Samsung has been rolling out a number of compact camera announcements this summer and now they’ve launched the PL90—a 12.2MP compact digicam with a built-in USB connector, which “enabl[es] consumers to capture images and connect to a computer on the move without the need of additional wires or cords.” On the one hand, this could be an incredible convenience to point-and-shooters who want to unload images in the easiest possible way. However, many photographers prefer to use a memory card rather than store images directly within a camera’s built-in memory, and USB card readers already exist to bypass the messy wires. Granted this is one extra step in comparison to a built-in USB camera, but storing images on a card allows more freedom (namely, switching between equipment). What do you guys think? The PL90 will be available for $149.99 in September. More from Samsung below.
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Samsung has just announced three new compact digital cameras—two DualView models and one 14.2MP point-and-shoot. We are big fans of Samsung’s DualView cameras here at DP (see the review of the TL225), so the new ST600 and ST100 are spiking our interest. Both 14.2MP compacts are equipped with 1.8-inch front LCDs (compared to the TL225′s 1.5-inch) and offer Schneider KREUZNACH lenses with Optical and Digital Image Stabilization. They also look a lot more sleek and modern than the previous generation. The ST600 and ST100 will be available in September for $329.99 and $349.99, respectively.
The Samsung PL200 will be available in September for $179.99. The slim (0.83-inches thick) digicam has a 7x optical zoom lens (35mm film equivalent focal length of 31mm-217mm) and can record HD video (720p at 30fps) in H.264 format. See the press releases from Samsung for all three cameras below.
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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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Panasonic has announced the 14.1MP LUMIX DMC-FX75—a “slim and stylish hybrid” digital camera that shoots High Definition video. The camera boasts a super wide 24mm f/2.2 LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON lens with 5x optical zoom, which can be used while shooting HD video in AVCHD Lite format. To complement the high-quality video, the LUMIX FX75 also features Dolby Digital Creator to record high quality audio. Pricing and availability will be announced 30 days prior to the shipping date. Check out the full release from Panasonic below.
SECAUCUS, NJ (June 1, 2010) – Panasonic announced today the new LUMIX DMC-FX75, a super-slim digital camera that packs big features, including a 24mm ultra-wide-angle F2.2 bright LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON lens with 5x optical zoom, which can be used while shooting High Definition video. The slim and stylish LUMIX FX75, a 14.1-megapixel digital camera is one of Panasonic’s high-performing hybrid models with the ability to not only take high-quality still photos, but can also record HD video in the AVCHD Lite format.
“The Panasonic LUMIX FX75’s 24mm ultra-wide-angle lens is a rare feature to have on a compact camera – especially one this small, so we are packing a lot of value and quality into this slim and stylish digital camera,” said David Briganti, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “Most consumers value the benefits of a long zoom, but understanding the importance of a wide-angle isn’t as known. With a 24mm ultra-wide angle like the one on the LUMIX FX75, photographers have a wider range of composition possibilities with approximately 213% larger viewing space compared to that of a 35mm camera.”
The LUMIX FX75 can record HD video in the AVCHD Lite format, which allows almost double the recording time in HD quality compared with the conventional Motion JPEG format. When recording in AVCHD Lite, the content is perfect for viewing on an HDTV, like a Panasonic VIERA Plasma. To complement the high-quality video, the LUMIX FX75 also features Dolby Digital Creator to record high quality audio. For those users who are recording HD video to view on a computer screen, they also have the option to record in Motion JPEG, as well as WVGA (848×480) and VGA (640×480).
The LUMIX FX75 adopts full touch-screen operation, which allows for Auto Focus (AF) to quickly be set to the subject by simply touching the large 3.0-inch 230,000-dot LCD. Also, the user can click onto a subject with a single touch, and the FX75 then tracks the subject with the AF tracking feature – even when moving. The touch-screen operation is fluid and smooth – whether in record or playback mode. While recording, once the frame is composed, users can simply touch the area they want focused before pressing the shutter button. In playback mode, users can drag the image across the screen with their finger to browse the collection of photos, as though it is a page in a book.
Panasonic’s iA (Intelligent Auto) mode, a hallmark on all LUMIX digital cameras, is further advanced in the LUMIX FX75 with the addition of a new Motion Deblur mode*1 by updating the motion detection (Intelligent ISO Control) and brightness control (Intelligent Exposure) to gain the highest shutter speed possible. Combined with the outstanding brightness of the lens and the POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), the LUMIX FX75 reduces blur created from handshake or the subject moving. The iA suite of technologies include: POWER O.I.S., Face Recognition, Face Detection, AF Tracking, Intelligent ISO Control, Intelligent Scene Selector and Intelligent Exposure – all which are engaged when in the iA mode. Panasonic’s iA is also available while shooting video and include: AF Tracking, POWER O.I.S., Face Detection and Intelligent Scene Selector.
