Camera Reviews

Samsung DualView TL225 Review


Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

I’ve been known to cut my husband’s head off. In pictures, that is. He’s several inches taller than me, and when we travel we tend to forgo asking strangers to take our photo for us, opting instead to go for the stretched-out-arm-double-self-portrait. Inevitably, he only makes it into the shot from the neck down, or in other cases, our faces crowd the frame so much that the picture might as well have been taken in our front yard rather than in front of the Eiffel Tower. Sure, there’s the Quick Pod, Arm Extending Self Portrait Device, which would allow for further extension beyond my limited arm’s length, but then I still couldn’t see a preview of the shot to frame it. And, let’s face it; I probably wouldn’t go through the trouble of hooking it up. I’ve seen hacks online where people have glued small mirrors to the front of their cameras to resolve this issue, but it hasn’t been until recently that a camera has existed to remedy this problem professionally. It’s been a long time coming.

The Samsung DualView TL225 boasts two LCD screens—a 3.5-inch touch screen on the back and a 1.5-inch front LCD, which allows you to see a live view of what the lens sees, in order to get a perfect shot. Ingenious, really. Though I don’t know what took so long for this feature to make its way to consumers, I give major credit to Samsung for being the first.



The TL225 has a 12.2-megapixel CCD image sensor and 4.6x optical zoom. The 4.9-22.5mm (35mm film equivalent: 27-124.2mm) f/3.5-5.9 wide angle Schneider-KREUZNACH lens allows for shooting wide landscape vistas and large groups of people. There is an expanded list of flash modes, beyond what is often seen in pocket cams, including: Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off and Red eye fix. The TL225 records High Definition video (1280x720p at 30fps) in H.264 format, and has a mini HDMI connector.


If you’re a fan of the touch screen interface, you’ll be a fan of the TL225. The camera body is virtually void of any protruding buttons, save for a small power button, an almost flat shutter release, a zoom toggle and a slim and flat playback button—all on top. The wide 3.5-inch LCD screen fills up the entire back of the camera, and its touch menu is about as good as I’ve seen before for navigating the menu layers and scrolling through shots in playback. A simple tap of obviously marked tabs and symbols takes you where you need to be, and the circular shooting mode menu scrolls smoothly. The touch screen uses “haptic” technology, which causes a little buzz to occur when you tap so that you get the reassuring sensation of having pressed a button and made a selection. Also, the Gesture UI allows for the camera to respond to your hand gesture in order to access certain features.

Shooting Modes

The Harbor shot in Auto Mode
Harbor shot in Auto Mode

The Harbor shot in "Sunset" Scene Mode
Harbor shot in “Sunset” Scene Mode

There is an assortment of shooting modes in the TL225, including: Auto, Program, Smart Auto (which automatically recognizes the scene and adjusts settings), and thirteen dedicated Scene Modes (including: Beauty Shot, Frame Guide, Night, Portrait, Children, Dawn, Sunset, Text, Close up, Landscape, Backlight, Fireworks and Beach & Snow). There is also Dual Image Stabilization (IS) mode, which uses both Optical (OIS)—for combating hand-shake—and Digital (DIS)—as a backup—to help you capture sharp, blur-free shots. In Program Mode you can select from an ISO range of 80-3200, or ISO Auto. You can also choose to shoot in Auto Focus Mode, Macro (for a focusing distance closer than 80cm) or Super Macro (for less than 3-8cm) in order to control depth of field as specifically as the point-and-shoot will allow.



The nice thing about the 1.5-inch front LCD on the TL225 is that it turns off and basically disappears if it’s not in use, so that you don’t go around promoting your shots to the world if you use the rear LCD to frame. Also, it lies underneath the glossy, black semiopaque casing of the camera, so it’s much more scratch resistant than the rear screen.

There are additional uses for the front LCD beyond giving you a live view of what the lens sees for self portrait taking. In Child Mode, built-in animations, such as a winking clown, keep the attention of squirming toddlers and crying babies. The Samsung website offers additional Child Mode Animations for free download as well. The Countdown Timer animation is another option to be viewed through the front LCD, so that you know when to smile and when not to blink as you wait for the self timer to release the shutter.



