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Kodak PIXPRO SL5 Shrinks Size of Lens-Style Cameras

LAS VEGAS -- Modern smartphones can take a pretty decent picture, but when their little sensors get pushed to the limit, it never hurts to have another option. Kodak's new PIXPRO SL-5 Smart Lens camera gives photo lovers some serious flexibility without weighing them down.

The SL5 is the baby of Kodak's Lens camera family, in both age and size. The black 16.3-megapixel camera features a 1/2.3-inch sensor which is about 50 percent larger than what you find in most smartphones, while still measuring just 2.15 x 2.15 x 1.68 inches and weighing just 4.3 ounces.

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It also has an f/3.9-6.3 5x optical-zoom lens, a 6-fps burst mode, optical image stabilization and full manual controls. You can shoot further and with less blur than with the fixed lens in a smartphone.

The one thing the SL5 does need is your smartphone's high-resolution screen. Kodak uses your smartphone screen to display the SL5's live view, saving size and weight by eliminating the need to carry redundant displays. The SL5 syncs up with your phone using Kodak's free iOS or Android app and the SL5's built-in Wi-Fi, with Android phone users getting the bonus of being able to use NFC to establish the connection.

In a brief hands-on with a pre-production version of the SL5, I was impressed with its compact design. The SL5 is noticeably smaller than Kodak's other lens cameras, the SL10 (2.3 x 2.3 x 2.2 inches) and the SL25 (2.8 x 2.3 x 2.6 inches), and is the first lens-style camera from any manufacturer that I would happily carry around in my pants pocket.

When I attached the SL5 to my HTC One M7, the spring-loaded folding clips on the SL5 held onto my phone like a Speedox -- securely but with room for adjustments. A colleague's iPhone 5s, with its fat case and all, also posed no challenge, so anything but the most corpulent phablet should fit without a problem.

Unfortunately, the unfinished prototype was not yet able to shoot some pictures, but since it's equipped with the same sensor as its larger siblings, I'm expecting solid image quality from the SL5 when it comes to market later in the winter of 2015.

Sam Rutherford is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him @SamRutherford on Twitter, and Tom’s Guide on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.