My Kodak EasyShare Max z990

Multi-Page Article
Page 1 – Initial Impression , HDR, Photo Booth, Panorama, Low Light
Page 2 – Film effects , focus , scenes, borders, color tints
Page 3 – Video, SD cards, Batteries, other specs

Video

The z990 is one of the few cameras to come with full HD, 1080p video. (1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels tall – the same as Blu-ray) The quality is far from professional, but it is still impressive for something coming out of a “still” camera.

Below are two videos taken with my z990. By default YouTube embeds videos with a smaller 360p resolution. You can change this after the video starts to play, but I warn you that a 1080p video can be slow over the internet.

The first is of a young lady who has recently decided that she would love to be a YouTube star! She will be performing “I’m A Little Teapot”. The second video is of some birds, high up in some tree branches down the street from my home. They will demonstrate video quality when zoomed in all the way. (Sorry about the shakiness – I didn’t think I had time to grab a tripod.)

 

Even better? With the record button being separate from the shutter release, you can actually take still shots WHILE recording your movie! These still shots will be video quality. (lower resolution, slightly grainy, but still a way to capture the memories, and should look decent if printed as a 5×7 or smaller.)

Choosing the right SD Card

Note: The SDHC card slot for the Kodak EasyShare Max z990 is located in the battery compartment. I am not a fan of this design since it means having to remove your camera from the tripod before retrieving your pics and because I tend to clumsily spill the batteries. … I much preferred how the z650 positioned the SD card slot on the side of the camera.

Initially, I was very tempted to buy a top-of-the-line Class 10 SDHC card to go with my new camera. But I started to wonder … How fast can this camera really go? Would it be a waste of money to buy a higher class than they recommend? So, I chatted with Kodak support and a few other people in the camera industry. Here is what I found:

The Kodak EasyShare Max Z990 has been tested and designed to work with class 6 SDHC cards. Not only would a higher class be a waste of money, it could also negatively impact my new camera’s performance. Too powerful of a card can cause the camera to lock up / freeze.

There are several class 6 SDHC cards to choose from. Here are 3 recommendations:

The Kodak SDHC Card: If you want the card that this camera was actually designed to work with, you can get an 8GB card from Kodak for about $55.96 plus shipping and handling. An 8GB card will allow you to take over a thousand pictures and several short videos before having to unload. … I decided to try one of these out. It seemed to fit a little awkwardly in other devices (perhaps Kodak’s sizing is a little off?) But it went perfectly into my Z990!

If you want the convenience of having your pictures instantly transferred to your computer and backed up on a server, consider the Eye-Fi Pro. It generally sells in the $120 – $160 range. There are also other versions of the Eye-Fi, but I feel that they lack too many features. (Example: less than Pro versions of Eye-fi cannot transfer RAW files and cannot connect directly to your computer via Adhoc network) – If you are going to go wireless, go for the pro!

And if you want to save your money, Transcend brand 8GB class 6 SDHC cards sell on Amazon for about $12. (plus shipping)

Batteries, batteries, batteries

The Z990 goes through AA batteries 4 at a time. It comes with 4 pre-charged rechargeable NiHM batteries and a charger. I have taken 120 pictures (including 2 videos) so far without having to stop for a recharge.

The battery compartment has a small lock to help prevent accidental opening. It is not a quick and easy job to change the batteries with this locking compartment. But once you get it closed, it is secure.

Over the next few weeks, I will be comparing the performance of Kodak brand rechargeable Ni-HM batteries to my existing energizer brand batteries. (Note: I have already compared Energizer vs Rayovac in a previous camera. Energizer wins.)

Rechargeable batteries are a great money saver, but I would also suggest getting a few Energizer brand Ultimate Lithium batteries for backup. These can only be used once, but they do come in handy when your other batteries have been drained or go bad and you don’t have time to recharge.

Note: Regular Alkaline batteries do not work well in high-end digital cameras. They should not hurt it, but if you ever try a regular alkaline – may find yourself having to get new batteries after 5 shots..

Optional Remote

Kodak’s specs page for the Max z990 currently says that remote controls are available, sold separately. This is a typo. But I do hope they start offering remotes for their digital cameras soon!

