Nightcat loves photography and has been a hobbyist for decades who enjoys talking to other photographers and comparing rigs and photos.
An Excellent Bridge Camera
I've always loved Kodak cameras. Never mind the fact I have had other brands as companions, Kodaks were, are and always shall be the camera of the masses. The camera for snapshots and silliness and having fun. Like everyone else I went into mourning when Kodak stopped making cameras. But 2014 was the dawn of a shining new era and Kodak cameras roared back onto the photography scene in triumph.
So which of the PIXPRO line lovelies did I get? First, consider this neat fact, because it's relevant. I paid less than a third in the modern equivalent for my camera what Eastman's first cameras cost 1885. So think of it. Over a century later I have a rig Eastman could have only dreamed of.
He comes to us from JK Imaging Limited who bought licensing rights to the trade dress and Kodak name (they can use them but Kodak still owns them), and this camera not only carries on the Kodak tradition of reliability, he does so much more than I expected.
For those who want the goods before we go further he has a zoom lens that is the equivalent of a wide 24mm up to an impressive 1560mm and 20 megapixels. So like any bridge camera he is going to snuggle into the gap between compact point and shoots and true DSLRs nicely. There's a 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor on board, and the ability to grow beyond auto and even shoot in RAW. Ready to learn more?
Please Note: I tried to cover the areas I want to know most about when looking at cameras. But if there is something you'd like to see me cover that I didn't please let me know.
PS All photos of my PIXPRO for this hub were taken on my Kodak Easy Share DX6490. She's been with me for eleven years as far as I can reckon. I believe she needs a new SD card, so please don't blame the camera!
And if you want to see more photos, including edited RAW results for this camera, please feel free to visit me on DA.
More Settings To Set Your Photography Free
The Lens Function Ring
The lens function ring around the barrel of the lens has three basic settings which can branch off into more depending on what mode you have the camera set in. But to keep things simple and not just recite the user's manual here goes:
MF is manual focus. This setting combined with manual means the function ring controls the zoom lens. You can set up the camera to do that in other ways, but it is nice to have and give you complete control over focus in situations where the camera is stumped. This also means that you, not the camera decide when the picture is in focus, so it is a way around auto focus when extreme low light or flat surfaces puzzle any camera. To access this shoot in one of the PASM modes. See? A reason to grow beyond auto!
Smart can also do this neat trick, but if set to manual will control the functions the camera usually does in auto. Meaning the ISO (just like old films speeds), shutter speed (how fast a camera blinks) and aperture (measured in f-stops this is how wide the camera opens its iris, works just like your pupil, neat, huh?). It controls more than that, but those are the main ones you'll be using in manual.
ZOOM/AF Does just what you expect it to do, controlling the zoom with the lens function ring, but allowing the camera to auto focus for you. This allows you to be precise with what is in the shot, but the camera takes the worry of focusing from you.
Overall I love the feel of this lens function ring. The camera lens and functions are responsive to it and it is ridged for a secure grip. I've had no problems getting it to work with gloves on either, so there's no excuse not to get out there in nippy weather.
Impressive Lens Capabilities
The 65x Optical Zoom Lens: 24mm (Wide) -1560mm (Telephoto) Equivalent
Forget the numbers. Where a bridge camera really snuggles in between a pocket-sized point and shoot and a true DSLR is not only size and price, but the lens. This lens has more range than even the most ambitious pocket-sized compact, meaning you have more creative options without having to buy multiple lenses as you would with a true DSLR. Making this bridge camera the prefect travel companion for the photography enthusiast.
There is also optical image stabilization on board to lessen camera shake, though you can and should use a tripod for times when you're zoomed all the way out. But none of that matters if you don't like what you see through the lens (via the electronic viewfinder or LCD) and I love what I see with this lens. Photos are crisp and clear, and there's no visible distortion even zoomed out to the maximum optical length.
There is also an eerie feeling of looking through a traditional SLR lens with this camera. And the more I use it, the more pronounced it is. It feels and responds like a traditional lens, not an optical zoom, and it's one of those hands-on things you have to try to believe.
Instead of throwing all the specs you can get in the user manual at you I'd say the lens is one of the reasons this is the flagship of the PIXPRO line. Did I mention it does a fine job with macro or the very nice range of F2.9 to F6.7 depending on whether you're shooting at a wide angle or telephoto?
I've also noticed the camera selecting f-stops and even speeds not listed in the manual, just one of the hidden surprises some digitals can offer.
Three Inches of LCD
Three Inch Vari-angle LCD
When you first unbox your camera this screen will be tucked neatly into the body to prevent damage. It can then be swung out to have a viewscreen like a movie camera (I prefer this position) and from there can tilt up or down for doing overhead shots to get above the crowd or to shoot from a lower angle without stooping.