The Panasonic LUMIX FX75 features the Venus Engine HD II image processor, which helps assure superb image quality in both photo and video recording. It also incorporates Intelligent Resolution technology to perform the optimum signal processing based on the part of a picture to give a whole image outstanding, natural clearness with fine details. At the same time, the multi-task image-processing engine Venus Engine HD II supports a super-fast response time. The shutter release lag time is as short as approximately 0.005 of a second in 1-area AF, and the camera’s quick response makes it easier to capture sudden, spur-of-the-moment photo opportunities together with the Sonic Speed AF.
With the Intelligent Resolution technology, three areas – outlines, detailed texture areas and soft gradation – are examined pixel by pixel and automatically detected to enhance any degradation created during the digital zoom process or in high-sensitivity shooting. The outline areas are enhanced effectively to give the edges more clarity, while simultaneously giving a moderate accent to the textured areas so they look accurately detailed. To soften gradation areas, such as a face, the increased noise reduction system of the Venus Engine HD II is applied to make it appear smoother. As a result of Intelligent Resolution, images are naturally clear and crisp in both photo and video recording. The Intelligent Resolution technology powers Panasonic’s new Intelligent Zoom feature, which extends the camera’s zoom ratio by approximately 1.3x while maintaining picture quality – and enhancing the digital zoom and making it comparable to the quality of an optical zoom. With Intelligent Zoom, the Panasonic FX75 can reach up to 6.5x.
Other features include:
* Cosmetic Mode – takes portraits with the user’s favorite skin tone (soft skin, natural skin, summer look) and can add a degree of transparency of skin detail (low, standard, high), making it possible to take portraits with different skin tones, for example, look more sun-tanned.
* Happy Mode – option in iA that optimizes color, saturation and brightness to make both photos and movies more vivid and true to the color of the scene you memorized.
* Battery Life – the high performance Venus Engine HD II is also more energy efficient compared with the conventional Venus Engine HD, extending the battery life up to 360 shots (CIPA) on a single charge.
Pricing and availability for the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FX75 will be announced 30 days prior to shipping date. For more information on these LUMIX models, please visit: www.panasonic.com/lumix.
*1The picture size may be reduced.
*Leica is a registered trademark of Leica Microsystems IR GmbH.
*The LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON lenses are manufactured using measurement instruments and quality assurance systems that have been certified by Leica Camera AG based on the company’s quality standards.
*Dolby and the double-D symbol are trademarks of Dolby Laboratories.
*HDMI, the HDMI logo and High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.
*YouTube is a trademark of Google Inc.
*All other company and product names are trademarks of their respective corporations.
*This unit is compatible with both SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Cards. You can only use SDHC Memory Cards on devices that are compatible with them. You cannot use SDHC Memory Cards on devices that are only compatible with SD Memory Cards. (When using an SDHC Memory Card on another device, be sure to read the operating instructions for that device.)
*Some accessories are not available in some countries.
*The use of recorded or printed materials that are protected by copyright for any purpose other than personal enjoyment is prohibited, as it would infringe upon the rights of the copyright holder.
*Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
Pentax Optio I-10 Review
Text and Photos by Allison Gibson
Retro Cool Compact
Similar to the white Pentax K-x D-SLR, the white Pentax Optio I-10 compact camera is eye-catching and envy-inducing—a beautiful object in the hand of the photographer. Weighing only 5.4-ounces, and measuring 1.1-inches thick, this ultra compact point-and-shoot is light and slim. And with the charming retro look of its pearl white body, the I-10 (which also comes in black) has style.
What’s Old is New
Because so many point-and-shoot cameras share similar specs and price points, manufacturers sometimes try to attract consumers by setting their cameras apart with style. Most camera makers opt to go the route of sleek and futuristic for these compacts, but Pentax has taken a look back for their style cues—back to the once beloved Pentax Auto 110 film camera. The new Optio I-10 (notice the homage to the past even with the name?) is styled after its elder—with a digital face-lift of course. At PMA in February, I had the chance to check out the old and new side by side, and the similarity is staggering. Both fit right in the palm of your hand. With the popularity of all things vintage in photography right now, such as the Hipstamatic iPhone app and resurgence of Pinhole photography, the I-10’s retro cool looks are right on trend. But how does it fare as a contemporary camera?
Beyond the Beauty
With a 12.1-megapizel CCD sensor and offering 5x optical zoom, the I-10 features much of what consumers want in a slim and stylish point-and-shoot. The 5-25mm (28-140mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.9 PENTAX zoom lens does offer a less than desirable aperture range, however. The camera’s 2.7-inch LCD screen—with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio—is quite bright, even in direct sunlight. Though a 3-inch screen is ultimately more desirable for framing, it would have caused the camera body to be larger, and one of the I-10’s most celebrated features is its petite size.
