The Camera doesn’t matter! The Kodak Easyshare Z990 By Ibraar Hussain

The Camera doesn’t matter! The Kodak Easyshare Z990

By Ibraar Hussain

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We tend to hear the old adage about the Camera does not matter, which means it doesn’t matter what Camera you have, the person makes the photo.
I agree and disagree, agree because a creative person or a talented person can make a good photo or masterpiece with anything, even a pin hole camera. But I disagree because not all cameras are capable of making any type or standard of photograph.

I tend to carry around a Kodak Z990 Bridge Camera, a small sensor Digital with a 30x zoom lens and a bright f2.8 equivalent (at 28mm) lens made by Schneider – Kreuznach.

I bought it as it has the 30x zoom which was pretty good when it was released, and I thought I’d be able to take some pictures of birds and animals with it, and I bought it as it’s a Kodak, and the last half decent budget camera they made before going belly up, and I’ve a slight bit of brand loyalty towards Kodak.
The first Digital camera and APS cameras I ever bought were Kodak, and my favourite Film of all time is Kodak Ektachrome e100vs, and I’ve always liked the Kodak Digital colours of their Jpegs.

I’ve been using it here and there over the last couple of years with mixed results. To be honest I’ve not use fit that much, and pretty much failed to use it effectively for what I bought it for – birds and animals.

The focus tracks well enough, but it’s too noisy at anything over 400 ISO.

The Image Stabilisation is pretty good, but at full zoom, unless I use a monopod, I need very good light and a well-lit subject.
it’s also too slow from one shot to another, the zoom is via a toggle and slow and not accurate enough, and the focus can hunt. So as a long zoom camera for birds – not good enough.

I ended up using it as a point and shoot and for that it’s not too bad, and for what it is and within limits, the old adage rings true, the camera doesn’t matter unless….

Anyway, it has an interesting array of features. it can shoot in RAW, which I can’t be asked with, I tried it once and it’s about 20 years between each shot – and anyway, I ended up converting to Jpeg and using the image straight out of camera with some photoshop touching up.

Sure, if I were a Pro or shooting for print or display purposes I’d spend much more time in Aperture or Lightroom, and wouldn’t be using a camera like this anyway, so RAW is a waste of time and a marketing gimmick.

It has Aperture priority too, which again is a waste of time as there’s hardly going to be a way of getting shallow depth of field at 28mm so another waste of time and a gimmick.

What I love about it is the Film Simulation Modes; we have Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Kodacolor, T-Max and Tri X. Kodachrome gives natural colour, Ektachrome gives vivid with Kodacolor giving a 70ies look and so and so forth. You can also select the metering mode and other variables common to most cameras. It also has a decent program mode. So I can set it to ISO 100, Kodachrome, Centre Focus, Centre Weighted Metering and Auto WB and shoot away. Focus is nailed but does find it tricky when at full zoom. Full zoom gives a shallow depth of field to portraits and birds. ISO 100, 200 and 400 are very usable. and the lens is sharp with decent enough detail but very pleasing colour and contrast.

And it shoots 1080p video at very good smooth quality with no choppiness! The only downside to the video is that you can’t have much more control over focus selection and you can hear the motor when zooming, but I shot a lot of footage in the Himalays and it was as good as my iPhone 5 and not far off my Canon Legria.

It is well made and takes AA batteries which last a long time! And it looks nice.

With this it’s pointless trying to expect majestic landscapes or expecting to use Filters, and expect a very narrow latitude with the sensor so limited dynamic range. But keep it within limits and with well-lit subjects and you’ll get nice pleasing pictures with good colour and contrast! And you can crop to get some pleasing compositions, and for Birds…well, I’ve included a few shots here, but to be honest, it (and I am too) out of our depths as regards Birds.

So does the Camera matter? yes it does.

Spend more and get a camera suited to what you want to use it for or your style of photography.
I know the latest Bridge cameras with 50x zoom are very good indeed – but for serious Wildlife and Birds – save up for a Mirrorless at least a decent telephoto and a Tele converter. For anything else get one of the Olympus XZ-1 type larger sensor compacts with a decent zoom and fast sharp lens.

