User Report: Kodak Z-1015

Just Another Black Camera…

The subject in front of me was just what I was seeking, signs of Spring. Much like a brush, the buds of a wetland Willow were gently swaying in the breeze. The yellow pollen tips had attracted some sort of flying insect, but no Honey Bees: the temperature had not yet reached a level bees prefer. Another day perhaps. The season, is after all, still young. And besides, Bee’s have their preferences, just like all other organisms.

The Kodak Z-1015 is a rather plain, unassuming camera…just the way I like em’. (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)

The landscape photography at Reffitt Nature Preserve on April 24th was not looking promising (the sky was not interesting, nor was there any dramatic light), so I decided to focus my efforts on close-ups of whatever subjects caught my eye. This can be quite rewarding…a sort of field journal photography. A landscape is made up of many parts, so why not tell the whole story, and not just a summary? This is where a bridge camera is best utilized–to tell a story. The story consists of images captured at both ends of the lens–and everything in between. Bridge cameras such as the Kodak Z-1015 are the perfect tools to tell such a story.

Memory Quality vs. Image Quality

Memory quality (MQ) is, to me, the most important quality of any camera. At the risk of sounding spiritual, MQ borders on being something that cannot be fully expressed. It is not tangible. It is both right in front of you, and far away. It is the way in which the camera captures the emotional essence of what you are photographing. It is akin to the camera knowing what you see in your minds eye–your ideal vision for a particular subject. Each of us see the world differently–thus the reason the equipment and cameras I use may not be to the liking of another photographer. MQ is that certain something. You know it when you feel it. MQ cannot be quantitatively measured.

Read any review on a digital camera: noise (or grain) is the arch nemesis of what is deemed ‘good’ image quality.

Subjectivity is the spice of life. Subjectivity is at the core of many debates and conflicts over the eons of human kind’s existence. Among these is image quality. While there are certain truths that most image makers agree upon, some are up for debate. One such truth is image noise. Read any review on a digital camera: noise (or grain) is the arch nemesis of ‘good’ image quality. Noise occurs when the sensor-gathering pixels heat up. In fact, a quick search gives results such as: keep the camera away from heat. This heat is what separates the ‘good cameras’ from the ‘bad cameras’.  So what about the Kodak Z-1015? Image noise is a reality at any setting. To many discerning photographers, this would mean one thing: no good. In most cameras of this type, ISO (light sensitivity settings) is acceptable up until about ISO 800. This Kodak shows noise at the lowest setting of ISO 80. This is bad news to many, but good news to me: cheap cameras!

It is also important to note that image quality is also determined through various other measures aside from ISO noise (and can certainly be measured quantitatively). So it comes down to this when I decide which camera I wish to use at any given point: which is more important to me–image quality or memory quality? I feel that image quality specifications can often be over-stressed in today’s world. Forget about the specs I say! When I am in the moment, the last thing on my mind is specification.

My Two Cents

This camera is not for everyone. In many respects, the camera is not at its best when you need fast response times. So forget action/sports photography. But if you are not in any hurry, and love to capture images of still subjects, this camera is in its element. It excels in landscape and macro (close up) photography. This is especially true when being used on a tripod.

The top panel of the camera offers all the major functions I typically ever need to access. I especially love the focus mode button. (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)

The Good:

  1. Lightweight
  2. Great ‘feel’ via rubber around lens barrel and battery grip
  3. Minimal external controls
  4. RAW file capture!
  5. Infinity focus option!
  6. Jog dial
  7. Classic matte black finish
  8. Iconic Kodak color in images
  9. Live view histogram
  10. Quick access to flash, focus and drive (self timers) modes
  11. Wide angle lens!

What Could have Been Better:

  1. Filter threads for enhanced usability
  2. Metal tripod socket–not the cheapo plastic one
  3. The use of four rechargeable AA batteries, not the proprietary one it requires to function decently
  4. More robust, less sensitive pop-up flash
  5. Inclusion of a custom white balance option (being picky here)!
  6. A less vulnerable screen…seems to scratch easily
The jog/rotary dial is a nice touch on this camera, and is quite helpful when adjusting exposure settings. (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)

Sample Images

The images that follow represent the capabilities of the Kodak Z-1015. The images were captured in RAW, and edited to my preferences (sharpening, clarity, highlight and shadow adjustment…) in Adobe LightRoom 4. Please note that some images have less color ‘saturation’; this is the result of available color saturation levels (intensity) selected in-camera. Additionally, these images are meant to demonstrate what the cameras images can become, and do not represent images straight out of the camera (J-PEG).

Holiday Woodland Preserve, Baker Creek: November 23, 2019 (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)
Holiday Woodlands Preserve, Flora: November 23, 2019 (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)
Puffball Mushroom b
Reffitt Nature Preserve, Puffball Mushroom: April 24th, 2020 (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)
Sprial Leaf Plant Close Up
Reffitt Nature Preserve, flora: April 24th, 2020 (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)
Willow Buds Close Up
Reffitt Nature Preserve, Willow Buds with Pollen: April 24th, 2020(Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)
River View
Reffitt Nature Preserve, View from River: April 24th, 2020 (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)
Edward and Mary Dunn Nature Preserve, Tree Line: March 27th, 2020 (Image Copyright The Wilderness Journal 2020)

In the End

If the camera does not matter, why write about it at all, right? I am doing it because I want to offer a perspective to those out there that may be feeling the same way I do about their craft: trying to get beyond the pressure to always have the latest and greatest gear. Perhaps a camera such as this Kodak is all that one can afford. Perhaps someone is interested in trying their hand at photography beyond the phone. This may be a great option. Not everyone needs an expensive camera to enjoy the satisfaction that photography can bring. The cost of the equipment does not always equate to memory quality. A D-SLR is not required to create lovely, memorable images. A camera from 2008 is more than up to the task.

In the end, it is up to you what camera is deemed worthy. Everyone has different criteria that the equipment needs to measure up to. As long as you enjoy the process of grabbing your camera, heading out, exploring and capturing moments that are precious is all that truly matters. Do not get caught up in all the hullabaloo that is popular culture. You do you.

Until next time, get outside and breathe.

-Adam K.

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