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How I Fell In Love With Photography Again

Updated on April 7, 2016
Nightcat profile image

Nightcat loves photography and has been a hobbyist for decades who enjoys talking to other photographers and comparing rigs and photos.

He not only owns my heart, I used him for the accompanying photos.
He not only owns my heart, I used him for the accompanying photos.
The old Kodak (seven plus years) managed these shots just fine.
The old Kodak (seven plus years) managed these shots just fine.

Don't get me wrong, I've always loved photography. Maybe it's my poor vision that makes any machine that can 'see' better than I can magical. Maybe it was the wonder of loading film and getting to hold my first real camera after what seemed like forever of taking imaginary shots with toy cameras.

But I've always loved photography. But like any other love affair there can be times when you feel like you are doing all the work. And not having my father around, the man who taught me everything there is to know about cameras and photography hurt. No more friendly rivalries as we picked our photos up. No more of me listening to him try to explain f-stops and apertures while I swore I heard 'blah, blah, blah' because I had the eye and that's all I needed. (In my own mind, of course.)

I'd gotten to the point where I still loved photography, but I didn't feel the passion anymore. And I can't blame my Kodak EasyShare AZ651. In fact, she mysteriously malfunctioned right until the day her replacement arrived and now is back in tiptop shape. So if anything I owe her a debt of thanks.

But I also owe thanks to my Kodak Pixpro AZ651. From the moment I saw his iconic yellow gold box and took him out I knew my passion for photography would only grow. And it has to the point where my father is likely somewhere shaking his head in amazement.

This isn't so much a review as he and I are just starting to settle in together after our first few weeks together, but this a tip of the hat to the gent who is having me do things no other camera ever could.

Please Note: I've literally had this camera for less than a month, so please view all the accompanying photos as tests shots. If you don't like the quality it is pure operator error on my part. OK? Thanks!

Made you a review!

Test Edit

Taking the optical zoom out as far as possible I did a simple edit after to make the shot darker and more dramatic.
Taking the optical zoom out as far as possible I did a simple edit after to make the shot darker and more dramatic.

I'm Carrying A Camera Bag...And a Tripod?


The thing I swore to myself I'd never do. I was getting used to tucking my old Kodak into the lightly padded section of my old backpack and going on hikes. She was safe, clean and protected. But when my new Kodak came things changed. Firstly, I was instantly ashamed that the old Kodak had to ride around in such undignified manner. She got a makeshift bag right away, and though I have never really abused her, my lack of passion meant I had neglected her.

Let's not forget she also had several misadventures we won't go into and she is a testament to Kodak reliability. Don't try that at home, folks. So, now I had my old camera bag, about the size of a toaster. And as I started to read about better photography and try to understand the actual mechanics of a camera beyond auto I found myself either carrying a monopod or tripod.

Feeling a bit stupid of course because what if someone saw me? I never use either one unless it is for an article. And only then because I really, really have to. And lens filters. I suddenly have a passion for them and it is strange indeed that there was a 52mm filter for him in my dad's old camera bag because it doesn't match any SLR lens of his I can think of.

So this camera, this replacement I found at the eleventh hour when I was set to buy an Olympus? He now has a bevvy of filters and there's that lens hood on the way.

My Camera Has The Key To My Heart

Yeah, we had a few feisty moments, adjusting to one another, but she sparkles and shines when I'm paying attention, doesn't she?
Yeah, we had a few feisty moments, adjusting to one another, but she sparkles and shines when I'm paying attention, doesn't she?
I'd been up over 24 hours at this point, the drunken angle is all me. But for dawn lighting and shot freehand I like it.
I'd been up over 24 hours at this point, the drunken angle is all me. But for dawn lighting and shot freehand I like it.

I'm Paying Attention to Mechanics


Not just inside the camera, but how to put together a good shot off auto. Auto mode was my bread and butter for decades. After all if it doesn't work a bad, lazy photographer (which I was) can always blame the camera. Nope, pure operator error every single time and it turns out that shutter speeds, apertures and f-stops aren't all that scary or hard to understand. In fact they're kind of cool since you can mix and match them to get all sort of neat results.