Buy one of these for it’s quirkiness and as a challenge, and the camera does’t matter if they’re just snaps for one’s own enjoyment or for a laugh (as mine are) A small selection of travel shots. I managed to get some shallow depth of field by standing back and zooming. And Post Processing was Minimal (framing for effect).

Snotty nosed Kids from The Nagar Valley. Karakoram Mountains

snot kid bubble ginger silvereyes

Punjabi Village Life and Goats

Preparing the “Hukkah” Hubbly Bubbly pipe with black tobacco and unrefined sugar by the stove.

ghalib

a Village lady

simi

A Village snack shop

naseer

Goatherd and their Goats

goats

Ice Cream seller

Babur

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

three

Various Snaps from Wales

Raven on a Wall

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Whitesands Beach, Pembrokeshire

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Sleepy Sheep, Brecon

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Some Sea Bird

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Rabbit Ears

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Christopher Robin

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Clivedon Pier

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The Wye Valley

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32 Comments

  1. James I do not understand your comments. I think that Ibraar is simply trying to say what I believe is an important point. When we amateur photographers are asked for our advise on camera equipment it is important to know what the beginner photographer intends to do with the camera and where his or her future photographic ambitions lie.
    I was for most of my life an active birdwatcher and a member of a Conservation society and lots of the people there used SLR cameras and long telephoto lenses. Some spent a great deal on their equipment while other used more basic set ups. They traveled widely around the world and went to the wildlife hotspots and brought back wonderful colour slides and more lately digital files and gave superb slide shows at our monthly meet ups.
    They were not professional but were very knowledgeable about wildlife/ ornithology and took their photography very seriously.

    You can see how an SLR would be a better start up camera to those people than a rangefinder or a medium format camera or bridge camera with 20x zoom etc. That is what I took from Ibraar’s piece.
    It may be that your point is good but I have misunderstood you -if so no worries
    Meanwhile Ibraar keep posting !
    Best Wishes

  2. Well this feature certainly attracted lots of strong feeling. How great is that , our passion for photography takes different paths and means different things to different people . Photographic equipment can be a simple vehicle for achieving our artistic vision or it can be an integral part of our photographic experience and every shade between. The most important thing is that we get a huge amount of pleasure from the taking and the making of our images. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Looks a bit like FILM. Maybe it is time to buy damm cheap second hand “outdated” digtal camera like Nikon D80 with CCD sensor or the first Canon D 5, Fuji S 5 etc like some people (I did) buy different analog record players or pick ups to create a different sound as CD players sound all very much the same.

    What will you miss towards the new ones? High ISO – just use them in daylight – fast auto focus -use them for protraits or still lifes. Anyway one camera is not enough to cover all the needs for a photographer, I got 3 quite different ones for different situations. We got 2 cars as well, one for the family/transportation of large things and one for my wife and I go on a trip alone.

    I like the photos!

    BR Heiner

  4. Say what you like Ibraar, your pictures only show that your vision matter most then your Kodak 🙂 They are beautiful, well take. Ok, since you are not a post pro guy, I admit that the Kodal color here looks wonderful. so there is a part of your camera that plays in the result…but I would say this is really minor compare to your good perspective.

  5. I don’t give too much credence to this so-called Review. Where it all went south for me was in the following statements:

    “but for serious Wildlife and Birds – save up for…”

    For serious shots? Seriously? What does that even mean… serious shots? You admit you are not a professional and not making a living from your photos but you still think that your bird and wildlife shots could be serious. We’re amateurs enjoying photography (well, at least most of us are) and not making a living from our efforts (and a good thing too… LOL). When we start to think of our “work” as “serious”, I think we might have gotten on the wrong train. How serious is serious? Is it National Geographic serious? If “serious” is putting our photos on a photo forum and then using a loupe or going to 100% and pixel peeping so we can brag about how sharp our lens is compared to the other guy’s… well… I’m not sure that really counts as serious. And so we are advised to save up for a camera that will meet our needs for serious wildlife photography. And just how much do we save up and where does it stop… after we’ve spent $15,000 and can finally drag all our gear into the blind and wait for the birds to arrive and then show them on YouTube or on dpReview? Is that serious?