Those two angles might sound like you'll never use them, but I've already held the camera high above my head seeking the perfect shot and held it at waist level to shoot the world's shortest movie.
If you keep going upward when it is out and away from the camera it will turn completely around giving you a position perfect for admiring yourself (try it for a giggle) before you put it back into the camera. So yes, you can use this camera for selfies as has been mentioned in other reviews. Or pretend to be taking selfies and get sneaky spy shots or something. It is actually for filming videos, I believe, but if you aren't into the video side of things you tend to forget that.
You can also change the brightness by a generous amount either way, and coupled with the ability to tilt the screen it provides clear viewing in any sorts of conditions. This LCD is one of the reasons I'd say it is a camera where the only restrictions are how mature the photographer is. Age doesn't matter if the first instinct is to make to screen go in a direction it wasn't engineered to. That said, it is a sturdy screen and you can go by feel if you forget which way to turn the screen.
This camera's electronic viewfinder will show you the light that is in the area you are shooting, not what your human eye can be fooled into seeing. You might not notice the yellow or bluish cast to the light sources in the area, but this camera does and will record them faithfully. You can either adjust your white ballance (easy to find in the menu) or edit using your favorite editing software on your computer.
This of course is where an inexpensive set of filters to balance out different types of lighting such as incandescent and fluorescent can be helpful. But the bluish, yellowish or other cast you are seeing is not a defect in the camera.
It does have a backlit feel to it, sort of like a mini light box, so the feeling of being back to a time when we all shot film may take a while to get to you, but it will come eventually.
i Button Function Menu
If there was ever a reason to go beyond auto the Kodak PIXPRO AZ651 knows how to lure you there. In one of the PASM modes press the i button and you'll find a whole new world of shooting possibilities thanks to the color effects. (Provided you are shooting in jpeg, sorry RAW lovers.) Twenty one of them ranging from normal, which is what you are already shooting in, to extremes like Punk or Negative which most definitely show a pronounced effect.
This is where the camera goes from being serious to downright silly and is clearly meant for family fun or breaking the stress of a long day of shooting. And it is also done in-camera, so the few seconds you wait are more than worth it to me. And for you nostalgic camera people out there there is KODACHROME film, EKTACHROME film and KODACOLOR film effects. And as the camera honestly gives you the Kodak look and feel already these just add to the sweetness.
I love these effects because I have the terrible tendency to get way too serious about my photography. To become a grouchy fauxfessional that hates everything she sees, grumble, grumble, growl. These effects remind me, more than anything that photography is supposed to be fun. No seriously, if the joy is missing from your photo expedition these effects will put a smile on your face.
Which I should have expected from a camera that sings to me (he plays a cheery jingle every time he turns on or to say goodbye when you turn him off) and has the cheekiness to put a smiley face emoticon on the screen when he asks you to please wait for a second while he processes a shot.
Owners are Excited, And They Should Be
Mode Dial: Going Beyond Auto
The Mode Dial
Firstly, I love the feel of this mode dial. Easy to grip and turn and going around the dial has it's advantages. And please remember photography literally means painting with light. This is art, not science class so have fun and don't sweat the tech stuff!
Auto Mode: The red camera. Here the camera automatically makes setting decisions for you such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Works best for shots where you only get one chance and one chance only, and will get you darn near perfect results 99.9 percent of the time. Also perfect for first time photographers, handing off your camera to pose for a vacation photo and nothing to be ashamed of. I shoot in auto most of the time myself.
Program AE: The P of PASM. Under different scene setting you can set your ISO and EV settings manually, the camera takes care of the rest. Perfect for getting a faster or slower ISO that suits what you want the end result to look. This controls how much light hits the sensor. Higher numbers are great for low light and lower for sunny days, but don't be afraid to keep experimenting.
Aperture Priority: The A of PASM. You control the aperture via f-stops. These vary a bit from wide to telepohoto but the camera makes the rest of the decisions for you. Remember this is how wide the camera opens its iris just like your pupils growing bigger or smaller in different lighting.
Shutter Priority: The S of PASM. Let's you control the shutter speed, the camera takes care of the rest. How fast the camera opens and closes the shutter. Slow for a slight blur superfast to catch a hummingbird in motion.
Manual: The M of PASM. Let's you have full control over shutter speed, ISO and aperture.
Face Beautifier: The face. Make that portrait pretty with skin softening and eye brightening.
Wi-Fi Mode: Wi-Fi Icon. Allows you to send photos to compatible W-Fi capable devices.