My biggest complaint about the TL225 would be the memory issue. Samsung insists on using a Micro SD/SDHC to keep the camera slim and compact, but it ends up being a hassle for most of us whose card readers and arsenal of memory cards are of the SD/SDHC variation. At most, however, this is no more than an inconvenience; not really a flaw. The camera does come with about 55MB of internal memory as well.


All said, I’m a fan. Yes, mostly because of the DualView aspect, but also because I found the overall design and functionality of what could be a “gimmicky” camera to be very good. The $349.99 (MSRP) price tag is a response to the Schneider-KREUZNACH optics, the near flawless UI and the dual LCDs—not the comparable specs and image quality of point-and-shoots that can be found for well under $300. So, those are your options to weigh. Some people assume that the DualView TL225 is marketed only to those interested in vanity, but I think it’s worth considering how often you take self portrait shots, especially if you travel a lot. This is an innovation that goes far beyond vanity or gimmick in my opinion.

Samsung DualView TL225

  • MSRP:
  • $349.99
  • Size/Weight:
  • 3.93”W x 2.35”H x 0.73”D; .365 lbs.
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.2-megapixels, CCD
  • Still Recording Format:
  • JPG
  • Memory:
  • Mini SD/SDHC, 55MB internal
  • Display:
  • 3.5-inch touch rear LCD; 1.5-inch front LCD
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 1280×720 (30/15fps) High Quality; 1280×720 (30/15fps) Standard Quality;
    640×480 (30/15fps); 320×240 (60/30/15 fps) in H.264 format
  • Exposure Metering:
  • Multi, Spot, Center Weighted, Face Detection AE
  • ISO Equivalent:
  • Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
  • Power Source:
  • SLB-07ARechargeable Battery
  • Contact:

Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj Review


Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

The Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj’s built-in projector seemed like a gimmick at first, but after using it, I found that the feature quickly moved beyond the realm of “party trick” into that of functionality. Boasting a 12.1-megapixel CCD sensor, a 5x optical zoom 5-25mm f/1:3.9-5.8 Nikkor lens, and an ISO range from 80-6400, the COOLPIX S1000pj fares well against competitors in its category specs-wise. The compact Nikon camera feels sturdier in-hand than many other point-and-shoots, and looks more professional with its gunmetal black finish and bright 2.7-inch LCD.

Image Quality


The compact COOLPIX S1000pj is an impressive image taker for its class. This point-and-shoot camera doesn’t offer Manual shooting mode—or even Aperture or Shutter Priorities—but its Auto and Scene selections do tend to make the right setting choices for capturing crisp, vivid shots. The shooting modes offered are: Auto, Smart Portrait and Subject Tracking, as well as a solid lineup of Scene modes, including: Scene auto selector, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach/snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks show, Copy, Backlight and Panorama assist. It also shoots movies with sound (640 x 480 at 30fps). Capture is to 36MB internal memory or an SD/SDHC card.



The COOLPIX S1000pj also boasts a generous ISO range, though the numbers may impress more than the results. I was prepared for the worst when I set out to shoot at ISO 6400, but was actually impressed with the results once I did. Not surprisingly, there is a good amount of noise, but much less than I expected, and the images retained better detail than I expected as well. Still though, you probably don’t want to venture above ISO 800 to be safe. But being as this is a point-and-shoot camera, it is really meant to make taking pictures as simple as possible, and the Scene mode options listed above do the work for you quite well—even the modes meant for low-light shooting.

One seemingly insignificant feature of this camera that made me happy was the fact that whatever flash mode you set it to stays set even after you turn the camera off. Too often with point-and-shoot cameras, you turn the Auto flash mode off and then next time you go to take a shot, the flash is back on again by default, forcing you to take the step to turn it off again before each shot.

