Excellent Camera for Any Family

Mar 19, 2011 (Updated Mar 20, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent performance, easy to use, good price

Cons:Sometimes too bulky to carry around versus smaller cameras, occasionally freezes up.

The Bottom Line: Great camera for families at a great price

We bought this camera at least a year ago.  We didn't need another camera, as we had another Kodak EasyShare (C713) that were happy with.  But we were in Wal-Mart one day and they had stacks of this camera on a pallet in an aisle outside the electronics department -- at a price that made me think it must be a typo.

It wasn't.

The Kodak we already owned did a decent job of taking stills and short video, and got most of its exercise at my youngest son's Little League ball games.  But the zoom was wimpy and the display screen was not as nice as some of the other cameras we saw.  Still, I hadn't considered getting a new one until I saw the price of this ZD710.  On the other hand, I've always wanted a full-size digital camera that felt more like a 35mm.

We bought it on the spot.

Whereas the design of the C713 was more like what one would expect a digital camera to look like, the ZD710 looked and felt more like a 35mm camera -- which to this old dog is exactly what a camera should look and feel like.  I never was comfortable with the little camera.

Just goes to show that emotional prejudices can lead you astray.  To my complete surprise, the ZD710 turns out to be too big for many situations, and we wind up using the smaller C713 on most outings, trips and so forth.  Basically, anything that involves toting the camera around for hours, we use the smaller C713.

The ZD710 does take a superior photograph.  It also has a separate port for the SD card, whereas the C713 makes you open the battery compartment to remove the memory card, which I strongly dislike.

The ZD710 has plenty of gizmos for the family photographer.  It has a range of special settings:

Panorama, which is a very nice feature for vacations and other scenic photography.  It takes three separate pictures and then knits them together digitally into one extra-wide photo.  Handy!

Image Stabilization for when a steady hand is an issue.  You might be riding on a train or in a car, or you might have had too much caffeine.  If you're taking photos when an earthquake strikes, even this feature won't help stabilize the image, but most lesser shaking is filtered out by the little digital wizards who live inside the camera.

High ISO for taking photos in low-light conditions.  This balances the light and contrast differently and does a remarkably good job of bringing to life indoor photos, even in a garage.  Of course, photos taken at night in an unlit room will still look like photos taken at night in an unlit room with a nice flash to make everyone look like ghosts.  But in ordinary low-light conditions, it works exceptionally well.

Smart Scene tells the camera to use its judgment on which settings to choose.  It does a good job of turning out excellent photos under a surprising array of conditions.

Scene Selector which allows the user to specialize the camera's digital wizardry for particular types of photos -- portraits, distant scenery, sports and action, snow, beach, text, fireworks, museum, etc.  There are 16 possible settings under this option.

PASM for setting Fstop and other settings manually.  That's more muscle than a family photographer will ever need, but it's nice to know your camera can handle the heavy lifting if you choose.

Lastly, there's video mode.  With an SD card, video mode produces enough video to bore everyone with your bouncy, jittery shots of this year's family reunion.  Or kill everyone with laughter when you catch the dog doing something inappropriate.

This camera also comes with a macro mode for taking closeup photos and videos, which is handy for scenery and wildlife.  You can get in close enough to count the hairs on a spider's butt or see the veins in a leaf.  There's also the timer for self-portraits and family group pictures in which you want to be included.

For those who just can't get used to the display screen (like me), there's an override to let you use the traditional viewfinder.  That's a nice touch.  Battery life even with flash at a family reunion (in other words, taking tons of pictures) is surprisingly good as long as you're using lithium batteries.  Alkaline is so-so.

The 7.1 megapixel defintion and 10X optical zoom make this camera a versatile and exceptionally good camera for the money.  It's not as good as, say, a Sony with similar features, but then the Sony is about a $400 camera whereas this one was on sale at Wal-Mart for less than $150.

Picture quality is exceptional.  Most photos can be uploaded to your social networking site with no touch-ups or image enhancements whatsoever.  While almost any camera can handle portrait shots competently, and this one is as good as the rest, the ZD710 is particularly good at scenic photography.  I enjoy nature hikes, typically driving my wife out of her mind as I have to pause every few feet to snap photos of this mushroom or that wildflower.  Using the macro mode, I can get up close and personal with these natural wonders, producing photos that generally show impressive clarity and faithful color reproduction.  Some of them look almost artsy-fartsy, they're so nice.  

Generally speaking, when a photo doesn't come out well with this camera, it's most likely user error.  Either I jerked my hand when depressing the button, or had the settings selector on the wrong setting, or asked the camera to do something it was incapable of doing.  Just the other day I large plane was flying overhead on a gorgeous cerulean-blue cloudless day.  I was taking photos of birds at our bird feeders on the back deck, and I thought how neat it would be to take a picture of that plane.  The autofocus balked at the ridiculous demand, although it try gamely to bring that plane into focus for me.  It was simply beyond its capacity.  Every photographer must know his camera's limits, I suppose.  On the other hand, I do not know of any camera in this price range that could have snapped that picture.

The EasyShare feature is nice, and some people might find it easier, but for me it's a waste of time when you've got an SD card.  If you don't want to spend the extra $10 on an SD card, than EasyShare is your next best bet.

The one real complaint I have is that once in a great while when switching to video mode, the camera seizes up.  You have to open the battery compartment to reset the camera, after which it works fine.  No idea why it does that, but it's never been more than an incovenience.

Recommend this product?

Read all comments (3)

Share this product review with your friends   
Share This!