My Kodak EasyShare Max z990

Last Update: April 13, 2011

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

51 long days after pre-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: This page is a work-in-progress. I mainly focus on nature photography and the weather (and wildlife) weren’t very cooperative the week I got my camera. I will update it with more pictures as I take them. … Feel free to make requests if there is a particular feature you want to see!

I found 2 ducks crossing the street at the lake 🙂 This picture is a sample of what you can get with minimal editing. I used Adobe Fireworks to crop, sharpen, and make slight color adjustments. No other pictures on this page have been edited (beyond scaling down) unless otherwise noted.

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
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
I did have a few complaints about this camera. Some of them were improved by formatting the internal memory and SD card and by resetting the camera:

  • It was originally slow to capture pictures. (trying to find that “perfect” focus) … After resetting the camera, it it still slow from time to time. But usually takes about 1.5 seconds.
  • 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. These did not noticeably affect picture quality. But I was still surprised to see a brand new camera in less than perfectly clean condition.
  • Color quality not as good as what I got from my z1012. – 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 restarted the first few times I emptied my 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.
    — I am happy to report that after I took a few hundred pictures, my camera kicked in with proper file naming. Maybe they have some sort of test-environment setting where if the camera’s picture count was less than 100, it starts over when given a blank SD card?
  • AND, this camera just doesn’t seem very intuitive in general. I am finding myself spending a lot more time in the online extended user guide (http://resources.kodak.com/support/shtml/en/manuals/urg01212/urg01212toc.shtml) than I usually would for a new camera.

Built-in HDR Image capability

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 does exactly that. I was hoping that the camera would save all of the images per HDR capture (the originals plus the final product) , but it turns out that it only saves the final one. … I took the below pictures on my way to the lake.

Picture taken with auto / smart capture

Picture taken with dial turned to HDR - Camera in hand (tripod was in the trunk)

Notes about HDR images:

  • This camera was originally advertised to do a cool affect where if you take an HDR picture and one of the subjects is moving (their example was somebody riding a dirtbike down hill), the result would be a cool picture where you saw the moving subject 3 times, in the 3 different positions they were when you took the picture. … I tried several times to get a picture like this. Instead I ended up with a few ghostly streaks that had been mostly edited out. Either Kodak had to back out of this feature, or I am trying to do it wrong.
  • If your hand or too much of the subject moves while trying to take an HDR picture you will get the message ”  Image capture failed, hold camera steady for best results. ” … Because of this I have been unable to use HDR for landscape pictures on windy days and I have been unable to use it for super-macro pictures, even though I used a tripod.

Panoramic and Photobooth Style Pictures

Photo Booth

You can access the automatic panorama and photobooth tools by turning your dial to “Creative Modes” (the one that looks like a paintbrush) and using your arrows to scroll to which one you want. Click OK to select it.

There is no way to change “creative modes” or SCNs without giving the dial another turn. (Example: say I just want to go from photobooth to panorama or go from flower to landscape) .. When I asked Kodak if I was just overlooking something, I got this response “Obviously you have to turn the dial to change scenes”.

Photo booth fun, wherever you go!
I can already see that my daughter and her friends are going to have a blast with the photo booth setting of this camera! Come to think of it, us grownups are enjoying it too 🙂

Photobooth takes a series of four 2016×1512 images. You have a few seconds between each picture to change your pose and it does beep and flash the red light to let you know when the next picture is coming. Once all four pictures have been taken, they are stacked photo booth style.

Automatic Panorama – a little buggy
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.

The Kodak Max z990 features an “automatic panorama” setting where you can hold down the shutter button as you move the camera from side to side.

Set the sweep direction by clicking OK on the small arrow icon. Use your left and right arrows to select the image that represents the direction you want to “sweep” (left, right, up, or down). Click OK when you have highlighted the one you want.

Automatic panorama image size and quality are too low for poster prints. But it still fall under the category of “neat to have”!

The first bug came when my daughter and I were taking several auto pan shots. – It started accusing us of sweeping the wrong direction! We were using a tripod, so I know we weren’t going up or down too much when we were supposed to go from left to right. We tried changing our direction and speed. Nothing worked until we turned off the camera for a 20 minute break. Now automatic panorama appears to be working fine!

The other bug came when I realized that Automatic Panorama doesn’t always capture the whole thing you are telling it to. … Maybe my hand is getting shaky at the end and I should just consider myself lucky to get what I get. But it often kicks off well before the 180 degrees it is supposed to be capable of. (Still appears to be capturing the image until you look at the final result.)

There is also a regular panoramic mode, where you take 1 picture at a time and line them up for the next, located under SCN on the dial.