Projecting Your Pictures


The stand-out feature of the Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj—and most definitely the reason for the $430.00 price tag—is the built-in projector, which allows you to display your photos and videos directly from the camera (via internal memory or SD/SDHC card) onto a blank wall or projector screen. The camera comes bundled with two small, plastic projector stands, but I found them to be unnecessary, as setting the camera on any flat surface works. I even projected images stably onto a brick wall in downtown Los Angeles while holding the camera in my hand. There is a sliding focus adjustor on top of the camera to make sure the projections are sharp. You can set the camera to project a slideshow of all of your images, or just share one, and there is a remote control so that you can step away and control the projector from elsewhere.


The projector has up to 10 lumens of brightness, and its throw distance is 10-inches to 6-feet 6-inches. According to Nikon the battery endurance when running the projector is approximately one hour (on a fully charged battery).

Handling The Camera


The COOLPIX S1000pj is compact and thin enough to fit in a pocket, but it feels sturdy compared to the plasticky lightness—okay, cheapness—of many small point-and-shoot cameras. At 5.5 ounces, it is actually heavier than most others, and the brushed metal surface of the face-plate adds a stylish sophistication to the look of it. I supposed if you’re going to have Ashton Kutcher hold one in ads, it had better look good.

As is almost always the case with point-and-shoots, the S1000pj lacks an optical viewfinder, but the 2.7-inch LCD with anti-reflection coating is bright and clear. The small selection of buttons to the right of the LCD are what you’d expect: the camera button for switching between shooting modes, playback, menu, delete and the four-way control for flash, exposure compensation, macro mode and self-timer. The projector button is conveniently located on top of the camera, right next to the focus slider, on/off button and shutter release. The digital menu is easily navigable and zooming in and out with the toggle on top of the camera is smooth.

It’s Really All About That Projector


Though the COOLPIX S1000pj does have many of the features one would want in a stylish and slightly more advanced point-and-shoot camera, the feature that really sets it apart is the built-in mini projector. This feature is admittedly impressive, and useful, and I imagine we will see it become more common in the near future (Sony is reported to be working on it, according to Photo Rumors). However, you would have to decide whether it’s worth the approximately $150.00 more you’ll likely be paying for it since cameras with similar specs and no projector can be found for well under $300.00, even by Nikon.

Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj

  • MSRP:
  • $429.95
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4”W x 2.5”H x 0.9”D; 5.5 oz.
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.1-megapixels
  • Still Recording Format:
  • JPG
  • Memory:
  • SD/SDHC, 36MB internal
  • Display:
  • 2.7-inch LCD (230,000 pixels)
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 640×480 (30fps) in .AVI format
  • Projector Image Size:
  • 50 to 40-inches
  • Projector Throw Distance:
  • Approximately 10-inches to 6-feet 6-inches
  • Power Source:
  • Nikon EN-EL12 Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery
  • Contact:

Olympus FE-5020 Review


Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

A Super Wide-Angle Point-and-Shoot

When shopping for a compact point-and-shoot camera, there are a slew of features to consider, and they vary based on what is most important to you as a photographer. If you have kids who play sports, you probably want to look for a camera that has a fast shutter speed or maybe a scene mode meant for precisely that type of shooting. If you like to have a camera handy for parties, you want to make sure the image quality is good in low-light. Other things to look for are: zoom, flash, shooting modes, video, battery life, display and ergonomics. The slim, 12-megapixel CCD image sensor Olympus FE-5020 is a slick and stylish point-and-shoot that, for only $159.99 (MSRP), boasts high marks in many of the above categories.

Super Wide-Angle

The 4.3-21.5mm f/3.3-5.8 Olympus lens lives up to the hype of the FE-5020 being a “super wide-angle” camera, as it’s being billed by the manufacturer. To get closer to specific parts of the action, the FE-5020 offers 5x optical zoom, controlled by a quickly responsive thumb toggle to the right of the LCD. It is an unpleasant but not surprising detail to many photographers who prefer to compose shots with a viewfinder that this low-priced point-and-shoot lacks one. However, the large, bright 2.7-inch LCD offers expansive coverage of the wide shots.

