When looking at the design, the Kodak EasyShare reminds us of a SLR camera. And indeed, at first sight the camera does look a bit like a system camera. Still, the design is not much to my liking. Despite the compact format, some parts of the camera, and especially the electronic viewfinder, make the camera a bit plump. Besides the a bit burly lens and the clearly present grip, the camera is still fairly compact. The weight of ample 400 grams is comfortable enough to carry the camera everywhere and gives it, besides that, the required stability while shooting.
Kodak EasyShare P712 - 12x stabilized optical zoom lens
When looking at the camera's front side, one will see the 12x stabilized optical zoom lens strikingly present. Especially the rubber ring around the lens is prominent and, even though useless in terms of direct functionality; the ring gives extra grip when holding the camera in both hands while taking pictures. The lens is protected by a separate plastic lens hood, which can be attached to the body by a small cable. Next to the lens you will find the AF sensor and beneath it, barely visible, a LED that serves as an indicator for the self timer and/or video function. Equally discreet are the three minuscule holes, to the right of the optical lens, hiding the microphone. To my preference, the prominent grip does not give sufficient space to place the fingers between lens and grip.
Kodak EasyShare P712 - Internal & External flash
On top of the camera, the internal flash flaunts. It flips up automatically when the camera detects too little light; this is very convenient. An external flash (Kodak P20) can be placed on top of the flash, at the flash shoe. On the front of the grip the shutter release button has been placed. It feels good to the touch and has a light, but clearly recognizable, pressure point. The way one needs to turn the switch in order to activate the camera is not very convenient. The way I see it, this should be just the other way around, so you can activate the camera with the index finger instead of the thumb. The latter is a very difficult maneuver. Directly next to the electronic viewfinder you will find the mode dial with the main programs. The dial can be turned 360° and you will hear a clear click with every program. Under the remaining buttons you will find functions like focus, flash, light metering and continuous recording. Another button can be programmed for recording and display mode.
Kodak P712 - Secure Digital & Multimedia memory support
The right side of the Kodak EasyShare P712 mainly serves as grip, but at the same time offers room for the battery compartment and a card slot. The Kodak P712 Megazoom camera is Secure Digital or Multimedia card compatible. At this point, the camera does not yet support Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC); perhaps after a firmware update this will be possible after all. The left side of the camera harbors the speaker with beneath it a rubber flap; this hides the power adaptor and the A/V and USB interface. It's a pity Kodak uses a USB 2.0 Full Speed Interface. Contrary to what the name lets us presume, this is the slow version of the fast Hi-Speed interface.
The camera's bottom shows us the cover closing the battery compartment. In the middle is a universal, metal tripod connector. The connector's location provides the camera with relative balance; handy for the bendable mini-tripods and with a small tripod head it remains possible to change the battery while having the camera mounted on a tripod. Lastly we see another interface for a printer dock or docking station.
Kodak EasyShare P712 - 2.5 inch LCD monitor
The control center of the Kodak P712, the back, shows a large format 2.5-inch LCD monitor. Not so long ago, a 1.8-inch monitor was seen as standard, but the LCD technique development has made a lot possible. The monitor has a pretty large viewing angle, when looking at it side-ways and from above. Unfortunately, when holding the camera above your head, the image quickly darkens. There's room for improvement. The 115,000 pixels resolution is a bit unsatisfying. It's very minimal and the difference between the high resolution (210,000 pixels and higher) monitors and that of the Kodak EasyShare P712 is clearly visible. Kodak definitely cut the costs in this area. Just above the LCD monitor the electronic viewfinder, with a high 237,000 pixels resolution, has been placed. The rubber border around the viewfinder is comfortable for photographers wearing glasses. The electronic viewfinder's quality has definitely been improved and adds in the comfort. To the right of the monitor you will find the multi-control button and around it different functions like Review, Menu, Delete, AE and AF, etc. Here you will also find the red Share button, making it easy to share or print your pictures. I am not very pleased about the zoom button's accuracy. The switch needs a long draw to activate the zoom, which is a contradiction when you want to zoom in with short steps.
Kodak EasyShare P712 for the creative photographer
Even though the Kodak EasyShare P712 has not been designed very stylishly, on average the way it lies in the hand and the user friendliness are good. There are a few remarks concerning the operation, but this is more a personal taste and one will undoubtedly get used to this after some practice. With regards to set-up and functionality, the camera is interesting for the creative photographer and with that, it has to compete in a strongly occupied area. For a 12x optical zoom, the camera remains fairly compact, but the digital SLR camera is strongly on the rise. Thus, we are curious how, and if, the Megazoom camera can withstand this strong competition.