Today Motorola and Kodak announced the result of a two-year partnership, and it’s one of the best camera phones I’ve ever seen. It really gives the Sony Ericsson Cybershots and Nokia N Series phones a run for their money. I was invited us to get up close with this new 5-megapixel shooter, called the MOTOZINE ZN5. Key specs include a sharp 2.4-inch display, fast autofocus, a 3.5 mm audio jack (which doubles as A/V out), and a robust 350MB of built-in memory (optional 4GB microSD expansion). Plus, there’s Wi-Fi for uploading photos to Kodak Gallery and other services. Motorola didn’t forget this is a phone either, as there’s CrystalTalk technology on board for excellent noise reduction. Here’s why I’m excited about this camera phone, despite the lack of 3G. Yes, EDGE in 2008! It’s a real camera–with a real flash. In addition to 5-MP resolution, the MOTOZINE ZN5 boasts a pretty fast autofocus (which you can override if you’re really in a hurry) and a powerful Xenon flash. You can tell right away this is a serious camera phone when you look at the huge Kodak logo on the back of the phone, which is on the convenient lens cover. Sliding this open turns the camera on. To prove that this camera is the real deal, Motorola showed us some monster size 16 x 20 prints, which showed a surprising amount of detail and very good color saturation. I noticed a bit of fuzziness in a few of the prints but was generally impressed. Bottom line: 4 x 6’s and even 8 x 10s should be no sweat for the ZN5. Auto enhancement capability built in. Kodak’s Perfect Touch processing technology has been integrated into the company’s standalone digital cameras for a while now, but it’s nice to see this option added to a phone. It automatically brightened a dull image and pulled detailed out of the shadows. However, we’d like to see an option to have this feature automatically enhance your pictures as you take them by default, as opposed to touching up each picture one at a time. ModeShift technology in full effect. Like the Rokr E8, the MOTOZINE ZN5 features touch sensitive buttons below the display–and between the numbers on the dialpad–that change based on what you’re doing. (The difference here is that the dialpad on this phone are traditional popples instead of pseudo buttons that use local haptics.) For example, when you’re shooting you’ll see only a Play button display, but when you’re reviewing images you’ll also see a trash can icon for deleting pics, and a button that will let you upload photos directly to Kodak Gallery online (in full resolution). Wi-Fi But No 3G. Why would anyone release a 5-MP camera phone with EDGE instead of HSDPA these days, especially when even T-Mobile is starting to roll out its network? Good question, but Kodak assured us that uploading over EDGE will happen in the background and shouldn’t be terribly slow, and there’s always Wi-Fi for uploading to Kodak Gallery in just a few seconds. What I found odd is that there didn’t seem to be an option to look at your pictures in Kodak Gallery directly (as there was on the ill-fated Kodak EasyShare One camera) although that may change. What about other sharing services? Motorola said that it would be bundling the Shozu application, which will add support for Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket, and more. Idiot-Proof Panorama Mode. This is the coolest thing I saw. After you enter Panorama mode and fire off the first shot, a box will appear on the MOTOZINE ZN5’s 2.4-inch display to help you line up the next shot that will be stitched together. No big deal right? Wrong. When you do line up that next shot the shutter automatically fires on the ZN5, that’s not even available on Kodak’s own standalone digicams yet. I asked whether you could share panoramic pictures via MMS but Motorola didn’t have an answer yet, as the ZN5s in the room had Wi-Fi enabled but not cellular data. Outlook Motorola and Kodak have done a very nice job creating a camera phone that’s not only powerful but easy to use. The lack of 3G is a bummer, but if the MOTOZINE ZN5 is priced right we’LL likely forgive that omission. The only other drawback I noticed was that VGA videos recorded in camcorder mode looked blurry when played back in full-screen mode, though Motorola and Kodak said the main focus was on photo capability. Overall, the ZN5 isn’t just “good for a camera phone.” It’s has all the right ingredients to be your only camera. Period.