Shooting Modes

Magic Filters: The FE-5020's Fisheye filter
The FE-5020 offers Intelligent Auto (iAuto) shooting mode, Program Auto mode and Digital Image Stabilization Plus mode, as well as a large assortment of specialty Scene Modes, including: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach + Snow and Pet. Additionally, there are “Magic Filters,” which include: Pop Art, Pinhole and Fisheye—if you can get to them in the LCD menu, that is. You can only access the Magic Filters option from the Menu button if you are in the Program Auto shooting mode, and once you get to them in the digital menu, they are untitled and offer only a dark thumbnail shot of what the filter will look like when applied. But however difficult Olympus makes it to get to the Magic Filters, they do deliver good results once they are in use. The Fisheye filter offers a much truer rendition of the effect that a real Fisheye lens gives, as compared to the Fisheye Art Filter in the recently reviewed Pentax K-x D-SLR.

The FE-5020 also shoots video (640×480, 30/15fps)—though not High Definition—with sound, which does well to capture sharp footage if the available light is sufficient.

Highs & Lows


With its sophisticated looks, compact size, super wide-angle lens and 5x optical zoom, the Olympus FE-5020 is a well-priced point-and-shoot camera, however not without a few issues. The shutter release button has a wobbly, unstable feel to it, making it difficult to focus and take quick, precise shots instantly. The shot-to-shot lag time also leaves much to be desired. The built-in flash is much too bright, washing out shots with its overly harsh light in most ambient lighting situations.

The image quality is good, however, in low-light if you punch up the ISO. From ISO 64-400 it does great, and at 800 only a little noise starts to show up. At ISO 1600 you begin to see heavy noise.

The FE-5020’s AF (auto focus) Tracking, which Olympus bills as “automatically tracking moving subjects and continuously adjusting the focus and brightness to capture them sharply with ease,” didn’t always meet that standard for me in capturing a busy, low-lit Los Angeles outdoor night scene.

A great thing about this camera, though, is the outstanding battery life. It uses a Li-ion Rechargeable Battery (LI-42B), which lasts 150 shots according to the manufacturer, and seemed to last even longer than that for me—which was impressive considering that the LCD is always on due to the lack of a viewfinder.

The FE-5020 has 48MB of internal memory, and is xD-Picture Card and microSD (with optional adapter) compatible, which was admittedly inconvenient for me, as my card reader didn’t read the Olympus xD-Picture Card that I tested the camera with. A more accessible SD or SDHC would be a better choice for Olympus to go with. Of course, the camera comes bundled with a USB cable to retrieve images.

Overall, the thin and lightweight Olympus FE-5020—which comes in an assortment of jewel-toned finishes, including wine red, royal blue and dark gray—is a well-priced point-and-shoot with many of the features you may be looking for, plus more. It has a large, bright LCD, a large assortment of auto shooting modes and filters, advanced Face Detection (up to 16 faces), and the TruPic III Image Processor delivers sharp results that you can blow up to poster sized prints.

Olympus FE-5020

  • MSRP:
  • $159.99
  • Size/Weight:
  • 3.65”W x 2.2”H x 0.97”D; 3.8 oz., without battery
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12-megapixels
  • Still Recording Format:
  • JPG
  • Memory:
  • xD-Picture Card (1GB, 2GB); microSD (MASD-1 is required)
  • Display:
  • 2.7-inch LCD (230,000 pixels)
  • Exposure Metering:
  • Digital ESP Metering, Face Detection AE (when Face Detection AF is selected)
  • Special Features:
  • Magic Filters, 14 Scene Modes, Panorama (Up to 10 frames automatically stitchable with OLYMPUS Master software), Perfect Shot Preview, Frame Assist, Voice Recording, Playback Edit Effects (Still Image: Red-Eye Fix, Shadow Adjustment Edit, Beauty Fix, Resize, Cropping)
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 640×480 (30/15fps) in .AVI format
  • Power Source:
  • Li-ion Rechargeable Battery (LI-42B)
  • Contact:

