Pitching the Kodak EasyShare Z950 at the budget end of the market, Kodak claims this camera will enable you to "shoot like a pro, without knowing what an f-stop is". And for the money, the Z950 is a steal.

The Kodak EasyShare Z950 is sturdily built, packs a 12Mp sensor and shoehorns a 10x optical zoom into a body that will still fit into your pocket. The focal range, meanwhile, is equivalent to 35-350mm and is image-stabilised to avoid blur when taking pictures at the telephoto end and in low light.

The controls are chunky, clearly labelled and logically positioned. However, we found the Kodak EasyShare Z950's joystick used to tab through and select shooting and playback options fiddly, while the icon for the delete button resembles a hot-water bottle, confusingly.

We were pleased to find a generous 3in LCD to aid composition. This comes into its own when shooting handheld, while the Kodak EasyShare Z950's front and back rubber padding ensure a firm grip.

Photos can be shot in Jpeg format only, but there's a useful Smart Capture option that recognises familiar subjects and adjusts the camera settings accordingly. Manual tweaks can be made via the Kodak EasyShare Z950's program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes. We were impressed by the breadth of such user-definable settings for a model costing so little.

Whether you manually set up your shots or use the Smart auto mode, the results from the Kodak EasyShare Z950 are pleasing. It delivers bright and colourful results across the manually selectable ISO 100 to 1,600 range. For the most part the camera delivers colourful but not quite pin-sharp imagery at ISO 800 and below. It's also possible to boost the ISO setting to 3,200 at 3.1Mp.

It's not just about stills, however: the Kodak EasyShare Z950 shares a growing number of digital SLRs' ability to shoot HD (1280x720) video at 30fps. The zoom can be adjusted once recording has begun, but we found the focus can wander when tracking moving objects.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Kodak EasyShare Z950: Specs

  • 12.2 Megapixel colour 1/2.3in CCD
  • ISO 100, ISO 800, ISO 400, ISO 200, ISO 1600, ISO 3200 (3Mpix)
  • QuickTime, JPEG, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
  • Integrated Memory: 32MB
  • Built-in flash
  • F/3.5-4.8
  • 10x optical zoom, 5x digital zoom
  • Self Timer
  • LCD, TFT active matrix, 3in, 230,000 pixels
  • built-in microphone
  • USB, SD Memory Card
  • wrist strap, USB cable
  • power adaptor
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 1 year warranty
  • 110x36x67mm
  • 233g
  • 12.2 Megapixel colour 1/2.3in CCD
  • ISO 100, ISO 800, ISO 400, ISO 200, ISO 1600, ISO 3200 (3Mpix)
  • QuickTime, JPEG, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
  • Integrated Memory: 32MB
  • Built-in flash
  • F/3.5-4.8
  • 10x optical zoom, 5x digital zoom
  • Self Timer
  • LCD, TFT active matrix, 3in, 230,000 pixels
  • built-in microphone
  • USB, SD Memory Card
  • wrist strap, USB cable
  • power adaptor
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 1 year warranty
  • 110x36x67mm
  • 233g

OUR VERDICT

The Kodak EasyShare Z950 offers great value for money. It enjoys rock-solid build in pocket-sized dimensions, and there are more manual features than usual at this price. It's easy to use, with a broader-than-average zoom range. That said, performance in low light can’t match the best cameras in this category, the Kodak EasyShare Z950 is slow to operate, and we found the option-select joystick somewhat fiddly.

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