Scene Mode: SCN Give you a choice of fourteen preset scene types and effects. Scenes include Auto where the camera chooses, Snow and Sport.
Movie Mode: Movie camera icon. Record videos in a variety of sizes.
Custom Settings: Have a mode and shooting parameter you've fallen in love with? Set it as a custom mode for quick and easy access.
Still confused on PASM? See a great video on uses here.
Kitting The PIXPRO AZ651 Out
While your lens will always remain the same, here is some gear to consider.
Tripod or Monopod: With patience and practice these handy devices can produce much sharper photos. The Kodak PIXPRO AZ651 features a sturdy metal tripod socket.
Camera Bag: To me an essential: A lightly padded bag is all you need. Look for one just big enough to secure your camera without it jostling around, but make sure you can also tuck in any filters or goodies you might need. Make sure there is enough padding to protect your camera from slight bumps as well. An alternative is a backpack designed just for cameras.
52mm Filters: Filters come in an endless range of abilities and prices. I choose low end filters just to protect the lens or balance out light. That filter you see in the photos is an ND2 I have a strong attachment to. It cost all of six bucks. Much cheaper than a new camera if you crack it instead of the lens, yes?
52mm Lens Hoods: You know that super-annoying flare you get in some shots? That isn't a camera defect, but comes from shooting into a super bright light source. A good hood of your choice can prevent this, and there are many options out there from rugged low end ones to ultra-pricey pieces of plastic. Again, choose what makes you happiest. These have the added bonus of providing a little more protection to your lens with or without the filter.
Cleaning Gear: I use a soft cloth for camera lenses or brushes, but there are a ton of products out there. No matter what type of camera you have at the very least consider a soft, clean brush or camera friendly cloth to keep your lenses and camera nice and clean.
Memory Card: An essential, this camera works with SD/SDHC cards from 4GB to 32GB. I use the 32GB SDs and I'm happy with my results. These usually have to be purchased separately, just like film used to be purchased separately, but unlike film SD cards can act as permanent storage or be reformatted in the camera to use again.
Unboxing Video! Not mine, but lovely
Temp and Humidity Ranges
The downloadable instruction manual lists a temp range of 0-40C and humidity 0-90%. What in the heck does that mean? These are the safe ranges the PIXPRO AZ651 can operate in before potential problems could arise. Temps would be 32 to 104 in Fahrenheit, so they go from from freezing to the point where the photographer is sweating buckets.
But I've already had the Pixopro AZ651 out in pounding thirty mile per hours winds on a seventeen degrees Fahrenheit day and although we were out for several hours the camera did quite well snuggled up underneath my fleece jacket.
Keep in mind that when you do things like going beyond the camera's specified temp range, several things can happen. Cold weather drains batteries faster and you can have mild problems like a foggy lens to extremes like condensation inside the camera. There is a list of steps to prevent damage here.
Humidity also presents challenge. But being able to go from zero percent which you may briefly reach in Antarctica to ninety percent, around the humidity of a rainforest means that the photographer will likely back down before the camera will.
Did I void my one year limited warranty when I took her outside of the specified temp range? More than likely. And if you do live in an area where frigid temps are the norm or humidity soars over 90 percent a large part of the year you may want to keep those ranges in mind. That said? He has also been out in pounding rain wearing a fetching raincoat made out of a one gallon freezer bag with his lens poking out and under an umbrella.
Part of photography, after all, is deciding what risks we feel our rigs can handle to get that perfect shot. So I'd say feel free to shoot in any kind of weather, keeping in mind the acceptable ranges given by Kodak, but that a camera can always venture a wee bit outside these safety zones so long as the photographer takes proper care of her rig.
One Year Limited Warranty
If you look at your warranty card you'll notice the word limited. Then a bunch of things they will not cover which must sound downright discouraging to new photographers. Why limit it at all? Because any camera can only handle certain conditions. And while the PIXPRO AZ651 is certainly a fit beast, it is not fair to the camera to do things commonsense tells you not to and expect miracles.
If you decide to become an underwater photographer you just voided your warranty. Ditto that lively game of camera toss where you missed catching the camera or deciding to take your camera apart because you can fix it yourself. Double ditto deciding you can only get the perfect shot by streching your monopod out over Niagara Falls then watching it let go of your camera which can then plunge to an untimely demise.
So the warranty is actually pretty fair on JK Imaging's part. It covers possible defects in workmanship or materials because mistakes can happen. And if these don't show up in the first year of normal use they likely aren't going to.
Warranties, by the way, usually don't cover such things as sand, water and impacts because most cameras simply aren't built to withstand them. Again, that isn't a defect or a sign of an inferior camera. It's all part of being a responsible photographer and realizing there are limits to even the most beloved camera.
