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Old Apr 15, 2009, 7:02 PM   #1
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Our Sony DSC-P200 disappeared some months ago, and it hasn't shown up since, so I decided this is a good time to buy a new camera. After spending some evenings reading reviews here at Steve's, I thought the Kodak Z980 would be the best cam for us, providing the best blend of still pics and movies. I know it is always a risk to buy a brand new model, and I have no experience with Kodak yet, but the Z1012 IS got a good review, so I bit the bullet and ordered the Z980.

It arrived today, but when I opened the box and inspected the camera, to my horror I noticed two little white specks of whatever it is, sitting just beneath the surface of the lens, about 3/4 towards the edge of the lens, plus some more additional pinsized similar white dots. There is no way to clean them away, they are really underneath the top lens. I took some photos to see if they are visible, and I could not find any consistent spots of bluriness in my pictures, not even at full wide-angle, where I suppose they will be most visible.

Anyway, I didn't like it at all, so I called Kodak's helpdesk, where a lady said I could return it to the shop. Which in my case means shipping it from Belgium to France, but I guess I will do it anyway, I just hate the idea of receiving an expensive new device with a visible defect.

I only took a few pictures, and made a few movies, and I'm not a pro, but there were some things I quickly liked about the Z980, and some things I didn't.

I liked the wide angle (26mm is WIDE), the zoom (24x is a LOT), and the big, high-resolution display. I didn't like the viewfinder display however, it has a blue halo and the image looks blue too.

Preflash never worked to avoid red eyes with my kids, and on the Z980 it didn't either, but the mode to remove red eyes inside the camera however worked surprisingly well (see attachment, lossless crop of eyes at 12mp). Once in one photo it forgot to fix one eye, though.

The lens stabilizing works too, I took some pictures (handheld) at full zoom of some DVD's in a cupboard at the other end of the living room, and they came out nicely sharp.

I wasn't so impressed with the 12 megapixel photos themselves, though. They have a kind of pointilism effect when you view them at 100%. The pics from the 7mp Sony at 100% looked much nicer to me. Maybe it's just me, I don't know.

I hoped to make good movies, even better than my previous Sony. But I am a bit disappointed. The sound could be better. Zooming while filming is way too fast and focus is lost while zooming. The HD quality plays back jumpy on my pc. First I thought it's because it's .MOV and it's a Quicktime problem, but then I remembered I downloaded two HD MOV samples from other cameras from Steve's, and they both played fine... I am not sure what to think. On the camera itself, they show fine however. The smaller formats (640 and 320) do run fine on my computer.

Panoramas are not meant for the living room, and certainly not without tripod: there are visible artefacts in the stitching. It's not the same as stitching images with proper software on a pc. But I'm sure that for landscapes it's great. It overlaps part of the previous image on the next in the viewfinder, so it's well implemented really.

I've read posts from other people about pitch black photos, and I also managed to make one. Don't know how that happened, it was not in automatic mode, but I'm pretty sure my settings were not supposed to produce a black image... The only way I could imagine this to happen is with the lens cap on, but I didn't even take it out the box.

Anyway, in short, the Z980 is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I don't have the "wow!" feeling, and I'm even wondering if I should really ask for a new one (hopefully without white stuff beneath the lens), or perhaps rather just request a refund...
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Old Apr 16, 2009, 1:54 PM   #2
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rdhoore-

I am sorry to hear of your disappointment with the new Kodak Z-980. I have also been considering that camera. Thanks for your mini-review.

I am still shooting with the Kodak Z-1012 and getting excellent photos. I cannot comment on the video clips as I never shoot them.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 16, 2009, 2:51 PM   #3
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Hi Sarah,

Disappointment is perhaps not the right word, it's more like thinking I might not have chosen the best camera for me, and having only 7 days to maybe return it...

I'm not even a semi-professional photographer, I'm just a dad who wants to take nice pictures of his family, but occasionally some movies as well, and I don't want to buy a separate camcorder. So my emphasis is a lot towards movies.

Your needs are different than mine, don't take my opinion too seriously :-)

Did my observation of pointilism make any sense to you? You have a lot of experience with high-res photos, is it a characteristic that all such cameras have, or is it just me who made bad photos? Below is another sample, cropped (lossless) from an image taken at full zoom, which shows the effect even more clearly.

