Can the Kodak PIXPRO S-1 Stand Up Against the Competition?

Kodak

The Kodak Pixpro S-1 is a Micro Four Thirds camera hitting the market for those buying into their first camera with interchangeable lenses. It’s an all in one package, except for a built-in flash (only a hot shoe), providing stills and video, along with some not so obvious features like 360° scan panorama, Full HD time-lapse movie recording and Kodak film emulation.

One big bonus with this camera is that it can accept a wide range of third-party lenses using a standard Micro Four Thirds mount from the likes of Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma and Samyang. Being small, mirrorless and a cool looking package, we will see if it can cut it against the rest of the competition.

Design

As stated above, the camera doesn’t have a built-in flash, but no worries there as a hotshoe-mounted P10 flash unit is included. The sensor is a 16 megapixels CMOS Four Thirds, sensor-shift image stabilization, 1080p video at 30 fps, coming in at a lightweight 290g. The body design is straightforward, with a tilting rear screen and basic external controls. Although the body may look very plastic like, it feels solid and robust. The S-1’s handgrip is textured, giving you a firm handgrip with a nice place on the back of the camera to rest your thumb.

Kodak

The top plate shows the hot shoe, Wi-Fi LED, power button, shutter release and exposure dial. Settings on the dial include a Custom Settings mode and a Wi-Fi setting for connecting to a tablet or smartphone through the Pixpro Remote app, along with the usual P, S, A and manual modes. The scene mode has plenty to choose from, for example – Handheld night, Face Beautifier, Multi Exposure, Cat/Dog, Snow, Party and Sport, but a few work slightly differently from what you would expect. Panorama mode uses video instead of stills, which means the final panorama resolution isn’t as big you would expect, the Multi Exposure mode builds a composite image of lots of continuous images, while the Cat/Dog mode optimizes the image exposure for your favorite canine or feline.

One of the nice features out the box is the camera’s Color Modes. These are various different ‘looks’ which aren’t just the usual filters or effects, but also Kodak film emulations like Kodacolor. If you want an instant look to your image these are fine, but there is one drawback in that they are JPEG only as raw files only come in the standard mode.

Kodak

The rear of the camera has the 3 inch rear tilting LCD screen feel, solid and tilts up and down nicely. It’s just a shame there’s no touchscreen functionality. The back of the camera also has the red centered video play button, four small buttons and a rear dial with four way controller. The four included buttons start with the Menu and play buttons and two function buttons. The four way controller is for accessing different functions and the surrounding dial for setting changes. A Central OK button is for verifying all your settings and accessing the quick menu.

Customization of settings is quite usable, especially with the slimmed down menu. Although there’s a small learning curve here, all the rear functionality lets you get up and running as quickly as possible with the camera, with just enough settings to keep you occupied. Advanced settings are included, but some not as configurable as you would expect.

For hardwired connectivity, there is a Micro USB socket and an HDMI socket. The S-1 is CEC compatible, so you can use the TVs remote to control playback. The other compartment houses the 7.4V, 1000mAh LB-070 battery and SD card. The battery is stated as being good for 420 shots per charge, with options inside the camera for power saving.

Auto ISO is available but it is truly fully automatic. There is no real way to see the ISO setting when shooting, only after the fact. The top range is also ISO 1600, so it may be advisable in most cases to stick to manual ISO.

Image Quality

Firstly, to try and produce the best in sharp images the camera uses in-body image stabilization, which means it should work with most Micro Four Thirds lenses. There’s a definite improvement in image sharpness with the feature switched on, but it’s not as effective as other brand’s built-in stabilization. In other words, don’t expect ultra-low shutter speeds on this camera.

Movies are perfectly acceptable on the S-1 at 1920×1080 px, 30 fps at this price point, but all the features are more or less fully automatic. There’s a heavy crop factor involved which is hard to preview, but you can at least set exposure compensation before recording. Fully automatic means that the camera will continue to autofocus during recording and there is no AF lock. This limits the video capabilities of the camera, but at this price point its sufficient enough for grabbing some generic video for home use. There is no facility for an external mic., only a small built-in stereo mic. At least there are a few added video modes such as Slow-motion at 640×480 120fps. Not the greatest quality, but at least it’s a feature to play with.

How Does It Compare?

Direct comparisons can be made to the Olympus PEN E-PL5 or Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6. These are more capable and feature-rich cameras, but the other problem of the S-1 is the mirrorless and DSLR market have a lot of offerings around this price point with more resolution and features these days. But the S-1 has some nice quirky features such as the picture modes, which may be just the thing for point and shoot photography.

 Kodak PIXPRO S-1Olympus PEN E-PL5
Pixels16MP16.1MP
SensorFour Thirds CMOSLive MOS
Image StabilizationYes – sensor shiftYes
Video 1920×1080/30FPS1080P

Conclusion

Considering this is an entry-level camera, a step up from a smartphone, there’s enough here to make it a tempting proposition. It’s definitely a step up from a smartphone, but as a more compact version of a DSLR or simple mirrorless camera, people will find it lacking. RAW files have caveats, depending on your shooting mode and although there is in body stabilization, it’s not the greatest. The S-1 also only works with electronic lenses. The picture effects produce nice results and Full HD timelapse video are interesting inclusions.

The camera is currently being sold as body only with a bundle lenses option, but the problem is that Micro Four Thirds and 16MP has been superseded. But on the flip side, having the use of interchangeable lenses and most functionality being automatic might be pleasing to some entry-level photographers. If you can snap up a good deal online and you want an all-round entry-level camera, the S-1 may be worth checking out.

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