Other Specs

Picture sizes:  This camera takes 12MP, 6MP, and 3MP 4:3 ratio images. You can also do 11MP 3:2 and 9MP 16:9. – Not as many picture size options as I am use to, but still a nice selection.

Video: up to 1080p @ 30fps. – 1080p is the same resolution you would get from a bluray. If you prefer a smaller file, you can also do 720p (1280×720) or 640×480 videos.

Shooting modes: Along with the standard Smart Capture mode (the auto setting), this camera comes with scene modes optimized for taking pictures of sport, portrait, self-portrait, night portrait, children, backlight, high ISO, bright, sunset, candlelight, flower, landscape, night landscape, stage, fireworks, and panorama scenes.

Be sure to check the Kodak website at http://store.kodak.com/store/ekconsus/en_US/pd/productID.221644300 for the Kodak EasyShare Max z990’s complete specs.

Multi-Page Article
Page 1 – Initial Impression , HDR, Photo Booth, Panorama, Low Light
Page 2 – Film effects , focus , scenes, borders, color tints
Page 3 – Video, SD cards, Batteries, other specs

Last Update: April 11, 2011

51 long days after ordering, my Kodak EasyShare Max has finally arrived! … With its $329.95 price tag, I thought long and hard before ordering this camera. For that price I could have gotten a low-end or used DSLR, or chosen a camera that has already been out for a while and received good reviews. But in the end, excitement over the advances in HDR, panoramic, pictures taken in low light, the 1080p video resolution, and 30x zoom won me over! … So, was it worth it?

Note: We are having some crazy weather today. It is not making for very good picture taking! (I mainly like to take pics of nature scenes, such as lakes, butterflies, birds, etc… Most of them seem to have been hiding from the wind.) … … … I will try to update with some better pictures by April 18. In the meantime, I will share what I have.

Initial Impressions

Open With Caution!
Kodak shipped my camera in a smallish box with one of those nice air pillows to protect it from the sometimes too rough UPS guys. The packing that took place inside the box, however, was not as nice.

I carefully cut the tape, removed the user guide, and tried to slide out the inner cardboard insert that contained the camera and accessories. At first, the cardboard did not want to come out. Then it came out super easy, giving me a scare when half the contents of my box dumped on the floor! Luckily they were just the batteries, charger, lenscap, etc… At first I thought I had already broken my new camera before it even left the box!

The camera was better secured. But I still suggest you be careful when opening the box so that you do not break your charger.

Heavy camera
I knew that the Z990 would be heavier than my previous cameras. What I did not realize was how much of a difference that extra half a pound would make. Once I inserted the batteries and SD card and attached the neck strap, my camera weighed a total of 1.40 pounds. (1 pound 6.4 ounces) … With my arthritis that is a little worrisome. But I am glad to report that the neck strap is nice and wide for extra comfort while I carry it. (my last neck strap was so thin that it felt like it was cutting into me after a few minutes)

The weight advertised in the specs is 1.3 pounds. I am not sure why I got an extra tenth of a pound when I weighed it myself. – Perhaps because I added the lense cap and neck strap?

Sturdy
This In addition to being heavy, this camera has a “well built” feeling to it. Particularly, I am glad to see that the lense cap attaches well. The one on my previous camera fell off so easy – It has a few scratches even though I was always so careful.

The bad thing about the lense cover being securely fastened is that I have to undo my bad habit of letting the camera’s lense push it off.

Red Light!
Once again, Kodak has created a camera with an uncomfortably bright light that comes on during focus. Happily, this one does not make me squint 🙂 But it is enough to make me see spots for a while after the photo session has ended. (if I was lined up just right for it to shine brightly into my eyes)

Pushing my buttons
One of the first things I noticed while setting the time and date on this camera is how easily the buttons push! They are a bit awkwardly sized and positioned – especially the right, left, up, and down arrows. I may be a bit fumble fingered for a while. But I think this layout will grow on me.

I will say that with all the features it has packed, it does appear that there will be a bit more scrolling and clicking around the menus than I am use to to find the “perfect” settings.

