Posts Tagged ‘CMOS’

PENTAX K-r Review

PENTAX K-r
Text and Images by Allison Gibson

Updated & Fuss-Free Entry-Level DSLR

The K-r falls into the PENTAX lineup as an entry-to-mid-range DSLR, most similar to last year’s K-x (reviewed here), with upgrades that bring it a few notches up toward the flagship K-7. The 12.4-megapixel K-r comes in red, white or black (I reviewed the red model, which attracted the attention and compliments of plenty of onlookers), and at $849.95 MSRP, the kit includes a DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

Although the K-r is in fact feature-packed, there’s the sense that the camera is refreshingly gimmick-free and straightforward in its intention to be, first and foremost, a tool for capturing quality images. Its ease of use is just what a photographer might want when making the move from, say, a prosumer compact digicam to the world of SLR shooting.

Design & Ease of Use

PENTAX K-r
click thumbnails to enlarge

Despite its compact size and plastic body construction (the lens mount is stainless steel), the K-r feels like a serious piece of equipment in-hand; it is heavy enough to feel sturdy and yet light enough to hang from your neck for extended periods. Note that’s ever so slightly larger than the petite K-x. Another feature to make the shooting experience feel undoubtedly professional is the loud, satisfying click of the shutter release. The layout of menu buttons, the big wedge of a handgrip, the contoured thumb grip on the back, and the placement of the shutter release all align for shooting comfort. The 3-inch LCD with Live View is impressively bright and clear, having been bumped up in resolution from that of the K-x (921,000 dot versus 230,000). And then there’s the viewfinder, with its thick rubber padding—especially comfortable when standing with an eye smashed against it for long stretches of time while photographing surfers, as I did. Once again PENTAX has included the green button on the camera—this time right behind the shutter release where it can be accessed quickly and easily—which can be programmed to quick-jump to a feature of the photographer’s choice so as to bypass wading through many layers of digital menu.

The K-r shoots stills in JPEG and RAW and 720p High Definition video in .AVI format. Memory records to SD/SDHC memory cards, with the option now for SDXC memory card compatibility via a firmware update. Another smart upgrade is the fact that the camera is Li-Ion battery compatible and can also be adapted to use AA batteries, so that the photographer has flexibility—incredibly important for traveling to a place where you might not have access to outlets for charging.

Performance

Night Scene HDR versus Auto Picture Mode
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PENTAX has loaded the smallish, stylish K-r with options for advanced shooting—Manual, Program, Sensitivity Priority, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority—but they have also made it easy to capture in Auto Picture mode and through scene modes tailored for specific shooting situations, such as: sunset, surf & snow, night, and kids & pets for fast-moving subjects. New to the K-r is the built-in Night Scene HDR mode which captures three images, with exposure optimized for dim lighting, to generate a single HDR (High Dynamic Range) image. I actually found that the Night Scene HDR mode worked well in daytime shade, helping me to capture close-up shots of howler monkeys in the jungle of Costa Rica without a disturbing flash. In addition to scene modes, the K-r includes a similar menu of Digital Filters to that of the K-x. In reviewing the K-x last year I was slightly dismayed by the filter that tries to replicate the look of shooting with a Fish Eye lens, and had hoped that an upgrade would be made this time around, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. The other filters, Toy Camera in particular, are fun to use.

For shooting action, the fast 6fps burst capture capability was great, and the built-in optional Shake Reduction feature was extremely helpful in snapping sharp shots of fast-moving subjects when I didn’t have a tripod. The advanced 11 point SAFOX IX autofocus system tracked the subjects quickly as they sped across the frame, with additional aid from the AF assist lamp.

click thumbnails to enlarge

Conclusion

Once again PENTAX has produced a stylish, intuitive mid-range DSLR that takes quality pictures, all for a very competitive price. With upgrades including a higher-resolution LCD, built-in HDR capability, faster 6fps capture, and an advanced autofocus system—all for under $900, including the lens (found for less than MSRP elsewhere), the K-r is a serious piece of equipment to consider as a first DSLR or even an upgrade.