To my father's credit you cannot put together a highly intelligent, reserved and analytical man in his forties and a tightly wound, artistic, sort of scatterbrained ten-year-old girl. Not unless you want frustration on his side and tears on the child's side. But, bless him, he tried, he honestly did. He would just get frustrated and resorted to whatever camera for me that could do most of the work for me.

Which was a smart thing to do at the time and probably the only reason I still am a photographer. But I want to make Kodi-san look good. I want to prove a bridge camera (point and shoot to you snobs out there) can strut his stuff. But it sometimes take going beyond auto to do that, and I am learning. Slowly, but surely, I'm learning.

Am I pro by any means? Nope. And I still do revert to auto when I'm stumped. But I'm paying attention now when the camera tells me what he put together when he got the results. And it is actually starting to make sense.

Thanks, of course. to lots of videos, online articles and a few lovely books I've run across I'm inspired again. And nope, I'm not making any money off this hobby, it's the dance with the camera that's exciting once more.

Tripod shot at dawn. Keep in mind this hill is a good mile or so off in the distance.
Tripod shot at dawn. Keep in mind this hill is a good mile or so off in the distance.
Same dawn, zooming out more.
Same dawn, zooming out more.

I Can Shop For Accessories!


Women, our one weakness is the lure of a sexy filter. Or the sleek styling of a monopod. Or the sweet smell of fresh ink and new pages. All lady photographers have our weaknesses. And we love to accessorize. Blame nature or nurture, you've got to admit you always need one more camera bag.

Or lens hood, or something special to take you to the next level, protect your camera, or just to have. Your precious. OK, maybe that is going a bit too far, but women photographers know what I mean. Buying accessories is as much fun for us as it is for the menfolk, and it just seems like there are a lot more options than ever before. For me, Amazon helps greatly. I'm finding third-party filters, lens hoods and all sorts of books there. For you it may be your local store, but isn't shopping fun?

And isn't it fun when it might be something men will actually join you in coveting? Best of all, I get to go through everything I inherited and go crazy. A tripod and a monopod, yay! The one filter that fits my camera, yay! Two Minolta SLRs with a fleet of lenses, triple yay!

Kodak film! I may not come down from this high for months.

Great In Low Light

Prop shot to test out manual settings.
Prop shot to test out manual settings.

I'm Learning


No seriously, learning. I may have the attention span of a goldfish for some things, but I am learning. About shooting in RAW, about having to then edit that nifty RAW photo. About lighting and filters, since, let's face it, I never really had so many at once before, and about patience.

I used to shoot like a hummingbird. In and out. You shoot on auto and you can do it too. Now time can stretch on forever as I look at my composition, adjust on manual, consider the shot and keep adjusting. A test photo, then again and again. Sometimes I'm not happy with any of them, but I'm learning right now.

I'm learning I don't need five bazillin f-stops because shutter speeds and ISOs can expand on a select few. I'm learning to use auto as a tool to learn how to put a photograph together, then go into one of the PASM modes and give it a go. And there are no failed shots as the camera did exactly what I told her to. So if it is blurry, or wonky, guess who has to pay more attention? Not the camera, but me. And that is a wonderful thing because now I know enough to do it.

I am learning that monopods have their uses and drawbacks, and that my trusty old tripod is often the best of the best for stabilizing a shot. Well, her and setting the camera to snap the photo after my piddy paws are off him. Pretty big tech if you think about it and enough to send me into fits of rapture. No matter how camera nerdy that may sound.

The camera himself is teaching me since both the viewfinder or viewscreen will let me see a preview of my settings and what they do. And I've only scratched the surface, honestly. He can edit photos inside himself, do all sorts of modes, and well, once I do have him long enough an unabridged hub the NYC phonebook would most likely be shorter. So I have so much yet to learn and master. Let's just say I haven't done that black and white photo shoot or the RAW one, or the kodachrome effect one, but I am getting there.

