Posts Tagged ‘Camera Reviews’

Hands-on with Samsung NX200, MV800, and WB750 Cameras

Hands-on with Samsung NX200, MV800, and WB750 Cameras
Text and Images by Lynne Eodice

Last week we reported on the newly announced Samsung NX200 mirrorless interchangeable lens compact camera. I was able to get a hands-on look at the camera on the show floor at IFA Berlin, as well as take it for a test spin around the historic German city. I also got to check out the other brand new Samsung cameras: the multiview MV800 with a Flip-Out touch screen LCD display, and the WB750 ultra compact camera with the longest zoom lens that Samsung offers.

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Samsung SH100 WiFi Compact Camera Review

Samsung SH100: Pocket Camera with Instant Image Sharing
Text and Images by Allison Gibson

First revealed at CES this year, the Samsung SH100 ($199.99 MSRP) compact digital camera offers instant, wireless sharing of images—via email or upload to social networking and photo sharing sites—directly from the device. For a petite pocket camera, this gadget has a far reach. It features a 14-megapixel CCD image sensor, a 5x optical zoom 26mm f/3.3-5.9 Samsung lens, and 720p High Definition video recording (30fps).

Instant Sharing

The most notable feature of the Samsung SH100 is its ability to share and automatically backup captured images instantly and wirelessly, with easy menu options for single or bulk image sharing. By using the camera’s built-in wireless, you can connect to your WiFi network, to other Samsung WiFi cameras, or to an Android-powered Galaxy S smartphone to share your images. The phone can also be used as a remote viewfinder, offering real time preview and control of the shutter release.

The options for sharing include: email, and upload to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube and Photobucket. You can also browse existing photo albums while logged into Facebook, but cannot view walls or post statuses (there’s no qwerty keyboard on the camera).

When I recently met with members of the Samsung team, I nagged them about the fact that the SH100 wasn’t Twitter compatible, given the massive global popularity of the social networking site. Twitter users regularly include images in their tweets and I saw this as a missed opportunity for Samsung. Another obvious missed opportunity for the photo sharing community is Flickr. The good news is, I was told that Twitter and others are being considered for the next generation of the camera, and that adding support for new services is easy now that the technology for sharing is already there there. The fact that the remote viewfinder feature only works with Samsung smartphones seems a little incestuous and excludes users of other smartphones, but I can understand the interest in keeping the technology within the brand.

Design & UI

click thumbnails to enlarge

With a 3-inch touchscreen LCD that operates in the familiar way of a smartphone, the menus are easy to navigate, if a smidge less graceful in the dragging department than the smartphone that I’m most familiar with—the iPhone 4. The only button on the back of the camera, to the right of the LCD, is a dedicated Home button, which brings you back to the main menu from wherever you happen to be. At the top of the camera, you have the power button, zoom toggle and playback button. Otherwise, everything else is in the digital menu, which certainly helped to keep the camera’s slim profile in check. At 3.66″W x 2.12″H x .74″D, the SH100 is very compact, and also lightweight. Another way they keep the size of the body down is to use MicroSD for memory, rather than the more common SD/SDHC cards.

The thing about these tiny digicams, though, is that they are sometimes too small to stabilize, making them prone to blur from camera shake. And, unfortunately, the SH100 only features “Digital Image Stabilization,” not OIS (optical image stabilization, which stabilizes before the image is converted digitally) to compensate for shakiness. However, one exterior aid is the thumb grip on the back of the camera, which allows the camera to sit more securely in-hand when recording. But even then, especially in low-light conditions, you will need to brace the left side of the camera and turn up the ISO sensitivity to combat blur. I think one way to combat this—externally— in a future generation would be to raise the shutter release, rather than leave it in the recessed position it is in now. As it is now, it requires a lot of pressure to snap a shot, and any extra pressure is bound to cause camera shake.

Creative Touches


Magic Frame: Billboard 1 (click to view full-size image)

One of the many creative features of the SH100 is called Magic Frame Shot, which allows you to layer your photograph into a digital template of your liking, with real time preview of the effects as you shoot. The options include: Wall Art, Album, Ripple, Full Moon, Old Record, Magazine, Sunny Day, Classic TV, Yesterday, Holiday, and two Billboard choices. Options such as image quality, flash and self-timer may still be applied to this effect. As with a regular shot, a Magic Frame Shot can be instantly shared on Facebook or emailed once captured.


Photo Filters: Vignetting, Fish-eye, Miniature; Smart Auto mode (click images to enlarge)

Another built-in creative feature of the SH100 is Photo Filter, which includes a menu of distinct automatic art filters, such as: Miniature (similar to Tilt-Shift or Toy Camera options seen elsewhere), Vignetting (similar to a Pinhole camera effect), Soft Focus, Half Tone, Sketch, Fish-eye, Defog, Classic, Retro, Negative, and two Old Film options. I was pleased to find that the Fish-eye filter is one of the better digital replications of the fish-eye lens effect that I’ve seen to date, after having tested the effect in several other cameras’ art filter lineups—including that of the PENTAX K-x and K-r DSLRs. I only wish the fish-eye images weren’t framed with that black vignette, which sort of looks like an old television set.