BSI CMOS = better pictures in low light

Here is a picture of our parakeets, Justin and Feathers. Yes, the image quality is on the low side in comparison to if I had used the flash. 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.

It has also been requested that I show images with really low light. … Since I don’t have time to go camping or throw a birthday party for myself, I compromised by sending my daughter’s barbies camping. Their camp fire is actually a small tea light.

Barbies camping by tea / candle light. That is a gorilla in the blond Barbie's lap.

This picture was taken using the camera’s Smart capture setting, no flash.

Barbies camping by tea / candle light. Barbie is still holding that gorilla in her lap!

This picture was taken using the camera’s SCN – Candlelight setting. … Much more impressive!

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

Pages: 1 2 3

78 Comments

  1. Bill on March 23, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    Hi, Michelle! I see you got my second, shorter message. Now you will have to suffer through this much longer one! LOL

    Re your comment about the manual focus, I agree that they should add a direct hand-on-lens manual focus feature. Maybe its just what I was used to, but I think it would be much faster, and more accurate than the electronic solution, based on how you say your Z1012 works. My old Minolta Maxxum 7 used auto-focus zooms which permitted this with no damage to the motors.

    Sans the on-board hot shoe, I ordered a Seagull SYK-6 Flash Slave Trigger for my Minolta 5600 HS-D flash. The 5600 is a very good device and I am hoping I can sync the Kodak built-in flash with this for those occasions when I need it. I am not sure how the flash will work on the Z990, though, in regards to pre-flash, or the ability to disable it. Any insight about that from your Z1012? The trigger cost under $8, so no great expense there.

    I also ordered the Kodak 8gb SDHC card from Amazon for under $15.

    I don’t take much video, but it looks like the Z990 has some great features for that, including 1080, stereo mic, and the ability to zoom while recording. I attend a lot of concerts so I am eagerly awaiting to try this, and also see the results of the CMOS-assisted low light photos.

    I am really looking forward to receiving the camera and seeing your comprehensive review.

    PS – Thanks for modifying the CAPTCHA.

    • Michelle on March 29, 2011 at 6:39 AM

      So glad to see your longer reply! And congrats on finding a lower price SDHC card at Amazon. Their prices (for Kodak brand) were pretty much the same as on the Kodak website when I ordered. But I went back after seeing your comment and saw some cheaper deals. *sigh* I guess that’s what I get for being impatient.

      I never heard of one of those flash triggers before. Sounds neat 🙂 I use one of those lamps like you are supposed to use for reptiles for a light source when my Z1012’s flash isn’t good enough. I am sure I look funny doing it, but it is portable and has a little clamp so I can attach it to stuff.

      If by pre-flash you mean when it flashes twice to for red eye reduction, yes. The Z1012 has that. One annoyance about the Z1012’s flash … If my camera decides there is already enough light, it is hard to get it to go ahead and flash! Usually the camera is right. But every now and then I feel a need for that extra boost of light.http://easttexasdesign.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form

      p.s. You’re welcome about the CAPTCHA. So far my other spam guards seem to be working!

  2. Johnny Mac on March 27, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    How about an external microphone input?

    • Michelle on March 29, 2011 at 6:28 AM

      External microphone input would be a nice feature. Or even better – a wireless mic! But Kodak’s Z990 does not have either.

      They do have two video camera models that use an external microphone. The Zi8 and the Playtouch. … I wonder how easy it would be to sync the two if you did your video with the Z990 and purchased something else for the sound recording part.

  3. Bill on April 6, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    Thanks for responding, Michelle. I saw that the Z990 has a “fill-flash” setting, which I absolutely love. Its exactly for those occasions when you want to put a little more emphasis on your subject in daylight, or to remove unwanted shadows. Also, you can always set it to “forced-flash”, or whatever Kodak calls their version, and leave the decision to yourself, and not the camera.

    I am impatient, as well. If I weren’t, I would have waited to order the Z990, both for a better price, and to see all the user reviews. But I couldn’t wait!

    BTW, do you have a little lizard assistant to set up the auxiliary lighting? LOL…j/k. 🙂

    • Michelle on April 8, 2011 at 1:03 AM

      lol … Nope. We let our lizards go the same day we got the light 🙂 (the ever-changing mind of a 6 yr old!) But we do have some frogs. I guess I could ask them for help!http://mybluecrayon.com/frogs/

  4. Bill on April 8, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    Sorry to digress from photography, but I love the frog pics on your blog, Michelle! My daughter and I used to have the little white ones, too! Compared to the dog, the lizards, the hamster, the bunny, and the fish, they were a pleasure to take care of! (But I don’t want to know what you meant by “we let our lizards go the same day”, though! LOL)

  5. Mark Detl on April 8, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    Looking very forward to your review. I have the Z740 and I am looking to upgrade to this camera. I hope it is awesome. I have had some really good results with the Z740 (some mixed results as well).

