Cameras

Hands on with the Sigma DP1x

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Besides the optics they announced at PMA in Anaheim, Sigma introduced three new cameras, including a new large sensor, compact camera—the DP1x. The DP1x is a successor to the DP1 and shares features with the DP2 (which we reviewed in the magazine last year, and which also got an upgrade at PMA in the new DP2s). It utilizes the same large, 14MP Foveon CMOS image sensor that is found in Sigma’s D-SLRs, and which as you can see in the image below, is massive compared to the typical compact camera’s image sensor. “It is approximately seven to twelve times larger than the 1/1.8inch to 1/2.5inch image sensors used in ordinary compact digital cameras,” according to Sigma.

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The DP1x uses the “TRUE II” image processing engine found in the DP2 as well as a new AF algorithm that is supposed to provide super high speed auto focusing. The camera feels very sturdy in-hand and looks good too. The series has developed a cult following due to its stylish, professional look and D-SLR-like image quality, all in a compact body. There isn’t pricing available yet for the camera—or for the other two announced (DP2s and the SD15 D-SLR)—but a good indicator is that the DP1 currently goes for $819 (MSRP) and the DP2 for $870 (MSRP).

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Hands on with the Olympus PEN E-PL1

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Three weeks ago, Olympus announced their new Micro Four-Thirds format, interchangeable lens E-PL1 camera, and now we’ve gotten a chance here at PMA to get a closer look at it—and to compare it to its predecessors in the PEN line, the E-P1 and E-P2. The E-PL1 is much lighter than the E-P2 (and costs half as much—$599 to the E-P2’s $1099). It also offers some more entry-level features for people just moving into the format from a point-and-shoot. Intelligent Auto (IA) Mode offers a plain-speak menu of “Live Guide Control” options for easy enhancements, such as  “brighten subject” or “blur background.” The E-PL1 also lacks more accessible manual controls and dials on the body, as seen below compared to the E-P2, though it still features full Manual shooting modes.

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Olympus PEN E-P2 (left) and PEN E-PL1 (right)

A standout feature that appears in the E-PL1 that was lacking in the E-P2 is a built-in flash. Neither camera has a viewfinder—which is unfortunate especially at $1099 for a more advanced camera like the E-P2—but they sell a separate electronic viewfinder that can be mounted to the accessory port. As you can see, Olympus offered us a bright pile of random objects—feathers and action figures—to test shoot with the E-PL1, and the resultant images were impressively sharp and bright. Olympus says the E-PL1 will be available within the next couple of weeks.

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Casio Announces EX-S7 and EX-Z35

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Here at PMA in Anaheim, Casio has announced two new compact point-and-shoots in their EXILIM line—the 12MP EX-S7 and the 12MP EX-Z35, which both offer Casio’s “Best Shot” shooting modes for no-confusion scene selection. We also got to see the rugged G-1, which can sustain a drop of 6-feet and be submerged under water (up to 10-feet) for an hour. See the full press release from Casio below.

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Also on display in Casio’s booth is a concept camera with built-in “hybrid” GPS technology, which would allow for photographers to get positioning even when they can’t get a GPS signal—either inside a building or in a remote area outdoors.

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From Casio:

ANAHEIM, CA —FEBRUARY 21, 2010 — Adding to a rich tradition of digital cameras that balance technology and style, Casio America, Inc. and its parent company, Casio Computer Co., Ltd., introduced two new compact models to their popular EXILIM line. The EX-S7 and the EX-Z35 boast intelligent automated features found in a slim and stylish compact design allowing users to capture moments effortlessly. Earlier this month, Casio America, Inc. began shipping the popular EX-FC150 featuring Casio’s exclusive shutter lag eliminating High Speed BEST SHOT Continuous Modes. The new EXILIM models will be on display at Photo Marketing Association (PMA) 2010 in Anaheim, CA, Casio Booth #2241.

The EX-S7 and EX-Z35 embody the sophistication and innovation of Casio’s EXILIM line. Offering modernized features and improved image processing capabilities through BEST SHOT, Easy-Mode and Face Detection, the new cameras deliver quality images that can be shared on a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube™. Whether on-the-go or spending quality time with friends and family, the photo taking and sharing experience is fun and occurs at the touch of a button. Complementing any style, the cameras come in a variety of dazzling colors.

