So you travel often and want a camera that’s not only easy to carry with you, but works great, too? Maybe you’re an amateur photographer trying to find the best camera to start out with or perhaps you just want to get the best quality camera that you can for a reasonable price?
Whatever reason you have, whatever kind of photography you’re into, anyone who likes taking the odd snap can tell you just how difficult it can be to find the perfect camera. However, if it’s a top-of-the-line bridge camera you’re looking for, we may just have the perfect one for you.
For three weeks, I trialled the Kodak PixPro AZ401 bridge camera, taking it with me not only to Madrid, but also to Countryfile Live and out and about locally for those everyday shots when smartphone just won’t cut it.
What kind of features does the Kodak PixPro AZ401 have?
The PixPro AZ401 is a bridge camera, meaning it’s far more professional than your straightforward point-and-shoot camera but falls slightly behind a DSLR, which is generally used by professionals.
However, with the number of handy functions, features and different modes to choose from, I found that it was definitely on the higher end of the scale. Once the camera is set-up and ready to use, you immediately enter ‘auto mode,’ which is the standard setting. From here, you can access AF (auto-focus, including single, multi and object tracking), Macro (which can be turned on and off at will), the self-timer (which can be at two seconds, ten seconds, ‘smile mode’ or turned off), straightforward recording, display mode, (showing the exposure and highlights of a photo) and the menu. From here you can access various other functions including the settings menu, used to adjust the date, sound settings and even a ‘power saver’.
How and when did I use it?
I trialled the AZ401 for three weeks, taking it with me almost everywhere I went in order to get the best photos that I could and to see how it would cope in different situations.
The first time I used the camera was at Countryfile Live, taking photos of the animals they had there. It worked really well, and after some practice I was able to capture what I consider to be good photos. At the event, I found the object tracking auto-focus extremely useful, as at numerous points I was taking photos of moving animals or people, in situations where my other camera may not have coped so well.
I also took the camera with me to Madrid. On the first day we were there, we went to a pretty epic street market, and after an hour or too, I was taking photos of almost every stall we walked past because I was eager to try out the macro mode on my camera. I found that although the quality of the mode was good, it was slightly inconvenient. This is because every time I wanted to take some close-ups, I had to turn on macro mode, something my other camera doesn’t need to do.
We also went up the ‘Faro de Moncloa’, a viewing tower that provided glorious views over the city. When up the tower, I used the panorama mode to take shots of the entire view, and it worked really well. Often, panoramic photo settings on smartphones, compact and even bridge cameras tend to sacrifice detail and quality for a wider photo, however the AZ401 thankfully produced no such result.
Since coming back home, I’ve taken the camera out with me on short walks in order to take photos of the local wildlife, and to find out how the camera would work in high-contrast situations. I found that for this the ‘scene’ function was extremely useful, allowing you to choose between ‘pet mode’, ‘sunset’, ‘fireworks’, ‘sport’, ‘night portrait, ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, ‘snow’, ‘children’, ‘party’, ‘night landscape’ and ‘auto scene’. The landscape function was brilliant for when I was out-and-about, and I actually found myself wishing I could keep it for longer in order to try out all the modes the camera has to offer.
What did I think of the Kodak PixPro AZ401?
To begin with using the camera did take some getting used to, but after a few days, I got the hang of it, and I can now say that the AZ401 is, without a doubt, a great camera. It’s not only the overwhelming range of useful functions and modes to choose from, but also the great quality of the photos and even the zoom. I also think that it’s actually quite attractive aesthetically speaking, although it can feel quite heavy and occasionally a bit bulky. But there were a few things that I felt set the camera back slightly, such as the batteries.
Unfortunately, the camera takes four AA batteries, which can be very awkward to change if you’re out in public. Although you could potentially use rechargeable batteries, you’d still have to carry four spare batteries around with you just in case. I had to change the batteries four times in the space of two to three weeks, which feels quite often compared to my other camera which takes perhaps one charge every week on a single lithium battery.
Again, the macro mode was slightly inconveniencing when having to turn it on and off quickly, though perhaps this was just because I’m simply not used to having to do that.
One of the most interesting features, which regrettably I didn’t get much of a chance to use, was the ‘smile mode’ on the self-timer. Whilst a very clever concept, it unfortunately doesn’t work as well as I’d hoped. If you have enough time to wait for it register the smile, then it’s a fun and exciting way of taking a selfie or portrait, but personally I would rather just have someone else take the photo of me, or manually take it myself.
Overall, however, the PixPro AZ401 is a high-quality camera, and with prices generally around £130, it’s fantastic value for what you get. It has been a pleasure to trial and review it, and I would definitely consider for myself if and when my current one packs up.
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Guest blogger Rosie is a ‘Ladies What Travel’ in training. The stepdaughter of co-editor Keri, she’s already a keen traveller and is a great lover of art and photography.