  6. Rob on April 11, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Well, Monday has now arrived, as well (I hope) as has your new Z990? Well, I hope you’ll get to enjoy testing it out today & I’ll be looking forward to seeing some of your opinions on it one you’re done. 🙂

  7. Michelle on April 11, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    Update: I have my camera! So far it’s looking pretty nice. I have to pick my daughter up from school, then we will go to the park and look for some nice photo opportunities. I already went by the lake expecting perfect scenery, but we have had such rough weather the last few days – the water is all brown and mucky. Yuck!

    Bill – Frog pics are still on the photography topic! They show off some of my early skill.

  8. Lisa on April 12, 2011 at 6:48 AM

    Hi, Michelle, thank you for the detailed review and the photos. I can see there’s a lot to like about this camera, but I am concerned about what you describe as rather bland color vibrance. I think the camera did a good job in low light, but have you been able to use it in very low light (night shots, maybe, since they advertise the camera as doing a good job with firelight)? I tried the Fuji HS20 but have sent it back because so many of my night photos were blurry and grainy, and it had a very hard time autofocusing. I’ll be interested in seeing more photos and observations of the Max; it’s wonderful that you share them.

    • Michelle on April 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      Hi Lisa 🙂 … I have not had a chance to take any very low light pictures, such as firelight yet. … I will try to get some candle light pictures for you tonight. (Won’t be the same as a camp fire since it is too wet outside for camping this week, but should still be interesting.)

      Also, I would like to mention that the main place where the color was “bland” was when I was trying to take pictures of some very vibrant, almost neonish looking roses. I have not run across many cameras that can do a good job of capturing these colors. I will play with the Max’s settings some more over the next couple of weeks and see if I can get better colors once I am more familiar with it.

  9. Rob on April 12, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Just a quick thought, looks like the aperture was a little wide on the super macro shot of the basil. Nice pic all-around, but the DOF looks a little too shallow, the closest seed leaf blurred out.

    Thanks for all the info on the camera, I’m enjoying the 2x daily updates 🙂

  10. Bill on April 14, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Well written review, Michelle! Thanks!!! I can’t offer much because I just got mine yesterday and haven’t had a lot of time with it. However, the good news I discovered so far is that I didn’t pick up any sound while optical zooming during a short video I took. If its there, its imperceivable (to me, anyway!) I thought the camera was light when it came out of the box, but I can’t quite explain that by adding the batteries and SD card it seems like it quadruples the weight! LOL The 35mm-style lens cap is a blessing and a nuisance. It does protect the lens, but you can’t even turn the camera on while it is in place. I am sure Kodak is trying to protect us from ourselves. The stabilization feature seems to work well, even at the upper end of digital zoom, but I haven’t really put it through a grind yet. Kodak advertised “spot” metering capability, but so far I can only find “small area” metering (my name for it), not truly a 1% area. I do like very much that you can position the metering/focus wherever you want in the frame, though. All in all, so far I am loving it. Looking forward to more review from you.

  11. Michelle on April 14, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    Apparently WordPress has a limit to how big your page can be. So I am breaking this review down into 3 parts. I am sure that will help with how fast the page loads too.

    Rob – Thanks for the suggestion about changing the apeture for my Basil picture. It helped a little, but not enough to justify re-posting. I am sure somebody who knows more about photography could get better pics than me 🙂

    Bill – Thanks for the compliment. 🙂 … I was picking up a bit more noise than I like with my first 2 videos. But I think it is unfair to complain when the first was shot outside on a windy day and for the second I was standing near our air conditioner vent. Will have to try for another video this weekend.

  12. Bill on April 14, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Michelle, you are right. After your response, I turned up the volume on my computer and did hear some zoom noise. I will have to test this in more conditions.

  13. Lisa on April 14, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    Thanks so much, Michelle, for posting those Barbie photos. The one with the candlelight mode is really great! I’m still debating whether to get a DSLR or this camera – we’ll see…

  14. Katherine on April 14, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Michelle….I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your review, pictures, etc., etc. I have been doing exhaustive research on “superzoom” cameras and just when I think I’ve found the right one (even some $600+ models), they fail miserably in the low-light. Being a former 35mm Nikon FM user (yes, I’m dating myself), I am a stickler for picture quality….but I also don’t want to lug around a lot of heavy equipment while on vacation, hiking, etc., which is why I’ve shied away from the DSLR and the multiple lens scenario. I also love taking movies. I want the best of all worlds…The Kodak Z990 seems like the answer to my dilemma. The specs sounded too good to be true. No hot shoe is worrisome, but the quoted flash distances seem more than adequate. My Kodak DX7590 can barely light up anything 8 ft away!!! Thank you again for this wonderful site… I now feel very comfortable in buying this camera. I’m off to Death Valley in a few weeks and look forward to putting this camera thru its paces. As for the noise in the videos, most of this can usually be fixed in “Power Director”, sound track can be altered, removed and/or replaced and voice over added if desired.

