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Kodak Easyshare Z981
Kodak Easyshare Z981

Hey! You should know that Kodak has released a newer version of this product: the Kodak EasyShare Max Z990.

Kodak Easyshare Z981

We've given the Z981 a grade of B.

Editor's Review

The Z981 has been replaced by the Z990, which seems to be an improvement. Here's what we had to say about the Z981 when it came out last year:

The Z981 has a heck of a lot of zoom in its lens -- 26x, to be exact. It's very similar to last year's Z980, the most notable upgrades being that slightly enlarged zoom (up from 24x) and a higher resolution (14 megapixels up from 12). It has some other attractive features like HD video, a three-inch display, and raw shooting, too. We haven't reviewed this camera yet, but its getting generally positive reviews from users, though some bad ones regarding the included battery charger (you can always use your own set of AA batteries here). It's reasonably priced and stacked with some cool features, so we can understand why it's been popular thus far.


  • 14 megapixels
  • 26x optical zoom
  • Optical image stabilization
  • 3-inch LCD display
  • 720p HD video mode
  • Vertical shutter release and detachable vertical grip
  • Captures to SD/SDHC memory cards
  • Rechargeable Ni-MH AA batteries included
  • Release Date: Mar 15, 2010

Shop for Z981 Accessories

Kodak Easyshare Z981 Reviews

Kodak Easyshare Z981 Reviews by Digital Camera-HQ Users

  • 4.0 out of 5
Kodak z981 (fred fabel — 07/20/2011)
It’s been over a year that I have lived with my Z981. I still feel much of the camera’s lack of features is detrimental to the relationship. As the song goes, “you don’t know what you miss til it’s gone” rings true. On the plus side, the lens is fantastic, everything anyone could want in a lens. The simplicity of controls and menu are a novice’s dream come true. I should say at this point I use the camera probably beyond its designed means. I shoot stage /theater available light. I shoot air shows but I also take nature and people pictures. Now onto that slippery slope. The batteries are still a problem. Most folks go for AA batteries in their cameras because if the need arises batteries are readily available. Not so, they have to be the pre-charged type. I tried regular rechargeable and the camera rejected them. I never did try just plain old alkaline batteries. I use a national brand pre-charged and the Kodak batteries that came with the camera. A little over a year on the batteries and several thousand pictures and so far so good. I can’t complain about longevity with the ones I have. I do miss the diopter adjustment more than I thought I would. I also find I miss the ability to put a UV filter on the camera to protect its lens. I read in one of the comments about the camera and red and I thought it was just me. Large amounts of red color in the picture and you lose all detail. I shoot a lot of stage shows and they often use red or warm lighting much to my dismay. I gave up on the burst shooting, it will never match what I had in my old Nikon coolpix 4800. The stitching works but it has a long way to go before it can compete with the Sony system. There are many features I’ve not used and probably never will. This would be with any camera. The camera hit the market at $400 and within a short period of time dropped in price. I paid $279 and had to buy it on line because it was unavailable in stores. The point I am trying to make is it was in price competition way over its head. When Kodak dropped the price to $200 it was a leader in a competitive range.
  • 5.0 out of 5
Love It (Tonya Brown — 12/05/2010)
I have wanted the Z981 ever since it came out, just waited for the price to come down. I reviewed your site with comments and recommendations and seriously thought about purchasing a different camera. However, I LOVE the Z981. I am by no means an expert, just like taking pics of family and friends. I fully agree that the baterry charger is not worth the money it cost to produce, but I used 4 AA extended life batteries and after two weeks of frequent use they are still "going strong". The pictures have turned out beautifully with awesome color. I have no idea what a diopter is, so I can't comment on that. I am very satisfied and would strongly recommend this camera to anyone.
  • 4.0 out of 5
Yellow Peril (Larry McGrew — 10/27/2010)
HELP! Just got back from an extended vacation ( no, not prison) and have found an anomaly with my 981, and now, 2000 pictures later, and the time to go through them I have found that I have yellow splotches in the pictures! I don't know if this is noise but it sure as hell has messed up some fine portraits. If I could figure out how to send one of these pictures to this site I would do so but i'm not that up to date with all this new fangled stuff! I see this usually in the flat background of walls, and usually indoors and sometimes on the faces. Okay, I eagerly await your answer!
  • 4.0 out of 5
Red is too RED! (Sandra — 09/23/2010)
