Hands-on with the latest Kodak cameras

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Kodak announced the best digital camera model in their line-up and CES, along with a more rugged version of their portable video camera, and we tested both of them out in an extensive hands-on session.

The Z980 is still an all-in-one but it looks like a digital SLR. It has a 24X optical zoom with image stabilization, 26mm wide lens, 12 megapixels, HD video, and one of the most unique features we’ve seen in any camera: when you turn the Z980 in a vertical orientation, the LCD automatically adjusts to the new mode and there’s a second shutter release button and a hand grip. Another oddity: the hand grip is removable so you can just use the Z980 camera body or mount it to a tripod. The dial on the Z980 looks exactly like what you would find on a D-SLR and even has manual modes. Asked why Kodak does not make a true D-SLR, a spokesman noted that the company has always wanted to appeal to consumers, not pros. The camera will come out in the spring and cost $400, a good price for the quality.

The new Zx1 video camera is a pocket sized video recorder that’s a bit more ruggedized than previous models. We tested the device in the booth (only an older version was available for long-term demos at CES). The cam has a 2-inch screen, supports 720p video at 60 or 30 frames per second, is weather resistant, includes an SD/SDHC slot, and can be connected to your HDTV using an included HDMI cable. Videos looked a little washed out but good enough for YouTube.com – you can upload them using Kodak software that optimizes the process.