  15. Tonydownunder on April 14, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    Hi Michelle,

    I am thinking about getting the Z990 but I need further review as I live in Australia and will have to import it. How is the focus speed on the Z990?

    Tony

  16. Tonydownunder on April 14, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    One more thing. I am comparing the Canon S95 and the Kodak Z990. My most important requirement is picture sharpness. Are you familiar with the S95 and if so what are your thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Tony

  17. Michelle on April 14, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    Lisa – You are welcome 🙂

    Tony – I am averaging 1.5 seconds under optimal conditions. I had one picture take over 15 seconds to focus! And a few more difficult subjects took about 5 seconds (or simply gave up). … Also, my record speed from sliding the power button to picture captured is 4 seconds. But this can also take much longer – especially right after opening the battery compartment. (which you must do if you want to use the SD card instead of a USB cable to retrieve images)

    I am not familiar with the Canon S95. Sorry.

    Katherine – So glad to hear that you are enjoying this page! I am uploading videos to YouTube as I type so that you can see the image quality.

  18. Barbi J on April 15, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    Michelle – Thank you for being there for all of us. Great information. I’m a “wannabe NGO photogeek”. I’ll take pics & videos of all creatures, bugs, frogs, snakes, birds, whales . . . love it all. I had a z612, which I absolutely loved, it hit the floor in Mexico and is now done. Sad, because I have the stuff that goes with a camera, now it’s obsolete. Have to start over, z990 sounds like the camera I would like. In settings, can you turn off the “quick view” with this camera? I used Auto a lot in the z612, because it was fast from “On” to “Lens Cap off” (bad habit too), but I could set the quickview to off, and hope with this camera you can too.

    Look forward to more info, keep up the good work. When I look on YouTube, how will I find what you put there?

    Thanks Barbi J

  19. James on April 15, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    I have had my camera for two days and i love it, i use to work for Kodak and I was waiting for a camera that was as good as the super zooms from 6 years ago and this one is better. Also about the question from focus click and capture, i have found if you put the auto focus from continues to single focus i can take a picture in one second. I love the Kodak film emulation modes like Tri-X and Kodachrome make me feel like i am shooting with film again. I compared the BSI image sensor in the iPhone 4 and Kodak’s first BSI image sensor in the Z990 and Kodak wins hands down in the low light contest. It also helps if you put the camera in high ISO mode or candle light when taking low light images, this can be found under the scene mode of the camera.

    James

  20. Michelle on April 15, 2011 at 5:59 AM

    Barbi – if when you say “quick view” you mean when it shows you the picture after you take it, there is no way to turn that off. I even talked to Kodak. – It seems that when they decided to add so many cool new features, they also decided that a few other features were unnecessary.

    The youtube videos should be embedded in page 3 of this review. I have links at the top and bottom of each page, saying which page contains what info. ” Page 3 – Video, SD cards, Batteries, other specs ” … Or you could go to youtube.com and search for ” firebugmichelle “. Look at how long ago the videos were uploaded to know which are from the Z990.

    James – Thanks for the comments! And I will try resetting the auto focus to Single and see how that goes.

  21. Barbi J on April 15, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Michelle – that’s exactly what I meant. Does the picture stay very long before you can take the next shot? Nature could care less if we check to see if we got the shot or not. Blink and you miss it, you know what I mean.

  22. Tonydownunder on April 15, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    Hey Michelle,

    Thanks for all your help. I am almost convinced.

    Could you give us a couple of macro shots and then a portrait or two?

    Thanks,

    Tony

  23. Michelle on April 16, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    Barbi – I just timed it. The display lasts for about 5 seconds. Total time for 1 picture (focus, capture, process, and ready for the next) is about 9 seconds. I have had a few pictures take less time and a few take significantly longer. (When you use the fancy features such as HDR, photobooth, or panoramic it takes longer to process the image.)

    You are supposed to be able to make the quick view go away faster by pressing the shutter button down half way (the same way you would to focus). From what I can tell this does not always work on my camera. Maybe because it is still processing the image in the background? Not sure.

    Tony – Will definitely get some more macro shots and portraits for you this weekend!