I love and hate this camera at the same time. While I'm not the most experienced photographer, I do know what I expect out of a camera... Three years as a portrait photographer (using point and clicks with fantastic results), this one is great (mostly) for everything EXCEPT what I need it for. This is a great camera for outside shots, action shots come out good with burst mode. Flowers,butterflies, birds, squirrels, I've gotten fantastic shots of all of these. However, the red is too red, to the point of looking like it's neon marker, not a photo. All detail is gone on anything that I shoot that is red because of how bright the red is. And as a portrait photographer, this has been lousy, lousy, lousy no matter my lighting set up or camera settings. If I was only using this for outside nature shots with no reds in them, I'd keep it. However after having 2 portrait jobs go horribly wrong, I will be returning this camera before the weekend. Also, the batteries drain too quickly, takes forever to recharge, and unless you have unnaturally steady hands or a tripod, many of your scene selections are useless and will only result in blurry or very noisy pictures.
  • 4.0 out of 5
The Kodak Z 981 (fred fabel — 07/19/2010)
I have had my Z981 for about two months or about 2,000 pictures ranging from beach scenes to boxing matches to theater. In my opinion you get what you pay for, maybe a little less then you paid for. First off there wasn’t a unit to be had in my area so I had to read up on the camera and I order it through a box store’s online site. Based on the online price’s the price seemed pretty good. They have since dropped about $25 or so, there again “if you can find one”. My observations: The lens is fantastic. I sometimes question if the IS is working but from short to long the lens is sharp. I even will overlook the vignetting, which is not sever. The camera is very simple to use compared to many I have looked at. The basic menu does not contain a lot of jargon that the layperson will not understand. The average person can pick it up and in a half hour be shooting good pictures. The turn on to ready to shoot speed is fantastic. From there it slides down a shallow slope. The more I handled it the more it reminded me of the post war plastic 127 roll film camera’s that flooded the market. The Z981 is sturdy enough it just feels that way. I can live without the diopter lens in the viewfinder. I can live without the burst shooting I knew in my old Nikon. These are built-ins. Lack of a good concise manual except going on line and downloading is not expected from a name like Kodak. I found out the other day it would not take just any rechargeable AA battery. Kodak’s play on that is we didn’t test it for that brand so they probably won’t work. I have since found a major brand that will work besides the Kodak batteries, which cost more. Another battery issue is the charger that comes with the camera. It doesn’t turn off when the batteries are charged. They do give you a time chart to go by. My main concern is the charger gets so hot it is hard to handle so I will continue to use my old charger which doesn’t get hot and turns itself off. While on the battery topic, the compartment door is a sever butt pain to open and close. I can see duct tape in it ‘s future, sometime shortly after the warranty runs out. The time delay between shots even using the tap the shutter button method is a bummer. I’ve lost pictures because even when I tapped the shutter and I got a live view it still would not take the next shot, it was still writing. So in my opinion you are buying a good camera design that didn’t pass the bean counters paring knife.
  • 1.0 out of 5
Battery Charger (Lemlakit — 06/12/2010)
The slow battery charger is total blunder for this camera, just got started to shoot and batteries run down> it takes 16 to 18 hours to recharge> Antiquated time to recharge, Not interested to review this camera if the manufactor thinks I should pay for an efficient charger > well the camera's performance will be is suspect. Lemlakit
  • 1.0 out of 5
'No Diopter' Means 'No Good!' (Rebecca Winchester — 04/13/2010)
I eagerly anticipated receiving my pre-ordered Kodak Z981 after owning a Kodak 6490 for four great years. But the day I got it, I turned it on and saw there was no diopter control for the LCD screen. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? Did some 23- year-old Kodak marketing wiseguy with perfect eyes decide to ditch the diopter control in order to save a few bucks? Without a diopter, the camera is useless to me and I reluctantly returned it the next day. Too bad for Kodak. They've lost a loyal and longtime customer and I bet there are a few more like me out there. A 26x optical zoom with an LCD screen is simply useless to the vast majority of users over 30 years old without a diopter control. Shame on you, Kodak!
  • 4.0 out of 5
Not bad for $330.00 (Samplerman — 04/09/2010)
I was one of the first to receive the Z981. In fact I bought 2. At first I thought the camera was a fake...real light. Not made of metal but of hi-tech plastics. The lens is awesome and the images are good to excellent. The LCD screen is very large and easy to read, however the EVF viewfinder HAS NO DIOPTER focus adjustment!!! I think this is a grand mistake on Kodak's part as not everyone sees the same. I can almost focus through it, but my GF cannot and is very frustrated. Also there is no flash shoe at all. The camera is a battery eater and the NIMHs they include are only 2000mAh and the charger takes 15 hours to charge them. Not good. On the good side, there are tons of settings you can choose and the 1/2 inch imager does a good job in low light. I was blown away at how fast you can go from "ON" to "zoom" to "shoot". Beware, the zoom is ultra-fast and has no speed adjust. A great camera to capture birds or UFOs!! All in all it's really worth the money but dont buy it if these shortcomings bother you.