Shooting Modes and Special Features
The I-10 features a host of subject and setting-specific shooting modes, which are accessed at the touch of the “Mode” button on a four-way D-pad to the right of the camera’s LCD. It is convenient that Pentax has chosen to not bury this menu deep in a digital folder somewhere because most users of this point-and-shoot will opt to swap modes fairly often, as the shooting environment changes from, say, Surf and Snow to Night Scene. Also included among the 24 shooting modes are: Auto Picture, Program (which allows slight tweaks to Auto such as white balance and exposure compensation), Portrait and Digital Shake Reduction (SR). There is also a mode called Digital Wide, which stitches together two pictures to create a wider image. This is not to be confused with Digital Panorama mode, which stitches together more than two images taken with the camera to create a panoramic photograph.
In addition to the point-and-shoot friendly shooting modes, there are a few features that are meant to assist in quality image capture. Another of the four-way D-pad choices takes you directly to a Focus Mode menu, where you can choose from among: Standard, Macro, Super Macro, Pan Focus, Infinity and Manual. To help the photographer avoid taking blurry pictures in challenging lighting conditions, the I-10 features a mechanical sensor shift Shake Reduction system. The Optio I-10 also features High Definition video (720p at 30fps) in .AVI format.
As I touched on above, there is a four-way control on the back of the camera, located to the right of the LCD, and owing to its petite size, there is room for few other manual controls on the body. A playback button and a button for Smile Capture and Face Detection are found above the four-way D-pad. Pentax’s “Green Button,” which is also found on the Pentax Kx, allows for a customizable quick-jump to a specific menu feature—I set it to EV Compensation. The button also doubles as the trash option when reviewing images in playback mode. To the left is the Menu button, where a fairly straight-forward set of options is presented in lists. At the top of the camera, we find the on/off button, shutter release and zoom toggle.
Beyond the D-SLR-like looks of the I-10, it carries over the feel of one in a small but important way with the raised hand grip on the front of the camera and the “leatherette” texture in the same place. I find that too many ultra compact digicams are hard to get a comfortable handle on, with their sleek body designs and slick plastic cases. The I-10 feels a lot more secure in-hand than most due to the small details of the grip and texture.
I did the bulk of my test shooting outside on a sunny day at a farmer’s market, and found that this was the ideal shooting condition for the I-10. It does well handling detail in bright spots and shadows, and focuses quite quickly on still objects in good lighting. In Auto Picture mode, with the Standard Focus option, I was able to get close-up shots with shallow depth-of-field, as it “took the guesswork out of photography” for me, as they say, reverting automatically to f/3.5 and ISO 80 to capture food displayed at a seller’s stand. When I shot the food that was inside of my farmer’s market tote, it punched up to ISO 800 in Auto mode and still maintained low noise. The results of photographing moving subjects in difficult lighting conditions were less consistent, however. At a fashion show in Malibu (a prime environment for showing off the stylish little digicam, by the way), the I-10 had some trouble tracking the fast-moving runway models under the inconsistent catwalk lighting.
The Price of Beauty
The I-10’s price that has been raising a few eyebrows since its January announcement, though I have to note that at $299.99 $249.99 (updated price) (MSRP) it’s not outrageous. People seem to expect to get everything they ever dreamed of in a camera these days for less and less money. All said, it is in the same ballpark as—or even less expensive than—some digicams with comparable specs. But I don’t like to play the spec-by-spec comparison game. It’s best to get your hands on a camera, get your eye to the viewfinder (or fixed on the LCD in this case), to judge whether it’s worth your money. You’ll need to weigh the limited aperture range against the stylish looks and ultra compact portability; the less consistent capture of moving subjects in difficult lighting against the impressively low-noise capture at higher ISOs when shooting still objects. In my estimation, the Pentax Optio I-10 packs an intuitive UI, HD video and a good zoom into its ultra compact and portable little body. Your major decision might come down to whether or not you want to commit to the camera’s unique retro look.
Pentax Optio I-10
- $299.99 $249.99 (updated price)
- 4.0”W x 2.6”H x 1.1”D; 4.7 oz. loaded
- Image Sensor:
- 12.1-megapixels, CCD
- Still Recording Format:
- SD/SDHC, 26.7MB internal
- 2.7-inch LCD (230,000 pixels)
- Video Recording Mode:
- 1280×720 (30/15fps); 640×480 (30/15fps);
320×240 30/15fps in .AVI (Motion JPG) format
- Image Stabilization:
- Still: Sensor-Shift SR, Pixel Track SR, Digital SR (ISO 3200-6400 5M or 3.8M) Movie: Movie SR
- ISO Equivalent:
- Auto: 80-800, Digital SR 80-6400 (ISO 3200-6400 at 5M or 3.8M) Manual: 80-6400 (ISO 3200-6400 at 5M or 3.8M)
- Power Source:
- Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery D-LI92