Kodak Pixpro AZ521 review

52x zoom bridge camera re-boots the famous logo under new licence holder

If you want to shoot the moon from a bedroom window, the huge zoom range of the 52x AZ521 is the camera to let you do it without breaking the bank

While demand for certain camera classes is levelling off, sales of bridge models, or super zooms as they’re also referred to, remain strong. It makes sense then that the Kodak camera brand re-enters the market with just such a model, now under the guidance of US licence holder JK Imaging.

As the full model name suggests, the Pixpro AZ521 Astro Zoom offers a huge 52x optical reach equivalent to 24-1248mm in 35mm terms; the longest on the market even if Panasonic announced its 60x FZ72 two weeks later. However, this DSLR-styled Kodak also has an attractively low £250 price, which is sure to mean street pricing of £199.99 before Christmas. For that we get a 16.38 effective megapixel resolution from a standard-issue 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. Read more Camera reviews.

As with prior Kodak-branded cameras, the AZ521 offers a chunky handgrip and large well-labelled buttons, making it ideal for the sausage-fingered. We could also hold it steady enough toward the telephoto end of the zoom to avoid jitters and achieve a smooth and steady image on the 3-inch, 460k-dot rear panel LCD. That isn’t always possible with longer zooms.

Given that this is a zoom, the maximum lens aperture of f/2.8 is also respectably bright, whilst thankfully the full extent of the optical range can be utilised when shooting full-HD 1920 x 1080-pixel video clips as well as stills. Add in the 360° panorama option and a machine gun-like burst mode and this is one budget zoom punching above its weight. We also liked that a rechargeable lithium-ion battery is provided rather than a fistful of AAs.

Okay, so some features of models twice the price are omitted. There is no option to shoot highest quality RAW files on the AZ521, just regular JPEG – fine for the audience the budget price will attract – plus we don’t find GPS image tagging or any built-in Wi-Fi or NFC. There’s no eye-level viewfinder or accessory shoe either. A pop-up flash occupies this space instead. Whilst this isn’t a direct replacement for that DSLR, it is a capable all-in-one for use by families, wildlife or sports fans who will value an extensive range of framing options at their fingertips in seconds, and being able to switch between shooting stills and video just as quickly.

Though Kodak may no longer be making the cameras bearing their logo, from the point of view of the public the AZ521 suggests business as usual. Read Photo editing software reviews.

And that goes for the images too, which are warmly coloured, plus, thanks to a larger piece of glass at the front than usual for a camera in this price bracket, richly detailed with it. For example the Kodak was able to highlight subtleties like the downy fur-like covering of the stem of a flower that we’re more used to seeing from an interchangeable lens camera.

If you’re really looking some softness can be spotted in the corners of shot at maximum wide-angle, and sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get something spot-on for sharpness at extreme telephoto, but overall the imaging performance is better than expected.

OUR VERDICT

Imaging performance is better than expected from this reboot of the classic camera brand. Basic in some respects perhaps, but at its price the AZ521 packs a punch.

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