“That’s a lens, not a camera,” was my initial thought on seeing the Kodak PixPro SL25 for the first time. And being perfectly honest, it was a turnoff. I foresaw alignment issues and a whole raft of reasons it wasn’t going to work well.
Luckily, I sat down with a Kodak PixPro rep at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show and got the real story. The PixPro SL25 is actually a complete camera in itself, all but the viewfinder. That’s where your smartphone comes in – it becomes the viewfinder – genius. (SL stands for Smart Lens.)
Attaching the PixPro SL25
Two bars flip out of the back and extend to the width of your camera. Got a case on your camera? NO problem, extend them just a little wider. Upgraded your phone? The grippers will automatically adjust to the width of your new device. Sweet. No more planned obsolescence.
Load the app
Apps are available for iOS6/7 and Android 4.x or better and are free. The app gives you all sorts of options for shooting burst shots, facial recognition and HDR.
Connect to the network
The PixPro SL25 actually creates a low power wireless network so you can be anywhere, even the middle of the ocean and still connect to your Wi-Fi enabled phone. Just go to your Wi-Fi settings on your phone and select the Kodak PixPro network while using the camera. (Android users can simply use NFC enabled devices to connect.)
Frame your shot and shoot
Once the two are paired, you’ll see what the camera sees on your phone’s screen. Simply frame your shot and shoot. Use your phone’s screen to trip the shutter or use the shutter button on the SL25. You can also zoom either using the controls on the SL25 or on your screen. And zoom it does! The SL25 has a 25x zoom so you can really close in on your subject.
We are talking optical zoom here, so you are still taking pristine pictures, not getting a digitally cropped photo that is all pixelated. Standard telephoto rules still apply and you’ll want to steady your shots the best you can when taking super telephoto images. There is a ¼”x20 tripod hole on the bottom of the unit so if you have a lightweight tripod, you are all set. There’s also a wrist strap supplied, which is a good idea when hand-holding your shots.
More ways to shoot
Since the PixPro SL25 is “attached” to your camera via Wi-Fi, it doesn’t actually have to be physically attached. That means you could put the SL25 on a mini tripod on a shelf or fireplace mantel during a party, and remotely frame and shoot your pictures from across the room. It would be the ultimate selfie. It should work up to 10 meters (32 feet) away.
As unique and novel as this concept is, it’s not worth a dime if the pictures aren’t good; but, that’s not an issue with the PixPro SL25. Shooting a 16MP image, this will match the quality of most any DSLR camera. You can also shoot full 1080p video as well.
The lens of the SL25 is a 4.3mm-107.5mm zoom, meaning you get the 35mm equivalent of 24mm wide angle as its widest and the crazy equivalent of a 600mm at its telephoto best. That’s huge.
The lens aperture ranges from f3.7 at wide angle to f6.2 at telephoto length. That’s on par with most zoom lenses on the market, but you’ll want to consider flash at dimly lit parties, etc. There is built-in optical image stabilization, which helps, but that won’t stop blurring from a quick moving subject in dim light.
Expect 210 shots from the rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Recharge easily with any micro USB cable. I used a portable battery pack in my camera bag and the unit was always ready to go. You could also buy extra batteries if you prefer.
This unit uses microSD cards for storage and you’ll want as big a one as you can afford since you’ll be shooting lots of pictures. Get a fast (10x) card if you plan to shoot much full HD 1080p video. It’ll prevent stuttering motion and will download quicker too.
Caution – the specs say the operating environment temperature should be between 0 – 40°C or 32 – 104°F. I found that to be a bit limiting in the dead of winter. While I was wandering Historic Deerfield in New England, the temperature was hovering around -15°C or 4°F. The PixPro SL25 was kept in my pocket to keep it warm, but after being out for a minute or so in those temperatures, it started to lag considerably. Putting it back inside my coat revived it, but you can’t keep it outside for too long at those temperatures.
Truth be told, I’m with the SL25. I didn’t like being outside in those temperatures either. Shooting from inside a car with the heater going is much more fun.
It’s a keeper
I’m certainly glad I explored the PixPro SL25 instead of summarily dismissing it on first glance. This is worthy of the Kodak name and will take great pictures for you. Check out the SL25 and its little brother the SL10 (10x zoom) at the Kodak Digital Cameras website.
Disclosure: Kodak provided the PixPro SL25 for me to do this review