The Kodak Z740
This is one of two digicams with 8x or larger zooms that I singled out of the available choices, to do some hands on testing with, in order to make a recommendation to a friend. The first one that I wrote a mini review of is the Minolta Z5. The Kodak Z740 has a 10x zoom and came out the winner for a few reasons. The primary plus for this camera was the image quality. After taking a series of snapshots, and using both cameras indoors and out, I had more images from the Kodak that were keepers than the Minolta. The Kodak consistently produced better flash coverage on indoor shots and also was preset to match the shutter speed closer to the zoom length than the Minolta. I have noticed a tendency for designers to opt for too slow a shutter speed on flash exposures in an attempt to give better flash range. This often leads to blurry pictures even though well lit. The Kodak design team has wisely chosen to keep shutter speed up with extended zoom.
The color and contrast on the Kodak were very good with lower noise than the Z5. If the goal is to produce the nicest looking pictures, without tweaking the camera or photos, the Kodak Z740 was the clear leader.
The LCD display on the Kodak, while not as large as the Minolta, was brighter and nice to look at. The Kodak Z740 is easy to operate with friendly menus and logical buttons and options. One of the particularly good features was the ability to make adjustments to ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture by pressing the joystick type control in the center of the Mode dial. ISO can be changed in the automatic Mode while Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO can be changed via the joystick when in the appropriate manual modes. Both of these cameras had all of the manual options one could want.
Another nice feature of this camera is that, while most at this price point do not feature an automatically opening flash, this camera opens the flash every time you turn the camera one thereby assuring that the flash is ready for that quick snapshot. Many times one will want to grab a camera like this and take that shot of a quickly fleeting moment. Cameras that you have to remember to pull the flash up or push another button can often lead to loosing that great moment because the flash was not ready.
What I don't like
Of the things that I do not like about the Kodak, the worst is no adjustable diopter. This creates a problem when using the eyepiece for those whose eyes do not match up with the focal length of the viewfinder. Since you are viewing a miniature LCD screen, when looking through the viewfinder, your eye has to be able to focus on the LCD. This is accomplished by placing a lens in the eyepiece so that you can focus. Many cameras with this design feature an adjustable lens for variations in people's vision. Some designers (not so wisely) have opted for a fixed lens that works for most people but not all. So if you plan to use the viewfinder much, find a store with a display and look into the eyepiece to make sure your eyes can adjust and focus the image.
The zoom button for me was also in a little bit of an awkward position. I also found the flash recharge time a little bit slow, not terrible but could be better, probably due the fact that the camera operates on two AA batteries.
This is a nice little camera with a useful 10x telephoto zoom. The pictures look nice and the camera is easy to use and get good results with. There was little or no perceived delay when pressing the shutter button. Of the cameras of this type that I looked into under $450 the Kodak Z740 was one that I could find use for and be happy using.
my conclusion is…RECOMENDED