The Z740 bears a strong family resemblance to the top-of-the-range DX7590/Z7590 models, though in this case the plastic body shell is almost entirely silver. It's a little smaller than its big brothers too - in fact the Z740 is just about the smallest 10x zoom camera on the market today. 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 Z740, 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.
The Z740'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 very good - up to 500 shots on a CRV3, up to 300 using the Kodak NiMH pack (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 Z740 32MB of internal memory - (enough for nine 5MP/fine quality images) and you can copy from the internal memory to an SD card or vice versa.
The 1.8-inch (134,000 pixels) LCD is fairly bright and has a 27fps frame rate - though there is a very slight 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 very good 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 Z740 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 Z740'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 Retinar lens 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 (it doesn't lurch from one position to the next with each touch of the zoom button).
The power switch feels cheap and nasty (it's the only part of the Z740 I really didn't like), and is incredibly stiff - it's nigh on impossible 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.
In most parts of the world the Z740 ships as part of a 'Digital Photo Solution', with the Printer Dock Series 3 and rechargeable battery. The Printer Dock is an easy to use and fairly fast (90 secs per print) 6x4-inch dye sublimation printer that can be used with or without a computer. It also offers one-button image transfer and charges the camera's battery. Print quality is good, though by no means exceptional.