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Pentax Announces X90 Megazoom Camera

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Pentax has just announced the new X90—a compact camera with a D-SLR-like body and a 26X megazoom, super-telephoto lens (26-676mm equivalent). It also boasts a 12MP image sensor and triple shake reduction technology, as well as Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card connectivity. The X90 will be available in April for $399.95.

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From Pentax:

GOLDEN, CO. (February 24, 2010)…PENTAX Imaging Company announced the latest model in the manufacturer’s megazoom digital camera line: the PENTAX X90. Featuring an extra-wide zoom, longer battery life than its predecessor and an electronic viewfinder, the X90 delivers effortless picture-taking in a wide variety of situations to photographers of all levels. The key feature of the PENTAX X90 is the 26X megazoom, super-telephoto lens (26-676mm equivalent) also designed with a Macro mode that focuses to less than one inch away to capture images of subjects that are near or far.

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Other important features of the PENTAX X90 include:

12.1 megapixel sensor, ideal for large prints or cropping flexibility

2.7 inch LCD with anti-reflection coating or electronic viewfinder with new diopter adjustment for composing and playback of images and video

Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card connectivity for built-in Wi-Fi capability to transfer photos and videos from the camera to a computer or an online sharing site such as Picasaweb, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. (Eye-fi cards sold separately.)

HDMI port plays back beautiful high resolution images and video on HDTVs

A perfect blend of digital compact and SLR technology including powerful automatic operation or creative manual and priority modes

Triple Shake Reduction technology includes a high quality mechanical sensor-shift SR mechanism, Digital Pixel Track and high ISO SR, and Movie SR

High speed continuous shooting up to 11 frames per second

Fast Face Detection technology quickly finds up to 32 faces

Powerful, lightweight Lithium Ion battery and improved power efficiency.

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Hands on with the Samsung TL500

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Announced this weekend at PMA in Anaheim, the new Samsung TL500 has been creating a good amount of buzz for the past few days. Samsung‘s new flagship compact  fits right into that increasingly popular “prosumer” category, making it an ideal step-up camera for those looking to move into more advanced equipment without jumping straight to D-SLR, and for those pro shooters who like to keep a more compact camera on-hand alongside their D-SLR.

The TL500 has a 24mm ultra‑wide angle Schneider KREUZNACH f/1.8 lens, and as shown above, can be paired with an optional wide-angle adapter that takes the lens from 24mm to 18mm. It has a super bright 3-inch swiveling AMOLED screen that shows deep blacks and really rich colors. The camera has a sturdy, pro-like feeling when it’s in-hand, and I anticipate this high end compact—with full manual shooting modes—will be giving others in its category a run for their money. Samsung is definitely emerging as the dark horse in the digital camera game, thanks especially to their new CES announcement, the NX10, and now the TL500.

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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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Sigma’s “Not a Fisheye” Lens

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This weekend at PMA in Anaheim, Sigma announced a whopping new lineup of lenses, including the 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM—the first ultra wide zoom lens with a minimum focal length of 8mm, designed specifically for APS-C size image sensors. The first thing you think when you see this compact lens is, “Hey, look at that Fisheye lens,” but you’re absolutely wrong (as I was). In fact, the curved glass is actually the “hybrid aspherical lens” with two “glass mold elements [to] give excellent correction for distortion and astigmatism.” Sigma’s David Metz even joked that the unofficial name of this 8-16mm lens was the “Not a Fisheye Lens.”

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Also introduced by Sigma was the 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, which is being marketed as the perfect upgrade to the standard 18-50mm F11 kit lens of so many entry-level D-SLRs. Besides these two mentioned, Sigma introduced three other lenses. There is no official pricing for the new optics, mainly because they are so new that they haven’t even gotten a chance to really shoot with them to see what price points they should be at, but they will be available at the upcoming WPPI show in Las Vegas for people to check out in person.

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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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