  24. Charles ramsey on April 16, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    If you are feeling brave you might try the new nickle zinc batteries these are more powerful than NiMh batteries. POV VIO sent me an email saying they will work in their cameras. I have used oxy alkalines at 1.73 volts in Kodak cameras without damaging them but I’m afraid to try the nickle zinc at 1.8 volts.

  25. Peter on April 19, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Michelle,
    Thanks for all the info. Since you can still get a new z981 for $250, do you think the z990 is well worth the extra $80? If so, what attributes would you point to?

    • Michelle on April 20, 2011 at 11:24 PM

      Tony – Sorry about the delay. Weather kept me from getting as many shots as I wanted over the weekend, but I do have a few to post as soon as I submit this comment 🙂

      Peter – It depends on what type of pictures you take. If you do a lot of low-light photography and wish you could see detail without the flash, the z990 is great! It is also a lot of fun to play with the special new features. … But if you just want a nice camera that takes good pictures under normal conditions, go for the z981.

      I am running into more and more situations where the low-light capabilities are messing up certain scenes. When I chatted with Kodak support about it, they suggested I use the PASM settings. … PASM does take nice pictures. But you can’t tell a woodpecker to hold that perfect pose while you adjust your settings.

  26. Tonydownunder on April 21, 2011 at 5:39 AM

    Thanks for your help testing the 990.

    I am just a novice photographer. Do you think this is the right camera for me? Earlier you mentioned a problem with color saturation. Has this improved with your experiences?

    Thanks,

    Tony

    • Michelle on April 21, 2011 at 8:25 AM

      Tony … I think I am getting better at finding settings where the color saturation problems aren’t as bad. But I still can’t get the same color quality as I did from my Z1012. … Example: I tried to take a picture of some small purple flowers in the early evening last weekend. They came out white! Yesterday I tried to shoot the same kind of flowers in the early morning, when it was bright outside but most of the world was still shaded by trees. They came out a nice, but not perfect purple color.

      It does help to set the film affects to the more ‘natural’ color, but the camera will not save this setting. I am constantly forgetting to turn it back to “Ektachrome” after I switch modes or turn off the power.

      For if this camera is right for you … What are the main conditions you will be using it under? And do you just want “pretty” pictures, or do you want the most natural color possible?

  27. Tonydownunder on April 21, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    Thanks Michelle for your response.

    Most of my use will fall under two categories.

    1. People shots – I work with people, mostly seniors and the ability to take natural people shots indoor and outdoor is important.

    2. I enjoy shooting landscape and wildlife pictures. In Australia we have an abundance of wildlife that you cannot find anywhere else in the world (outside of a zoo). The zoom of the z990 is of particular interest to me for that reason. We also live on the east coast of Australia so beach and river pictures are important.

    I am not a technical photographer I just want great pictures.

    I apologize for the length of this post, but now you better understand what I am looking for.

    Thanks,

    Tony

    • Michelle on April 23, 2011 at 7:48 AM

      Tony, I have posted a few more pictures for you to review on Page 2. For what you have mentioned, I hear that the Z981 has good picture quality and a high zoom level. Don’t forget to look into it if money is a concern. … The picture quality on my z990 is pretty nice. But the places where this camera goes “above and beyond” are the special features that it doesn’t sound like you will be using much.

      I would love to see some of your wildlife and landscape pics if you ever want to share! If my car was more waterproof I’ve always been fascinated with Australia.

  28. Rob on April 23, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Nice shot of the stick on macro, looks great! I also love how the DOF worked out on the shell…beautiful clarity on the sand grains in the shell’s shadow, and on most of the shell, then a sharp contrast of focus with the sand becoming VERY soft almost PERFECTLY along the “shadow line,” couldn’t make that work better in PhotoShop even!
    I just picked up a new(ish) ponit-and-shoot Nikon camera (el-cheapo style, NOT a pro camera), but I’ve discovered that, with this cam, I can increase the DOF in macro by moving back slightly, then zooming back in; this “artificially” tightening the aperture ratio, by increasing the focal length. Not sure how much that’ll help on the Z990, but it’s a thought.

    BTW, thanks for the excellent review, unfortunately, I think I might not be able to tolerate the color issues, hopefully there’ll be a new camera soon with all of the Z990’s features, a hot shoe, and better color.

