Kodak teased its new Micro Four Thirds compact system camera, the PixPro S-1, during a press conference in China back in January. And it's only now that we've got to see the camera for real.
The PixPro S-1 joins the Panasonic and Olympus fold when it comes to Micro Four Thirds. That means both companies' MFT lenses will be compatible, which gives the Kodak a great starting point with loads of lenses available from the off.
We weren't sure what to expect from this camera, but the S-1 has a really lovely build quality - it's not the more budget appeal that we thought Kodak would run with when we first heard about the model. Measuring 115.6 x 68.4 x 35.6mm and hitting the scales at 290g (without a lens) so it fits into a similar scale camp as something like the Panasonic Lumix GF6. It's a touch larger than that in every direction, but it still nice and small.
The rubberised grip that features around the right-hand side of the camera helps to give a firmer hold of the camera, while the glossy finish on the top, surrounding the rear display and on the left hand side looks quality. All in all it's very comfortable to hold. We were rather taken by the white model but the black one looked great too.
The power button sits at the top along with the capture button and the programme dial, while the rear of the device houses a standalone record button to make recording a video quick and easy, along with a set of menu options underneath. There aren't stacks and stacks of dials and buttons, with Kodak's focus being to keep things simple and straightforward.
For example, there's no top thumbwheel control, just the rotational d-pad on the rear. This more stripped-back kind of design might appeal less to advanced photographers, but it's a sensible proposition from Kodak. Don't run before you can walk: and as this is the company's first compact system camera one for the masses makes best sense.
Kodak isn't shying away from that Micro Four Thirds lens mount, though, as it's releasing its own lenses to the fold too. To start off there's the SZ-ED-1245 12-45mm f/3.5-6.3 (24-90mm equivalent in 35mm terms), SZ-ED-4216 42.5-160mm f/3.9-5.9 (85-320mm equivalent) and a bit of an oddity: a SF400 400mm lens (800mm equivalent) which is actually a fully manual spotting scope with MFT adaptor. No autofocus for the last one then.
On the rear of the S-1 you will find a 3-inch 920K-dot LCD display that can tilt a maximum of 90-degrees upwards or 45-degrees downwards and you can use it for a number of playback modes including a slide show of stills, movies or still and movie together. There's no viewfinder, nor a hotshoe to add one on at a later date - again, keeping the theme more point-and-shoot than advanced user.
Kodak used to be big business in the sensor production market, but that's all fallen by the wayside as its sold off various parts of the business. As such we're not sure which company makes the 16-megapixel CMOS sensor that's on board, but all eyes fall to Panasonic for this one. The S-1 can deliver shots from ISO 200-12,800 and has a 5fps burst mode if speedy shooting if your thing.
You'll find a range of shooting modes on board including 360-degree panorama, face beautifier, pet and sport options, as well as HD movie mode for capturing at 1080p video. A number of built-in post-production filters are also found in the S-1 including some interesting additions such as punk and salon, along with more traditional options such as black & white.
A 1000mAh rechargeable li-ion battery sits inside, which is said to offer enough juice to snap around 410 shots. None too bad - although we didn't use the camera for nearly long enough to see whether such a figure is justified.
There's also Wi-Fi on board for sharing shots with smart devices, although we didn't get to explore how this will work just yet. Same goes for the resulting shots - we weren't able to take any early snaps so there's still the question of how the S-1 will hold up in a bustling compact system camera market.
That is if it's released in the UK at all. At the moment there are no plans to launch the PixPro S-1 in European just yet, but the company has said it could be available through its own web store. How much it will be is also a mystery for the time being. And why would we be show the camera in the UK if it's not going to be sold here? Watch this space we say, we think it'll make it to the UK eventually.
We think for the right price - ie a low price - the Kodak S-1 looks to be a decent entry into the market, particularly as it builds from the Micro Four Thirds system. It's surprised us, in a positive fashion. Go Kodak.
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