The Kodak PIXPRO AZ361 is one of the new Astro Zoom cameras from Kodak and has a 36x optical zoom lens, zooming all the way to a 864mm equivalent. It was announced in July 2013 and is available from Argos and Tesco with an RRP of £189.99. Let's see how the camera performs in our test.
Kodak PIXPRO AZ361 Features
The Kodak PIXPRO AZ361 has a 16.15 megapixel CCD sensor and 36x optical zoom lens which is a 35mm equivalent of 24-864mm, with optical image stabilisation to reduce the effects of camera shake. The lens also has a minimum focus of 5cm when shooting wide 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, vignetting and more) as well as the option to record HDR images where the camera combines three shots.
Videos are recorded in 720p HD with optical zoom available and you can apply one of three digital filters, vivid, sepia or black and white.
16.15 megapixel CCD sensor
36x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-864mm)
Optical image stabilisation
3.0 inch 460k dot LCD screen
Full manual controls
720p HD video recording
5cm minimum focusing distance
180º panorama mode
Kodak PIXPRO AZ361 Handling
The Kodak PIXPRO AZ361 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 movie record. 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, display and exposure compensation buttons, the latter gives access to ISO, aperture and shutter speed, depending on the mode you're using. 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 quite a low 200 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
The camera is a little slow between shots, but doesn't get slower when using the flash. Continuous shooting is fairly quick. When shooting HDR's it is nearer the 0.6 fps, but is quick enough to shoot handheld.
Kodak PIXPRO AZ361 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 AZ361 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Colour reproduction is good and images are well exposed. Portraits have good skin tones and are free from red-eye when using the flash. For more details in the highlights and shadows you can use the HDR mode which stitches three images together and does a good job, even when shooting handheld.
Kodak PixPro AZ361 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail is decent in the centre of the images but are significantly softer in the corners. Purple fringing is an issue in contrasting areas of the pictures. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5cm, which allows for a good macro shot.
Kodak PixPro AZ361 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 80 and 100, but even at ISO 200 a little detail is lost in places. This loss of detail worsens at ISO 400, meaning the images are slightly soft. Image quality becomes quite poor at ISO 800, particularly in contrasting areas, with even worse image quality at ISO 1600 and is therefore best avoided. You can shoot at ISO 3200 but image size is limited to just 4 megapixels.
Kodak PixPro AZ361 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the Auto White Balance (AWB) takes a picture with a very slight orange cast, with the incandescent preset performing well. Under the fluorescent lights the AWB and fluorescent preset both perform well.
Panorama | 1/280 sec | f/5.3 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Panorama mode - Panoramic images have a decent amount of detail - but they are poorly stitched together. The example above was the best of three attempts.
Kodak PixPro AZ361 Digital filters
Digital Filters - There are a number of filters available when shooting, with examples of each above.
Video - Below is a video recorded in 720p HD. Recording quality is good, you can watch a video recorded using the optical zoom on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page.
The Kodak PIXPRO AZ361 is going to suit someone who wants lots of optical zoom, but isn't too fussed about image quality being good enough for large prints. If you prefer sharing your images on Facebook instead, image quality is good enough, particularly as colour reproduction is good. Noise is an issue from ISO 200 upwards, so shooting in good light or with the flash is useful, the battery life is also disappointing. But for the amount of zoom available and full manual controls, the AZ361 is worth its price - especially as you can also shoot HDR images using the camera handheld.
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