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Design

The Z650 is externally almost identical to last year's Z740, with the only obvious difference being the slightly larger LCD screen (2.0 inches as opposed to 1.8). It also bears a strong family resemblance to the DX series cameras that came before it - though its plastic body is silver, which appears to be how Kodak differentiates between ranges; the more serious models are black. Like the Z740 before it, the Z650 is remarkably small considering its 10x zoom range, and is considerably more compact (and lighter) than the other 'SLR-like' super zoom cameras on the market. The design is hardly groundbreaking, but it has excellent ergonomics, and feels fairly solid despite being almost 100% plastic.

In your hand

Kodak has obviously thought long and hard about how to make a big zoom camera that is as compact as possible without sacrificing handling, and the Z650, like the other models before it, gets it just about right. The grip is as large as it can be and - though a little tight for large fingers (the space between the grip and the lens barrel is quite narrow) - I found it to be both comfortable and stable in the hand. Single-handed operation is not just possible, but a real pleasure, with all the important controls falling in the right place and the weight of the battery and grip perfectly balancing the lens on the other side. That said, with a long (380mm equiv.) zoom you will probably want to support the camera with both hands most of the time to avoid camera shake.

Body elements

The Z650's battery compartment (on the base of the grip) accepts either two AA batteries (NiMH), a single CRV3 lithium cell or Kodak's KAA2HR NiMH pack (essentially two AA batteries lashed together). If you buy the Printer Dock bundle you get a rechargeable set (charged by the dock). Battery life is pretty good - up to 390 shots on a CRV3, up to 265 using NiMH AA batteries (CIPA standard testing).
On the bottom plate is a metal tripod bush and the special dock connector used for image printing/transfer (and battery charging) using the optional dock.
On the side of the grip sits the SD card slot, under a fairly solid (plastic hinged) cover. The Z650 has 32MB of internal memory - (enough for fourteen 6MP images) and you can copy from the internal memory to an SD card or vice versa.
The Z650's 2.0-inch LCD is larger than the one on Z740 which preceded it, but the resoution is actually lower (only 110,000 pixels). That said, it's fairly bright and clear and has a 27fps frame rate - with only the merest perceptible hint of video lag. It works very well in low light, gaining up (brightening) as light levels drop, though this does result in a very grainy preview image.
Not the brightest electronic viewfinder we've ever seen - or the clearest (there's no dioptre adjustment), but not bad at all for a budget model, and big enough to be usable. If you try and use it with spectacles you'll have problems - you can only see the whole frame with your eye virtually touching the glass. It does, however, remain very usable in very bright light, when you can't see the main (LCD) screen at all.
The main controls of the Z650 sit on the rear of the camera, to the right of the LCD screen. As with other models in this range, a 'joystick' (in the center of the main mode dial) is used to navigate menus.
The Z650's 10x (38-380mm equiv.) zoom lens extends by around 18mm when powered up, after which all zooming is internal (i.e. the lens barrel doesn't move in or out). The Schneider Kreuznach lens (which appears to be identical to the 'Retinar' used on the Z740) has a maximum aperture of F2.8 at the wide end, falling to F3.7 at the telephoto end. Zooming is fairly fast and quiet, and moves in relatively small increments.
The power switch feels cheap and nasty (it's the only part of the Z650 I really didn't like), and is incredibly stiff - it's difficult to turn the camera off without accidentally entering 'favorites' mode. Also, turning the camera on causes the flash to pop up whether you want it to or not. To the right of the power switch are three buttons controlling flash mode, macro/infinity focus and self-timer/burst mode. There's a separate flash pop-up switch on the left of the flash itself.
The pop-up flash sits quite far back on the camera, meaning it is all but useless with very close subjects (the lens blocks the light). On the positive side it is fairly powerful, giving a range of up to 4.9 meters (auto ISO, wide end of the zoom range). Unlike the DX/Z7590, there is no facility for external flash.
Above the SD card slot is the combined A/V (audio & video) and USB port, for use if you don't buy the dock or printer dock.
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