And it honestly shouldn't bother you how long a warranty is. It reminds me of a terrific second-hand camera dealer my father used to take me to. Steve's Cameras. His last location was on the other side of Pittsburgh from us so maybe some of you know it. There were lots of friendly photographers like Al there, and others, weathered by decades of experience with one camera. As one put it about new cameras: "You come back to me in two decades, then you can tell me about the camera." And barring disaster this camera should be around that long. But it will take us two decades to find out.
Please keep in mind that many stores or online sellers also offer warranties though what they cover and for how long varies.
Handheld Results, All Untouched JPEGs
Shoot in RAW, JPEG or Both
What is RAW and why do you need it? RAW is simply a format like JPEG. The easiest way to explain it is that with a JPEG the camera processes the shot for you, leaving a much lighter file because lots of the picture information gets thrown out.
With RAW the camera doesn't process the shot and you have more control in the final outcome of the photo. Yes, you will have to venture beyond auto for RAW photos, but the results can be worth it. So why bother? While RAW is not a magic bullet it gives you greater ability to fix things you don't like later.
Things like exposure, color, even digital noise can be fixed to a greater point than with a JPEG, and as your manual skills grow so will your RAW shooting skills. Obviously I'm a total novice myself, and I picked the most simplistic indoor subjects thanks to outside temps being in the 20s. But even with forcing the flash to shut down, having really bad lighting and being handheld I noticed the difference.
I might not have the best manual skills by any means, trust me, I don't, but a few easy mouse clicks in PhotoStudio Darkroom 2 which came bundled with my camera and I'm actually chuffed. Now in the following photos you are going to see digital noise because the ISO was crazy high in a lot of cases. And it was literally my first RAW shoot ever, so be nice. But I was doing a dry run for a trip I'll be taking in about a month.
By calling ahead I found out monopods are not welcome, flashes are strictly forbidden and there will be a lot of people jostling me around. So I have to go handheld, no flash and be quick about it. Will it be better to shoot in auto indoors when I can't use the PIXPRO's flash, or should I sharpen up those manual skills and give RAW a try? In the end the Kodak PIXPRO AZ651 gives me the flexibility to choose and RAW is a great skill to have.
Oh, yes, you can shoot in JPEG or RAW only or take both for a spin at the same time. Nifty, eh?
RAW Results, Mostly Handheld, Minimal Editing
Product support as far as I've experienced simply does not exist. I tried e-mailing JK Imaging twice to order additional batteries, a hardcopy of the manual and a USB cable so I could have one dedicated to my computer. I have yet to hear back from them. Keep in mind the same company sent a reviewer in the UK a camera to review, so maybe once you have the camera it is lights off? Very disappointing.
I did get a USB cable from Radio Shack, but it was annoying and disappointing not to get one from the company itself. If this is their idea of customer support JK must stand for joking. And the camera does have some issues common to digital cameras.
UPDATE: I finally did get a response, weeks after my two e-mails, which were sent a week or so apart. Telling me to call a number in a way that assures me my e-mail's content wasn't even read. At this point, no, I do not feel like making a third attempt to get things I've learned to live without.
The camera will suddenly freeze and the screen or viewfinder will either go grey or black, yet the green power light will be on and the camera will refuse to turn off. Easily fixed by popping out the battery, only the battery is a rather tight fit and rather hard to pop out. This is just plain annoying when you've just shelled out several hundred on a new camera, but this model is not alone in digital cameras with that issue.
Fuzzy focus. I'm seriously not sure why, but you will notice that sometimes even when set on auto when you go to take a shot the picture will be fuzzy and remain so even after you press the shutter button in halfway. Again, this can be fixed by zooming in and out, but it is another annoyance you shouldn't be expected to put up with in a flagship camera. Even if it does make for some neat photographic effects. Like a built-in Holga.
The worst perhaps is that extra batteries are not to be had thus far in a search. Somehow mine held on for longer than was stated in the manual on a recent trip, but you shouldn't have to pass up shots or miss memories because there is only one battery and it can only be charged in the camera. I'm not an engineer so the genius of this idea escapes me.
Don't get me wrong, I know all cameras have shortcomings, there at least are no mysterious oil spots on my photos or goodness knows what else as of yet. But I do want buyers to have an honest review so that their PIXPRO doesn't end up abandoned after the first time he or she acts up.
My camera, after all, has burrowed deep into my heart and I wouldn't give him up now for anything. Even a Canon or a Nikon. They have their issues too and part of being a photographer is not being afraid to love your camera with your eyes and heart wide open.