    And then you come out with this gem:

    “Buy one of these for it’s quirkiness and as a challenge, and the camera does’t matter if they’re just snaps for one’s own enjoyment or for a laugh (as mine are)…

    So… the z990 is a quirky camera that one buys for a laugh or simply for fun and its quirkiness. Ah… I see. So no one owning a Kodak camera could ever be thought to do serious photography much less make a serious photograph.

    Frankly, I’m shocked (and dismayed) that this Review was on SteveHuffphoto. I always thought better of his material. Guess I’ll have to rethink my initial evaluation.

    BTW.. other than a few good portraits and some mediocre travel shots, the review was definitely below grade. I’ve seen much better reviews from users on Amazon.

    • James buster Douglas, very good fighter, knocked out Iron Mike Tyson once!!

      Anyway, your post is confusing. Don’t you know the difference between a snapshot and a serious carefully made photograph?

      If not I think you might need to go to kenrockwell to get some basics.

      Will reply Saturday, currently in turkey on the Aegean Coast 🙂

    • Right James, I thought I’d write a response now and see if I can address your statements.

      Firstly, this is not really a “review” is it? More of a user report, detailing my experience with it, and trying to make a judgement about whether this camera or this type of camera is worth the outlay.

      You don’t understand the difference between a serious, crafted, carefully planned photograph and a snapshot. Reading your post again I’m convinced you haven’t a clue.

      YOU WROTE:
      “but for serious Wildlife and Birds – save up for…”

      For serious shots? Seriously? What does that even mean… serious shots?

      RESPONSE:
      Let’s look at some Oxford Dictionary definitions;
      (Of music, literature, or other art forms) requiring or meriting deep reflection:
      “..he bridges the gap between serious and popular music..”

      Demanding or characterized by careful consideration or application.

      Need I go on?

      Read “Approaching Photography” by Paul Hill. He goes on to explain things clearly.

      A Snapshot is something different, and that’s what these pictures are: snapshots. little or no planing or thought required, the camera raised and the image snapped.

      YOU WROTE:
      You admit you are not a professional and not making a living from your photos but you still think that your bird and wildlife shots could be serious.

      RESPONSE:
      Read what I’ve written above and understand what is meant by serious in this context.

      My bird and wildlife shots could be serious if I were able to acquire the correct equipment to make manifest my creative vision in this respect. I could stalk some birds for hours, stay glued in a bird-hide with everything set, ready with eye fixed on the viewfinder, to capture what is in my minds eye. This is taking it SERIOUSLY and being in earnest with all my focus geared towards creating what I have in mind.

      But you don’t understand this concept as you’re mixing serious with professional or commercial.

      YOU WROTE:
      We’re amateurs enjoying photography (well, at least most of us are) and not making a living from our efforts (and a good thing too… LOL).

      RESPONSE:
      ?? So what? and why the LOL? Nothing funny about what you wrote, you’re rude yet think it’s funny too. Read what I wrote and what is clearly understood by most people, that serious doesn’t equate to commercial or professional.

      YOU WROTE:
      When we start to think of our “work” as “serious”, I think we might have gotten on the wrong train. How serious is serious? Is it National Geographic serious? If “serious” is putting our photos on a photo forum and then using a loupe or going to 100% and pixel peeping so we can brag about how sharp our lens is compared to the other guy’s… well… I’m not sure that really counts as serious.

      RESPONSE.

      I’ve answered this above. And if you’re not sure, I suggest you do some reading,and learn some basics about photography and the Arts in general, heck, learn what serious means in any context. I can play Soccer seriously, on a serious level, that’s different from having a kick about in the park. Get it?

      YOU WROTE:
      And so we are advised to save up for a camera that will meet our needs for serious wildlife photography. And just how much do we save up and where does it stop… after we’ve spent $15,000 and can finally drag all our gear into the blind and wait for the birds to arrive and then show them on YouTube or on dpReview? Is that serious?

      RESPONSE:
      If you take your photography seriously, you’ll buy what you can afford for your needs. If you have $15,000 to spend, and can afford it, go for broke!
      For serious bird photography, buy an SLR or Mirrorless with a high quality telephoto lens or two or zoom or tele convertor.