Fun Way To Compare Kodaks Then And Now

17 With 30mph Winds

This camera does great in cold weather, snow and rain. This day it was 17 with 30mph winds, and the Kodak preformed quite well.
This camera does great in cold weather, snow and rain. This day it was 17 with 30mph winds, and the Kodak preformed quite well.

I'm Having Adventures Again


Remember those? I've made him several fetching raincoats for rainy day shoots and of course keep him sheltered under the umbrella while I drag home bedraggled. I've been out on days when a skim of ice covers local ponds and greeted the dawn. I've looked with wonder at the full moon and the stars.

I'm going places just for an excuse to learn what he can do. I'm seeing the world completely differently and every walk is an adventure. He makes me long to travel, makes me want to go places just to make him look good because I love this camera as much as I love the photos he is producing. Or rather, we are producing together.

I love the feel of the smart ring that is on his barrel, it gives the camera ready movement in manual to whatever setting I desire. But that is when the side selector is set to smart. Zoom af allows me to zoom with the same ring and mf is a manual focus setting to push me and my photography further than ever before. Our relationship has gone from the initial sizing one another up to a dance and what a wonderful dance it is.

Have Fun!

There was ice on the pond so I went with it.
There was ice on the pond so I went with it.

The Verdict So Far?


I'm passionately in love with this camera and his capabilites. Which are more than enough for me. Set on auto he'd get great photographs for anyone, and would make an ideal starter camera for a budding enthusiast. Which does not mean that he is a toy or the dreaded 'not a real camera' camera. The Kodak Pixpro AZ651 is a serious camera. With a generous zoom lens and a CMOS sensor that I'm more than pleased with.

I frankly don't need more megapixels than he has or a bigger sensor or a fleet of lenses because I'm not that type of photographer. He's ready to go if I travel and he will be doing a lot of shots of places and things for hubs, some for pleasure in the park or town or perhaps on those trips.

He's easy enough to take on the bus in his bag, or on a hike, and he gives any photographer the ability to grow beyond auto. Could he be the bridge to a future DSLR? By that time, many years from now, I fully expect that his young protégé will also be a Kodak bridge camera, or maybe a cute and spunky mirrorless wonder (also from Kodak) and I couldn't be happier.

Great Explanation of Bridge Cameras

I Have Camera Pride Again


We've all seen them. Photographers that seemed ashamed of the magnificent beast strapped around their neck or wrist. Oh, the loved that little guy or lady. Right up until the point someone told them it wasn't a 'real' camera. Or it wasn't good enough because it wasn't the right make or model. Or because it wasn't a DSLR. Or whatever mean-spirited thing someone said.

All cameras are real cameras. Even toy ones. Those don't take anything but imaginary photos, but they are your childhood companion until you reach an age where you won't rip even a child-friendly camera to shreds. So all camera rock, and we should take pride in whatever rig we have. Disposable, keychain, fashion accessory, novelty, it doesn't matter. They all deserve love.

And with a beautiful bridge camera like the Kodak I'm turning heads in the park and in town. He's not only easy on the eyes but his design tells you the king has arrived and all other cameras can step back. (And I thought the old Kodak had built in sass.) The Kodak Pixpro AZ651 is a serious camera for passionate enthusiasts and he knows it.

I also love that he turns heads. I love the admiring looks, and heck yes, it's wonderful to have a Kodak again. They are made by JK Imaging now, but the same wonderful quality that makes photography so much fun for the masses, yet gives the enthusiast a leg up is still there. You go ahead and walk by with a DSLR. While I may admire your rig I'm proud of the one I have, thank you kindly.

Eleven Years Old and Still Active In The Field

Reba, my Kodak EasyShare AZ651. At eleven years old she's still fit and active and enjoys going out on shoots with me.
Reba, my Kodak EasyShare AZ651. At eleven years old she's still fit and active and enjoys going out on shoots with me.

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