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Old Dec 26, 2008, 1:30 PM   #1
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Premise (if you haven't read my previous posts) I received this camera as a christmas present but was a little perplexed about it, after reading this review by Trusted Reviews which IMO is a bit too harsh in judging the camera build quality: mine doesn't creaks at all, the buttons do not feel flimsy - though the on/off switch is a bit weird (I quickly got used to it anyway).

Personally I was more concerned about the picture quality, so today I took a hundred or so worth of pics to make my own judgement. The pics were more or less evenly split among: outdoor, indoor, fish tank, low light.

I cannot say I like it... IMO this camera has a bit of personality crisis. While offering several manual modes, I guess it really is a cheap Point'n'Shoot with a tele thrown in for good.

On with positive, it offers PASM, many preset scene modes and operating modes, 12x tele, reasonably light and pocketable, straightforward, uncluttered interface even in M, macro mode is crisp (but you can't go too near the subject). Flash is also decent IMO.

Now for the negatives: first, it seems to be quite moody about exposure and white balance. The pics are often overexposed and sometimes underexposed, in a quite unpredictable way: even two shots taken in close succession can end up with very different exposures (that is, using Multi Zone)

As for the WB, on a tripod, indoor, with no changes in lighting, WB on Auto, I ended up with pictures which had different colors by changing the ISO (something that I've never seen even on my venerable Canon PnS)

Getting to see how corrections will affect the picture (e.g. in M) is quite tricky, as the camera only shows for a brief moment how the pic will look like, no matter me keeping the shutter button half depressed - it just goes back to the plain, uncorrected display.

However, the single biggest problem is the overaggressive compression: even at 8 Mpix some pics gets squeezed into as little as 600 kB - this seems to be happening especially when exposure or focus are only a slight bit off (the AF does not look too smart or accurate when in normal mode), leading to massive loss of details in finely textured areas, not to mention shaded areas of the picture.

Unfortunately there's no option to set the compression level manually, and the LCD display, although of respectable size, doesn't give much of a clue.

As for the lens, the barrel effect at wide angle seems a bit high, it turned my fish tank into a bow front. As for speed, for me it's bearable in most things, but AF lags (especially when changing zoom level), it can only save about 4 pics in continuous mode (after that performance falls vertically), and it is simply too slow while reviewing images from the card (110+ 8 mpix pics on a Sandisk SDHC 8 GB card).

This test was very quick, I don't think I've actively used the camera for more than 5 or 6 hours between today and yesterday. It may be possible that I was not good or patient enough to learn and work around the quirks of the camera, but I expect that a camera in auto or P mode should work reliably without too much tinkering.
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Old Dec 26, 2008, 5:00 PM   #2
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I always though the Z8612 was just the Z812is without the electronic vewfinder, but it doesn't sound like it from your description. Once the software was sorted out, the Z812 was generally deemed pretty good by folk round here, until superseded by the Z1012is (which I have). Maybe they stripped more out than just the viewfinder. Has anyone got both an 812 and an 8612?
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Old Dec 26, 2008, 6:39 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, the Z8612 was stripped of many features to make it a bargain camera. However, the 8612 is very capable in good outdoor lighting.

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Old Dec 27, 2008, 8:48 PM   #4
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Yesterday by pure chance I found another professional review which somehow escaped my other attempts. Despite a sarcastic comment regarding the white balance, IMO it's much better than the one in the OP:


Also browsing their boards, there are several comments about the LCD becoming completely useless in sunlight.

No need to say, I was quite glad to be able and get rid of the camera :-?
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