This camera does well at night photography too. Are the photos going to be as sharp as a tack? Not really. But, I'm only two months in and results will vary. But that thirty second setting for the shutter let's you at least dip a toe in the night photography pool. I shot these in RAW and there is very minimal editing here, the most being a switch to black and white on one photo.
One Month In
As I write this is is Black Friday evening. As it turns out I had to go out today, in brutally cold weather and my Kodak PIXPRO AZ651 held up like a champ in the 14 degree windchill snuggled up under my fleece jacket. He has also faced forty mile per hour winds, pounding rain and we went out successfully in a snowstorm. All of this more or less voided my warranty and I don't suggest you try it, but he is proving to be quite the rugged camera.
I was going to try to write something smart and impressive-sounding about all his features I didn't cover yet, but this camera does so much more than just what is in the manual. I'm not trying to imply Kodi-san has hidden features, but my camera went from an ornery beast out of the box who kept turning his flash back on and batting at my ball cap to a very patient teacher off auto.
He will wait patiently on his tripod as I adjust one setting after another on manual, and he handles my shooting all RAW with good grace and dignity, though he could likely edit a photo a lot better than I can at this point. And yes, I'm calling him a he. All Kodak cameras have personalities and Kodi-san has personality plus.
In a few weeks we'll be taking that trip and instead of trying to adjust everything on manual on the fly I will cut myself some slack and shoot in auto and use the JPEG format. Kodak cameras, after all, have a long tradition of creating lasting memories and I trust the camera to produce wonderful results.
I mainly wrote this review in response to one negative review on Amazon. It wasn't that the review was negative that bothered me. It was that the reviewer gave the camera one day to shine. I'm one month in and I haven't seen all this camera can do, such as how he handles video or how features I haven't touched yet work. But I can tell you that it takes a while to learn the ins and out of any camera.
And it takes a while to learn how to be a better photographer too. I've only been shooting in manual a week or two and in RAW for even less. So my shots may not exactly be awe-inspiring I am at least learning more about photography with this camera than with any other.
I mentioned in a previous intro that I'd passed up a DSLR for cost reasons. And while that is true, I also assumed I would be getting a high-end point and shoot with the Kodak PIXPRO AZ651. Well, I didn't. He's a bridge camera and proud of it. What I really got is a camera that shines on auto or off and is fully capable of teaching me the fundamentals of photography if I will just get out there and practice.
That isn't to push anyone looking at this camera off auto or jpeg. I love it there myself, but it is great to have the option to choose.
Two Months In
Although I've admittedly spent a lot of the last two weeks abed with a nasty whatever holding me back, I've managed to get out and around inside for some photos. The Kodak PICPRO AZ651 is still handling like new, and as I've had the old Kodak Easyshare out more, I'm really noticing the differences between them.
From our eleven years together I still get out the Easyshare when I can't figure out how to get a shot to work, then, mysteriously, the shot I couldn't get with the PIXPRO works just fine. That said? There are vast improvements between what was then the flagship of the Eashyshare line and the camera I have now.
The PIXPRO is lightyears ahead in lowlight situations, and in nighttime shooting, it also sparkles in plenty of good light where most cameras love to romp and play. It does however have one quirk that I can't figure out the reason for. Sometimes after a shot instead of the brief black screen you can get after your results are shown, I get either a black screen with green bands and lines across it or an entirely green screen, which can make you a tad nervous.
It isn't a light leak, the camera's had no hard knocks, and as far as I can see it isn't affecting the photo quality, so what is it then? I've vaguely heard it is one of those things digital cameras can do and as long as it isn't appearing on the photos I'm fine with it. I'll also admit it isn't the world's fastest autofocus, I tried getting photos of golden tamarins on that trip. OK, through plexiglass, but the little monkeys had to actually be still to give me time to lock on. But as I was incubating this cold I'm willing to admit it might have been partially operator error, it locks just fine onto ducks that are moving on the pond, though it can be a bit spotty there as well.
In other words it is the kind of autofocus that is fine most of the time and given practice can be used with moving targets, though I found the tracking autofocus worked less well than just going off auto and selecting multiple areas of focus.
All that said? Being able to run this camera completely silently (go into menu and turn your volume off) and not have the AF assist beam going off (again, menu ) makes it wonderful to take on trips and makes it a very unobtrusive camera. The animals were openly curious and came towards me, instead of fleeing from some noisy beast that flashed a red light at them.
Three Months In
OK, I'm posting this a bit early, by four days, but I'm really impressed with this camera for a good reason. And let me throw a warning in: Do not attempt this at home! Last night there was snow at night and I wanted to try some shots in manual to see if I could get some noise reduction with an ISO of 100.
