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Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 Bridge Camera Review

Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 Bridge Camera Review - Daniel Bell reviews the Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 which has a 52x optical zoom lens.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Kodak PixPro AZ521
Price : £175
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Kodak PixPro AZ521

The Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 is one of the new Astro Zoom cameras from Kodak and has one of the longest reach optical zoom lenses available at 52x, zooming all the way to 1248mm equivalentIt was announced in July 2013 and is available from Argos and Tesco with an RRP of £249.99. Let's see how the camera performs in our test.

Kodak PixPro AZ521

Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 Features

The Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 has a 16.38 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and f/2.8-5.6 52x optical zoom lens which is a 35mm equivalent of 24-1248mm, with optical image stabilisation to reduce the effects of camera shake. The lens also has a minimum focus of 1cm when shooting wide which is great for macro shots.

There is an auto mode which adjusts the camera settings automatically, as well as PSAM modes for more control. You'll also find a panorama mode as well as a number of scene modes. There are also a number of digital filters (including vivid, sepia, partial colour and more) as well as the option to record HDR images where the camera combines three shots.

Videos are recorded in 1080p HD with optical zoom available or you can record high-speed videos at 120fps. You can apply one of the digital filters mentioned above to your videos. 

Kodak PixPro AZ521

Key Features

  • 16.38 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
  • 52x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-1248mm)
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3.0 inch 460k dot LCD screen
  • Full manual controls
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 100-3200
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
  • 360º panorama mode
  • 18 filter effects
Kodak PixPro AZ521

Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 Handling

The Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 has the look and feel of a small DSLR, although it wouldn't really be small enough to carry in your pocket. The grip is rubberised to help you to hold the camera, with a rubberised patch on the rear for your right thumb.

There is a mode dial on the top, this gives access to PSAM and auto modes, as well as panorama and face beautifier modes. The top has the zoom rocker and shutter release and also has buttons for continuous shooting on / off, and exposure compensation which gives access to ISO, aperture and shutter speed, depending on what mode you're using. The flash also has a button to pop it up.

On the rear the i button gives access to the filters, there are also menu, playback, video record and display buttons. Lastly, there is a d-pad with a set button in the middle. The directional buttons can be used to access focus, macro, flash and self-timer.

The menu system is fairly easy to navigate, but one or two things are a little different to most cameras - access of shutter speed and aperture settings via the exposure compensation, as well as using the set button to change the white balance. The 3.0 inch screen has a decent 460k dot resolution and is easy to see in bright light.

Battery life is rated at very respectable 340 shots according to CIPA test results. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response   0.2 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.5 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.5 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   3.1 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   0.9 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.6 secs
Continuous Shooting   9.6 fps
Continuous Shooting - High speed (VGA)   30 fps
Continuous Shooting - Fast (4 megapixel)   30 fps

Continuous shooting records a very respectable 9.6 fps at full resolution, this came as a surprise as it isn't mentioned on the list of features on the literature we were provided about the camera. The high speed and VGA modes both record at the same speed, which is a little strange. The speed isn't quite as quick when shooting HDR shots, but it is just about fast enough for handheld shooting.

Kodak PixPro AZ521

Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Kodak PixPro AZ521 Sample Photos


Sample Photos - Images have excellent colour reproduction and are well exposed. Portraits have good skin tones, particularly when using the face beautifier mode. Thanks to the optical image stabilisation it's possible to take sharp photos even when using the zoom at its longest. HDR's are created from three shots and results are rather good.

Kodak PixPro AZ521 Lens test images


Lens Performance - Images have decent detail in the centre, but are softer in the corners. Purple fringing and chromatic aberration is low though. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm which allows a detailed macro shot to be taken.

Kodak PixPro AZ521 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 100 and 200, but become a little soft in places at ISO 400. Detail is lost in places at ISO 800, with image quality becoming poor at ISO 1600. The highest setting available is ISO 3200, due to the image quality, it is best avoided where possible.

Kodak PixPro AZ521 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the Auto White Balance (AWB) produces images with an orange cast, with the incandescent preset taking a much better picture. Under the fluorescent lights, the AWB does a much better job, the fluorescent preset also performs well.

Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/4.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/4.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100

Panorama mode - Detail is reasonable in panoramas and they are reasonably well stitched together, although there is some slight ghosting in places.