Complaints
So far I have a few complaints about this camera.

It is slow to capture pictures. (trying to find that “perfect” focus)

I tried several times to take a super-macro HDR picture. I got the following message: Image capture failed, hold camera steady for best results. … Hopefully this message only happens durring HDR capture. But I wish it would save the individual images so I could try to HDR-ize them in photoshop.

Manual focus is slow. … Then again, it was too fast on my previous camera. I would like to see the ability to quickly go to the rough area where you want to manual focus then slowly step into the range you want.

There were a few small smudges on the lense when I opened my new camera. I will have to see how much these affect picture quality and how well they can be cleaned.

Color quality not that great – This camera came nowhere near capturing the beautiful vibrance of the roses at our local botanical garden.

Whiny automatic panorama mode – It took several “decent” panoramic pictures. But then it started complaining about sweeping the wrong direction. I did no such thing! … It worked again after a 20 minute rest.

Picture count restarts when you empty SD card! Kodak’s response:
“Regarding your concern, when a file is deleted on the camera, it fills up the missing file name.”
— I prefer that each picture be given a unique name. Not only does this lower the chances of me accidentally overwriting a pic I wanted to save to the same folder – It also helps me count how many pics I get out of a camera before it wears out.

(Beautiful?) HDR Images

True HDR Images are created by taking multiple shots of the same scene, with different exposures. Some shots will better capture the bright areas, while other shots collect more detail from the shadows. The HDR process then combines the best of both pictures, creating a beautiful balance of light, detail, and color.

This camera has an HDR setting which captures 2 different images – 1 overexposed, 1 underexposed. It automatically combines these into one HDR image. I was hoping that the camera would save 3 images per HDR capture (the 2 originals plus the final product) , but it turns out that it only saves the final one.

INSERT TABLE OF HDR IMAGES HERE

Panoramic and Photobooth Style Pictures

Panoramic pictures are extra wide or extra tall. They are often created by taking a series of side by side shots and “stitching” them together. I am not a fan of having to take 1 picture and line the camera up for stitching before shooting my next image. Nor do I want to have to open up Photoshop for every Panoramic inspiration that enters my head.

This camera’s advances in taking panoramic pictures really have me excited! Finally, a camera that will let me just hold down the shutter button and move my camera from side to side while it creates my image.

PLACE PANORAMIC IMAGE HERE

Personally, I don’t see much point in the photobooth option for my own picture taking. But it is a feature that I can imagine my daughter and her friends having a blast with.

BSI CMOS = better pictures in low light

While I go out and look for more photo-opportunities, enjoy this picture of my parakeets. Yes, the image quality is on the low side. But keep in mind that the picture was taken indoors, with the birds sitting under a sheet (to give them a dark area in their cage.) I think it turned out pretty well all things considered! .. Click on the image to see it full-size. After adding my watermark I saved the JPG with 100% quality, which is supposed to be “lossless” in the areas that I did not edit.

Film Effects

The film effects that come with this camera have really captured my curiosity. One of the first things on my to-do list is to try out the different film effects and post the results to this table:

KODAKCOLOR
“Nostalgic color”

KODACHROME
“Vibrant saturated color”

EKTACHROME
“Bright natural color”

T-MAX
“Lusturous tone and fine grain”

TRI-X
“Dramatic contrast and grain”

SEPIA
“Vintage reddish brown tint”

Focus and Scenes

By far, one of the things that has bugged me most about cameras featuring auto-focus is their tendency to auto-focus on the wrong things. I can tell you that I have some excellent pictures of the bars in front of the animals from my daughter’s first trip to the zoo, and an awesome shot of the sand about 5 ft in front of where my daughter was building a sand castle in 2006.

How far away should I be from my subject?

One thing you should know about the focus modes is which mode you should use for different distances from your subject. Check out the table below. – The “wide” column represents how far away to stand when you are zoomed out. “tele” represents how far back you should be when using the zoom. AF stands for auto focus. Of course, you may find that your actual needs vary depending on how much zoom you are using:

Mode

Wide
(zoom out)

Tele
(zoom in)

Sample Picture

Smart Capture mode /

Normal AF

3.9 ft –
infinity

5.9 ft –
infinity

Macro AF (flower)

3.9 in –
2.6 ft

5.9 in –
11.5 ft

Super macro

.4 in –
7.9 in

Infinity

Anything too far away for other modes

Manual

You set the focus distance!

