(Pocket-lint) - Kodak announced the PixPro SL10 and SL25 smart lenses during the Consumer Electronics Show back in January, both of which are designed to clip onto your smartphone and allow you to take better images when you are out and about.
They are each like a zoom lens and sensor condensed into one unit that can communicate with your Apple or Android smartphone - somewhat similar to the QX10 and QX100 offered by Sony.
The two smart lenses were available for us to get our hands on at Kodak's first European press event, the company which has been pulled back from the brink following a licensing agreement via JK Imaging.
The PixPro SL10 measures 59.6 x 59.6 x 55.8mm and weighs 85g so it isn't particularly small but it is light. It is slightly less pocketable than the Sony QX10 but a similar weight - not bad going for a 28-280mm (equivalent) zoom lens. It's less wide-angle than the Sony offering though, which provides a 25-250mm equivalent.
The PixPro SL25 is a little larger in diameter on account of its 25x optical zoom - delivering a 24-600mm equivalent - but with a compacted 71.0mm length it's not giant by any means. If it's zoom you want then it's certainly zoom you'll get here: a 600mm equivalent is significant and will make far away subjects look close-up in the frame. But you'll need a steady hand, even though optical image stabilisation is built-in to both models to counter handshake.
At the heart of both units is a 16.76-megapixel 1/2.3in back-side illuminated CMOS sensor. Again, both are similar to the QX10 in that regard, with neither offering the physically larger 1-inch sensor as found in the Sony QX100. The key thing for Kodak is the optical zoom ability - something that smartphones haven't mastered.
Both the SL10 and SL25 sat comfortably on the smartphone we saw them paired with and all the ports are easily accessible and clearly labelled so you know what goes where. There is a microSD slot that can support cards up to 32GB and you will also find a USB 2.0 socket for transferring files to a computer. So you don't have to use a smartphone to shoot, but without one your compositions will be guess work as there's no screen.
The ribbed design that goes around the entire lens is useful for providing grip in use, but it doesn't look as streamlined as the Sony offering in our view. It's also not a rotational lens ring, more a facade for style only - zooming is achieved using the small toggle to the side of the SL10's body.
Both models come with a built-in rechargeable 900mAh li-ion battery that is said to offer around 300 shots per charge without having any impact on your smartphone battery. Or at least not much: pairing using Wi-Fi (NFC can be used for speed with compatible phones) will dig into the smartphone battery a little more than if it was switched off.
In terms of specific features, the smart lenses come with a range of shooting modes including HDR (high dynamic range), burst shooting (to 6fps), low-light, movie and face beautifier. Add white balance and sensitivity controls (ISO 100-3200) to the settings and a maximum 1/2000th sec shutter speed which should be able to freeze fast-moving action and there's plenty on offer.
We didn't get a chance to see the app in operation at this first glimpse event so we can't judge its performance just yet. But what we can tell is that Kodak has seemingly produced a Sony-rivalling series of products in terms of build. Although the Sony's app capabilities are something the QX-series struggled with so it will be interesting to see if the Kodak PixPro can pull it out of the bag and offer fuller controls.
The Kodak SL10 will be available for around £150, while the SL25 will cost £170. Both models will be in stores from the end of May and available in black or white.