    • Michelle on April 26, 2011 at 7:32 AM

      Rob, thanks for complimenting my shell picture. I was pretty proud of it myself. I didn’t even cry when I got sand in my brand new camera! (Silly me sat the camera directly in the sand then spent the next 30 minutes carefully removing every grain that had worked its way in)
      The depth of focus trick you mentioned works on the z990 too. The problem is that there is a limit to how much you can zoom for different focuses. (Example: I cannot set it on macro then zoom in 100% if I want it to be able to focus.) … I should add that to my article about the affects of zoom vs simply getting in closer to your subject. (currently a work in progress) … By the way, the z990 actually zooms in a little for you as soon as you set it to super-macro.
      And I would love to see any pics you want to share from your Nikon or hear what you think of it! I still haven’t 100% made up my mind for if I want to keep this camera or not. I can see it being desirable for a lot of people. But the color-related issues … I wish I could use them sparingly (when I think it would add a nice affect), and have a more “natural” look the rest of the time.

  29. Rob on April 27, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    You’re quite welcome for the compliment, it was well deserved. I just got home late last night from a LONG “vacation” visiting family in 6 houses and 3 different states (and, of course, none of them border my current home state of Texas…go figure). Anywise, I’ll be posting a LOT of pics (most of them slightly-to-moderately enhanced…correcting color, adjusting noise redux/sharpening, removing red-eye; that kind of stuff) over the next few days, almost all of them taken with my new Nikon S3000. The pics will mostly be in folders on my personal site that are non-google searchable as I use them mainly for exchanging files with my family, but I’ll send you links to several of them via private email if you’d like.

    … The rest of this comment has been moved to its own page at http://www.EastTexasDesign.com/2011-05-05/nikon-coolpix-s3000/ … Thanks Rob for writing an excellent review!

  30. Rob on April 27, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    Oops, almost forgot to ask:
    Have you tried saving any images in “RAW” format with your Z990? I don’t know what photo-editing software you use, but my “Paint Shop Pro Photo X2” software has an option of setting up “batch” conversions to fix, say, not-quite-right coloration on several RAW files (or JPEGs for that matter, just that RAW is preferable to avoid having to “un-do” what changes the camera’s internal engine is doing to “fix up” the images). I’d be interested to see how the color turns out on the RAW output files from the Z990 (though at 13MB+ each, they DO take a bit longer to save to a limited-throughput SD card, and you can’t fit quite as many in the same space); it may not be enough of an improvement to justify the outlay for the camera, and the reduced save speed might be prohibitive, but then again, maybe not & it’ll be a “perfect” answer to that problem.

    • Michelle on April 29, 2011 at 8:01 PM

      Rob , I have Photoshop CS5 Extended, but it cannot handle Kodak’s special RAW format. (.KDC) I really didn’t want to install easyshare software on my computer. … Can Paintshop Pro handle it? I emailed you a link to a folder containing a 21.5MB sample file.

  31. Rob on May 1, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    PSP X2 failed to open the .KCD file you sent me, although they claim the newest release (X3 or 13) of Paint Shop Pro Photo can open it. Anywise, I did fine one free-to-try ($69.95 to buy…ouch!) program that translated it into a usable .PNG quite nicely for me; the website for the program is: http://www.ivanview.com/converter/kdc-batch-converter.html
    I also emailed you a link in return to the converted file it output, along with a couple of sample crops that I made some slight adjustments to in PSP X2. On the color issue, the last .JPG image you took (I’m guessing ektachrome?) had about the best color to it, but seemed a little low on the yellow…the rest had too much yellow by more than that one had too little, but the pink stones were a bit much for me; too bad they can’t give us a setting that strikes a happy medium w/out having to photoshop every single picture, eh?

  32. Bill on May 11, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Hi, Michelle. I am having trouble grasping the HDR concept. This is the first camera I’ve owned that has the capability. I mean, I understand what its supposed to do, and the idea behind it, but when I tried it out, I am not overly excited with the results. Even in your example, the sky is clearly more detailed in your auto-exposure photo than in the HDR result. The same happened to me. However, I have seen other photos on Flickr where the results are great, although I did not see the same photos without the use of HDR, so there was nothing to compare it to. I also had the dreaded “Image Capture Failed” message a few times. I guess without a tripod, its hit or miss. I will keep experimenting with it and would love to see any further reviews you have about it.

    • Michelle on May 27, 2011 at 8:31 AM

      Bill – So sorry for the delayed response! This is actually my fourth time to try to reply, but stuff kept coming up at home. … anyhow…

      I agree that the results of built in HDR are disappointing. I believe this feature has its places where it can be a useful way to pick up more detail in a scene. (in cases where there is just a little too much contrast between the bright places and the darks) … But this camera simply cannot produce that nice HDR affect I have fallen in love with.

      If you want a good HDR photo, the best way (even though it’s a bit harder) is to take a few pictures with different exposures. Look into something called “bracketing” to do this automatically. Then download some HDR software to put the pictures together. There you can adjust settings until you find the balance you like.