Another piece of useful information – The flash will only be useful if you can use it between 1.6 and 29.2 ft away from your subject in wide mode. 5.9 – 14.4 ft when zoomed in (tele).

Choosing the right SD Card

Note: The SDHC card slot for the Kodak EasyShare Max z990 is located in the battery compartment. I am not a fan of this design since it means having to remove your camera from the tripod before retrieving your pics and because I tend to clumsily spill the batteries. … I much preferred how the z650 positioned the SD card slot on the side of the camera.

Initially, I was very tempted to buy a top-of-the-line Class 10 SDHC card to go with my new camera. But I started to wonder … How fast can this camera really go? Would it be a waste of money to buy a higher class than they recommend? So, I chatted with Kodak support and a few other people in the camera industry. Here is what I found:

The Kodak EasyShare Max Z990 has been tested and designed to work with class 6 SDHC cards. Not only would a higher class be a waste of money, it could also negatively impact my new camera’s performance. Too powerful of a card can cause the camera to lock up / freeze.

There are several class 6 SDHC cards to choose from. Here are 3 recommendations:

The Kodak SDHC Card: If you want the card that this camera was actually designed to work with, you can get an 8GB card from Kodak for about $55.96 plus shipping and handling. An 8GB card will allow you to take over a thousand pictures and several short videos before having to unload. … I decided to try one of these out. It seemed to fit a little awkwardly in other devices (perhaps Kodak’s sizing is a little off?) But it went perfectly into my Z990!

If you want the convenience of having your pictures instantly transferred to your computer and backed up on a server, consider the Eye-Fi Pro. It generally sells in the $120 – $160 range. There are also other versions of the Eye-Fi, but I feel that they lack too many features. (Example: less than Pro versions of Eye-fi cannot transfer RAW files and cannot connect directly to your computer via Adhoc network) – If you are going to go wireless, go for the pro!

And if you want to save your money, Transcend brand 8GB class 6 SDHC cards sell on Amazon for about $12. (plus shipping)

Batteries, batteries, batteries

The Z990 goes through AA batteries 4 at a time. It comes with 4 pre-charged rechargeable NiHM batteries and a charger. I have taken 120 pictures (including 2 videos) so far without having to stop for a recharge.

The battery compartment has a small lock to help prevent accidental opening. It is not a quick and easy job to change the batteries with this locking compartment. But once you get it closed, it is secure.

Over the next few weeks, I will be comparing the performance of Kodak brand rechargeable Ni-HM batteries to my existing energizer brand batteries. (Note: I have already compared Energizer vs Rayovac in a previous camera. Energizer wins.)

Rechargeable batteries are a great money saver, but I would also suggest getting a few Energizer brand Ultimate Lithium batteries for backup. These can only be used once, but they do come in handy when your other batteries have been drained or go bad and you don’t have time to recharge.

Note: Regular Alkaline batteries do not work well in high-end digital cameras. They should not hurt it, but if you ever try a regular alkaline – may find yourself having to get new batteries after 5 shots.

Optional Remote

Kodak’s specs page for the Max z990 currently says that remote controls are available, sold separately. This is a typo. But I do hope they start offering remotes for their digital cameras soon!

Other Specs

Picture sizes: This camera takes 12MP, 6MP, and 3MP 4:3 ratio images. You can also do 11MP 3:2 and 9MP 16:9. – Not as many picture size options as I am use to, but still a nice selection.

Video: up to 1080p @ 30fps. – 1080p is the same resolution you would get from a bluray. If you prefer a smaller file, you can also do 720p (1280×720) or 640×480 videos.

Shooting modes: Along with the standard Smart Capture mode (the auto setting), this camera comes with scene modes optimized for taking pictures of sport, portrait, self-portrait, night portrait, children, backlight, high ISO, bright, sunset, candlelight, flower, landscape, night landscape, stage, fireworks, and panorama scenes.

