The Kodak PIXPRO AZ251 is an entry-level bridge camera - the AZ stands for Astro Zoom! It was announced in July 2013 available from Argos and Tesco with an RRP of £129.99 (currently £99.99 in Tesco). You get plenty of zoom, full manual controls with 720p HD video recording at a reasonable price, let's see how it performs.
Kodak PIXPRO AZ251 Features
The Kodak PIXPRO AZ251 has a 16 megapixel CCD sensor and 25x optical zoom lens which is a 35mm equivalent of 24-600mm, with optical image stabilisation to reduce the effects of camera shake.
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 as well as the option to record HDR's where the camera combines three shots.
Videos are recorded in 720p HD with optical zoom available. You can apply one of three filters to your videos from vivid, sepia and black & white.
16 megapixel CCD sensor
25x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-600mm)
Optical image stabilisation
3.0 inch 230k dot LCD screen
Powered by AA batteries
720p HD video recording
3cm minimum focusing distance
Full manual controls
Kodak PIXPRO AZ251 Handling
The Kodak PIXPRO AZ 251 has the look and feel of a small DSLR, although it wouldn't really be small enough to carry in your pocket - unless you have rather large ones. 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, landscape and face beautifier modes. The top also has buttons for continuous shooting and video recording, as well as the zoom rocker, shutter release and on / off slider. The exposure compensation button on the rear also gives access to ISO, aperture and shutter speed, depending on what mode you're using. The i button gives access to the filters, there are also menu, playback 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 230k dot resolution, which is typical of a budget camera, and is easy to see in bright light.
Battery life is rated at respectable 280 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.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot without Flash
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting - 3 shots
Continuous shooting records at full resolution. The speed is a little slow when shooting HDRs, it's best to use a tripod as there will inevitably be some slight movement in between each frame.
Kodak PIXPRO AZ251 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 AZ251 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - The AZ251 is capable of taking well exposed images with good colour reproduction. Portraits have really good skin tones and are free of red-eye when using the flash. The HDR mode is very useful, with good detail in the highlights and shadows.
Kodak PixPro AZ251 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail is OK in the centre of the images but are soft around the edges and in the corners. Image quality does worsen as you extend the zoom with purple fringing and chromatic aberration becoming more of an issue. This will only be of concern if you're looking to print large pictures, for sharing on the web the image quality is fine. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 3cm which allows for decent macro shots to be taken.
Kodak PixPro AZ251 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 80 and 100, but there is detail lost at ISO 200. The loss of detail at ISO 400 means that images are soft with ISO 800 producing a very noisy image. Image quality is very poor at ISO 1600, at ISO 3200 image size is limited to 4 megapixels but you can still see plenty of noise.
Kodak PixPro AZ251 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 | 1/750 sec | f/3.7 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Panorama mode - Panoramas have a decent amount of detail but there are some stitching issues in places.
Kodak PixPro AZ251 Digital filters
Digital Filters - The AZ251 has a number of filters which can be used during shooting, there are examples of each above.
Video - Below is a video recorded in 720p HD. Quality is OK, you can use the zoom during recording, but the focus really struggles when you zoom right in. You can view a video using the zoom on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page.
The Kodak PIXPRO AZ251 packs a decent set of features - there's plenty of zoom, a close focusing distance of just 3cm, decent continuous shooting, manual controls and an automatic HDR mode. All this is available for less than £100, a very reasonable price indeed. Image quality is an issue if you're wanting to print large photos, particularly if you are shooting at the higher ISO settings. There is purple fringing and chromatic aberration but if you're going to be sharing your images on sites such as Facebook instead, the excellent colour reproduction will lead to images that will impress your friends and family.