Best regards,
Ronny D'Hoore
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Old Apr 16, 2009, 3:02 PM   #4
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I cropped it from this photo (resized to 640x480): my oldest son Nirmal who was standing in the distance and was a nice opportunity to try the zoom lens. When one looks at the 12 MP photos resized to screen size, they look totally normal. But when one looks at them at 100% on the screen, one notices this funny pointilism effect...
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Old Apr 17, 2009, 9:28 AM   #5
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I see that both these shots were taken in 'portrait' mode, according to the EXIF data. If that's true, we don't know how much smart image post-processing has been done by the camera, and whether a straightforward capture would be any different.

To assess whether these are better or worse than we'd expect from a Z1012 (or Z712 for that matter), it would help if you posted 'lossless clips' at various focal lengths, (a selection from 35, 50, 100, 200, 400mm (35mm equiv), say), plus resized full frames, using aperture priority mode and ISO64, and on a tripod (or other firm support, using the autotimer to fire the shutter).

I know that'd be a big nuisance. I've been doing it myself with my Z1012 and Z712 alongside each other, pointing at a blossom-laden tree with a brick wall but haven't got round to posting the results yet. Both cameras produced good images, but the Z1012 always gave more exposure for the same settings and otherwise identical shots.

An alternative would be to take the camera for a walk on a nice day, using lots of its features, and show us what you get.

Good luck! I'll be away myself until your 7-day deadline expires, but I'm sure others will help.


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Old Apr 17, 2009, 4:36 PM   #6
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Ronny, I NEVER judge my photos viewing 100% crops because the long-zoom ones look similair to what you show. BUT, viewed at sensible sizes, they look similair to the 800 X 600 shot you show and I find it perfectly acceptable.

When Alan comes back I have no doubt that he will be most helpful with his extensive knowledge of these things. I don't worry or even think about the technicalities of digital photography for if a picture LOOKS good, then it IS good!

Nice handsome boy you have, Ronny. I had girls.......don't know which gender can be the most troublesome!

Regards, Alma.
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Old Apr 18, 2009, 5:01 AM   #7
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Hi Alan & Alma,

Thanks very much for your feedback. However, yesterday I made up my mind, and in the afternoon, I've sent back the Kodak Z980 to Pixmania and asked for a refund.

I decided to buy a Panasonic DMC-FZ28 instead as soon as I get my money back, as I only read good things about it, and its features are pretty similar. It's quite a bit cheaper as well.

But guess what, I just found back my little Sony DSC-P200!!! :G I found it in a suitcase, while looking for something else... It's been missing since last July, when I went for a trip to Sweden. We're pretty well organized, aren't we... I just knew that as soon as I'll buy a new camera, I'll find back my old one... Murphy's law never fails on me.

Alma, we have two boys, and my wife Milena and me wished very much to have a girl as well, but for the practical reason you're mentioning, we gave up on the idea

PS. The praying boy and dog on the left are not mine, it's just a picture that I found and thought was very amusing.
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Old Apr 19, 2009, 1:20 PM   #8
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The surprises seem to keep coming. I saw a new Panasonic DMC-FZ28 on Kapaza, made a bid and got it for only €240. This afternoon I went to pick it up. It's grey and I prefer black, but apart from that I'm very happy with it.

It recognizes faces properly and quickly, and takes good pictures. I recorded a short HD movie and the quality is just great. The MOV file plays back very smoothly on my computer (which was not the case with the Kodak Z980). The sound of the Kodak Z980 was better however, its stereo microphones picked up more sound. The sound from the Panasonic FZ28 is more muffled. Anyway, the video part is more important to me than the audio part.

The FZ28 is very well built. Instead of rubber flaps protecting the inputs, there are actual "hatches" which flip open. And the lens cap grips very well.

Anyway, I'm very satisfied with it. (If I want to say anything more about it, I guess it will need to be in the Panasonic part of the forum...)
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Old Apr 19, 2009, 10:55 PM   #9
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Oh well ............ time to move on.
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Old Apr 20, 2009, 10:02 AM   #10
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Ronnie-

The Panasonic FZ-28 is an excellent camera (I have one) as well. So, I guess you have solved your problem. Everything I have read about the Kodak Z-980 remains positive, so I am still interested in that camera as well.

Sarah Joyce
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