Artistic effects: In addition to HDR photos and photo booth, this camera has artistic effects for night scenes (long exposure), dramatic, and intelligent portrait.

Be sure to check the Kodak website at http://store.kodak.com/store/ekconsus/en_US/pd/productID.221644300 for the Kodak EasyShare Max z990’s complete specs.

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78 Comments

  1. Joyce on December 26, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    Hi…I just received one of these cameras for Christmas, but cannot get the video to record for longer than 15 seconds! I would like it to be able to record for up to 45 minutes or at least 5 minutes for a song….have you figured this out? Joyce

    • Michelle on February 1, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      I apologize for the delay in responding. There is no trick to getting more than 15 seconds of recording time. It sounds like your camera is buggy. I am not sure how well it will hold up for 45 minute recordings, but I know I have done several that were over 10 minutes. I suggest exchanging it for another z990.

  2. jim on December 27, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    Owners of the Z990, go to the Kodak site and download the latest firmware (1.2) and you will see a nice improvement on write speed (to the SD card) and no more laggy menu selections. This cam (and especially at the $200. range) is a must have. I compared ISO images at 100 to 400 against the Canon SX30 and Nikon P500 and the Kodak images were much cleaner. Have captured some very nice shots at full focal length too..tripod or bracing needed. It’s a great carry any where and any situation camera..and low light images are impressive for a p&s cam.

  3. EVELYN on January 3, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Has anyone used the Eye-Fi Pro X2

    with their Z990?

  4. Dan on January 6, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Costco is selling the 990 for $199.99
    Have you found a good program for reading the RAW files?
    How do you set the camera to use the RAW format?
    I was looking at a Canon SX40 but with the Kodak now selling for $199.99 I might just go with it and save $149.00

  5. Paula on February 10, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    I went to Kodak’s web site but the only firmware update I see is 1.12. Can anyone tell me if this is the one I need to use or if there is really a 1.2?

  6. tim on February 25, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    Am I able to use the flash while recording a video? Sometimes I record videos in the house at night and the lighting isn’t good. Help….

    • Michelle on April 9, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      No. I have only seen that ability on dedicated video cameras. … This camera definitely does better in sunlight for video, but I have had decent results in the house too with just the light in the ceiling. I also have a light that was originally purchased for a reptile cage. It can be clamped on to tables and things. Sometimes I use it when I need extra light other than the flash.

  7. ronald.c.lee-harris on August 16, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    greetings…can see this camera is going to test the wisdom…paid$170;25 a.u. for one last night…will the kodak bargain capture some pictures with out fuss?…there seem’s to be quite a few photographers willing to save the extra and perservere…time will!…thank you for all your comments they along with others will help…regards…r/c.

  8. Patrick on January 16, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    I was looking at getting a refurb one on ebay for $136 but found it at Office Max for $149.99 new with free shipping. I’ve barely used it but was disapointed when I found out that my Photoplus X4 would not open the raw files. I got a free trail of Corel Paintshop Pro X5 and I am please to say not only did it open the z990 raw files but I liked the program so much I bought it ($39.99 at Amazon). I paid the extra $10 for the Ultimate version which comes with tons of cool extra filters and effects. I’m really looking forward to getting out and using it as soon as the weather warms up a little. My other cameras are a Kodak z650 and a Pentax ist DL digital SLR. This z990 fits nicely between the two.

  9. wayne on February 16, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    What is the best setting for capturing a fast swimmer in motion in the door pool. I used sports mode, and M mode (higher T, small A 2.8, and higher ISO), it doesn’t work well.

  10. Thru Da Roof on February 25, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    Thanks for all of the information, a lot of this answered questions I have been inquisitive about. I wanted to know if anyone found out if we can use an external microphone on the z990. I would like to know if I can hook up an additional monitor to the camera for video.

  11. Thru Da Roof on February 25, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    Michelle sometimes if you are at the end of your memory it will automatically stop. I have recorded two hour events without interruption, except to change batteries.

  12. Thru Da Roof on February 25, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    How chane we change the aperture on z990

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