Developed with Casio’s latest EXILIM Engine 5.0, which delivers higher image quality and lower power consumption, the EX-S7 is a 12.1 effective megapixel digital camera with a 3X optical zoom lens and a 2.7 inch, high-quality LCD screen. With a quick-access dedicated movie button, users can record memorable moments in 720p high-definition (HD). Additionally, the EX-S7 is compatible with SD memory cards.

The camera also features Casio’s celebrated Dynamic Photo, a Hollywood-like green-screen effect which adds animated graphics into still photos where users can create unique e-greetings to share with friends and family. Dynamic Photo gives the power to create original and artistic visuals that can be emailed, posted on social networks and even printed out at home.

With the EX-Z35, Casio adds to the exciting new line-up designed for the photographer that seeks a high-performance digital camera without intimidating controls and settings. Featuring Casio’s easy Mode function, a simplified menu screen that offers seamless navigation, the EX-Z35 is also equipped with Face Detection. The camera produces images at a 12.1 effective megapixel resolution and is equipped with a 3X optical zoom lens. The EX-Z35 comes in an eye-catching compact body for active lifestyles.

With much excitement, Casio’s highly anticipated EX-FC150, featuring 10.1MP, 5X optical zoom lens and Casio’s exclusive High Speed capture technologies, has arrived to North America. The new EX-FC150 makes using High Speed capture easier. By combining two popular modes found in its predecessor, the EX-FC100, the EX-FC150 is equipped with easy-to-use shutter-lag eliminating BEST SHOT scene modes. By automating Casio’s High Speed Pre-Recording and lightning-fast Continuous Burst modes into five simple BEST SHOT modes, The EXILIM EX-FC150 ensures the shot is never missed.

“Casio is committed to delivering high quality digital cameras that produce crisp images that capture life’s vibrant colors in detail. Our goal is to create easy-to-use cameras for any lifestyle,” says Toshiyuki Iguchi, senior general manager of Casio’s Digital Imaging Division at Casio America, Inc. “We are thrilled to expand the popular EXILIM lineup with the additions of the EX-S7 and EX-Z35.”

The EX-S7 will be available in the spring with an MSRP of $139.99 and is available in fashionable colors such as black and purple. The EX-Z35, available this March, will have an MSRP of $109.99 and will be offered in black, silver, pink, red and blue body colors. The EX-FC-150 will be available for $349 in two colors, black and a cabernet wine.

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PMA ’10 Sony Press Conference

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At Sony‘s press conference, minutes ago at PMA here in Anaheim, they introduced a mock-up model of a new camera concept—an ultra compact a (Alpha) D-SLR model with interchangeable lenses. We also got to see the newly announced Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 and H55 in person.

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PMA ’10 Sneak Peek

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A day before the PMA show officially opens here in Anaheim, the press gets a “sneak peek” at an eponymously named event. Today, at that event, I got to see a lot of the cameras that have been recently announced by Pentax, Nikon, Samsung and Olympus, and several new PMA announcements from the likes of HP and GE. This is also the venue where I get the time to check out gear like bags and innovative new ideas from smaller companies, such as PhotoFramed.com.

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I got to get my hands on newly announced Pentax cameras, including the teeny tiny, adorably retro-looking Optio I-10; the brand new Samsung TL350, which was just announced this morning; and the Nikon COOLPIX S8000, with its ultra bright 3-inch LCD screen that’s similar to that of the pro level D3s D-SLR—which I also got to check out.

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New from GE (General Imaging) is a line of super automatic point-and-shoot digicams—meaning they leave almost nothing to the photographer other than to press the shutter release. The memory is all built-in, as well as the battery, but General Imaging says that’s what consumers asked for. Point. And. Shoot. The most important feature of these cameras, for the fashionistas they’re geared toward, anyway, is that they were co-designed by Jason Wu, an exciting young New York fashion designer, and feature an assortment of color choices and leather finishes.

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New from HP is a lineup of affordable point-and-shoots, including the 12.2MP PW550 with 5x optical zoom and the 12MP CW450 with a 2.7-inch touch LDC.

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The just announced Lowepro SlingShot AW series was the most exciting bag selection I saw today. Lowepro’s SlingShots have been wildly popular with photographers since they first came out five years ago because of the way they allow for rapid access to cameras and gear. For this new generation, they’ve made a few upgrades based on consumer feedback from the field to further enhance that experience, including the ability to carry a smaller tripod on the outside, and interior space for personal items besides camera gear.

Check back for more in-depth, hands-on looks at new cameras and gear over the next couple of days, as we traverse the crowded landscape of the PMA show floor.

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