  33. brenda on May 30, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    this is the tsv at qvc today for only 298.95 with stuff added. do you recommend it? mine is old and is wore out Kodak p712 but i loved the action shots i could take of my kids and the zoom. its been hard findinag something thats auto to replace it thanks. brenda

    http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/app.detail/params.item.tsv!.tpl.tsv.CM_SCID.TSV

    • Michelle on May 30, 2011 at 8:19 PM

      I think this is a nice camera. But when comparing it to my favorite old EasyShares, it is a bit disappointing. Especially in auto mode when it adjusts colors improperly.

      I would like to say though, I took it to field day at my daughter’s elementary school and got some excellent shots of kids playing in the water!

  34. Bob Morris on May 30, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    Michelle,

    Very nice website. I wonder if you can give me some advice. I am an unskilled photographer and recently purchased the Kodak z990, mainly because it was said to have some form of image stabilization and I have had good luck with an earlier Kodak Z650. I fly with the Civil Air Patrol in Austin and just complete a mission to photograph Lake Travis late afternoon on Sunday May 28th. The idea was to get overlapping pictures such the LCRA could count the number of boats on the lake this holiday weekend and identify the boat types. We have a small window opening in the aircraft rear seat for taking pictures without confusing the auto focus. It was a very windy day and quite bumpy so I chose to use the sport mode as it was difficult to hold the camera steady. Focus was good, however, all of my photos this day were overexposed. Sometimes, teh flash would go off unexpectedly. I was able to correct them using auto contrast in Picasa photo editor so that the boat wakes were again viable and the photos useful but I need to do better next time.

    In the future, should I use the P mode and set exposure control down? I need to take photos as quickly in succession as possible so I can’t stop to change setting between shots. Do you that the z990 is up to this task?

    Thanks and regards,

    Bob

    • Michelle on May 30, 2011 at 8:17 PM

      I have had problems with over-exposure too. … Yes, using P mode and setting the exposure control helps a lot. You will still need to play with it a little to figure out how far to turn it down. For outdoors on a sunny day, I often do -1.3

      I have never taken a picture from an aircraft. So I am not sure how well this camera would perform. … Can you go out a few minutes before the actual pictures need to be taken and play with different settings? (adjusting the exposure on P and playing with auto focus vs manual)

  35. kodak easyshare z981 on May 30, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    I have a kodak easyshare z981 and I love it except for inside people shots. It seems so slow that my kids make jokes about how long they have to stand still. But we went to Yukon Territory the first 2 weeks of Sept and took hundreds of pictures. Magnificent shots and the zoom was phenomenal! I stick to a small point and shoot camera for inside shots except for ones in a gym or theater. The charger with the kodak easyshare z981 is a joke but batteries do seem to hold a charge for a while. The lens cover on all my older Kodak Easyshares were horrible and would never stay on but this camera seems to have fixed that problem because the cover does stay put.

  36. Bob on June 1, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Next time, I’ll try some different setting while en-route to the search area. Sometimes you can’t tell enough from the image on the camera’s screen. Also, I probably should have used the RAW format instead of jpeg so that I would have more options to make after the fact corrections.

    Thanks,

    Bob

  37. Mary on June 4, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Hi Michelle – I am looking for a camera that take great pictures & a good zoom. Most pictures are of the kids and family. What do you recommend. Also I take pictures of the kids at their concerts & plays (in the gym). Why are you not convinced that the z990 is the best for you & what is? Thanks so much & have a great day.
    Mary from NJ

  38. runninmom119 on June 9, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Hi Michelle,
    I’m a beginner at photography but I’m looking for something better than a simple point and shoot camera. I’m really wanting a camera that will take great photos outside and inside photos, particularly theater low lighting, and video. I’m debating between the Kodak Z990 and the Fuji S3400. Any thoughts?

  39. Taylor on June 10, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Sorry about ^ ^ that; anyway I’m getting ready to buy this camera would you recommend this to me? I have had about 4 cameras so far and I don’t want to be upset with another camera. Also is it easy to figure out. Thanks so much. -Taylor

  40. Betty on July 7, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    I just received my Kodak Z990, can anyone explain to me how to “crop” I highlight edit then go to crop but the camera highlights the “back button” will not let me go to the right & highlight “crop”

  41. Maxine on July 22, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    I just got my Kodak z990 camera yesterday, including pre-charged batteries, but after using my cam for about 1 hour, it was out of batteries. So I charged my batteries, but they are still charging and I’m not sure if the little lights on the charger is supposed to go off or something, but I’m not sure if the batteries are done charging. The lights are still on. I’m confused. You probably have experience with your charger already. Could you tell me how it works? Thanks so much! =D

  42. Steve on August 1, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    Michele,
    I am having the same problem as Barbie. Your response was troubling: “The display lasts for about 5 seconds. Total time for 1 picture (focus, capture, process, and ready for the next) is about 9 seconds. I have had a few pictures take less time and a few take significantly longer. (When you use the fancy features such as HDR, photobooth, or panoramic it takes longer to process the image.)

