Designed like a mini-SLR, the compact, 7Mp Kodak Z712 IS almost falls into a category of its own.
The Kodak Z712 IS has a traditional SLR-style hand-grip, a top-mounted thumb-operated mode dial and a pop-up flash. There's even an electronic eye-level viewfinder to supplement the Kodak Z712 IS's 2.5in LCD panel.
A protruding lens barrel, dominates the front of the £180 Kodak Z712 IS. Inside is an optically image-stabilised lens with a massive 12x zoom, the equivalent of a 36-432mm range in 35mm terms.
Having an optically stabilised lens can make a huge difference and we found the Kodak Z712 was able to take very sharp photos in low-light situations.
Image noise can be an issue with any compact camera, but the Kodak Z712 IS can shoot at lower ISO settings, which means less noise and improved colour reproduction.
The Kodak Z712 IS may be much larger than an ultra-compact camera, but it's considerably smaller and lighter than any SLR fitted with an equivalent lens. If you're used to handling an SLR or a traditional film camera, then getting to know the Kodak Z712 IS will be covering familiar ground.
Program, aperture priority and shutter priority modes are easily selectable as well as a fully-manual mode for maximum creative control. There is also a large selection of scene modes and a VGA-resolution movie mode, all of which are accessible without entering the Kodak Z712 IS's menu system.
The Kodak Z712 IS is also unique in that its larger body allows room for the use of standard AA- batteries, although the battery life is usually much lower than that of a dedicated rechargeable battery pack. However, the Kodak Z712 IS offers the best of both worlds by also supporting a lithium-ion rechargeable available as an optional extra.
The Kodak Z712 IS excellent value for money and takes features from both compact and SLR designs to produce a camera with unique advantages. There's no face detection, but that huge zoom range and excellent optical image stabilisation make it hard to beat. The Kodak Z712 IS takes great pictures too.