Additional creative features include: Scene Modes, Vignetting, Beauty Shot, Movie Filter, Night Shot, Palette Effect and Object Highlight. There is also a built-in Photo Editor. The SH100′s Smart Auto 2.0 for still images and video does the guesswork for you by choosing one of 17 different shooting modes.

Conclusion

While the Samsung SH100 isn’t the first WiFi point-and-shoot, it does offer the most avenues for connecting. Hopefully soon this will be standard fair for pocket cams, with even more options, as instant sharing is the name of the game these days.

Samsung SH100

  • MSRP:
  • $199.99
  • Size/Weight:
  • 3.66”W x 2.12”H x 0.74”D
  • Image Sensor:
  • 14-megapixels, CCD (1/2.33″)
  • Still Recording Format:
  • JPG
  • Memory:
  • Micro SD
  • Display:
  • 3-inch touch LCD
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 1280×720 (30/15fps); in H.264 format
  • ISO Equivalent:
  • Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
  • Power Source:
  • Rechargeable Battery
  • Contact:
  • www.samsung.com/us
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Hands-on with JOBY Frame X Frame Stop Motion App

Hands-on with JOBY Frame X Frame
Text, Images and Video by Allison Gibson

The recently introduced JOBY Frame X Frame camera app for iPhone is a fun and easy tool for capturing stop motion video—and it’s free, to boot. JOBY calls the capture process “one button,” which is true if you go with the default options, but there are a few additional steps in the menu before shooting if you’d like to customize your animation. Still, the app is very intuitive and produces great results. The app also offers geotagging (by automatically attaching exif data to your pictures), and allows you to instantly share your creations on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

How it Works

600 shots/1 second/10 fps

Frame X Frame stitches together captured frames to create the illusion of movement in a stop motion video. The app allows you to choose different interval times (from one second all the way to one day), number of shots (1 – 2,000) and frames per second (20 – .5) in order to customize your video. It also automatically tells you how long the resultant video will end up being when it’s complete. You can also choose between continuous or manual shutter, but as you might imagine, the continuous option offers consistent results with a lot less work.

In Use


600 shots/1 second/10 fps

The two issues that you need to consider before you capture your stop motion video are: time and camera shake. In regards to time, I am referring to the fact that in order to capture a decent length video you need to have several spare minutes to wait while the timed shots are taken. In the JOBY Frame X Frame promo video, they recommend reading, dancing and finger-tapping as helpful ways to pass time.

Even the most steady-handed among us will likely incur a little camera shake when shooting hand-held, especially given that you will need to hold the camera steady for a good chunk of time to get the most of the effect. To combat camera shake, JOBY recommends using a GorillaPod—which is not very surprising considering that they manufacture the product, but it is in fact a useful tool. With that said, all of the test videos that I made were shot during impromptu moments—walking at the beach, riding on a boat out on the lake, or hanging out in Downtown LA—and as much as JOBY would probably prefer that I keep my GorillaPod on my person at all times, I do not. So, all of my videos were shot hand-held. In some cases the camera shake is pretty obvious and in others not so much. The biggest disadvantage of shooting hand-held was that I was unable to capture longer videos because, frankly, I became uncomfortable and impatient. These issues cannot be blamed on the app, however.

The app offers a one-touch Anti-Shake option, which is what accounted for the relative stillness of my sample videos, but you’re better off using a tripod of some kind to get a steady, long shot.

Get Frame X Frame for free in the iTunes app store.

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Micro Four Thirds With Full HD Video: Panasonic Lumix GH2 Review

Panasonic Lumix GH2 Review
Text, Photos and Video by Jason Thompson

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 is the updated version of its predecessor, the GH1. While still utilizing the same Micro Four Thirds system (see more about Micro Four Thirds here), this new generation camera boasts several upgrades.  Panasonic redesigned the image sensor, increasing the maximum resolution to 16.05-megapixels. The GH2 also has a slightly faster contrast based auto focus, as well as a touchscreen display. The one touch video button allows for instant switches to and from High Definition video recording mode. The combination of Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds system and Electronic View Finder allow the GH2 to maintain a very lightweight form. Even when combined with the 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 kit lens (with silent drive focusing) that I tested it with, this mirrorless camera maintains an overall weight below many in its class. The GH2 lens mount is also compatible with the 3D Lumix G 12.5mm f/12 3D-capable lens.


Panasonic Lumix GH2: click thumbnails to enlarge

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Sony NEX-VG10: High Definition Camcorder with Interchangeable Lenses

Sony NEX-VG10: High Definition Consumer Camcorder with Interchangeable Lenses
Text and Images by Tony Gomez

With the NEX-VG10, Sony has at last answered the call for a consumer-based High Definition camcorder with interchangeable lenses. My expanded review package included not only the kit 18-200 mm zoom, but also the following E-mount interchangeable lenses: 18-55 zoom ($300) and 16mm/f2.8 ($250). Also the following Alpha lenses were provided via the Alpha/E-mount adapter ($300): 16mm/f2.8 ($250), 30mm/f2.8 Macro ($200), 35mm/f1.8 ($200), 50mm/f1.8 ($150), and the Zeiss 85mm/f1.8 ($1,400).

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