      YOU WROTE:
      And then you come out with this gem:

      “Buy one of these for it’s quirkiness and as a challenge, and the camera does’t matter if they’re just snaps for one’s own enjoyment or for a laugh (as mine are)…

      So… the z990 is a quirky camera that one buys for a laugh or simply for fun and its quirkiness. Ah… I see. So no one owning a Kodak camera could ever be thought to do serious photography much less make a serious photograph.

      RESPONSE:

      Yes, no one will buy a Z990 for serious photography, if they do they’ve been lead up the garden path by marketing,
      But anyone can OWN a Kodak and can be thought of as someone who does “serious” photography.
      I indulge in SERIOUS work when I have the inclination, and I OWN a Kodak.

      YOU WROTE:
      Frankly, I’m shocked (and dismayed) that this Review was on SteveHuffphoto. I always thought better of his material. Guess I’ll have to rethink my initial evaluation.

      RESPONSE>

      Yep, rethink and go visit some other sites now as I think you lack understanding and knowledge.

  6. Nice post Ibraar. I don’t recall anyone really deriding that particular Kodak camera. In fact, I don’t remember anyone, who owned a Kodak zoom-lens camera, ever saying it didn’t do what they wanted it to do well. I knew quite a few people who used them, and took them to the drug-store to print at the Kodak kiosk because that was the easier way for them. Everyone liked them and lots of great pics were taken with them.

    They were pretty good. Not really my cup of tea but the results I’d seen (jpegs) out of camera from them were always pretty good. Sometimes Kodak’s digital cameras yielded better results than their film-stock available by then… 😉

  7. Ibraar, I find your Far East images most compelling by “far”. I envy you for your travels and the ability to capture the people there like you do. But you have an almost perverse liking for downmarket or obsolete cameras, which is endearing. I saw a Canon something (dark grey, some stripes? I didn’t stop) in a thrift shop window today and immediately thought “Whatever its qualities, it’s so ugly I would never want to use it”.

    This Kodak is slightly better looking, but it’s close…. ;-)!

    • haha!! I do like quirky cameras. I have been on the lookout for a 35mm camera which shoots square frames. Only ones are really decrepit things.
      Other options for 127 Film exists too.

  8. The photographer matters ! it’s always a pleasure to read you and watch your pictures ! I remember when you talked about taking photos in bright bright lights and some people said that you didn’t know how to make a portrait 🙂 that’s how i got to go on on a previous post of yours and got mesmerize by your way of doing IT … Thank you again for this post, and for all your posts

  9. Nice shots Ibraar

    Especially impressed that you managed to take a shot of Prince Harry (pic # 4)

    Best regards
    Huss

  10. Hello Ibraar,
    to be honest. This camera model is not “old” at all. And when it was released (2010?) it was no bargain.
    The pictures you show are awesome.. no doubt 🙂

  11. I think the camera doesn’t matter much to most people. But for those who become “serious” about their photography, the choice of camera tends to become very important. That’s not to say that even serious photographers must have the latest and greatest gear with them at all times. But the more one shoots the more important achieving a certain and feel in your shots becomes. That may or may not entail using the most cutting edge camera in order to get the results you want, but rather selecting the “right” camera for your work.

  12. Wonderful Photos. Thanks for sharing them.

    ALL aspects of a photo count: location, opportunity, subject, luck and the CAMERA! Anyone that says the camera doesn’t matter, I see as a reverse snob… There is a big differences between a Kodak 104 and a Speed-Graphixs ability to capture an image.

    • PHOTOGRAPHIC Vision counts 90%. All the rest 10%. Almost any photograph from the 50’s and 60’s is technically and artistically better than most of the stuff we see today. An endless stream of people fixated on their cell phones is not art.

      • Totally agree with the 90% comment. But there were bad photos in the 50s and 60s just like there are today. We just don’t look at them anymore because nobody has held on to them.

        • Agreed, horses for courses, and the camera matters. No one would use a TLR for photographing birds, and no one would put their faith in the Kodak Z990 for everything, especially important shots.

          Creativity and vision does count,but need the tools.

        • As a professional photorestorer I can say……you would be suprised Michael how many bad photo’s are dear to someone to the pooint of paying serious money to have them digitaly restored and how much joy you can spread if you restore a wallet ditritus turd back to a vieweble picture once again..

          Greets, Ed.

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