Pentax K-r

  • MSRP:
  • $849.95 (comes with a DA L 18-55mm lens)
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.9”W x 3.8”H x 2.7”D; 19.7 oz., loaded
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.4-megapixels, CMOS, 23.6 x 15.8mm
  • Maximum Resolution:
  • 4288 x 2848
  • Still Recording Format:
  • RAW (PEF, DNG), JPG (EXIF 2.21), DCF 2.0 (design rule for camera file system), DPOF, Print Image Matching III Movie (compression): AVI (motion JPG)
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • HD: 1280×720 (16:9) at 25fps in .AVI format
  • Memory:
  • SD/SDHC
  • Display:
  • 3-inch TFT color LCD (921,000 dots), wide angle, Live View; Optical Viewfinder (96% Magnification)
  • Exposure Modes:
  • Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Metered Manual, Video; AutoPicture, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night scene portrait, Flash off; Scene modes: Night scene, Surf & Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum, Stagelight, Night snap, Night scene HDR
  • Sensitivity:
  • ISO 200-12800, expand to 100-25600
  • Exposure Metering:
  • TTL open aperture, 16 segment metering Sensitivity range: EV 1-21.5 (ISO 200, 50mm F1.4); Multi-pattern, center-weight, spot
  • Special Features:
  • Built-in pop-up flash, Live View, Face Detection, Creative Filter Modes (Toy Camera, Monochrome, Retro, Color, High Contrast, Soft, Extract Color, Star Burst, Sketch, Water Color, Pastel, Miniature, Slim, HDR, Posterization, Base Parameter Adjustment, Custom)
  • Lens Mount:
  • PENTAX KAF2 bayonet stainless steel mount; Usable lenses: PENTAX KAF3, KAF2, KAF, KA (K mount, 35mm screwmount, 645/67 med format lenses useable w adapter and/or restrictions)
  • Provided Accessories:
  • Li-Ion Battery D-LI109, Battery Charge Cradle K-BC109, AC Plug Cord, USB Cable I-USB7, Strap O-ST53, Hotshoe Cover FK, Eyecup FQ, Body Mount Cover, Software CD-ROM S-SW110
  • Power Source:
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery D-LI109, AA BATTERY HOLDER D-BH109 (optional) for 4X AA
  • Contact:
  • pentaximaging.com
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Sony Announces World’s First Digital Still Cameras with Full HD Video Capability and 3D Still Image Capture

CES 2011, Las Vegas—Sony has just announced the world’s first compact digital still cameras with full 1920 x 1080 at 60p High Definition video capability and 3D still image capture. The five new 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor Cyber-shot models—DSC-TX100V (image above), DSC-TX10, DSC-HX7V, DSC-WX10 and DSC-WX9—will range from about $220 to $380 in price and will be available in March. See the full press release, and more images, from Sony below.

Sony DSC-TX10, DSC-HX7V, DSC-WX10 and DSC-WX9
click the thumbnails to see full-size images

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Interchangeable Lens Camera: Samsung NX10 Review

Samsung NX10 Review
Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

Interchangeable Lens Digital Cameras

A new genre has emerged in digital photography gear: the compact interchangeable lens digital camera. Not to be confused with its rival, the Micro Four Thirds system camera—which is, in turn, the rival of the digital SLR camera—the interchangeable lens digital camera is, in bare-bones terms, a hybrid point-and-shoot/D-SLR. With a large APS-C size CMOS image sensor that’s as big as those found in entry-level D-SLRs, the compact interchangeable lens camera has the advantage of a smaller, more lightweight body. The major defining difference between the compact interchangeable lens digital camera and the D-SLR is that the former is mirrorless, meaning it abandons the mirror box (which in a D-SLR is necessary for the viewfinder to see exactly what the lens sees), operating exclusively with Live View shooting—the same way that the Micro Four Thirds camera does. (See my recent review of the Panasonic Lumix GF1 to learn more about the Micro Four Thirds standard.)

So far in 2010, three cameras of this type have been announced: the Samsung NX10, which was floated as a concept at PMA 2009 and then introduced in full at CES 2010; and the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5, which were both announced on May 11, 2010 after Sony introduced the concept at PMA.

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Canon Announces PowerShot SD4000 IS

Canon has announced the latest in their Digital ELPH lineup of compact cameras, the PowerShot SD4000 IS. According to Canon, “This new powerhouse point-and-shoot camera is the first of the Digital ELPH series to offer a high-sensitivity system, known as Canon’s HS SYSTEM, with a CMOS sensor and bright f/2.0 lens.” The SD4000 IS will be available at the end of May for an estimated MSRP of $349.99. See the full release from Canon below.

From Canon:

Placing top-level Canon features in a modern, stylish frame, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, today announced the newest addition to the PowerShot Digital ELPH camera series- the Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Digital ELPH camera. This new powerhouse point-and-shoot camera is the first of the Digital ELPH series to offer a high-sensitivity system, known as Canon’s HS SYSTEM, with a CMOS sensor and bright f/2.0 lens. Offering consumers the most enhanced image quality available in an ELPH series camera, these features help to capture those wonderful moments in low-light conditions. The PowerShot SD4000 IS Digital ELPH camera also has high definition (HD) movie-shooting capabilities, providing an additional option for cataloging memorable events. Primarily, the new PowerShot SD4000 IS is great for any user with an attention for up-to-date functionality and style.

