By Emily Raymond
Head2Head Reviews Staff
Introduction: The Matchup
Sign of the times? The Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS and Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD merge enthusiast and budget concerns, adding economy to the popular ultra-zoom class.
These two digital cameras look strikingly similar. Both compacts are fitted with thick SLR-styled handgrips, versatile 15x optical zoom lenses, and large LCD screens. Internally, the similarities continue: both the Kodak Z1015 IS and Fujifilm S2000HD feature 10-megapixel resolution, face detection, image stabilization systems, a blend of manual and automatic controls, and high-definition video.
The FinePix S2000 sits within Fujifilm’s “S” (for “serious”) line of digital cameras. Despite its “serious” designation, the S2000 does not have an Aperture-Priority mode; nor can it capture RAW files. The Kodak Z1015 does record RAW images and has a full range of manual modes, but lacks a manual white balance setting.
These ultra-zoom digital cameras offer virtually identical options for the same $279.95 price tag. But which will help you get better photos?
Image Quality & Performance
With matching specs and nearly identical designs, we sought distinction in the image quality. Photos from the Kodak Z1015 IS proved to hold an advantage in sharpness throughout the zoom range. The difference, however, is more a function of the Kodak EasyShare’s aggressive in-camera processing (creating the impression of sharpness by increasing edge contrast) than a mark of superior optics.
The processing prowess of the Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS is also evident in the lower noise levels the camera maintains through its highest sensitivity settings, an area in which Fujifilm has historically been a leader.
Photos from the Fujifilm S2000HD, however, yield more faithful color reproduction throughout its entire range. The Fujifilm also edged out the Kodak at ISO 800 in all areas: sharpness, noise, dynamic range, and color reproduction.
The Main Event: Zoom Lens
The lens is what makes or breaks this type of camera. It’s what you pay for. The Kodak Z1015 IS and Fujifilm S2000HD have nearly identical 15x zoom ranges, with only a slight shift in equivalent focal lengths. The Fujifilm S2000’s Fujinon lens measures 27.6-414mm, while the Kodak Z1015’s 15x Schneider-Kreuznach lens spans an equivalent 28-420mm.
At full wide angle, both offer selectable aperture settings of f/3.5 and f/7. At full telephoto, it closes to f/5.4 and f/10.8. With just the two settings, the manual selection is more like adding and removing a filter than adjusting the aperture.
Both cameras integrate image stabilization to support the featured optic and to ensure handheld telephoto shots are sharp. Kodak uses an optical image stabilization system built into the lens, while Fujifilm puts its support mechanism around the imaging sensor. We didn’t notice any significant difference in performance between the two of them; we found both systems supplied around 2 - 2.5 stops of additional latitude.
Ultimately, both of these lenses supply adequate - though not spectacular - performance with minimal distinction between the two.
Face off: HD Video
A main attraction on these cameras is their high-definition movie modes. Both capture 1280 x 720-pixel resolution video at a full 30 frames per second. The Kodak stands as a clear winner in this area of the head-to-head. The EasyShare Z1015 IS records longer clips and stereo audio, and maintains full functionality of its optical image stabilization system in video mode. Conversely, Fujifilm’s CCD-shift system works only while snapping still shots; it has a less effective electronic version of stabilization for its movies.
Both the Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS and the Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD are priced just below $279.99. Carrying nearly identical still features and performance, a critical value distinction lies in integration of HD video. If you’re interested in watching your high-definition videos straight from the camera, it’ll cost $99.99 to get the Kodak HDTV Dock or $49.95 to get Fujifilm’s HD connection cable. The Kodak is the better camera, but it will cost more if you want to hook it up to your HDTV.
These 10-megapixel ultra-zoom digital cameras both pack versatile feature sets and 15x zoom lenses into relatively portable frames for under $300. There won’t be many consumers regretting either choice at the current price; however, the Kodak nudges out the Fujifilm in most still photo quality and all major video quality measures. Without worrying about investing in a system or additional lenses beyond this purchase, the Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS is the clear winner here.
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