z990 vs z980 Smackdown! :-)

Started Jul 9, 2011 | Discussions thread
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honemastert
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z990 vs z980 Smackdown! :-)
Jul 9, 2011

Had some unused discounts at Amazon, which brought the price of the z990 down to the low 200's (where it should be, IMHO) so I pulled the trigger.

I'll give some impressions of the camera compared to the Z980 which I also have.

Build Quality
z990 has a bit heavier feel to it. Slightly better build quality than the z980.

Sensor

The sensor is much better in the sense that ISO 400-800 range are actually usable. On the z980 noise comes in much earlier. 800 ISO on the z980 is not usable and pretty much equiv. to 1600 perhaps? on the z990. The BSI sensor comes through here for sure.

Modes

The "panning" panoramic mode is lame.. I'd almost say it's trying to cleverly use the video mode. Shots are grainy and not really usable.. maybe I'm just using that mode wrong? The other regular pano mode seems okay, like another poster commented.. maybe not as good as the older Kodak models? I've used the Sony compacts and nothing touches their 'panning pano' mode.

Some of the artistic modes are pretty cool.. although the HDR mode doesn't seem to add much 'dynamic' range to the shots? (Maybe just need to play with this feature some more) Shooting in 'Kodachrome' is kinda nostalgic, give the shots some warmth from the more neutral smart capture mode. I grew up shooting lots of Kodak Tri-X and Plus-X

Colors seem more P880 like.. although this camera still doesn't come close to the quality of well exposed shots out of the P880 IMHO. It really boils down to the lens and color rendering engine on that camera. Current gen. Kodaks dont have it.

Video

Video mode is much improved over the z980. Higher quality/resolution, but some older computers will have trouble dealing with the video codec (not jumping on playback?) My relatively ancient PowerMac Dual CPU G5 (circa 2005) plays back the frames with some stutter..

Having a dedicated video button is a nice feature.

Shot to Shot Time

Unfortunately.. the most frustrating thing about this camera is the shot to shot time! In some modes, and in the high-speed burst modes and specifically when shooting RAW!? I thought I was using a P880.

It really is that bad... The camera just kinda goes out to lunch.. the EVF or LCD works, but you cant take a photo. No progress bars.. nothing.

This can be mitigated to some extent, by using the fastest card you can afford..

I noticed a difference between a Class 6 and a Class 10 card in RAW processing time.

If you could speed bin SDHC cards (a term used in the IC industry for testing part speed) and get a fast fast one.. this time might come down to the acceptable range?

IMHO If you think that you're going to use this camera a lot in RAW mode? I'd say best of luck... It's almost as glacially slow as the P880. Why Kodak...? If they'd have just sped this up, (maybe added a larger internal memory?) I'd say hands down it's a winner. I'd even argue that leaving the hotshoe off was a good call.. but the shot to shot time is something that every user of this camera has to live with.

Kodak should really try to update the firmware to fix this if it's not a hardware limitation.

Lens

Lens quality? Not sure if it's quite as good as the z980. In my test shots.. I saw more 'purple fringing' in the z990 than in the z980. You also give up a couple of mm in the low end.. 26mm vs 28mm. It might just be my copy.. but it seems a bit less 'sharp' than my z980.. they are very close. For a superzoom, it actually seems pretty good.

Also of note: The lowest ISO on the z990 is 125 versus 64 on the z980... why?

Summary:

At the low $200s price point.. it actually is a pretty decent camera if you can put up with the lag times. I've not sorted out exactly when they come to play... RAW always has a lag time that is pretty bad. Some of the other modes? I'm not sure what triggers/causes it?

In the z1085is that my wife uses.. noticed lag times where the camera would go out to lunch, but at least you'd get the words 'processing' across the LCD. The fix for that camera was to turn of Perfect Touch Technology.. and only apply it after the fact. I took a couple of shots from that one as well just for comparison sake.

I'll add some sample shots to this thread when I get a chance.. not sure if I'm keeping mine or sending it back to Amazon (30 day return policy) at this point.

Was thinking it would be a really great all around camera for my wife, but half the time she's taking photos/videos with her iPhone 3Gs (bleeech) and doesnt even pull out the z1085is (which takes really nice shots btw)

Thanks!

-tim

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