Well I was out there and was so excited I forgot his raincoat. No big deal, right? I just wiped off the snow from time to time. Then came in and found he'd iced up. Oh, dear. Well, I just did what I always do. Wiped the water off with paper towels then got my best towel and dried him off and let him warm up. No ice left. But the camera had to be dead, right?
The PIXPRO is still kicking. Now I did not tell you that so you go out and try it. Don't. I got lucky, OK? Very lucky indeed since this camera is not weather sealed. But since I'm reviewing I just wanted to point out the camera survived my forgetfulness and excitement. I should have had the raincoat or an umbrella, I just didn't think.
I'm also back to shooting RAW, I like the results this camera gives and now that I'm editing in GIMP I'm finding I get much better results. I really like it for the nighttime photography session when I can come back in and just mess around and get results I'm happy with.
Oh, despite being below freezing and icing over the camera chose to work just fine. No battery drain, no freezing during the shoot. And since I shot in manual as well last night I noticed a big jump in noise reduction and photo clarity.
The Untouched Results
Four Months In
I'm going crazy from cabin fever, but the Kodak is holding up just fine. We are currently having the worst winter in over a century and although I have nothing post worthy for you this month this camera has preformed quite quite in below freezing temps and even sub zero windchills, I did not say for you to take your Kodak out and try this this camera is not weather-proofed and I've had some ice scares from my excitement.
But what I'm really enjoying is the camera's impressive macro capabilities and how well it works to make a base for me to make photographic art of of the RAW files. Which means the finished results look like I used a Diana, but I love that the RAW capacity gives me the ability to tweak my photos and it has saved me when I've had the camera on the wrong settings. Such as leaving it set for my dimly lit home and shooting blissfully outside in the snow all the next day.
I also find it an easy camera to use to try and branch out into types of photography I usually don't try like food and I'm happy with me results. One tip I'd give is to not over sharpen your RAW files as they are coming out pretty darn sharp as is and too much of a good thing will give you fuzzy or pixely results.
Five Months In
The Pixpro survived the winter just fine and in today's trip to shoot in the local park it had a definite feel to it of a camera that's already been everywhere and done everything. I don't mean feeling broken, just broken in. The camera was extremely easy to use today and was giving me some nice separation of foreground and background in quite a few photos. It seems to have a different quality to the photos now, but as that isn't possible it might have something to do with the harsh lighting conditions and lack of tripod on my part. (EDIT: Or me learning how to use f-stops, duh.)
I've stopped trying to make the camera preform like a professional model and just let it do the work it was designed for and I'm loving the results. This isn't my day job, after all. And this isn't a professional field camera, yet I trust the camera not to explode if I set it on the ground, poke it into crumbling walls or do other odd things to get a shot. I'm posting a few of my RAW results untouched so you can see what I mean about the difference in photos. I think I was just delirious with joy to be holding anything with a lens again.
Six Months In
I'm rolling out this month's entry a bit early, mainly because I'm excited about this camera all over again. Let me preface this month's entry by saying that despite what camera companies tell you, there is no magical camera that does all the work for you, even on auto. If you're in the mood to go further a download of GIMP (it's free) and plenty of practice time is really worth it.
We as photographers sometimes forget that really, we are the ones in control. Well, we are. Sure, this camera does great work, this week's fun playing around in GIMP could only enhance what was there. I'm just really excited about the results. When I can think either: "Where did that come from?" or "I didn't take that." I know the camera and I are firing on all cylinders. So while this month's offering might not be to all tastes, I'm really pleased with the results this camera is turning out.
Oh, I am having some hot pixels in the LCD, but those are normal and you do remember the time I got ice on the camera, and the rainstorms, and the pounding winds, right? Then there were the blizzard conditions. Don't try that at home, kiddos.
Seven Months In
To continue last month's theme I used GIMP once again. This time I enhanced in-camera effected jpegs. I used the nifty effects you can access with a jpeg setting by pressing your i button. And then a super simple edit for saturation and curves, some desaturation, and, voilà, some very different effects, even from jpegs.
This was just to point out that although these effects seem geared towards the young and young at heart, they can also be used by older photogs for a nice effect that circumvents editing later if you desire. I've also thrown in other effects such as Salon just so you can see them in action once more.
Eight Months In
I made you a quick user guide based on readers questions, so hopefully it is enough to get you out the door and shooting you can find it here.
Nine Months In
No photos this month, though you are welcome to check out my DA account, though lately they are just article or fun photos. A lot of people are complaining in reviews that you can't shut off the picture review. You can, but it honestly does not speed up shooting much, so select a picture review of one second and try and enjoy the ability to gauge if you need another shot.