Whether attending a relative’s sunset wedding or meeting friends in a dimly lit restaurant, these are times where the new PowerShot SD4000 IS showcases its best attributes. The new 10-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, in conjunction with the DIGIC 4 image processor creates Canon’s HS SYSTEM to enhance image quality in low-light situations and helps reduce noise at high ISO speeds. Along with Canon’s HS SYSTEM, the f/2.0 lens allows more light to enter, permitting higher shutter speeds, for further reducing the effect of camera shake and increasing image sharpness and quality. In addition, the combination of Canon’s HS SYSTEM and the f/2.0 lens enables users to take photos without a flash, resulting in a more natural look while providing greater depth of field, making it an exemplary tool for portrait photography. In addition, the PowerShot SD4000 IS has the fastest high-speed burst rate to date* in a Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH camera with 8.4 frames per second (fps). New to the ELPH cameras, the PowerShot SD4000 IS has aperture and shutter controls allowing for enhanced flexibility and creative control, making this camera great for shooters who are interested in getting even more out of their photography.

“With the introduction of the new PowerShot SD4000 IS, Canon is putting the power of high-quality photography in an ultra-compact size to amplify the experience and quality customers see when shooting with a Canon camera,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A. “The two functions in the HS SYSTEM allow our customers to capture the clearest pictures in any setting, resulting in more of a professional look.”

For the Design-Centric
A treat for the eyes, the PowerShot SD4000 IS has beautifully crafted curves, texture and a modern look that appeals to a design-savvy user. With all of its new features, the Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS elevates the current ELPH series, offering advanced settings in a polished, sculpted, compact frame, making it an essential item to tote anywhere.

Get Creative with HD Movie
The addition of the HD Movie feature in the new PowerShot SD4000 IS is one of the most distinguished characteristics that makes this camera a must-have for anyone. This dual-purpose camera allows users to creatively compose video, helping to capture unforgettable moments from a child’s first baseball game to a son or daughter walking up to the podium on Graduation Day. Users can also have more fun with HD movie footage by using the My Color function, composed of Color Swap and Color Accent options. In addition, video content is easily downloaded from the camera via USB connection and can be easily played back on your HDTV via an HDMI output connector.

Timing is Everything
As an added bonus, the new Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS has a new Super Slow Motion movie function that allows users to record video at a very high frame rate, possessing the appearance of slow motion when played back at regular speed. The Super Slow Motion movie function captures a subject at 240 frames-per-second (fps), and later plays back the footage at 30 fps, allowing each moment of footage to be appreciated in super slow motion while maintaining great image quality.

Additional Features
# A 3.0-inch wide angle (28mm equivalent) wide screen LCD allows for easy on-camera previewing and reviewing of menus and images.
# A 3.8X optical zoom with optical image stabilization helps to ensure images will be clear and how they were meant to be captured.
# Support of the high-spec SDXC memory cards with the maximum storage of two terabytes (TB) in SDA standard.
# Eye-Fi memory card connectivity, where wireless data can directly transfer to PCs.
# New scene modes, such as miniature and fish-eye effects help to increase overall creativity.
# Smart Shutter technology, which automatically takes pictures when a person smiles or winks; resulting in less re-takes.

The new Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS is available in three different color variations: red, black and silver. In addition, while supplies last, there will be an exclusive, limited edition white PowerShot SD4000 IS model available direct from Canon (www.shop.usa.canon.com). Scheduled to be available at the end of May, the Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Digital ELPH camera retails for an estimated price of $349.99.

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Sony Announces Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 and DSC-H55

Sony_TX5_image_Dustproof-1200

Breaking: Sony has announced two new slim and compact point-and-shoot cameras, just days before the PMA show in Anaheim. The Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 is “the world’s thinnest and smallest certified waterproof camera” (up to ten feet deep), and is “certified to be freeze proof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof up to about a 5 foot-drop and dust proof.” The TX5 is also Sony’s first digital still camera with an “Exmor R” CMOS sensor. The 10.2MP CMOS image sensor marks a shift from the more common use of  the CCD (charged-couple device) image sensor usually found in point-and-shoot cameras, compared to the larger CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) sensor found in D-SLRs. The TX5 also offer 10fps continuous burst shooting. It will be available in silver, black, pink, green, and red this April for about $350.

Sony_TX5_Silver_Main-1200

The DSC-H55 offers a 10x optical zoom Sony G lens with 25mm wide-angle (equivalent) and has a 14.1MP CCD sensor. Like the TX5, it lets you take panoramic shots in one sweeping motion with Sweep Panorama mode and has HD movie recording (1280 x 720 at 30p). The H55 will be available in black and silver this April for about $250. Find the full press release for both cameras below.