    You are supposed to be able to make the quick view go away faster by pressing the shutter button down half way (the same way you would to focus). From what I can tell this does not always work on my camera. Maybe because it is still processing the image in the background? Not sure.”

    My wife and I are going to Africa next month on a Safari, and I bought the Kodak Z990 just for that so I have been playing around with it. I have had the same trouble you mentioned. Just today I found that if I hit the display button it seems to get back to a mode that I can take a new picture. But in Africa I expect that I will want to take rapid shots but not want to do many bursts. Any ideas?

    9 seconds to take the next shot is just unacceptable.

  43. Gaurav on August 16, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    Hi Michelle,
    its very nice website,u shared very important information which we need before purchasing a camera.
    Right now I am in a confusion among these:nikon L120,Kodak EasyshareZ990,fuji finepix s4000 etc…
    I want the indoor photograph to be very colorful and dramatic (in low light also).I need very nice photos of faces of my family members and friends(like in a indoor party at night) to keep the memories nice.
    Please suggest me anyone of the above or whatever u suggest
    Thanks and Regards,
    Gaurav

  44. wizdym4aolcom on August 24, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    Michelle,
    Please share more about you subsequent experience with the Kodak Max Z990, as I’m trying to figure if it’s worth getting and how to optimize my use of it if I do. Thanks.
    ……..>>>>Carmon Elliott

  45. Ruben on September 6, 2011 at 2:59 AM

    I just got my z990. Moved from a z1012is that developed a vertical line in the ccd. The z990 has been a good camera so far but one thing that has got me stumped is that for some reason the camera will not display the last few pictures that i took. They are on the sd card but the camera will not show them. It did this two times. Once with only a few pictures on the sd card and then again with 361 pictures. I have did format the card. Anyone here have the same problem?

  46. Michelle on October 14, 2011 at 7:05 AM

    Sorry to have gotten behind on comments. … I will try to add a new page to this post soon to answer some questions and share more sample pictures 🙂

  47. Andries on October 21, 2011 at 3:26 AM

    I would love to see a reply on Steve’s “get back time” question. Is it possible to set the Preview time? It is much to long. I know you can get it out of Preview, just by pressing the shutter button again, but even that takes way to long. The Burst (high speed) works excellent, but after a burst it takes very long to get back live again. I am very disappointed and frustrated with my Z990 time between taking pictures. Any advice?

  48. Tami on October 22, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    I like Maxine have the same question. I just got my Kodak z990 camera , including pre-charged batteries, but after using my cam for about 1 hour, it was out of batteries. So I charged my batteries, but they are still charging and I’m not sure if the little lights on the charger is supposed to go off or something, but I’m not sure if the batteries are done charging. The lights are still on. I’m confused. You probably have experience with your charger already. Could you tell me how it works? Thanks so much! Also can I use lithium
    AA batteries? Thanks Tami

    • Michelle on November 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

      Tami – the charger that Kodak sends with batteries is pretty low quality. I got a replacement charger from WalMart. … Energizer brand, takes about 6 hours and has a little screen to display how many hours of charging it has left. I haven’t used the included charger in months. If I remember right, the lights stay on.

      You can use lithium batteries in your camera. But I would suggest just getting a set of lithium for backups and investing more of your money in higher quality batteries and charger. (look for batteries with a higher mAH number … My Energizers with 2300mAH work much better than my Rayovacks and Kodaks with a lower mAH) If you use your camera a lot, good rechargeable can be a big money saver.

  49. John on November 6, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    I’d like to ask if anyone has used an external flash with the 990 successfully. I see Bill mentioned the Seagull SYK-6 with a Maxxum flash. Does that work?

    Does the 990 routinely use a preflash? Or just for redeye?

    How would you rate the 990’s flash for groups of people indoors? Any redeye problems?

    Thanks all!

  50. Chloe on December 26, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    does anyone know how to import pictures from the kodak easy share z990 onto iPhoto? I installed the easy share button app on my computer, but every time i try to import, it won’t detect my camera! its very frustrating. On settings, I have the camera set to “computer connection,” “kodak software,” but it still won’t work! i listened to the directions and turn it off, plug it in, then turn it on and it will not work! 🙁 if anyone knows, please reply!!!!!!! thank you 🙂
    Chloe

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