The camera did get a little cranky around the blue moon, but I was heavily running the poor dear. Three makeshift studio sessions, recharging the third party battery in camera, then three sessions of shooting the blue moon in muggy weather about as comfy to me as perdition's furnace.
So this camera can certainly take the heat and the brief crankiness (I got a few odd pixels in photos that may actually be the fault of transferring out of Darkroom) abated as soon as the camera got a rest. It is not a professional model, it wasn't designed to be that rugged a woorkhorse, yet mine does it and does it well.
It isn't unusual for me to take several hundred shots in one location, and over a thousand a month, so yeah, this little camera punches above its weight. Even in temps above 90. Keep in mind, any camera is going to act up at times, it's the nature of the beast and a brief cool down isn't much for a faithful machine to ask.
Ten Months In
Sorry to be running a little late this month. I had prepared a show of photos from the asteroid shower in August, but I've already done night photos. That said? The camera held up through the dewy night like a champ, even though all I did was use a plastic bag to protect the camera when not shooting. That was very naughty of me, as he has a fetching raincoat, but I was too excited to be shooting the event to think clearly.
It also gave me time to road test the update to the software. I don't have an i-anything so I can't tell you if it improves connections, but I can tell you the camera won't bug out from it either. And, a big update, and this happened minutes ago. I want to state first that one, I have voided my warranty multiple times, and two, I should be running to the repair shop but can't afford to.
I was shooting for a food article and put the camera on the small tripod to one side as I adjusted the food. That was my first mistake. My second was to just stare stupidly while the camera first drug the tripod over then happily fell off the table to land on the floor. I thought that the camera was broke to be honest. I picked it up, it was still on and raring to go. OK, turned it off, turned it back on.
Now I haven't had it looked at, but not so much as a scratch. No cracked lens, no damage to anything else as far as I can see. Flash works. Viewscreen works, telephoto is fine, everything seems to be a fine o far. I should have it looked at, but again, I voided my warranty, but I will keep an eye on things as it is a working camera.
Eleven Months In
The camera not only survived the drop from the kitchen table, he's also been out in some of the worst conditions this time of year has to offer and still going strong. Today I went on a hike and shot a lot in the rain and the camera held up quite well. Now, I didn't just say play came toss or drop this camera in water, but the Kodak PIXPROAZ651 is pretty rugged. This month's results are untouched RAW right out of the camera. Normally I'd like to edit if posting and what photographer doesn't? But I want you to see what I got without touchups as you may not be interested in editing.
Twelve Months In
Sorry to be so late, things have been super hectic. But overall this camera has proved to be dependable, even with the quirks all digital cameras are prey to. It is also rugged, I've dropped it several times, the last was a tumble to the floor, not far, but no harm done either.
For those just starting out, auto is a great option until you feel like doing more. For me I'm starting over in JPEG and a different setting and really loving the results.
The Kodak Pixpro AZ651
- Kodak PIXPRO AZ651 Astro Zoom In-Depth Review
Lovely review by a freelance press photographer. This is the review along with some videos on other models in the line that steered me towards this camera.
- Kodak Digital Cameras | Support | Downloads
Owner's Manuals and Firmware downloads for Kodak Digital Cameras.
- Kodak Digital Cameras | AZ651
The AZ361 digital camera from Kodak is the perfect first camera. Compact and easy to use, with plenty of pixels and features to make sure you get a great photo or video.
- Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ651: Digital Photography Review
Digital Photography Review: All the latest digital camera reviews and digital imaging news. Lively discussion forums. Vast samples galleries and the largest database of digital camera specifications.
- Kodak Pixpro AstroZoom AZ651 | PhotographyBLOG
The Kodak Pixpro AZ651 is a new superzoom camera boasting 65x optical zoom, image stabilisation and a 3” vari-angle display.
- Kodak PIXPRO Astro Zooms Hands-On Preview
Gary Wolsteholme goes hands on with the new Kodak Pixpro Astro Zooms.
- Kodak AZ651, AZ526 and AZ525 Superzoom Camera Hands-on Photos | PhotographyBLOG
Hands-on gallery of photos of the new Kodak PixPro AZ651, AZ526 and AZ525 superzoom cameras.
- Kodak PIXPRO Digital Cameras
Kodak Digital Cameras and Digital Devices are intuitive, powerful and economical giving photographers the confidence needed to make a creative leap and find the story in every moment of their lives.