Sony_H55_Black_Front-Open-1200[1]

From Sony:

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 17, 2010 – Leading the industry in innovation and design, Sony today unveiled two new Cyber-shot® digital still cameras (models DSC-TX5 and DSC-H55).
Slim enough to fit in your pocket or purse at less than an inch thin — about the size of a deck of cards — the TX5 is the world’s thinnest and smallest certified waterproof (up to 10 feet deep) digital still camera with Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization and touch operation. Additionally, the 10.2 megapixel model is Sony’s first digital still camera with an “Exmor R” CMOS sensor that is also certified to be freeze proof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof up to about a 5 foot-drop and dust proof.
“Only Sony can deliver a technology-packed, ultra slim, fashionable T-series camera that is also durable. Until now, you couldn’t have it all in one camera” said Kelly Davis, director of the Digital Imaging business at Sony Electronics. “It is so versatile because it’s a great camera for both indoor and outdoor usage. You can easily take it from a day at the beach with the kids to a cocktail party with friends. This camera is also great for activities such as snorkeling, snowboarding or boating.”
Waterproof, Freeze Proof, Shockproof and Dust Proof
Waterproof in up to 10 feet of water for an hour, the TX5 lets you take high-quality photos, including panoramic pictures, and 720p high definition videos of your friends, family or pets underwater. From the tropics to the top of the mountain, the camera is also freeze proof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can take pictures of the kids sledding or snowboarding. Not only is it ready for cold weather, but the TX5 is durable enough to withstand an accidental drop from up to approximately 5 feet. Additionally, it is dust proof, so you can take it with you on a camping trip or a mountain bike ride.
The camera features an “Exmor R” sensor and offers 10fps continuous burst shooting for capturing action shots, so you can get great photos of the perfect moment such as when your kids are in mid air while jumping into the pool. Additionally, the sensor provides outstanding low-light performance so you can take high-quality photos even after the sun sets.
In one easy press-and-sweep motion, take panoramic photos of the underwater landscape or breathtaking views from the top of the mountain using the Intelligent Sweep Panorama™ feature. Another benefit of the “Exmor R” sensor, this innovative feature combines separate captures, detects faces and subject motion and intelligently adjusts the width while stitching the images together, resulting in natural looking panoramic photos.
The camera features a three-inch (measured diagonally) Clear Photo LCD Plus™ (230,400 pixel) wide touch screen display that functions—even underwater. You can focus on your subject, operate the menu and share photos and videos with a touch of the screen—wet or dry.  Additionally, you can decorate your photos using the paint feature or scroll through images by simply sweeping your finger across the screen.
Shadows and Details Made Easy
In addition to making it easy to capture entire landscapes or tall buildings, the TX5 camera also helps to manage difficult lighting situations. The “Exmor R” CMOS sensor lets you take high-quality photos in low light without a flash. Additionally, the TX5 has a solution for backlight situations.
With in-camera multi-shot Backlight Correction High Dynamic Range (HDR), the camera combines highlight and shadow detail of two separate captures into one remarkably natural looking image—even without a tripod. HDR offers a solution for strong backlight situations which typically result in either dark shadows in the foreground or a washed out background. Sony’s “Exmor R” sensor and BIONZ® processor help to correct these issues.
Sony also is introducing the H55 model, which offers high zoom in a compact design. The H55 camera’s 10x optical zoom Sony G lens with 25mm wide-angle (equivalent) takes better shots from greater distances and of wider landscapes. With a 14.1 megapixel CCD sensor, this camera lets you take panoramic shots in one sweeping motion with Sweep Panorama™ mode. You can also frame and view photos on its three-inch (measured diagonally) Clear Photo™ LCD screen (230,400 pixels).
Featuring 720p movie recording, the H55 model offers Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization to help reduce blur in photos without compromising image quality. It also adds Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with Active Mode, which lets you shoot smoother movie clips even if you are walking while shooting. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with Active Mode allows a moveable lens element inside the camera to shift with greater range of motion—10 times the range of the Optical SteadyShot feature at wide end in standard mode—to compensate for camera shake.
The TX5 and H55 cameras share intelligent features including HD movie recording (1280 x 720 at 30p). Additionally, these cameras have a Self portrait timer that automatically takes the shot two seconds after one or two faces are detected, making hand held self-portraits easy. They also offer Smile Shutter™ technology to automatically capture smiles and iAUTO and Easy modes, which make it easy to get the best shot in nearly any lighting situation.
To give customers greater choice and enhance the overall customer experience, the TX5 and H55 cameras feature a memory card slot compatible with both Memory Stick® (PRO Duo™) and class-four and above SD/SDHC formats.
Pricing and Availability
The TX5 camera will be available in silver, black, pink, green, and red this April for about $350, and the H55 camera will be available in black and silver this April for about $250. Pre-sales begin in February.
The cameras and a range of accessories will be available online at Sonystyle.com, at Sony Style® retail stores (www.Sonystyle.com/retail), at military base exchanges and at authorized dealers nationwide.

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