Kodak PixPro AZ521 Digital filters


Digital Filters - The AZ521 is packed with a large number of digital filters, and we've included examples above.

Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD. Video quality is decent, when zooming the focusing sometimes takes a little while to catch up, but it's not much of an issue. You can watch a video using the optical zoom on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page.



Value For Money

The Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 is available for £249.99. Alternative cameras with a large amount of zoom include the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 (50x, 24-1200mm) at £269.95, Canon PowerShot SX50 (50x, 24-1200mm) at £353.99, Sony Cybershot DSC-HX300 (50x, 24-1200mm) at £319.95 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 (60x, 20-1200mm) at £369.00.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 Verdict

Producing a camera with 52x optical zoom is a bold move for Kodak, given they had withdrawn from the digital camera market. At first, expectations were quite low, but after spending a few days with the camera, we are pleasantly surprised. If you're looking at a camera with 50x optical zoom or more, you'll struggle to find any at a lower price. Image quality is decent with excellent colours, and with the addition of HDR and fast continuous shooting, the AZ521 will certainly appeal to many. One of the major negative points is that there is no viewfinder, which generally makes it easier to take sharp shots when using the lens at its longest, but for less than £250, there's plenty on offer for your money.


 
  The Kodak PIXPRO AZ251 packs a lot of features and takes decent pictures for a very fair price.

Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 Pros

Fast continuous shooting
Full 1080p HD video recording
Good optical image stabilisation
Manual controls
HDR mode
Colourful images
Pleasant portraits
Image quality is decent

Kodak PIXPRO AZ521 Cons

No viewfinder
Some of the settings are in unusual places
Lots of noise in images at ISO 1600 and 3200

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Kodak PixPro AZ521 Specifications

ManufacturerKodak
Lens
Max Aperturef/2.8 - f/5.6
35mm equivalent24mm - 1248mm
Optical Zoom52x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels16Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460k dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shootingNo Data
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium Ion
CIPA Rating240
Box Contents
Box ContentsRechargeable Li-ion Battery, AC Adapter, USB Cable, Shoulder Strap, Lens Cap, CD-ROM, Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card, Service card
Dimensions
Weight551g
Width118.7mm
Height85.6mm
Depth97.6mm

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Comments


sasan 27
11 Aug 2013 5:06PM
1.Images quality really nice on 72 dpi cause it look likes dslr cams and no sign of noiseGrin

2.zoom is amazing and images quality still perfect in full zoom

3.I think shutter speed is perfect cause more than 1/2000 is not useful in little sensor sizes and 30 seconds is great to use for astronomical photography so 1/2000 to 30 is very Clever

4.Very good macro as 1cm

5.I don't have any idea about video cause I don't access to UtubeSad but I guess it's very nice with full hd qualitySmile

6.Camera price is less than others

olny 1 problem is low battery as 240 shuts
sorry for my poor englishWink
I love ephotozine
I love Kodak
I love America

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I am considering this camera, and amazed by its 24-1248 zoom; maybe I will buy one as my supplementary cameraTongue
9 Oct 2013 12:06AM
This camera would be fine for my purposes if it had even a rudimentary/low res. EVF and its omission obviously contributes towards keeping the price low but I MUST have peephole. I'm funny that way.

The performance of this Pixpro AZ521, so ably demonstrated here, vastly exceeded my expectations when it was announced and I'm particularly impressed with its auto white balance performance. For those who can live with an EVF-less camera, it looks great value for money and I wish its owners many hours of happy and productive photography!

I thank the photographic gods for ePHOTOzine who were quick off the mark with a review of such an affordable decent camera when certain other photographic sites may consider it beneath their dignity to do so. Yeah, you know who you are!

Many thanks, ePHOTOzine - I am coming to treasure you! Smile.
10 Jun 2014 11:54PM
I'm surprised no-one has posted here since 9 Oct. 2013 seeing that this camera is now being sold by Argos for a smidgen under 150 - which, for those who can live without an EVF, makes it an incredible bargain. I see on the Kodak Talk Forum on the ever increasingly irritating photo website dpreview.com, there are a few beautiful pictures posted by a Kodak Pixro AZ521 owner with an overall quality that I very much doubt could be bettered by ANY camera! Talking normal screen display sizes of course.

For the want of a horse shoe nail, a kingdom was lost. For the want of an EVF, the camera bargain of the century was lost!

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