I'd Like to Thank My EasyShare DX6490 For All Her Hard Work
Russ Naughton on October 26, 2016:
Can someone advise as to what options are available "in camera" for black and white photography re filters (yellow etc.) and choosing overall tonality hard, soft, grainy etc. Thanks
Nightcat (author) on September 15, 2016:
Hi, Ken! Yes, I think it would be, it is versatile enough to do most of what you will want to do and is rugged as well. I'd suggest getting a second battery as well, have both fully charged and a backup card, I can't tell you how many times I've left the card in the computer. But after all the work I've put mine through on You Tube this cameras proven to be quite the dependable workhorse. I use mine daily, both as a "studio" camera, and for filming in parks, cooking segments etc. And it still does it's share of still work as well.
Ken Maobi on September 15, 2016:
Hi Nightcat, been going through your review and the AZ651 looks interesting. I want to get a camera, gone through Cannon and the rest, but i keep coming back to the AZ651. Would this be a good choice for a newbie
Nightcat (author) on May 12, 2016:
Hi, Tom! Part is from me being a newbie at the time I posted, and part is the lens. It is great all around but images are not going to be razor sharp. But I've also noticed publication on Hub Pages does soften images a bit, or it may even be my software having auto edited the RAW files to look at. If you have a friend with one or are in a club, it's certainly worth taking for a spin. You can get sharper photos than these, I shot mostly freehand and without the timing mechanism.
Thomas Bucher on May 10, 2016:
I enjoyed your review very much. I'm considering purchasing the AZ651, however I'm concerned about image quality. In several of the examples you provide, the images are decidedly soft. Is this typical of the camera or because publication dictates smaller file sizes that just do not enlarge well ?
Nightcat (author) on January 20, 2016:
Thanks, Terry! I have quite a few Kodaks around, some decades old and still kicking, they are rugged little cameras and I'm still well pleased with this model. Now they even have kits with additional lens, a bag, etc. that look like fun. Best of luck and happy shooting! :)
Terry on January 20, 2016:
Well thanks for the info on this kodak camera, Night. I wanted to upgrade my kodak which I have several. Kodak is the only camera I use, I have tried different ones and just to say they can't out do the kodak. I first tried kodak when the easy share dock and camera first aired so I thought what the heck I will buy it, since I had other cameras that I hated and wow what a difference in picture quality and it was great. To this date I try to update my cameras some and still continue to take pictures. I learned from trial and error but was determined to learn. Have been taking pictures for years now and to date over 20,000 pictures I have taken. I take pictures of everything. But thanks for the great info. Thats the next camera on my list to get.
Nightcat (author) on November 23, 2015:
Thanks for writing in, Michael! I think if beginners give themselves time it is a wonderful camera to start off with. Auto is a great option until they are ready to explore and you are correct that is a wifi connection fix but as I don' have wifi I couldn't road test it. Thanks for comment!
Michael on November 19, 2015:
I find this camera not to be a beginers camers.
The 1.06 update is a wifi connection fix.
This camera can takes very good pictures.
Take the time to learn this camera and you will take great pictures.
Nightcat (author) on August 20, 2015:
Kevin, thanks for letting me and my readers know about the update. Readers? You'll have to download, unzip, send to a formatted and otherwise empty SD card, then update in your camera. I'm currently charging my ornery beast as it gave me an error message that it will only format when fully charge. So, I'll let you all know how it goes in this month's update!
Nightcat (author) on June 24, 2015:
@ Ruth Helen Kenyon: Hi, Ruth! I haven't used the 521 myself, but I have noticed the AZ651 can have focus issues myself. Sometimes it is because there is nothing to get a lock on for the camera, or if I adjust the lighting in still shots. I don't think you're doing anything wrong, I think this is just an issue this particular camera can have. I adjust on the fly and coax the camera myself, sometimes shooting in Aperture so I can give the EV values a nudge. Hope that helps!
Ruth Helen Kenyon on June 22, 2015:
I've just got a AZ621 too after having a 521 for a short period. I'm finding the focus is not so good on the 621, and suggestions on what I am doing wrong?
Nightcat (author) on June 03, 2015:
Hi, Tariq. ANY camera would disappoint you in point and shoot mode at this point because you are ready to take of the training wheels, so congrats on growing as a photog! The best advice I could give anyone for this camera is to just get out there and learn by doing. Most of it is pretty straightforward, but I'd be happy to put together a guide at some point though the manual is available online. Thanks for visiting!
Tariq on May 26, 2015:
I bought this camera 10 day's ago. So far, it has been a big disappointment. I am not a photographer by any means. But I can get better pictures with my Galaxy 5. I have made progress by shooting with RAW. But point and shoot in Auto Mode just doesn't cut it. Perhaps what would really help if your are so kind to share how to use this camera. That would be a huge help. Thank you for this wonder review.