Pentax K-x Review

K-x_White_DA L 18-55mm_3QView_sm

Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

An Intuitive Entry-Level D-SLR with Surprising Features

Walk down the street with the white Pentax K-x D-SLR in hand, and you’ll likely attract the attention of enthusiastic strangers who will stop in their tracks to ogle the camera, or even shout compliments from across the street. But even beyond its eye-catching looks (it also comes in black and a limited edition red or navy blue color), the K-x is attractive to a large number of consumers because it offers the market an affordable entry-level D-SLR with High Definition video recording and a built-in HDR processing feature. Because the $650 MSRP includes the body and kit lens, the Pentax K-x is more affordable than many new entry-level D-SLRs, including the Nikon D5000 ($630, body only) and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi ($699, kit).

An Ideal Entry-Level D-SLR


Camera manufacturers have begun to hone in on a growing, and long ignored, demographic: the Pro-Amateur, or “Prosumer.” This photographer finds the typical point-and-shoot digicam lacking in features, but isn’t yet ready to move on to a pro-level D-SLR. The Pentax K-x might offer perfect entrée into the SLR world because it boasts a few of the advanced features of its big sister, Pentax’s flagship D-SLR, the K-7, yet it also offers features like Auto Picture and Scene Modes, which are typically found in many consumer-level compact cameras.

We tested the K-x with its kit lens, the limited edition white, weather resistant DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. While shooting, we focused on how the camera could introduce D-SLR photography to those new to it by experimenting with features that might serve as good learning tools—shooting with capture modes like Shutter and Aperture Priority, and shooting in RAW+ mode for more control of exposure in processing.

The K-x’s 2.7-inch LCD features Live View, which people used to point-and-shoot cameras have come to expect, but the feature is only now becoming common in D-SLRs. The LCD also has adjustable brightness and Face Detection Auto Focus for up to 16 faces. The optical viewfinder is small, offering only 96% coverage, but is still preferable to the LCD for composition.

At 4.8-inches wide by 3.6-inches high, and weighing only 20.5 ounces fully loaded, the camera is easily light and compact enough for one-handed shooting, and won’t weigh you down when it’s around your neck for long periods of time. The grip is substantial enough that the camera feels secure in-hand and there is a nice, large space on the back of the camera for the thumb to rest, where it won’t accidentally bump buttons. It seems like a triviality, but that happens too often the way some other manufacturers’ models are set up. The K-x is compatible with every Pentax lens ever produced.

A Full Range Of Features

Replacing the 10.2-megapixel Pentax K2000, the K-x boasts a 12.4MP CMOS sensor with sensor-shift Shake Reduction. One of the major upgrades from the K2000 is the ability to capture widescreen HD videos in 720p resolution (1280×720) at 24 frames per second (fps), and sound with the built-in microphone. Other new, more advanced features are borrowed from the pro-level K-7, including: built-in HDR (High Dynamic Range) image capture, which blends three bracketed images into a single picture for low, mid-range and highlight detail, and also a faster, more responsive11-point wide angle SAFOX VIII auto focus system. The PENTAX PRIME II image processing engine has a fast, 4.7 fps capture speed and a top shutter speed of 1/6000 of a second.

Digital Art Filters


The K-x also offers Creative Processing and Filter modes, which Pentax boasts as offering photographers “the ability to explore artistic freedom through unique special effects.” These digital filter modes appeal to the photographer who is new to shooting with a D-SLR because they offer in-camera effects that a more advanced professional photographer might seek to capture with alternative optics or manual adjustments—rather than through digital manipulation—like for instance, the “Fish-eye” effect.

