• Price: £173

  • Company: Kodak

  • Pros: Great value; rock-solid build; pocket-sized; more manual features than usually offered at the price; easy to use; broader than average zoom range.

  • Cons: Performance in low light can’t match the others here; slower in operation; bulkier than rival 3x zoom options.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

Pitching itself at the value end of the market, this Kodak model has plenty of surprises. The sturdily built 12-megapixel Z950 crams an effective 10x optical zoom into a body that will fit in your pocket.

The Z950’s focal range is equivalent to 35-350mm on a 35mm film camera with image stabilisation to avoid blur at telephoto and in low light conditions.

Front and back rubber padding give a firm grip when shooting handheld. Controls are chunky and logically positioned, although the joystick is rather fiddly, and the delete icon resembles a hot water bottle.

When shooting still photos (JPEG only), the Smart capture option ensures the camera recognises subjects, adjusting settings accordingly. The camera delivers bright, colourful results, with ISOs 100-1600 manually selectable, expandable to ISO 3200 with a resolution drop to 3.1 megapixels. It also delivers colourful – if not quite pin-sharp – photos at ISO 800 and below.

The Z950 can also shoot high-definition movie clips. Video capture is at 1,280 x 720 pixels with sound, plus a smooth transitional rate of 30fps.

Packing more features and a great build quality, the Z950 offers plenty of room for skills to develop and is a sensible backup option for entry-level digital SLR owners on a budget.