taken some of the worry and extra expense out of the photography process (film, chemicals and paper were crazy expensive!), I've been toying with the idea of a DSLR. Something with a wide angle lens and a bit more control. I know my digital point and shoot (a Sony Cybershot) is trusty but it doesn't take the ooh and ahh-worthy shots that some of my favorite blogs tend to feature. If Roo and Jasper weren't so naturally resplendent, my snapshots of them would probably be seriously ho-hum. Of course, there are a million zillion options in the digital SLR world and I am one of the least decisive people in the world. Luckily, Kodak sent me their Kodak Easyshare Z980 Digital Camera to try out.
The Z980 has a wealth of awesome features but let's cut to the chase: it has a crazy 24X optical zoom lens that is positively badass. Check it out:
While I am sure there are plenty of great reasons to have such a lens, I like to use it to catch my kids when they think they are safely out of range of the prying camera. If you can sneak up on them, you have less of a chance of getting forced smiles or intentional smirks. Sometimes you can catch them singing to themselves, lost in their own world.
The Kodak Z980 produces exceptionally good color and even though it has a ton of automatic functions, there are also manual controls to play around with– and you can also get some very artistic effects when using either mode. I am particularly enamored with the action mode that manages to capture my kids, both of whom are in a constant state of motion.
The Z980 is a pretty intuitive camera to use, perhaps less daunting to the casual photographer than a heavy duty SLR. It looks and feels more like a "real" camera but is as easy to use as a point and shoot. If it was less bulky (or if I still carried a diaper bag everywhere), I would have it on me at all times. The one thing I'm not a fan of is the batteries. It uses four rechargeable AA batteries, which is ostensibly great but for some reason the included charger takes forever and the batteries lose their charge quickly if they are not fully charged. Also, the Z980 can be used vertically or horizontally, which I love, but in order to make that feature more ergonomic, you have to screw on a bottom plate that adds extra bulk (not weight) to the camera. It's not such a big deal, aside from the fact that you must detach it to access the battery compartment, which feels clumsy. Overall, I am very pleased with the photo quality from the Z980. At around $399 (what my point and shoot retailed for a few years ago), I think it's a very well-priced option for consumers who want to start taking photography more seriously.
Disclosure: I received a Kodak Easyshare Z980 Digital Camera for my own use but was not required to write about it.