We’ve seen creative art filters in D-SLRs before, most notably in Olympus’ E-series lineup. As we pointed out in our hands-on coverage of the Olympus E-620 mid-range D-SLR and even the more advanced E-30 D-SLR, built-in creative filters can offer surprisingly stunning results. DP Technical Editor, Tony Gomez, was particularly fond of the “Grainy Film” black-and-white filter offered in both Olympus cameras. However, I wasn’t instantly impressed with many of the digital art filters in the K-x. To begin with, the feature is buried deep within the digital menu options in the camera, which is not the place a major selling-point feature like this should be hidden. There is a “Green Button” on the top of the camera near the shutter, which can be customized to be a quick-jump to any feature in the menu, so I ended up setting it to jump to Digital Filters after growing tired of going through the menu each time I wanted to change the filter. The Digital Filters that the K-x offers are: Toy Camera, High Contrast, Soft, Starburst, Retro, Color Extract, Fisheye, and room for eight Custom options. The Fisheye filter was one that I was initially most excited to try out, however I would hope to see it tweaked for the next generation of this camera because it was less than impressive. There are three levels of intensity that can be set with the filter, though the effects of each did not really resemble the wide, hemispherical results of shooting with an actual fisheye lens—rather the images appeared flat with only an abrupt bulge in the center of the frame. The Color Extract filter was much more successful. The processed images appear completely desaturated save for the one color you set it to focus on (there are six colors to choose from).

Shining in Low-Light


Where the K-x shined was auto focus, which captured moving subjects very well, and in low-light, where it did well capturing low-noise images at higher ISOs. Overall, the Pentax K-x is a feature-rich entry-level D-SLR that has impressive image quality and bonus features such as HD video and HDR capture. The digital filters have the potential in the next generation to be outstanding, though they leave much to be desired for now. The compact design and Auto Picture shooting modes make it attractive to first-time D-SLR photographers, who will learn a lot about D-SLR photography from experimenting with this camera.

Pentax K-x

  • MSRP:
  • $649.95 (comes with a DA L 18-55mm lens)
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.8”W x 3.6”H x 2.7”D; 18.2 oz., loaded
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.4-megapixels
  • Maximum Resolution:
  • 4288 x 2848
  • Still Recording Format:
  • Memory:
  • Display:
  • 2.7-inch LCD (230,000 pixels); Optical Viewfinder
  • Manual Exposure Control:
  • Full manual, aperture-priority, shutter speed-priority, sensitivity-priority
  • Exposure Metering:
  • Multi-pattern, center-weight, spot
  • Special Features:
  • Live View, Face Detection, Scene Modes, Creative Filter Modes
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 720p/24fps in .AVI format
  • Provided Accessories:
  • 4 AA Lithium Batteries, shoulder strap, USB cable, Hotshoe cover, Eyecup, Body mount cover, printed manual and a CD-ROM
  • Power Source:
  • AA batteries
  • Contact:



by Larry Lytle

Published Winter ’09

Studio Testing Medium-Format

Here in the beginning of 2009, some camera manufacturers are in the unenviable position of having to provide platforms for two media—film and digital. When you think about it, this occurrence is unprecedented in the history of photography. There have been changes—from Daguerreotypes to glass plate, from glass plate to roll film (for brevities sake I left out a few in between). Whatever the substrate, the “capture device” was always silver or dye-based and the means for printing either through contact or projection. So, except for the development of new bells and whistles to improve the camera, the technology remained essentially the same.

Hasselblad, along with many other camera manufacturers, are in a similar position. They have to offer two camera bodies, one for film and one for digital. Or, in the case of medium-format, they have a camera body that, by switching the back, accomplishes the change from digital to film. In the olden days with film, one could use the same body and change out the back to shoot either transparency or various print films. And, although the Hasselblad HD3II-39 accommodates either a film or digital back, I tested this camera using only the digital back.

Getting Acquainted

When I opened the case, I was impressed by its size. I had been used to a smaller medium-format camera. The weight of this camera comes in at just under five lbs. with the 80mm lens. A bit heavy for constant hand held shooting, but fine when mounted on a tripod or studio stand.

I turned on my computer and popped in the tutorial on Phocus, the new capture and conversion software that ships with the kit. It appears to be a great program for tethered shooting, and/or for browsing and converting downloaded files. After viewing the tutorial, in happy anticipation, I attempted to load the program and found that I couldn’t. With a brief phone call I found out that you must run system 10.5 for the Mac and have at least 4 gigs of ram. So I used FlexColor, the precursor to Phocus, and although the interface isn’t nearly as slick, it works adequately.

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