Kodak PixPro FZ201 Review

November 24, 2014 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | |
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Image Quality

A camera with a tiny, pixel-packed sensor and a large zoom ratio will always be a set of compromises and the Kodak PixPro FZ201 is no exception. Viewed at 1:1 magnification, the images look over-processed with smeared details, a tell-tale sign of over-zealous noise reduction. Downsize them to typical screen resolutions, though, and they start to look much better – an important consideration given that the camera's target consumer is probably going to view the photos in this manner. As long as you don't intend to make big prints or double-page spreads in a high-quality photo book, photographs shot in the ISO 80-400 range should be OK. Images captured at ISO 800 and 1600, however, tend to suffer from a significant loss of detail and colour saturation, meaning that the Pixpro FZ201 is not very well suited to hand-held shooting in low light. On a more positive note, we did not encounter any red-eye issues in flash shots; and the camera's Slow Shutter option, available in “Manual” mode, makes the FZ201 capable of producing much better night shots than many other compact cameras. Macro performance is good, with a close-focus point of 3cm, although this applies only when the lens is set to the 25mm equivalent focal length. As you would expect from a 20x zoom lens, chromatic aberrations can sometimes be a problem.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Kodak PixPro FZ201. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
iso1600.jpg  

File Quality

The Pixpro FZ201 is a JPEG-only camera, with the quality options being Best, Fine and Normal.

Best

Fine

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg
   

Normal

 
focal_range2.jpg  

Focal Range

The 20x zoom lens has an extremely versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.

25mm

500mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

For an ultra-zoom camera, the level of chromatic aberrations is not exceptionally high, but CAs are still quite easy to spot along contrasty edges.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The Kodak PixPro FZ201 can focus as close as 3cm from the front lens element, but only with the lens set to the 25mm equivalent focal length. Note that with such a short working distance, properly lighting your subject may prove difficult.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The flash settings on the Kodak PixPro FZ201 are off, auto, fill, slow-sync, red-eye reduction and slow-sync with red-eye reduction. Do note that shooting with flash introduces a considerable amount of shutter lag. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (500mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (500mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some flash portraits. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye Reduction settings caused a noticeable amount of red-eye.

Forced On

Forced On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

In “Manual” mode, the Kodak PixPro FZ201 offers a Slow Shutter option, allowing you to set your shutter speed anywhere between 2 and 30 seconds, which is good news for anyone interested in night photography. The following photograph was taken at a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 80. We have included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Anti-Shake

The Kodak PixPro FZ201 has optical image stabilisation, which allows you to take reasonably sharp pictures at shutter speeds that would otherwise be critically slow for the focal length used. To test this, we took 2 hand-held shots of the same subject with the same settings (1/40 seconds at a 35mm equivalent focal length of 109mm). The first shot was taken with the Image Stabiliser option turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of each image to show the results. As you can see, with Image Stabilisation turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

On (100% Crop)

Off (100% Crop)

antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Post-Capture HDR

The camera has a post-capture “HDR” option, which is akin to Shadow Adjustment on Olympus cameras or post-capture D-lighting on Nikons. The resulting picture, which usually offers improved shadow detail, is saved alongside the original. The example below demonstrates the effect.

On (100% Crop)

Off (100% Crop)

hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Panorama

The Kodak PixPro FZ201 offers a panorama mode, which allows you to take 4 consecutive shots that are then automatically stitched in-camera to produce a 180-degree panoramic image. Note that the resolution of the resulting photo is not particularly high (4928x896 pixels), and image-stitching errors can sometimes occur.

panorama.jpg

Colour Effects

You can choose from 4 so-called colour effects including Normal, Vivid, Sepia and Black-And-White.

Normal

Vivid

effect_normal.jpg effect_vivid.jpg
   

B&W

Sepia

effect_bw.jpg effect_sepia.jpg